That's ridiculous. Back at full strength, Toronto is a force to be reckoned with in the East.
First off, I want to give Denver the proper respect for their regular season.
Last year's deep playoff run was built on the emergence of young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, important contributions from numerous bench players and the veteran leadership and defensive solidity of Al Horford. The "Greek Freak" and his teammates are poised and fired up to come out on top of the Eastern Conference, and that is why I am picking them to beat the Pistons in round one, in five games. Yeah I know, I said the Bucks aren't a true championship contender yet. By no means is that his fault, but the fact of the matter is Boston doesn't have time to wait for Hayward to be fully healthy.
The Warriors are one of five franchises with a streak of four straight NBA Finals trips: the Los Angeles Lakers did it from 1982-85, the Celtics also did it from 1984-87, the Miami Heat did it from 2011-14 and the Cleveland Cavaliers did it from 2015-18.
Golden State is trying to reach the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive season. Not only do they need to just get out of the first round, but they need to dominate and make this series as short as possible.
The Clippers pinched an overtime win against a Stephen Curry-less Warriors back in November but lost their other three regular-season meetings with the defending champions.
"I think that at times, what I've watched is a Portland team who was really close with Damian Lillard and [C.J.] McCollum and that they were too small to continue that", Kenny Smith told me.
The Pacers, robbed by season-ending injury of their best player Victor Oladipo, came together and became greater than the sum of their remaining parts to keep pace in the playoff race. The Nets won two ABA championships but haven't won an National Basketball Association title, though they made the Finals in 2002 and 2003. That didn't happen a year ago because of an injury, but Irving will get his chance prove himself this time around.
Cousins has played in 565 regular-season games and zero postseason games. He is unlike any player the league has seen before, an ultra-athletic slasher with a 7-foot-3-inch wingspan who can dish out passes easily and bully even the most dominant centers in the paint.
Griffin recorded 21 double-doubles and two triple-doubles.
I hope I'm wrong because I can't stand Golden State, and particulary Kevin Durant. It's safe to say he'll be motivated to prove that he's a legitimate player in the postseason, so we'll see if he can deliver.
This is such a different time for the Clippers and Warriors from their days as fierce rivals who swung elbows, tussled and trash-talked at every chance. Also, each team relies on superior guard play with great big men to gobble up rebounds and blocks.
Only four teams in National Basketball Association history have posted more double-digit wins in a regular season than the Bucks this year.
Sky Sports will have a selection of first-round fixtures live as well as games from the late rounds when they are announced. Butler has had a down year statistically, but he can boost his stock with a strong showing in the playoffs. The six-time All-Star averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 36.2 percent from beyond the arc and 75.3 percent from the free-throw line. He's a playmaker that can take over games when he catches fire on the court, as shown by his performance in the playoffs past year, but he'll need to be a bit more consistent to assert himself as one of the league's best young stars.
Now imagine that he had played more than 32.8 minutes per game and had not been carrying an ankle injury through the final month of the season.