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Let the Playoffs Begin

Golden State Warriors Begin Title Defense as Playoff Begin

What an absolutely wild last few days of the regular season. From teams jockeying for position, to stunning fourth quarter comebacks, to all-time legends retiring, it’s been overwhelming, to say the least.

With that said, the NBA Playoff bracket is officially set! We know the 16 teams and 8 first round matchups that await us. The playoffs begin this Saturday, April 13.

Here is a quick preview! Also, check out the latest episode of the BallnRoll Pick-n-Pod right here for completely breakdown and predictions for the first round of the NBA Playoffs!

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‼️The 2019 #NBAPlayoffs are set‼️

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Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Detroit Pistons

Season Series: 4-0 Bucks

The Pistons literally hobbled their way into the playoffs, getting in by the skin of their teeth over a resurgent Hornets squad. Blake Griffin even missed the last game with a knee injury and there will be serious concerns about his health.  The Bucks are still dealing with injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Nikola Mirotic, but they shouldn’t have many issues with the Pistons. Expect this to be a quick series.

Game 1: Pistons at Bucks, Sunday, Apr. 14, 7pm – on TNT

  • Bucks win Game 1 (121-86)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) scores 24 points, grabs 17 rebounds in 23 minutes of action
  • Blake Griffin (DET) ruled out for the series with knee injury

Game 2: Pistons at Bucks, Wednesday, Apr. 17, 8pm – on NBA TV

  • Bucks win in another blow out to take 2-0 series lead (120-99)
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo scores 26 points, grabs down 12 boards
  • Andre Drummond (DET) finishes night with 18 points, 16 rebounds

Game 3: Bucks at Pistons, Saturday, Apr. 20, 8pm – on ESPN

  • Bucks push Pistons to brink, take 3-0 commanding series lead (119-103)
  • Griffin returns for Pistons, scores 27 points in losing effort
  • Khris Middleton (MIL) scores 20 points to lead the way for the Bucks

Game 4: Bucks at Pistons, Monday, Apr. 22, 8pm – on TNT

Game 5: Pistons at Bucks, TBD

Game 6: Bucks at Pistons, TBD

Game 7: Pistons at Bucks, TBD

(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Orlando Magic

Season Series: 2-2

Kudos to the Orlando Magic for ending the longest playoff drought in the Eastern Conference, as this will be their first appearance since 2012. They ended the season on fire, winning 10 of their final 12 games led by some inspiring play from Nikola Vucevic and Terrence Ross. They’ve actually fared well against the Raptors this year, splitting their season series 2-2, but with the Raptors hungry, and with something to prove in this year’s playoffs, this could be a quick series. Kawhi has said that his season begins in the playoffs; let’s see how he elevates his game.

Game 1: Magic at Raptors, Saturday, Apr. 13, 5pm – on ESPN

  • Magic win Game 1 (104-101)
  • DJ Augustin (ORL) scores 25 point, including game-winning three-pointer
  • Kyle Lowry (TOR) held scoreless

Game 2: Magic at Raptors, Tuesday, Apr. 16, 8pm – on TNT

  • Raptors nod up series at 1-1 with blow out win (111-82)
  • Leonard (TOR) too much for Magic, scores 37 points. Pascal Siakam (TOR) adds 19 points and 10 rebounds
  • Lowry with big bounce back performance, scores 22 points, dishes out 7 assists

Game 3: Raptors at Magic, Friday, Apr. 19, 7pm – on ESPN

  • Raptors take 2-1 series lead by edging the Magic on the road (98-93)
  • Siakam led the way for the Raptors scoring 30 points and 11 rebounds
  • Terrence Ross (ORL) scores 24 points off the bench

Game 4: Raptors at Magic, Sunday, Apr. 21, 7pm – on TNT

Game 5: Magic at Raptors, TBD

Game 6: Raptors at Magic, TBD

Game 7: Magic at Raptors, TBD

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets

Season Series: 2-2

This is all of the sudden the most intriguing first round match up in the Eastern Conference. News popped up out of nowhere yesterday, when 76ers general manager Elton Brand said that “it’s possible” Joel Embiid won’t be ready for the start of the postseason. Make no mistake about it, Embiid is the 76ers most important player and his absence could prove costly. The Nets, are young, hungry, talented, and are playing with house money. They’ve played well against the 76ers this season, splitting the series, and will feel as though they have a legitimate shot at advancing.

Game 1: Nets at 76ers, Saturday Apr. 13, 2:30pm – on ESPN

  • Nets shock Sixers with Game 1 win (111-102)
  • D’Angelo Russel (BRK) and Caris LaVert (BRK) combine for 49 points in the win
  • Jimmy Butler (PHI) scores 36 points in defeat

Game 2: Nets at 76ers, Monday, Apr. 15, 8pm – on TNT

  • Sixers tie up series at 1-1 following blowout victory (145-123)
  • Joel Embiid (PHI) led the way with 23 points and 10 rebounds
  • Nets received 84 points off the bench

Game 3: 76ers at Nets, Thursday, Apr. 18, 8pm – on TNT

  • Sixers take 2-1 series lead with road win (131-115)
  • Ben Simmons (PHI) scored 31 points, Tobias Harris (PHI) added 29 points and 16 rebounds, while JJ Redick (PHI) chipped in with 26 points of his own.
  • Embiid held out of action with knee soreness

Game 4: 76ers at Nets, Saturday, Apr. 20, 3pm – on TNT

  • Sixers take 3-1 series lead (112-108)
  • Jared Dudley (BRK), Butler receive ejections
  • Embiid finishes game with 31 points and 16 rebounds, Harris adds 24 points of his own

Game 5: Nets at 76ers, TBD

Game 6: 76ers at Nets, TBD

Game 7: Nets at 76ers , TBD

(4) Boston Celtics vs. (5) Indiana Pacers

Season Series: 3-1 Celtics

The fact that the Pacers have managed to hold on to a 5 seed after losing their best player early on in the season deserves high praise. No matter what happens in this series, they should be proud of the season they had. Even though they are coming into this series as considerable underdogs, it’s not like they have no chance. The Celtics have looked vulnerable all year and the injury to Marcus Smart could be more significant than it appears at first glance. Call me crazy, but a part of me still thinks that the Celtics are going to hit top gear and start playing better basketball. If that is the case, the Pacers are in trouble.

Game 1: Pacers at Celtics, Sunday, Apr. 14, 1pm – on TNT

  • Celtics take Game 1 (84-74)
  • Pacers held to 29 second half points
  • Marcus Morris (BOS) scores 20 points off the bench

Game 2: Pacers at Celtics, Wednesday, Apr. 17, 7pm – on TNT

  • Pacers blow game late, fall down 0-2 (99-91)
  • Kyrie Irving (BOS) scores 37 points in Game 2 win
  • Celtics limit Pacers to 12 fourth quarter points

Game 3: Celtics at Pacers, Friday, Apr. 19, 8:30pm – on ABC

  • Celtics push Pacers to the bring, take 3-0 series lead (104-96)
  • Irving leads Celtics with 23 points and seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum (BOS) adds 18 points of his own
  • Seven Pacers players finish game in double-digits.

Game 4: Celtics at Pacers, Sunday, Apr. 21, 1pm – on ABC

Game 5: Pacers at Celtics, TBD

Game 6: Celtics at Pacers, TBD

Game 7: Pacers at Celtics, TBD

 

Western Conference

(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (8) Los Angeles Clippers

Season Series: 3-1 Warriors

No, that is not a typo; it says Clippers, not Lakers. I am still trying how the Clippers are in the playoffs. At the deadline, this team traded away their best player, effectively punting this season and preparing for the off-season and future. Instead, they’ve gone on to play some inspiring basketball, with one the best records in the NBA since the All-Star break. Their reward? A first-round meeting with the two-time defending champions, Golden State Warriors. Barring serious injuries to Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, it’s hard to see this series not being a sweep.

Game 1: Clippers at Warriors, Saturday, Apr. 13, 8pm – on ABC

  • Warriors win Game 1 (121-104)
  • Stephen Curry (GSW) leads the way with 38 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists, including eight three-pointers
  • Kevin Durant (GSW), Patrick Beverley (LAC) ejected with 4:41 remaining in the game

Game 2: Clippers at Warriors, Monday, Apr. 15, 10:30pm – on TNT

  • Clippers complete largest postseason comeback in history to tie series at 1-1 (135-131)
  • DeMarcus Cousins (GSW) left game four minutes in with a quad injury
  • Lou Williams (LAC) led the Clippers with 36 points and 11 assists off the bench, Montrezl Harrell (LAC) added 25 points and 10 rebounds of his own

Game 3: Warriors at Clippers, Thursday, Apr. 18, 10:30pm – on TNT

  • Warriors bounce back with big Game 3 win (132-105)
  • Durant scores 38 ponts
  • Williams, JaMychel Green (LAC), and Harrell combine for 46 points off the bench for the Clippers

Game 4: Warriors at Clippers, Sunday, Apr. 21, 3:30pm – on ABC

Game 5: Clippers at Warriors, TBD

Game 6: Warriors at Clippers, TBD

Game 7: Clippers at Warriors, TBD

(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (7) San Antonio Spurs

Season Series: 2-2

The Nuggets jockeying for position down the stretch got them exactly what they wanted; a first round meeting with the Spurs, and a path to the Western Conference finals, avoiding the Warriors and Rockets. This could be a very dangerous game to play or it could be a stroke of genius. For all of struggles this season, the Spurs are still coached by Greg Popovich and have two All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. As Nuggets coach Michael Malone said, “Pop have 5 championship rings, I have a wedding ring.” The Nuggets have the talent but the Spurs have the coaching and experience. This should be an interesting series. Home-court advantage could prove pivotal.

Game 1: Spurs at Nuggets, Saturday, Apr. 13, 10:30pm – on ESPN

  • Spurs steal Game 1 on the road (101-96)
  • DeMar DeRozan (SAS) leads Spurs with 18 points
  • Nikola Jokic (DEN) finishes with 10 point, 14 rebound, and 14 assist triple-double

Game 2: Spurs at Nuggets, Tuesday, Apr. 16, 9pm – on NBA TV

  • Nuggets tie series at 1-1 (114-105)
  • Four Nuggets score at least 20 points
  • DeRozan finishes night leading all scores with 31 points

Game 3: Nuggets at Spurs, Thursday, Apr. 18, 9pm – on NBA TV

  • Spurs take 2-1 series lead with 10-point home win (118-108)
  • Derrick White (SAS) scores 36 points, including 26 points in the first half, DeRozan adds 25 points.
  • Jokic scored 22 points in loss.

Game 4: Nuggets at Spurs, Saturday, Apr. 20, 5:30pm – on TNT

  • Nuggets tie up series at 2-2 (117-103)
  • Jokic scores 29 points, grabs 12 boards, and dishes out 8 assists, Jamal Murray (DEN) adds 24 points
  • DeRozan ejected after flinging ball at referee in the fourth quarter

Game 5: Spurs at Nuggets, TBD

Game 6: Nuggets at Spurs, TBD

Game 7: Spurs at Nuggets, TBD

(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs. (6) Oklahoma City Thunder

Season Series: 4-0 Thunder 

It took some heavy lifting for both of these teams to get to this position. First, the Thunder had to pull off a 14-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Houston Rockets a couple a nights ago, before defeating (a reserve-filled) Bucks squad without Paul George. The Blazers, meanwhile, needed a buzzer beater from Moe Harkless to defeat the Lakers and a 28-point comeback (!) against the Kings without Lillard and McCollum. Now that the two teams got what they wanted, let’s see what happens. The Thunder have dominated the Blazers this year, sweeping the season series 4-0, but that won’t discourage the Blazers as they know they have home-court advantage in this series.

Game 1: Thunder at Blazers, Sunday, Apr 14, 3:30pm – on ABC

  • Blazers hold onto take Game 1 (104-99)
  • Damian Lillard (POR) scores 30 points, Enes Kanter (POR) adds 20 points, 18 rebounds
  • Russell Westbrook (OKC) scores 24 points, grabs 10 boards and dishes out 10 assists for playoff triple-double

Game 2: Thunder at Blazers, Tuesday, Apr. 16, 10:30pm – on TNT

  • Blazers take Game 2 with resounding win (114-94)
  • CJ McCollum (POR), Lillard combine for 52 points
  • Paul George (OKC) scores 27 points in the loss

Game 3: Blazers at Thunder, Friday, Apr. 19, 9:30pm – on ESPN

  • Thunder get a big win at home, series now at 2-1 (120-108)
  • Westbrook bounces back with 33 points (on 50% shooting), 11 assists, and five rebounds
  • Lillard scores 32 points in the loss

Game 4: Blazers at Thunder, Sunday, Apr. 21, 9:30pm – on TNT

Game 5: Thunder at Blazers, TBD

Game 6: Blazers at Thunder, TBD

Game 7: Thunder at Blazers, TBD

(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Utah Jazz

Season Series: 2-2

Having played so well since the All-Star break, and only a game out of the 2nd,  the Rockets will be extremely disappointed to end up with a 4 seed. The Jazz, on the other hand, will be thrilled to have gotten up to a 5 seed after yet another strong second half to the season. These teams split the season series and I fully expect a close, competitive series here. The Jazz are no strangers to first round upsets, either, eliminating the Thunder in last year’s playoffs.

Game 1: Jazz at Rockets, Sunday, Apr. 14, 9:30pm – on TNT

  • Rockets blow out Jazz to win Game 1 (122-90)
  • James Harden (HOU) leads the way with 29 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds
  • Jazz hold Harden to only three free throw attempts

Game 2: Jazz at Rockets, Wednesday, Apr. 17, 9:30pm – on TNT

  • Rockets wins by another wide margin to take 2-0 lead (118-98)
  • Harden scores 32 points, along with 13 rebounds and 10 assists
  • Royce O’Neale (UTA) scores 17 points off the bench

Game 3: Rockets at Jazz, Saturday, Apr. 20, 10:30pm – on ESPN

  • Rockets win Game 3 on the road to go up 3-0 (104-101)
  • Donovan Mitchell (UTA) scores 34 points albeit on 9-for-27 shooting, missed the game tying three-pointer in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter
  • Jazz held Harden to 0-for-14 from the field for first three quarters, Harden finishes with 22 points on 3-for-20 shooting and 10 assists

Game 4: Rockets at Jazz, Monday, Apr. 22, 10:30pm – on TNT

Game 5: Jazz at Rockets, TBD

Game 6: Rockets at Jazz, TBD

Game 7: Jazz at Rockets, TBD

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