Early Predictions for the 2018 NBA Playoffs

We are not yet at the All-Star Break in the NBA, so it might not be the most opportune time to start talking about the playoffs. There are some teams that are definitely going to be part of the postseason, and we can probably guess at the top 3 in each of the two conferences. Things get a little tougher after that, as the battle for playoff spots in the lower half of each conference tends to get seriously heated, especially in the second half of the season. Injuries and streaky runs can have a major impact on how things might end up playing out, and there are still an awful lot of games ahead of us. Despite all of that, we are still going to take an early look at the playoffs and how things might go.

Eastern Conference Prediction:

The Boston Celtics have a 1.5 game lead over the Toronto Raptors at the top. The Cleveland Cavaliers are in third and appear to be in a bit of a freefall, which would suggest that the current top 2 will be the ones gunning it out for the Eastern Conference crown. The Celtics have done enough to keep Toronto at bay all season long, and we like them to continue doing so. Cleveland will right the ship in the second half, but whether or not they can catch Toronto remains to be seen. We like Washington to leapfrog Miami into 4th.
Miami will drop, but only to 5th, with the remaining three playoff spots filled by Milwaukee, Indiana, and Philadelphia, in that order. Getting to the playoffs would be big for the 76ers, but they would be on to a beating in round one. Toronto would have their hands full with Indiana, but will win, while the Cavaliers will get past the Bucks. The Washington/Miami series would be a coin flip, with the edge going to the Wizards.
Boston move on, and then we think we get the real surprise of the playoffs with the Raptors taking out the Cavaliers. Let’s go with the Celtics to represent the East in the NBA Finals.

Western Conference Prediction:

As usual, no-one is touching the Golden State Warriors on top, and it’s tough to imagine anyone getting past the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs in second and third. Oklahoma City appear to be getting hot, which is why we think they move on up into the #4 seed, pipping out the Minnesota Timberwolves in the process and dropping them to #5.
We don’t see much in the way of change as the standings are now, which means the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers in #6 and #7, respectively. We worry about the Denver Nuggets being able to hold on to the final spot, especially given how brutal they are on the road, so let’s take the LA Clippers in the #8 spot.
We don’t see any of the top 3 teams going down in the opening round, and we also like OKC to move on. The Spurs have lost a step as we see it, which is why we think we are destined for a Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors Western Conference Final. The Warriors move on after an epic battle and win the NBA Finals in 5 over the Celtics.

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