The NBA playoffs will be underway Saturday with action you won’t want to miss.
Contrary to what many may think, the Western Conference is more interesting than it appears.
One of the most interesting matchups of the entire conference has to be Portland vs. Oklahoma City. The Trail Blazers are coming back from last year’s postseason in which they were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans. With Damian Lillard averaging close to 26 points per game this season, it is no surprise to see them seeded third.
Their first-round matchup is no joke.
The Thunder have former MVP Russell Westbrook and MVP candidate Paul George on their squad. OKC has a point to prove of its own after being bounced out of the playoffs last year by the Jazz.
Both squads have all-star power and potential to do damage in the playoffs. Portland has become the victim of late-season injuries with C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Luckily, they will have home-court advantage against OKC in this one..
The other playoff series you would be remiss to skip is the Spurs vs. the Nuggets.
Denver has had a spectacular season finishing second in the Western Conference with 54 wins, just three behind the Warriors. They have utilized the talent of star center Nikola Jokic, who averages seven assists per game, ranking first among active centers.
The San Antonio Spurs crept into the playoff picture as the seventh seed and has been heavily underrated by many fans. Last season, the Spurs lead by 20 against the Warriors at halftime before Kawhi Leonard was injured in the first game of their playoff series. Greg Popovich is a five-time champion and knows how to take a team all the way.
A game seven would be played in Denver, which many experts say give the Nuggets a competitive edge. This series could truly go either way and promises to be a stellar matchup.
Moving to the Eastern Conference, the playoff picture is significantly less interesting than the West. Many have the East being a four-team race between Milwaukee, Toronto, Boston and Philadelphia.
With the bottom four teams in the Eastern Conference barely above .500, it is not shocking to see why many think the first round will be uneventful.
There are high expectations to see whether Boston can pull its team together. With the Celtics finishing second in the East last year without Kyrie Irving and gordon Hayward, they have underachieved due to chemistry issues. Many claim Boston has the deepest bench in the NBA, underwhelmingly taking fourth in the East this year.
They will now have to try and make it through the first two rounds without guard Marcus Smart, who suffered an oblique injury. He is expected to be sidelined for about 4 to 6 weeks, lasting until at least the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.
If Boston is unable to pull its team together, it may give way to either Toronto, Milwaukee or Philadelphia.
Toronto is aware of the growing rumors that star forward Kawhi Leonard may leave for the Clippers next year. With them being second in the East and Lebron in the West, the time is now for the Raptors to grab a championship.
Milwaukee is an obvious contender. It is first in the East with 60 wins on the year, and it has the likely MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks have been able to game plan around their revolutionary MVP candidate. It will be interesting to see if they can translate their success into the post-season.
This year’s NBA playoffs will certainly be enthralling. While many believe it is all a futile attempt to beat the star-studded Golden State Warriors, the playoff picture is more competitive than many are believing.