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(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Brooklyn Nets: Series Preview

We the North are defending champs

While the NBA is playing during an unusual time of year, it seems that most people have forgotten that the Toronto Raptors are the defending champions.

Of course, this is due to the fact that their star player last season, Kawhi Leonard is now a Los Angele Clipper. Toronto finished second place in the East with a 53-19 record.

Their bubble play ended with a four-game win streak. Some of their bubble wins happened against the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, and Milwaukee Bucks( without Giannis Antetokounmpo).

Despite losing Leonard, the Raptors were able to finish 2nd in defensive rating overall in the league. This clearly shows that no drop off of defense for the defending champs has kept them among the top-seeded teams in the Eastern Conference.

Brooklyn will have to go hard

On the other hand, the Brooklyn Nets are coming into the NBA Bubble as one of the most depleted teams. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan are three of Brooklyn’s top players who are not in Orlando.

Furthermore, the expectation for Brooklyn was to just hold on enough to the 7th seed and they did just that. Posting a 5-3 record in the bubble is more than impressive for a group of young hopeful players.

Caris LeVert played in six games for the Nets in their seeding games. He averaged 25 points per game, 6.7 assists per game, and shot 48 percent from the field.

Some of the Nets other young players that will show some fight are Jarrett Allen, Garrett Temple, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Brooklyn tried to add veteran leadership coming into the bubble by adding Jamal Crawford. However, Crawford suffered a hamstring injury in the Nets’ first seeding game. No update on his immediate availability has been given.

Back to the north for Brooklyn

While Brooklyn’s young and motivated team has shown signs not to give up easily, there is no answer for Pascal Siakam. I’m a fan of experience in these early first-round match ups and the defending champions have appeared as good as they were in the regular season.

Kyle Lowry is playing arguable some of the best basketball this year averaging 19.4 points per game, rebounds per game, and 7.5 assists per game. All career-highs this year alone.

The Nets could make this series a little more hard-fought-for Toronto but the deal gets closed in four games still. my series prediction? Bring out the brooms and bet on the Toronto Raptors in 4 games.


(2) Raptors vs (7) Nets East First Round Schedule

Game 1BKN @ TORESPN8/17/20 | 4:00 PM EST
Game 2BKN @ TORNBA TV8/19/20 |1:30 PM EST
Game 3TOR @ BKNNBA TV8/21/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 4TOR @ BKNTNT8/23/20 | 6:30 PM EST
Game 5*TBD If Needed
Game 6*TBD If Needed
Game 7*TBD If Needed


Click here to see other 2020 NBA Playoffs Series Previews

(2) Los Angeles Clippers vs (7) Dallas Mavericks: Series Preview

Clippers have early challenge against a rising star

The Los Angeles Clippers enter the postseason as one the deepest teams in the NBA and possible favorites to emerge from the West. Montrezel Harrell and Lou Williams will need to get back up to speed on the fly. Both players have missed multiple games in the bubble.

Doc Rivers’s primary goal will be implementing a variety of defensive schemes to slow down the Dallas Mavericks’ upcoming star, Luka Doncic. Clippers’ big man Ivica Zubac’s development inside is key as the Mavericks are ranked 28th in rebounding. Second-chance points and setting up on the defensive end will be key for controlling the pace.

Former Euro-league MVP Luka Doncic looks to make his first playoff appearance. It will be interesting to see if the Clippers use perimeter traps to get the ball out of his hands or play man.

His consistency to find the open man or make the winning basketball play will make it tough for any defense to contain.

Undoubtedly, Kristaps Porzingis would shoulder more offensive responsibility in the event Doncic has a bad game. He’s been rejuvenated since joining the Mavericks. Porzingis is quietly averaging close to 30 and 10 shooting 45% from the field in the bubble

Prediction

The Mavericks will look to test its league-leading offense against the Clippers fifth-ranked defense. The problem with that scenario is that the Clippers are ranked a slot behind them offensively.

I wouldn’t expect a ton of defense in this match-up seeing how the Clippers have been a bit out of sync in the bubble.

On the other hand, the Mavericks have seemed to found their stride with Luka playing out of his mind. Kawhi Leonard is on a mission to win another franchise its first championship in back to back seasons.

Every game should be a thriller but it would be foolish to expect anything other than a Clippers series win.

My Prediction? Clippers in 6

(2) Clippers vs (7) Mavericks West First Round Schedule

Game 1DAL @ LACESPN8/17/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 2DAL @ LAC TNT8/19/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 3LAC @ DALTNT8/21/20 | 9:00 PM EST
Game 4LAC @ DALABC8/23/20 | 3:30 PM EST
Game 5DAL @ LAC*TBD If Needed
Game 6LAC @ DAL*TBD If Needed
Game 7DAL @ LAC *TBD If Needed

Click here to see all 2020 NBA Playoffs Series preview!

(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Oklahoma City Thunder: Series Preview

Familiar faces and new foes in as Rockets and Thunder swapped point guards last summer

This is the series we never knew we’d want. Chris Paul looks to add revenge on the team who came within a game of beating the Warriors in 2018. After a short stint with the Houston Rockets, CP3 was then shipped to Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook and now the very following year they will face each other in a first-round playoff series.

Paul has been surprisingly very good with his new team in which many thought would be a rebuilding season. His guidance has lead to the development of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander whose increased his scoring by 9.1 points and 2.9 rebounds from a season ago.

The Rockets are going to have their hands full trying to contain him. They will have to move forward with Westbrook sidelined as you could imagine Harden playing the entire game. Eric Gordon is expected back but will not be full strength. Luc Mbah a Moute was brought back to shore up the defense but will have to clear quarantine protocols before rejoining the club.

James Harden will have to carry the Rockets

Indeed, James Harden has carried the Rockets before and he’ll have no complaints about doing so in the first round. Russell Westbrook will be sidelined with a strained quadriceps muscle. The expectation is that Westbrook will be out for the first couple of games.

If you’re new to watching the Rockets then, let’s fill you in. This is a team that primarily will be shooting the ball and play with a very small line-up. Oklahoma City doesn’t offer an immediate offensive threat in the paint but will face an above-average rebounder in Steven Adams.

Pending that Westbrook returns the line-up this could be one of the most interesting first-round match-ups across the league. The Rockets hold the biggest advantage by having Harden who is the best player in the series.

As mentioned, the Rockets like the three-point shot or scoring in the paint. The Thunder had defended the three-point shot well this season very well as they’re ranked 2nd in opponent three-point field goal percentage. This is something to watch as the series goes on if Harden struggles offensively.

Competitive first-round series but Rockets advance

The Rockets traded Capela so Westbrook could operate in the paint unimpeded. With that option off the table, you would expect them to try and play even faster.

Chris Paul knows this and would look to utilize Adams down low to punish the undersized Rockets.

The Thunder won the season series 2-1 so expect a very competitive first round. Westbrook’s early absence will make this series longer than it has to be but expect the Rockets to move on.

My Prediction? ROCKETS in 7


(4) Rockets vs (5) Thunder West First Round Schedule

Game 1OKC @ HOUTNT8/18/20 | 6:30 PM EST
Game 2OKC @ HOUESPN8/20/20 | 3:30 PM EST
Game 3HOU @ OKCESPN8/22/20 | 6:00 PM EST
Game 4HOU @ OKCTNT8/24/20 |4:00 PM EST
Game 5OKC @ HOU*TBD If Needed
Game 6HOU @ OKC*TBD If Needed
Game 7OKC @ HOU*TBD If Needed

Click here to see the 2020 NBA Playoffs Bracket

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs (8) Orlando Magic: Series Preview

Milwaukee Bucks opportunity to sharpen their play

The Milwaukee Bucks finish the NBA’s 2019-2020 season with the best record overall. In a normal world, this also means locking up home-court for the entire length of their playoff run.

However, in the NBA Bubble, they’ll have more opportunities to display their fans and theatrics on virtual boards. Well, that is if more than four games are needed to oust the Orlando Magic.

Recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo voiced his frustrations with the Bucks seeding games. The MVP and Defensive Player of the Year candidate also shows frustration and took it out on Washington’s Mo Wagner. Giannis was suspended for one game in which he missed the Bucks final seeding game.

If you’re a Bucks fan this series is a golden opportunity for sharpening the iron further. Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton both arrived at the bubble late due to COVID-19 positive test results.

Furthermore, the Bucks are facing a depleted Orlando team. Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba are out of the bubble for the season. The Bucks are proficient in defending the paint and the Magic ranked 25th in three-point shooting.

Can Orlando conjure some magic and the upset?

As mentioned the Magic have lost arguably their two longest defenders in Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac. The Magic usually take good care of the ball ranking 4th in turnovers per game versus the rest of the league. While that sounds nice the “home team” also has trouble scoring.

The Bucks shouldn’t have much of an offensive scare to worry about as Orlando ranks 24th in scoring overall only pouring in 107.3 points per game. If you’re on team Mickey, this is a concern going up against the league’s best defensive rated team.

Orlando’s bright spot will have to be Aaron Gordon and Markelle Fultz. Fultz joined Orlando late in the bubble but has played in all eight seeding games. He’s averaging 12.3 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, and shooting 40 percent from the field in the bubble only.

Besides Fultz, Gordon will have to come alive on both ends of the floor. Without Bamba and Isaac, the main primary front-court offense and defense will have to be Gordon. While nobody can stop The Greek Freak, Gordon’s responsibility will be to slow him down. Another injury concern for Orlando as Gordon is still day-to-day with a hamstring injury.

Bucks shouldn’t be concerned of an upset

The final verdict is that Milwaukee will have the talent and a fully-loaded roster to send home the “hosting” city’s beloved Orlando Magic. The lack of Orlando’s three-point shooting combined with the Bucks ability to defend the paint is a recipe for Milwaukee to sweep.

On the other hand, if Giannis’ frustrations are right. The Magic could play the first time with a little bit of heart and string out a close win in Game 1. However, this would be the last win for Orlando and a Bucks gentleman’s sweep.

All signs points more to a Milwaukee Bucks sweep. Bring out the brooms!


(1) Bucks vs (8) Magic East First Round Schedule

Game 1ORL @ MILTNT8/18/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 2ORL @ MILESPN8/20/20 | 6:00 PM EST
Game 3MIL @ ORLTNT8/22/20 | 1:00 PM EST
Game 4MIL @ ORLNBA TV8/24/20 | 1:30 PM EST
Game 5ORL @ MIL*TBD If Needed
Game 6MIL @ ORL*TBD If Needed
Game 7ORL @ MIL*TBD If Needed

Check out our 2020 NBA Playoff Bracket here!