With the first round of the NBA postseason coming to a close, it’s time to look ahead to the second round. There are 14 remaining teams in contention for the illustrious Larry O’Brien trophy, and I predict a wildly entertaining second round. Since the Western Conference won’t start the second round until next week sometime, I can only predict the Eastern Conference matchups in front of us.
EASTERN CONFERENCE, ROUND TWO
BUCKS VS. HEAT
In round one, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Orlando Magic in five games and the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in four games. Both teams were the dominant force in their respective series, and I think this will be a very competitive round of basketball.
I don’t think it needs to be said that the Bucks are a great basketball team. Giannis Antetokounmpo is currently averaging 30 points and 16 rebounds a game, which is a freakishly good stat (No wonder they call him the Greek Freak, huh?) Giannis is aided by star shooter and defender Kris Middleton, who is shooting 45% from the field at the moment. While on paper it may seem that Giannis doesn’t have much help and that the Bucks wouldn’t be as good as they are, this team simply gels together.
Miami, on the other hand, looks great on paper. All-Star caliber Jimmy Butler, young phenom Tyler Herro, paint beast Bam Adebayo, and red hot Duncan Robinson are currently leading the Heat to a great postseason start. While the Bucks have a clear scoring leader in Giannis, the Heat are much more balanced. Five players on the Heat average over 10 points a game, showing how versatile this team is. I could argue that the Heat work together as a system better than the Bucks do.
All of that being said, I think the Heat have a chance to pull off the upset in this series. Obviously, the series hinders on Giannis and if the Heat can defend him. Should the Heat find a way to stall Giannis while they get hot, there is a big chance the Heat take it in seven games. Although, Giannis is a phenomenal talent and will push the Heat to their absolute limits.
I may like the Heat and their chances, but I’m a realist. I’m predicting the Bucks take this series in six or seven games.
CELTICS VS. RAPTORS
In this matchup you have the defending champions in the Raptors versus the young and balanced Celtics. The Celtics defeated the 76’ers in the first round in four games, and the Raptors also defeated the Nets in four games. At the time of this article being written, the Celtics have already taken game one from the Raptors and have moved up one to zero in the series.
The first thing that needs to be said about the Celtics is that they are a very deep team. They boast a talented starting lineup of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and Daniel Theis, while having great role players in Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter. The Celtics often only need one of these players to get hot for them to have a good chance at winning the game, and when a few of them get hot, they will almost certainly win. Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker are both gifted scorers who can always be relied on for a bucket, and will be pivotal in the Celtics success.
The Raptors are not as lucky when it comes to depth. Pascal Siakim has blossomed into a great centerpiece for the Raptors, and he has a good supporting backcourt of Fred Vanvleet and Kyle Lowry behind him. However, the cast of players behind those three just aren’t that good. Serge Ibaka is athletic but old, Terence Davis is spotty, and don’t even get me started on Stanley Johnson. For the Raptors to win this series, they will need almost perfect games from Siakim and one other player, likely Lowry or Vanvleet.
I definitely haven't counted out the Raptors yet, but I don’t see a scenario where they take this series. I predict the Celtics win in six or seven games.
We shall see what happens in the Western Conference, but I think everyone’s predicting a Western Conference Finals of Lakers v Clippers and an Eastern Conference Finals of Bucks v Celtics. Whatever happens, even if my predictions are wrong, it’ll be fun to watch.