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NBA Playoff Series Previews & Picks

May 18, 2021
Giannis and the Bucks look to get revenge on the Heat

The NBA begins its second season with its play-in tournament which will decide the No. 7 and No. 8 seeds in each conference. Whoever they are, don’t expect either to knock off Philadelphia or Brooklyn in the East or Utah and Phoenix in the West.

In the other playoff series, there could be a few surprises. Here’s a look at the remaining four NBA playoff series.

BUCKS-HEAT SERIES BUCKS -360/HEAT +270

A year ago, Miami pulled a huge upset in knocking off then-No. 1 seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Even more surprising was that the Heat did it in five games.

One of the big reasons why is the versatility of Heat center Bam Adebayo. Only 6-9, Adebayo is an incredibly elite defender and is one of the few that can limit two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo’s scoring chances.

In three games this season, Milwaukee did win twice. They won early in the season when Jimmy Butler didn’t play and the Bucks won 144-97. Miami did win at home 119-108 with Adebayo scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out eight assists.

The Bucks won the third game 122-108 despite holding Giannis to just 15 points. Milwaukee has other weapons though in Khris Middleton (20.4 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (17.7 ppg). Miami will need to play each game perfectly and then hope the NBA’s best scoring team makes mistakes. That isn’t likely to happen.

PREDICTION: MILWAUKEE in 5

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KNICKS-HAWKS SERIES KNICKS -112/HAWKS -112

The Knicks will have their hands full with Atlanta’s Trae Young in their first-round NBA playoff series. New York actually did okay against Young during the regular season. The Knicks won all three games they played against the Hawks this season going 3-0 in the process.

Knicks vs Hawks 2021 playoffs preview

Knicks vs Hawks Should be a Good Competitive Series

One of the keys was Julius Randle who averaged 37.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, and 6.7 assists against Atlanta. Another was the stellar defense against Young which held the Hawks point guard to just 36.2 percent shooting from the field, 21.4 percent from three-point range.

The Hawks won seven of their last eight games of the season. They present the Knicks with some problems, namely Clint Capela who averaged over 17 points and 17 rebounds against the Knicks this season.

New York has the NBA’s best defense and with home-court advantage for this series, that defense will help them advance to Round 2.

PREDICTION: KNICKS in 7

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NUGGETS-TRAIL BLAZERS SERIES NUGGETS -120/TRAIL BLAZERS -105

The No. 1 team in Offensive Rating over the last 15 or so games of the regular season was Portland. The Trail Blazers went 10-2 over their last 12 games. In eight of the ten wins, Portland scored at least 124 points.

Portland Star Damian Lillard

In a playoffs where guard play trumps just about everything, Portland has one of the best backcourt combinations in the league in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Lillard averaged 28.8 points per game this season and McCollum added 23.3 though he missed 25 games due to injury.

Denver counters with MVP candidate Nikola Jokic (26.4 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 8.3 apg), the best passing big man in basketball. His abilities allow the Nuggets to spread the floor. The problem is that Denver lost point guard Jamal Murray for the rest of the season.

These two teams have played three playoff series with Portland winning two of them, including the most recent in 2019. Despite having to play at elevation in Denver, the Trail Blazers guard play will trump the Joker.

PREDICTION: PORTLAND in 7

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CLIPPERS-MAVERICKS SERIES CLIPPERS -360/MAVERICKS +270

For the second straight season, the L.A. Clippers will take on Dallas in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Last season, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George dispatched the Mavs in six games. Dallas hasn’t made it past the first round of the postseason since winning an NBA title in 2011.

NBA playoff first round picks

Luka Doncic seemingly scores at will.

The Mavs actually took the season series this year winning two of three games. Leonard didn’t play in one of those Mavs’ wins. Dallas star Luka Doncic scored 42 points against George (28) and Leonard (20) the last time the two teams played.

L.A. is the better all-around team ranking in the top ten in both scoring (10th) and points allowed (4th). The Clippers are the best three-point shooting (41.1%) team in the league.

Doncic has 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis (20.1 ppg), but the Clippers bench is much deeper and more talented than the Mavs. Dallas may steal a game or two, but the Mavs will not make it past the first round again.

PREDICTION: CLIPPERS in 6

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