(1) Toronto vs. (8) Washington
Why the Raptors win: The 2017-2018 season’s been a pleasant surprise for Coach of the Year candidate Dwayne Casey and his north-of-the-border squad. New flow to the offense, bench players emerging and the team’s best player DeMar DeRozan now owns a trustworthy trey ball. Pretty much everything is in Toronto’s favor.
Why the Wiz win: Brad Beal and John Wall miraculously join forces and find a way to coexist for the betterment of the Wizards, and before Wall decides to collect and return the Rolexes he gifted his teammates prior.
Who wins: Raptors in five. Yes, Lowry is known for going into hiding during the playoffs, but with the emergence of the best backup pg combo in the game -- Fred VanVleet and Delon Wright -- and Drake’s aura blessing the atmosphere, no way Toronto loses.
(2) Boston vs. (7) Milwakee
Why the Bucks win: Hobbling into the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, the injury-depleted Celtics face an opponent who’s on the complete opposite side of the spectrum -- fully healthy. Welcoming back Jabari Parker and reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon is key and the “Greek Freak” is still freaky and dominant. This could be overwhelming.
Why the Celtics win: Brad Stevens works magic and has his young boys ready to defend the Bucks’ multiple offensive weapons. That’s not a crazy task when you look at a Boston roster that features a variety of defensive stalwarts in Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Al Horford and Aron Baynes. If Stevens finds new ways for Jayson Tatum to score at high rates with a playoff-inspired defense focused solely on him…..uh oh.
Who wins: Bucks in seven, NO KYRIE :(
(3) Philadelphia vs. (6) Miami
Why the Heat win: Whiteside vs. Embiid. Embiid vs. Whiteside, Miami is going to look to apply as much pressure on the 76ers via the drive and kick, and if Hassan avoids foul trouble and shows out like we see him do on occasions -- solely depending on Hassan -- it can be a wrap for the City of Brotherly Love. The Heat also matchup extremely well, rotating a deep group, and the Dwyane Wade factor is still alive right? The power of the Miami Vice jerseys may play a huge factor in this series.
Why the 76ers win: Philadelphia enters the playoffs winners of an NBA-record 16 straight. It just makes sense for them to keep rolling. “The Phantom of the Process” gets to face one of his arch-nemeses, Whiteside, and he'd like nothing more than to send him home in embarrassing fashion.
Who wins: The State of Pennsylvania is on fire, Philly is on fire. Add this with the presumed Rookie of the Year, Ben Simmons and the No. 1 overall pick, Markelle Fultz visiting Meek Mill in prison for words of wisdom. Litty again, litty again, indeed it is litty again. Philly in six.
(4) Cleveland vs. (5) Indiana
Why the Pacers win: If Oladipo isn’t your Most Improved Player of the Year, then watch more basketball. Indiana has a formidable lineup with the forever entertaining Lance Stephenson holding down the second unit. If No. 23 isn’t playing on the opposite side, they’d have a great shot at winning.
Why the Cavs win: LeBrun James. The kid from Akron. No other words necessary unfortunately.
Who wins: It’s LeBron man. Put money on this man especially in the postseason. Cavs in 5.