NBA Eastern Conference 1st Round Playoff Preview

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018 6:29 PM UTC

The battle for Eastern Conference supremacy is about to begin and below we break each series down and, after a quick check of the NBA odds board, deliver our choice on each. Let’s go!

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Markelle Fultz (13 PTS, 10 AST, 10 REB) notches his 1st career triple-double in the @sixers 16th consecutive win, becoming the youngest player in NBA History to record a triple-double! #HereTheyCome pic.twitter.com/jUonTj939C

— NBA (@NBA) April 12, 2018
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Eastern ConferenceNo. 1 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 8 Washington WizardsSeason Series: 2-2 SU & 2-2 ATSPlayoff Series Prediction: Raptors 4-1Eastern Conference Championship Odds: Raptors +158Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

The last time these Eastern Conference foes tipped off was back on March 2nd when the Raptors dribbled out of DC with a 102-95 decision as 3 ½ point road chalk. Since that time the Wizards have been playing more like a playoff pretender than a postseason contender, having registered a 7-13 straight up mark and an equally dismal 6-13-1 ATS record. Conversely, Toronto has gone 16-6 straight up but a far less impressive 10-12 against the number over that span. But the key to cashing our series NBA picks has nothing to do with covering the spread and everything to do with winning the game outright. The Raps are locked and loaded to roll over a listless Washington squad and could be a fine addition to a series parlay due to the unpalatable NBA odds.

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Milwaukee BucksSeason Series: 2-2 SU & Boston 3-1 ATSPlayoff Series Prediction: Celtics 4-2Eastern Conference Championship Odds: Celtics +2950Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

It would hardly surprise me if many of my fellow handicappers found value on the No. 7 seed Bucks in this series as the Celtics’ roster has been decimated by injuries, particularly the most recent to Kyrie Irving. However, the coach of this team, Brad Stevens, has defied logic and inspired a cast of young, burgeoning superstars along with a few castoffs to go to battle when called upon. Over Milwaukee’s last 26 games the team has gone a subpar 12-14 straight up and 10-16 ATS. On the other side, Boston’s triumvirate of Marcus Morris, Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum are all averaging at least 16.9 points since the injury to Irving and should continue to, at least partially, fill that gaping void in the starting lineup.

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Miami HeatSeason Series: 2-2 SU & 2-2 ATSPlayoff Series Prediction: 76ers 4-1Eastern Conference Championship Odds: 76ers +615Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

Although it would be deliciously contrarian to rain on the 76ers parade, the fact of the matter is that the talent disparity between these clubs is too great. Philadelphia started well and ended in spectacular fashion, having not lost a game since March 15th and winning 16 straight with an ATS record of 11-5 over that time. If Joel Embiid can recover from the orbital fracture that has sidelined him for nearly two weeks then the Heat should just throw in the towel and call this a mercy killing. Yes, the season series is even both in terms of straight up and against the number but the way the Sixers have jelled as the season has worn on illustrates just how good this team is entering the postseason. I’ll give the Heat a game just because they have been competitive against Philadelphia this season but no more than that.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Indiana PacersSeason Series: Pacers 3-1 SU & 3-1 ATSPlayoff Series Prediction: Cavaliers 4-2Eastern Conference Championship Odds: Cavaliers +129Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

There’s been plenty to talk about regarding Cleveland this season with the departure of second-in-command Kyrie Irving to Boston for the Celtics’ All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas. As we know, Thomas’s tenure in Cleveland lasted about as long as a cup of coffee and the Cavaliers have been somewhat schizophrenic this season. However, as the regular season wound down the Cavaliers geared up, ripping off 11 wins over their last 13 contests. Since the trade deadline, LeBron has been even more of a beast, averaging 29.4 points on shooting nearly 54 percent from the field, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game. We’ll grant Indiana a pair of games in this one but ultimately the defending Eastern Conference champs will advance.

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