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NBA Playoffs

By: Jack Skolnik If you haven't figured it out by now, I will tell you one very important fact about me, I am a diehard basketball fan. So with the regular season at a close and the NBA playoffs beginning this week, I couldn't think of a better topic to write about. This year's playoffs will definitely be interesting to say the least. There were numerous big time headlines during the season that will continue to be big as we get into the playoffs. Starting in the East you have the Raptors at the #1 seed as a lock. They have defied the odds all season and after some major changes to their style of play made by Coach Dwayne Casey, they look to prove the doubter wrong after years of underperforming in the playoffs. At the #2 seed you have the Boston Celtics who without Gordon Hayward have been one of the best teams in the league. However injuries may prove costly in the playoffs as they will be without superstar Kyrie Irving. After the #1 and #2 seed the rest of the east gets a little bit less defined. You have the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Philadelphia 76ers battling it out for the third seed. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have been unbelievable in their first full season in Philadelphia. However if basketball fans have learned one thing over the years, it is to never bet against Lebron James and the Cavaliers. Then rounding it out in the bottom half are the Indiana Pacers at the #5 seed, the Miami Heat at the #6 seed, and then the Milwaukee Bucks and my Washington Wizards battling it out at the #8 seed. I must say this was a huge year of disappointment for my Wizards, a team that was projected to be a top 3 seed just could never put it together. I don't see a lot of these bottom half teams making much noise in the playoffs. However a first round 2 vs 7 matchup will be interesting. With the Celtics taking on either the Bucks or the Wizards. I will say that either Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks or John Wall and the Wizards will make for a very entertaining series against Boston. Although a tough choice I can't bet against the King, as I believe Lebron James and the Cavaliers will once again make it to the NBA finals. Then you have the West. Boy oh boy are things getting interesting out west. Coming in at the #1 seed are the Houston Rockets who have finally dethroned the Warriors as the top team in the West. Watching James Harden and Chris Paul play together this year has been unbelievable. Plus with Clint Capela playing the way that he has been playing? Man are they scary. Coming in at the #2 seed are the defending champs, the Golden State Warriors. With how good they have been the past couple years it is hard to bet against them making it back to the finals. However without Steph Curry to start the playoffs they will have to rely heavily on Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and the rest of the gang. The Portland Trail Blazers are clinging on to the #3 seed after a red hot second half of the season led by all-star point guard Damian Lillard. An even bigger surprise is the 4 seed where we see the Utah Jazz. After starting the season 19-28 the Jazz have gone 29-7 since the return of Rudy Gobert. The last four seeds however are where things get crazy. With five teams battling for the final four seeds. Right now all five teams are within a gamer of each other. Right now if the standings were to hold we would see the New Orleans Pelicans at the #5 seed. With an injury to all-star center Demarcus Cousins, the Pelicans will have to rely heavily on their other all-star, Anthony Davis. At the #6 seed we have the always dangerous San Antonio Spurs. Although without Kawhi Leonard all season the Spurs have proven how good they can be without him. Coming in at the #7 seed are the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although thought of by most to be an underwhelming season, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Thunder will look to regroup in the playoffs. Rounding out the West is the Minnesota Timberwolves, looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. With newly acquired all-star Jimmy Butler, a first round Timberwolves vs. Rockets would be fun to watch. So with that you have the playoff race in both the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. As usual I am sure there will be no shortage of great playoff basketball to watch. With all that being said I already said I have the Cleveland Cavaliers making the finals out of the East and I am going to take the Houston Rockets out of the West. I think this is the year that the Golden State Warriors finally go down. If the Warriors are going to lose at all I think it will be against the Rockets in Western Conference Finals. Then in the finals I am going to take the Rockets to be crowned as champions this year. With the roster that they have I feel that if they can get past the Warriors than the Rockets have a great chance of winning it all. Regardless of who makes it there I think we are all in for an entertaining 2018 NBA playoffs.