The NBA is into the second round of the postseason. Let’s take a look at our second round playoff picks and predictions.
(1) Toronto Raptors vs. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers
Prediction: The Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are no strangers when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoffs. The two rivals will meet again with a trip to the Eastern Conference playoffs on the line. Toronto advanced to round 2 by defeating the Washington Wizards in 6 games. Cleveland survived a tough series against the Indiana Pacers and finished them off in game 7. LeBron James is playing at an elite level, and was nearly unstoppable in round 1. Toronto is led by a terrific backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Toronto is tired of being eliminated by the Cavs, and this time they have the home court advantage. If LeBron doesn’t get more support from his teammates in round 2, then it will be an early exit for his Cavaliers. This could be the year that the Raptors finally get past Cleveland.
Pick: Toronto Raptors win in 7 games.
(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Philadelphia 76ersPrediction: Atlantic Division rivals, Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, are set to battle in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Boston survived a tough 7 game series vs. the Milwaukee Bucks to advance to round 2. Philadelphia advanced by dispatching of the Miami Heat in 5 games. Boston is still missing two key players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, but have had many young players step up. Philadelphia welcomed the return of Joel Embiid during round 1, and appear to be playing at their highest level. Boston is a tough defensive minded team, but the Philadelphia offense is clicking on all cylinders. Celtics’ head coach, Brad Stevens will come up with a scheme to slow down the 76ers, but Philadelphia is too talented. Boston will make this a tough series, but eventually the Sixers talent will prevail.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers win in 6 games.
(1) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Utah Jazz
Prediction: The league’s best regular season team, Houston Rockets, will take on the up and coming Utah Jazz in the second round. Houston advanced by knocking off the Minnesota Timberwolves in round 1. Utah surprised the veteran Oklahoma City Thunder team in round 1 by defeating them in 6 games. Houston is led by potential MVP James Harden who averaged 29.0 points per game in round 1. The Jazz will counter with rookie, Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 28.5 points per game in their round 1 upset. The Jazz will make this series difficult on the Rockets, but Houston is too good for the young Jazz. Harden and Chris Paul have too much experience to let the Rockets fall in round 2.
Pick: Houston Rockets win in 5 games.
(2) Golden State Warriors vs. (6) New Orleans Pelicans
Prediction: The Golden State Warriors had little trouble with the San Antonio Spurs, defeating them in 5 games to advance to round 2. The Pelicans were the big surprise in round 1, sweeping the 3 seeded Portland Trail Blazers. Pelicans’ forward, Anthony Davis, is averaging a double double in the playoffs, and Jrue Holiday has been sensational as well. The Warriors are expecting to have Stephen Curry back at some point in round 2. If Curry is back to his normal self then the Warriors again appear to be the favorite to win the NBA title. The Pelicans play at an extremely fast pace, but this strategy won’t work very well against the talented Warriors. If the Warriors can slow down Anthony Davis, then they should make quick work of the Pelicans.
Pick: Golden State Warriors win in 5 games.