Day 1 of the NBA Playoffs is complete, and was it ever upset central. Both two seeds lost game 1, and the Sixers, the 3rd seed in the East, also dropped game one. As clichè as it gets, the Warriors were the only favorite who won yesterday, go figure. Here we rank all 16 teams in this years NBA playoffs.
- Golden State Warriors
1st in the West (lead series 1-0)
The Warriors came ready to play as they usually do in the first round. They’re now 17-2 in the opening round since 2015, and it’s safe to say they’ll improve to another first round series win within 5 games or less. The Warriors outmatch the Clippers at every position and if Steph Curry continues to shoot the ball the way he did in game 1, the Clippers won’t even come close to winning a game this series.
Prediction: Warriors win series 4-0
2. Milwaukee Bucks
1st in the East
Without even playing a game I already know the Bucks are going to coast through round 1. In my opinion, they won’t have any problems in the second round either. I don’t need to spend any time talking about Giannis’ dominance, but I will say his supporting cast seems to get better every single night. Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Eric Bledsoe round out the starting lineup and make this the scariest lineup in the East.
Prediction: Bucks win Series 4-0
3. Houston Rockets
4th in the West, Game 1
After starting off the year juggling between the 8th seed and not even in playoff contention, Harden’s historic scoring campaign alongside the return of Chris Paul shot Houston all the way up to the 4th seed in the West, only losing the 3rd seed due to the tiebreaker rules to the Blazers. As one of the hottest teams in the league, Houston should have no problem asserting themselves back as one of the best teams in the league as they look to face Utah again this year. Last year Houston won in 5, and the result should be similar once again this year.
Prediction: Rockets win series 4-2
4. Philadelphia 76ers
3rd in East
The Sixers certainly didn’t look like a top 5 team yesterday. After playing well in the first quarter the team seemed to fall apart. Other than a great performance from Jimmy Butler, the entire team disappointed. The starters, the bench, and the coaching staff got a quick reality check. Yet I don’t believe this will carry into game two. Ben Simmons will be more efficient, Joel will be dominant, and JJ will make it rain three’s. It comes down to whether or not Brett Brown can coach his team past Brooklyn.
Prediction: Sixers win Series 4-2
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
6th in the West
Oklahoma City is a serious threat in the West and it goes without debate. With Nurkic out for the season that leaves Cj McCollum and Damian Lillard as the stars in Portland, meanwhile Oklahoma City is in year two of the Paul George and Russell Westbrook tandem. To go along with them, they have Jerami Grant, Nerlens Noel, Steven Adams, Dennis Schroeder, and Terrance Ferguson. Oklahoma City has one of the best defensive units in the league, stock piled with guards that can rotate on Lillard and McCollum, and have the depth it will take to upset Portland and move on to face either San Antonio or Denver.
Prediction: Thunder win Series 4-3
6. Boston Celtics
4th in the East
The Celtics didn’t live up to expectations during the regular season but as all great stars would say, nothing matters until it’s April. Boston still has a stacked roster with young guys and asking as Kyrie is healthy, they will have the best player on the court in round 1. With Indiana down Oladipo, this series should be a breeze for Boston.
Prediction: Celtics win Series 4-1
Update: Defeated Indiana 84-74
7. Denver Nuggets
2nd in the West
Denver does have a great team, there’s no denying that. However this team is very similar to the same team that missed the playoffs last season, and every year there’s a team who dominates the regular season just to get knocked out the playoffs. Prior to yesterday I would have taken Denver in a long series to defeat San Antonio, but with Popovich in charge, San Antonio can hang with any team in the West.
Prediction: Nuggets lose series 3-4
8. Toronto Raptors
2nd in the East
Would you be shocked if I said I wasn’t surprised by the Magic’s win yesterday? Everyone’s quick to forget the Magic have been one of the best teams since the trade deadline especially defensively. On top of that, vintage Kyle Lowry took the floor in another disappearance act. Kawhi Leonard is terrific, but I don’t know if he can pull this off by himself.
Prediction: Raptors win Series 4-3
9. Brooklyn Nets
6th in the East
The Nets started off the first weekend of the playoffs by dominating the Sixers for most of the game. A few times the Sixers inched closer and closer, but subsequently failed on the comeback. The Nets however were the beneficiary of an absolutely pathetic shooting performance from the Sixers, which won’t continue. Once their shots start to fall this is a team with arguably the best starting 5 in basketball, and Brooklyn won’t have the answers to stop them.
Prediction: Nets lose series 2-4
10. Portland Trail Blazers
3rd in the West
Portland is a scary regular season team. They can come into your building at any time and silence the crowd. In the playoffs? They’re as mediocre as they come. Even with Dame and Cj the Blazers don’t have enough answers with Nurkic going down, and with a valiant effort should lose this series. Nonetheless, you’d be foolish to think they won’t break their losing streak with the Thunder having consistency issues of their own. Home field advantage should work in their favor, but ultimately they should find themselves ending their season in April once again.
Prediction: Blazers lose series 3-4
11. Orlando Magic
7th in the East
The Magic are definitely my sleeper team. Some requirements of a sleeper team include winning unexpectedly, and mostly not being very good to begin with. I can agree Aaron Gordon and Vucevic are great players, but outside of them some of these guys, particularly Augustine and Fournier, wouldn’t start on most of these teams in the playoffs. That being said, even though they aren’t very good, their hot play as of late is what makes them so dangerous, especially if Toronto’s starting point guard continues to disappoint in the playoffs.
Prediction: Magic lose series 3-4
12. Utah Jazz
5th in the West
The Jazz simply aren’t intimidating as some specific players are. Rudy Gobert is a defensive force inside the paint, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re facing the Rockets who shoot the 3 ball more than anyone. Donovan Mitchell will seek revenge as his season was not only ended by Houston last year, but also ended in knee surgery.
Prediction: Jazz lose series 2-4
13. San Antonio Spurs
7th in the West
San Antonio looks to spoil Denver’s breakout season as they’ve already taken home field advantage away from the Nuggets. Jokic triple double simply wasn’t enough and that could spell trouble for Denver. Over their last 32 games the Nuggets are only 17-15, and after sitting comfortably in first place all season fell behind Golden State and now have to face off with Derozan and Coach Pop. Even though they beat San Antonio with talent, San Antonio beats them with experience, which usually means everything during these games.
Prediction: Spurs win Series 4-3
14. Indiana Pacers
5th in the East
After the Oladipo injury the Pacers continued right where he left them off. They quietly held atop the East at the 3rd seed for weeks before they started to fall apart. The Pacers looked like one of the weakest teams in the playoffs as the season ended and a spark in the playoffs is going to be exactly what they need. They should play competitive with Boston all series long, but the end result should be Boston moving on.
Prediction: Pacers lose series 1-4
15. Los Angeles Clippers
8th in the West
The Clippers weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs this season, so consider it a success. Getting past Golden State in the first round? That would be the equivalent of an NBA title for them. They do have a great young roster so to all my Clippers fans out there, you should be extremely proud of your team. Remember at one point this team had JJ, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and Deandre Jordan. This rebuild resulted in a playoff berth… and at least you’re better than the Lakers.
Prediction: Clippers lose series 0-4
16. Detroit Pistons
8th in the East
And then there was one. The Blake Griffin experiment seems to be more beneficial than detrimental so far. He’s shown the maturity and leadership Detroit has lacked since the old days with Sheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups. To top it off, he’s lead them to the playoffs this year