The Eastern Conference is owned by 3 teams and they are located in Milwaukee, Boston and Philadelphia. The Bucks are a loaded squad who has been on a mission all season. The Celtics are the defending Eastern Conference Champions, who quietly have put together another lethal squad. The 76ers have been following “The Process” for what feels like 15 years, but this group might finally bear fruit in the postseason. The Bucks need the Top Seed much more than the Celtics or Sixers do. It would allow them to avoid the Celtics/Sixers battle until the Conference Finals if they got there.
Outside of the Big 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers are lurking as the 4 seed. If they can stay focused, they can make noise and cause some squads to sweat. They will face the Knicks is the First Round and they went 1-3 against them this season. The winner of the Heat vs Hawks Play In Game might give the Celtics trouble for 1 game in the First Round. The Bucks will need to wait for the Play In Games to complete before we know their matchup.
As of April 7th
PLAY IN ROUND:
- 7th MIAMI HEAT VS 8th ATLANTA HAWKS
- 9th TORONTO RAPTORS vs 10th CHICAGO BULLS
I am taking the Miami Heat to win their Play-In Game and capture the 7 Seed. The Hawks will await the winner of the 9/10 Play-In Game and I believe that will be the Toronto Raptors. The Hawks, led by Trae Young will rebound and beat the Raptors to clinch the 8 Seed.
8 SEED ATLANTA HAWKS AT 1 SEED MILWAUKEE BUCKS:
- The Bucks need to be locked in from the start and take care of business.
- Middleton is the key for the Bucks in the postseason. When he was out last year, the team struggled down the stretch.
- Young and the Hawks did give the Bucks some fits in the 2021 playoffs and split their 4 games this year.
- PREDICTION: BUCKS IN 5 GAMES
7 SEED MIAMI HEAT VS 2 SEED BOSTON CELTICS:
- The Celtics are a polished and disciplined team that won’t look past the Heat
- Tatum and Company are on a mission to defend their Eastern Conference Title.
- Jimmy Butler has the tendency to go off (See 2020 Bubble Playoffs) and if he does, it could be interesting.
- This is also a rematch of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals, where the Celtics won in 7 games.
- PREDICTION: CELTICS IN 5 GAMES
6 SEED BROOKLYN NETS VS 3 SEED PHILADELPHIA 76ERS:
- The Sixers are truly a force and Embiid has a supporting cast.
- James Harden has a chance to show off against his former squad.
- The Nets are literally that…. nets and a shell of what they were.
- PREDICTION: 76ERS SWEEP THE NETS
5 SEED NEW YORK KNICKS VS 4 SEED CLEVELAND CAVALIERS:
- This will be the best series in the First Round hands down
- The winner will be decided on which pair is locked in Mitchell & Garland (Cavaliers) or Randle & Brunson (Knicks).
- Will the Cavs be able to shrug off the 1-3 record vs New York in the Regular Season?
- PREDICTION: CAVALIERS IN 7 GAMES
4 SEED CLEVELAND CAVALIERS VS 1 SEED MILWAUKEE BUCKS:
- The Bucks need Middleton, Holiday, Lopez, Portis and Allen to remain focused and prevent everything falling on Giannis.
- Bucks can’t overlook their division rivals and towards a potential Eastern Conference Finals tilt against the Celtics of Sixers, if they do they could waste another opportunity for a Title
- The Cavs need Donovan Mitchell to show up in a BIG way, but also get solid contributions from Garland, LeVert, and Mobley
- To beat Milwaukee, you need to get Giannis in foul trouble early, hit your 3’s and prevent a 10 to 12 point run.
- PREDICTION: BUCKS IN 6 GAMES
3 SEED PHILADELPHIA 76ERS VS 2 SEED BOSTON CELTICS:
- The Celtics took 3 of the 4 Regular Season matchups with the only loss being 103-101 on April 4th
- James Harden is playoff tested, but the pressure is on Embiid to dominate.
- For the Sixers to make some noise, Maxey, Melton and Niang need to show up on both ends of the court.
- The arsenal of Tatum, Brown, Brogdon, White, Smart, Horford, Williams and Williams is very dangerous
- The Celtics took down the Bucks last year because Grant Williams had a career series, which player will be the difference maker in this showcase?
- PREDICTION: CELTICS IN 7 GAMES
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS:
2 SEED BOSTON CELTICS VS 1 SEED MILWAUKEE BUCKS:
- Can the Celtics return to the NBA Finals?
- Boston had home court last year in the 2nd Round and they won in 7 games.
- Giannis must stay out of foul trouble and spread the ball around…..can’t be a 1 man Army
- If Middleton is healthy, this Bucks squad will have a full squad and they must maximize their opportunities.
- PREDICTION: BUCKS IN 7 GAMES
We’ll find out who will meet the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals very soon. Next up will be our Western Conference Playoffs Preview. Will the Nuggets take care of business, are the Kings for real, will the Suns make a run or will the Warriors get off the mat and defend their World Championship?