These predictions were made by Jacob Ortiz, owner of Leading Sports Media Network. These predictions do not represent those of Legion Hoops.
#1 Celtics vs #8 Bulls
The Celtics were shockingly able to secure the #1 seed in the East this season, and it wasn’t by accident. The Celtics, led by PG sensation Isaiah Thomas, haven’t been a first seed since 2008, when KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen led Boston to its 17th NBA Championship. This year, Isaiah Thomas had his best regular season of his career, averaging almost 30 points a game. With the addition of Al Horford and Jaylen Brown, the Celtics have turned from a moderately talented team to a title contending team. The Bulls, led by Jimmy Butler, win on the last day of the regular season to secure their playoff spot. Although the Bulls have had their struggles throughout the season, you can’t forget about veteran Dwyane Wade, who has a knack for coming up huge in the postseason.
Our prediction: This is a GREAT matchup for the Bulls, and it will be a close matchup, but we feel the Celtics will eventually overpower the Bulls, even if they do end up playing on TNT. Celtics win the series, 4-2.
#2 Cavaliers vs #7 Pacers
The Cavaliers have experienced adversity before. Just in case you forgot, the Cavaliers were down 3-1 in last year’s Finals, and we all know how that went. The Cavaliers, since March 1st, have a record of 10-14, which many of the Cavaliers players have shown anger towards. The Pacers, led by Paul George, who is playing his best basketball of the season at the moment, averaging 30.5 points in his last 10 games. We had a preview of this series earlier this month, with the Cavaliers coming on top 135-130 in double overtime. Although the Pacers can definitely make the Cavaliers work, we feel playoff LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love will outperform Indiana’s effort. Something interesting to watch will definitely be LeBron go against Lance Stephenson again, something that was extremely fun to watch when they squared off a few years ago.
Our prediction: Paul George and Lance Stephenson are going to give the struggling Cavs trouble, but playoff LeBron doesn’t exit in the first round. Cavaliers win the series, 4-1.
#3 Raptors vs #6 Bucks
Toronto’s dynamic duo, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, impressed this season. Kyle Lowry, who is now back from injury, seems ready for playoff basketball. The Raps have been on a tear recently, going 12-2 in their last 14 games. The team as a whole seems to be clicking together well with the addition of Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. The Bucks have exceeded our expectations, driven by Giannis Antetokounmpo. This will be great playoff experience for the young core, but we see the Raptors as a team too much to handle for the young Milwaukee team.
Our prediction: Kyle Lowry will be the key to this series. We believe he will initially struggle, but eventually will lead the Raps to victory in an extremely close series. Raptors win the series, 4-3.
#4 Wizards vs #5 Hawks
Washington played extremely well this season, with the stellar duo Bradley Beal and John Wall leading the way. The question that lingers, is it finally John Wall’s time to shine in the playoffs? Bradley Beal has improved dramatically this season, and it seems that the Wizards can compete with anyone in the East. The Hawks, with one of the NBA’s best frontcourts in Dwight Howard and All-Star Paul Millsap, have playoff experience all throughout their roster. We feel this series will be an extremely entertaining one – going right down to the wire.
Our prediction: LOOK OUT FOLKS, it’s finally time for John Wall to showcase what he has. Wizards win the series, 4-2.
#1 Warriors vs #8 Blazers
As Damian Lillard claimed, “Blazers in 6.” Not so fast, Damian. The Blazers have a great squad this year, Damian Lillard has been putting in work, averaging 27 points a game. However, the Warriors are a championship-or-bust team, and rightfully so. With Kevin Durant back in the lineup, the Warriors are fully manned and are ready to chase that championship. The Blazers might be able to squeak through one game in Portland, but we don’t see it.
Our prediction: The Blazers are a great team, but without the talents of Nurkic, I don’t see Portland winning a single game. Warriors win the series, 4-0.
#2 Spurs vs #7 Grizzlies
Kawhi Leonard has been on a mission this season. Yeah, he won’t win MVP, and he may not win DPOY, but he has been an outstanding contributor to his team. Something interesting to watch will be the Gasol brothers, facing off in the playoffs for the first time in their careers. Tony Allen will most likely miss the series, which will greatly test the Grizzlies defense all series. We believe it will be too much to handle, as the Spurs are focused on winning yet another title.
Our prediction: Spurs basketball comes out on top, it may not be the most fun to watch, but it is super efficient. Spurs win the series, 4-1.
#3 Rockets vs #6 Thunder
All eyes on this series. It seems that the biggest debate in the NBA this year is the MVP race, with most of the attention heading towards James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The argument for Harden is, wins are more important than triple doubles are. Well, the ONLY thing that matters in the playoffs is winning. The Thunder’s addition of Taj Gibson helped them solidify their front court, but the hot shooting of the Rockets is something that OKC will struggle to stop.
Our prediction: Westbrook won’t let OKC go down easy, but Houston is too stacked with shooters to go down. Wins > triple doubles in terms of the playoffs. Rockets win the series, 4-2.
#4 Clippers vs #5 Jazz
The Clippers have consistently come up short in the playoffs, even though the talent on their roster is high, led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Utah has turned heads this year, led by All-Star Gordon Hayward and DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert. Los Angeles, in our opinion, has a little more of a depth edge on Utah. As we predict the series to go the distance, we feel that the depth of the Clippers and the home court advantage will be vital.
Our prediction: Rudy Gobert will be a major piece in the Jazz’ playoff hopes, if he can get it going, the Jazz will have a great chance. However, LA has too much depth for the Jazz to handle. It will be CLOSE. Clippers win the series, 4-3.