Monday, 17 June, 2019

Playoff time: 10 things to know for the NBA postseason

Who will be the new king in the East? NBA Playoffs shootaround: opening round preview and predictions
Cary Erickson | 17 April, 2019, 11:40

The Bucks may have the best record in the National Basketball Association, but the team has been bounced out of the first round of the playoffs in three of the last four seasons since Giannis Antetokounmpo became a starter, with the exception being the 2015-16 season when they didn't even make playoffs. Even with the 76ers' star-studded starting lineup, the team still played poorly whenever he was on the bench. Denver and the Spurs split their season series, with the home team winning every game. The NBA playoffs get underway today, and this postseason has me as excited as I've been in years.

The NBA regular season has come to a close and now it's time for everyone's favorite time of the year: the playoffs.

Remember the weird general manager search two summer's ago that ended up with the hiring of in-house candidate Jon Horst? The Raptors are more consistent than a year ago and are one of the deepest teams in the league. Here's a little recap of how that new system has fared this season.

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, and so far they haven't exactly gone as most would have expected. This matchup features some of the most electrifying talents in the playoffs, and there are also some interesting matchup details. I think that kind of veteran leadership will lead the Raptors to the only sweep in the first round this year, and they will easily take the series in four games. The Milwaukee Bucks should have no issues getting past the Detroit Pistons. This month's honor marks the fifth time he's won Player of the Month in his career.

The Warriors small forward, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, is certain that it will not be a walk in the park despite their superior record. His 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists season show secured the Bucks the top place in the league. The key is obviously Giannis, who dictates the entire offense with his ability to create and dominate the paint with a plethora of shooters around him. As we march on into the postseason, things will only get crazier. Hayward, who struggled mightily to rediscover his best form after returning from a season-long injury absence, finally started to look more like his old self in the final 10 games of the regular season.

COUSINS' CHANCE: DeMarcus Cousins makes his playoff debut after a nine-year wait, and after returning from a devastating injury - he missed almost a year recovering from surgery for a torn left Achilles tendon suffered last season with New Orleans.

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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 Bucks will be without the services of one of their most important pieces in Malcolm Brogdon for at least round one but that shouldn't hinder them with how much depth they have up and down the roster.

The Thunder, who would give the Warriors the toughest matchup of the three, are playing the most hard opponent. Griffin, who is nursing a sore knee, will have a tall order going up against Giannis and the Bucks' stingy defense. If Griffin is healthy, he and Drummond are two powerful forces down low. Though official selections are due Friday night, the winners won't be announced until the playoffs end in June - still, it's safe to say it'll be one of these two players. The Rockets are led by MVP candidate James Harden, who led the league in points per game, and the ever-reliable Chris Paul.

It's not algae but a dye that has given the Milwaukee River an eye-popping bright green hue to celebrate the Milwaukee Bucks and the team's colour as they head into the National Basketball Association playoffs seeded No. 1 in the Eastern Conference. Yeah I know, I said the Bucks aren't a true championship contender yet.

Story line: The Nuggets are in the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and the Spurs haven't missed the playoffs since 1997.

The 30-team league made 273,573 points throughout the season.