NBA Playoffs: Round 1 Matchups

Gordon Robinson
April 15, 2018 - 11:26 am
Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


It is time, once again, in the NBA to separate the men from the boys and the champs from the chumps.

This is Round 1 to the best-of-seven slugfest called the NBA Playoffs. There are many stars in these playoffs that are looking to put themselves amongst the greatest to ever do it, but they must take this first step. I think there are some great matchups and this will be one of the most entertaining opening rounds that we have had in a long time.

Let’s take a look at the matchups in the Eastern Conference first:

No. 1 Toronto Raptors vs No. 8 Washington Wizards

The Raptors have been on top of the East for just about the entire season and they can defeat the Wizards by keeping the ball in the hands of their stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. For the Wizards, John Wall and Bradley Beal have to be in sync and playing at an All Star level if Washington plans on making it a series. If they are not playing together then this series can be over quickly. The Wizards may be lucky to squeeze two games out in this series as Toronto wraps the series in six games. Key Matchup: DeMar DeRozan against Bradley Beal

No. 2 Boston Celtics vs No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks

With Kyrie Irving out for the Celtics, their only hope rests with the young scorers Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Bucks have to be in “Step up or shut up” mode and Giannis Antetokounmpo can elevate his star by lifting Milwaukee past the first round over the C’s. Boston’s head coach Brad Stevens may not be able to x and o his way out of this round as Milwaukee takes all seven games to win the series. Key Matchup: Jayson Tatum vs Khris Middleton

No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs No. 6 Miami Heat

Miami is tough and gritty. It will take that toughness to go with all of the experience of Dwyane Wade, Eric Spoelstra and Pat Riley if the Heat want to shut down the process. Philadelphia just has too much talent and that will fill in the gaps left by their inexperience. This series is sure to be one to watch but look for the 76ers to pull it out after seven games. Key Matchup: Joel Embiid vs Hassan Whiteside

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs No. 5 Indiana Pacers

This is where LeBron James really begins to tighten up Cleveland’s roster down to who he knows that he can count on down the stretch. The task for the Pacers is to keep Kevin Love from finding a rhythm and limit his involvement in the game plan. This can be achieved by speeding up the game to take advantage of Cleveland’s poor defense. The Pacers can win one at home and if they are lucky they might be able to sneak in two victories in this series but Cleveland should be done with the Pacers in five games. Key Matchup: Kevin Love vs Myles Turner

Out West things may be just a little bit tighter and the series may go a little longer than back in the East:

No. 1 Houston Rockets vs No. 8 Minnesota Timberwolves

The Rockets have too much fire power for Minnesota. The T-wolves have to stop James Harden, Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and now Joe Johnson. Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns all have to contribute at a high level offensively and defensively for Minnesota to have a chance. In the end, Minnesota just cannot keep up and will fall to Houston in six games. Key Matchup: Chris Paul vs Jeff Teague

No. 2 Golden State Warriors vs No. 7 San Antonio Spurs

The Warriors are likely to be without Steph Curry and San Antonio probably won’t have Kawhi Leonard in this series. Kevin Durant needs to be the leader for the Warrior in Steph’s absence and get the squad to dial it up a notch for the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge is the leader for San Antonio but he just doesn’t quite have what it takes to beat a team still with three All Stars on the floor. Golden State wins 4-1. Key Matchup: whoever is guarding LaMarcus Aldridge

No. 3 Portland Trail Blazers vs No. 6 New Orleans Pelicans

This series comes down to which star will get the most help from his supporting cast. Damian Lillard for Portland will look to guys like C.J. McCollum, Evan Turner and Jusuf Nurkic to get the job done and beat the Pelicans. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis needs to get assistance from Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday if New Orleans plans on moving on to Round Two. In the end, Portland’s supporting cast is more consistent and the Trail Blazers squeak it out in seven games. Key Matchup: Anthony Davis vs Jusuf Nurkic

No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs No. 5 Utah Jazz

Utah has had a great season and will continue to be a force in the league for the next few seasons but this may be where the run ends for them this season. Oklahoma City has the stars with experience but Russell Westbrook will have to keep Paul George and Carmelo Anthony involved to make this series easier because the young Jazz Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell will be looking to shock the league if things get sloppy. Thunder knocks out the Jazz in six games. Key Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs Ricky Rubio