Brooklyn Nets (8) vs. Atlanta Hawks (1)
The Hawks enter the playoffs with the best mark in the eastern conference, 60-22. However, the Hawks have many doubters because they lack a true superstar. Fortunately, the Hawks have one of the best teams in the league because they play like a team and are deep.
The Nets narrowly made the playoffs, but finished the season winning 13 of their last 19 games. The Nets were under 500, but are dangerous due to their experience, talent, and Brook Lopez’s latest domination of the NBA. However, they have never melded as an unit and Deron Williams has not played like a superstar since leaving Utah.
Prediction: Hawks win in 5
Boston Celtics (7) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (2)
Although the Cavs are the second best team in the east, they are favored to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. The Cavs have been one of the best teams since the all star break because LeBron has learned to play with Irving and Love, which forms the best big three. The trades for Shumpert, Smith, and Mozgov significantly improved their defense and depth.
Brad Stevens has done an absolutely great job with the Boston Celtics. Although the Celts have dealt their best players, Stevens has been able to turn average players in quality starters. The Celts will not have the talent to play with the Cavs, but they will play incredibly hard.
Prediction: Cavs win in 4
Milwaukee Bucks (6) vs. Chicago Bulls (3)
At times during the season, the Bulls have looked like the best team in the league. Finally, the Bulls are moderately healthy and should play their best basketball of the season. Although they will play incredible defense, they will not be able to win without Rose playing like a superstar and Gasol, Noah, and Butler playing at a high level.
Although it is unlikely, Jason Kidd should win the Coach of the Year because he has led the team with the worst record to the playoffs without their second best player, Jabari Parker. The Bucks have transformed into a great defensive team due to their length, Greek Freak, MCW, and Khris Middleton. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they have the worst record against over 500 teams, 9-27, of any playoff team.
Predictions: Bulls win in 5
Washington Wizards (5) vs. Toronto Raptors (4)
For the second straight season, the Raptors have won the Atlantic Division and possess home court in the playoffs. Unfortunately, they have not been playing their best basketball due to injuries, especially Kyle Lowry. If Lowry does not play at a high level, he will not be able to match Wall’s production.
The Wizards took a big step forward last season when they beat the Bulls in 5 games. During the offseason, they acquired small forward, Paul Pierce, who was made for the playoffs. Last season, Pierce was a key factor in the Nets victory over the Raptors. The experience of winning a round in the playoffs and their toughness should make them a tough out.
Wizards win in 6