Eastern Conference Top Seed Preview

Updated: April 14, 2018

The NBA regular season is finally concluded and with it comes the time to start the NBA’s so-called 2nd season. NBA playoff basketball is a different game from what is often seen in the regular season as defensive intensity increases, every possession matters, and stars power never shines brighter. While the West is generally viewed as the better conference and gets most of the coverage I am going to take a quick look at the East.  Four series will comprise the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Let’s open by previewing the series for the #1 and #2 seed.

#1 Toronto Raptors(+805 To Win Title) vs #8 Washington Wizards (+14500)

Season Series 2-2

The Raptors won the #1 seed in the East behind two stars in their backcourt, maybe the toughest bench in the league and bruising mentality on the inside. They sort of drew the short straw for a #1 seed as they will have to take on a very talented Washington Wizards squad in the first round and have a brutal gauntlet if they are going to reach the finals.

After being swept in the 2nd round last year many thought the Raptors would blow up their core and rebuild from the ground up. Instead, they elected to keep the team intact and coach Dwane Casey has them playing a completely different brand of basketball. Gone are the iso-heavy sets that defined previous teams. They have been replaced by a team that spreads the ball around and fires the three ball.

The Wizards have stars of their own in John Wall and Bradley Beal and have the overall talent to give Toronto all they can bargain for in a 7 game series. This team is postseason tested from years past. But this group has struggled down the stretch as Wall looks to return to form coming back from knee surgery.

The Wizards win a few games but their inconsistency and the Raptors depth prove too much for Wall and company to overcome. Raptors in 6.

#2 Boston Celtics (+9500) vs #7 Milwaukee Bucks (+22500)

Season Series 2-2

This one should be a close one as the ragtag Boston Celtics will take on the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics will be without superstar Kyrie Irving as he is out for the postseason due to injury. They will attempt to survive relying on Al Horford and several young guys.

The Bucks, on the other hand, will clearly have the best player on the floor in Giannis Antetokounmpo as he will attempt to win his first playoff series. The Bucks drew the team all of the bottom half of the East was rooting for so there are no excuses. Milwaukee struggled down the stretch as their defense was generally awful in allowing 110.3 points per 100 possessions in their final 26. After an initial 9-2 stretch after the firing of Jason Kidd, the Bucks finished a mediocre 12-14.

This is probably going to be the closest series in the first round and maybe all the Eastern playoffs. Which Milwaukee group shows up vs how Boston’s young core handles postseason pressure? I’m going Bucks in 7 games as Antetokounmpo finally has his superstar moment in the postseason. Shame for Celtics fan as it would have been nice to see what they could have done with a healthy team (including star Gordon Hayward, who was lost for the season minutes into the opening night).