Sport

NBA Playoffs 1st Rd Line Report: Mon April 15

NBA Playoffs 1st Rd Line Report: Mon April 15”

The East is wide open.

With LeBron James gone to the West and this year gone entirely from the postseason, the Eastern Conference headquarters for the NBA Finals won't be in his home for the first time since 2010. The Clippers have been seldom fazed while playing in the raucous Oracle Arena, covering four of their previous five meetings on the road. The Warriors truly had a mess of a season for their standards, but still managed to finish out with the best record in the regular season. Our picks to reach the conference finals span all four top seeds, and most of us served up the Toronto Raptors as chum for the Warriors. For the second straight season, Mitchell gets matched up against the reigning NBA MVP in Round 1. For the last eight seasons, James went to eight straight NBA Finals with the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Pistons center Andre Drummond was a force on the glass and at the rim. But Beverley takes great pride in being one of the NBA's biggest pests, a super-tough, super-aggressive defender who can, and will, cause problems. The Pistons were 25th in the National Basketball Association in that category at 107 per game. In 2 games, Boogie averaged just 13 points and 7.5 rebounds on 35% shooting against LA this year.

Hidden storyline: Blake Griffin's health is a major concern for the Pistons. The Pistons, who didn't clinch a playoff berth until the fight night of the season, are 4-0 against the Bucks in the postseason.

Durant has averaged 25.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists in almost three seasons with the Warriors, playing just more than 34 minutes per game.

No. 2 Raptors vs. But behind a historic scoring season by James Harden, Houston still has one of the strongest defenses in the league, anchored by a switchable Clint Capela and an extremely versatile P.J. Tucker.

San Antonio and Denver is a matchup between two teams that enter the playoffs with a number of categories that point to the under.

Stat to know: Both teams enter the playoffs on a roll. If they do so, they'll become the fourth franchise in National Basketball Association history to accomplish the feat. He'll certainly have multiple options in free agency and an early playoff exit by the Raptors would not help their chances of retaining him.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. He played an integral role in helping Golden State win the title the past two seasons and leading the Warriors to a No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs this year. Finding and conquering the NBA Finals in both the last two seasons, Durant has made the Dubs arguably the most unstoppable team of all time. The Houston Rockets totaled 27 three-pointers in a game versus the Phoenix Suns, refreshing their own record of most three-pointers made in one game.

Hidden storyline: Embiid continues to be hampered by knee trouble and was sidelined for five of Philadelphia's final seven games. Brooklyn is a playoff team for the first time since 2015 and Orlando is back for the first time since 2012.

No. 4 Boston Celtics vs.

Players to watch: Kyrie Irving is the Celtics' star. He has been inconsistent during his return from a horrific leg injury that cost him nearly all of 2017-18. Meanwhile, Bojan Bogdanovic averaged 18 points per game and knocked down 42.5 percent of his 3-pointers in 2018-19.

The Warriors (57-25) secured the top seeding in the Western Conference by winning six in a row before losing their season finale. Boston was eighth in that category at 108 per game. The Pacers days are numbered and after heavily relied on All-Star Victor Oladipo had a season ending in late January. The Celtics didn't have the season they were hoping for, but I think they'll turn it on during the playoffs.



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