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Everything You Need To Know Heading Into the 2019 NBA Playoffs

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The dust has finally settled. The first bit of chaos came to an end with the final buzzer last night and the 2019 NBA Playoff field is set. It’s only fitting that such a wild regular season, and now that we know how everything shook out the playoffs are setup to be just as crazy. Take the Rockets for example, they had a great regular season, might have the MVP, but on the last day of the year got boned in a sense that now they could face the Warriors in the 2nd round. Then you have someone like OKC, who just a week ago was looking at a date with either HOU or GS, and now gets to avoid them in their bracket entirely. I can imagine there will be some stoolies out there that plan on dropping some money during these playoffs, and while I’m way too much of a cheap Jewish pussy to actually bet any of my own money, what I can do is paint the picture of each matchup for you so that you have all the information you need in order to win all your bets and retire early. Consider this a mega preview blog if you will, but here’s everything you need to know heading into this weekend’s games. We’ll start with the Eastern Conference.

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs (8) Detroit Pistons

Head to head results: MIL won 4-0

Congratulations to the Pistons for getting back to the playoffs for the first time in 3 seasons. A big accomplishment for a rebuilding team, and their reward is a date with the best team in the NBA record wise. They met four previous times during the year, and only one game was decided by under 10 points. This is going to be a battle of styles, with the Pistons playing at the third slowest pace in the league, and are a mostly a down low/post up type of offense. The wild card for them is Blake Griffin who can do a little bit of everything, but I’m not sure he’s 100% healthy. The Bucks on the other hand play at the 5th fastest pace, are all about spacing and threes and clearing out for Giannis so he can dunk on people’s heads. Considering they have a top 4 offense and the best defense in the NBA, I just don’t know how the Pistons are going to score enough to make this a competitive series. The Bucks are going to find ways to keep Drummond 30 ft from the basket, and the Pistons don’t really have the balanced scoring in my opinion to withstand everything MIL can throw at them.

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The Pistons enter the playoffs with wins over MEM/NYK but before that went through a tough 2-7 stretch. I just think there’s too much of a talent gap here

Greenie Pick: MIL in 5

(2) Toronto Raptors vs (7) Orlando Magic

Head to head results: Tied 2-2

Now this one is a little more interesting, if only because we have no idea what to expect from the Raptors. You look at their playoff history and it’s a bit concerning, but then again they never had Kawhi Leonard. The only way I could see this series getting crazy is if TOR does their normal drop Game 1 routine, and remember we did see the Magic go into TOR this season and whoop that ass, so I guess technically it is possible. I said time and time again that I hoped the Magic made the playoffs because they sneaky are giant killers. They had 17 wins against teams .500 or better which is tied for 4th most in the conference, and this roster does have intriguing talent. They obviously don’t have the best player, but here are the facts. Over the last two months it’s the Magic who are tied for the 3rd most wins in the NBA, they’ve had the 8th best offense to TOR’s 6th, and the #1 ranked defense over this time period. Their overall net rating of 7.7 is right there with TOR’s 7.9. It may sound crazy on paper, but these two are playing some pretty even basketball heading into the playoffs which is why this matchup is so intriguing. Between the consistency of Vucevic, the length of Isaac and Gordon to potentially give Kawhi trouble, and then the scoring of Terrance Ross, the Magic could very well make this a competitive series.

Greenie Pick: TOR in 6

(3) Philadelphia 76ers vs (6) Brooklyn Nets

Head to head results: Tied 2-2

This matchup is tough to gauge for a couple reasons. First, the Sixers have changed a lot over the course of their 4 games, and two of them were decided by 3 points or less that cold have gone either way. In the most recent matchup the Sixers looked dominant mostly because nobody could stop Embiid. It also makes me a little nervous that everyone is talking about how BKN could upset this series, because usually all the hype going in only leaves you disappointed. But here’s the thing, there are rumblings that Embiid might not be ready for Game 1, and that is HUGE. Make no mistake, without Embiid, the Sixers are wayyyyy more beatable. They can’t beat teams like the Hawks without Embiid. He’s the most dominant player on the floor for both sides and his health changes this entire series. Personally, I think he’ll be fine, but if he’s not then the door is cracked open for sure.

The one area that makes me think BKN has a chance to make this competitive is their three point shooting. They make the 5th most threes a game and average like over 120 points a game while playing the Sixers this year. They certainly don’t have the same amount of talent, but they do have a style of offense that can give PHI problems. Where that gets tricky is both of these teams are legit at limiting opponent threes (tied for 4th), so the Nets are going to have to come up with different ways to score, which brings us to D’Angelo Russell. Ben Simmons literally shuts down every opposing guard he defends, the numbers are ridiculous, so how Russell is able to work around that is basically key to BKN’s chances. If they can make threes and Russell can have respectable splits combined with a non 100% Embiid, this may be a series.

Greenie Pick w/ healthy Embiid: PHI in 6

Greenie Pick w/o healthy Embiid: PHI in 7

(4) Boston Celtics vs (5) Indiana Pacers

Head to head results: BOS won 3-1

We all heard the Marcus Smart news, and maybe I’m alone here but I think it’s actually a bigger problem than others. He’s too important to what the Celtics do and who they are as a basketball team. Fortunately for them, the Pacers have a matchup problem here. We saw how these teams match up over the last few weeks of the season, and the talent level and styles just make it tough for IND. The Celts are able to combat their size with Baynes/Horford, and then they have the wing depth to stay with guys like Bogdanovic and Wes Matthews on the perimeter. Now this is the Celtics we’re talking about here so chances are they are going to do something to shoot themselves in their own foot, but we’ve seen them be able to reach another level against IND that the Pacers don’t have the talent to match. They play hard and I doubt we’ll see many blowouts, but not having a clutch closer like Oladipo is going to hurt them.

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They haven’t really figured out how to stop Point Hayward either on that second unit, and I’m not sure the IND bench has enough to counter all the different lineup combinations the Celts can throw at them. Over the last two months the Pacers are coming in with the 20th ranked offense, and in the playoffs you have to find ways to score. I just don’t know where that offense comes from.

Greenie Pick: Celtics in 6

Western Conference

(1) Golden State Warriors vs (8) Los Angeles Clippers

Head to head results: GS won 3-1

The Clippers have had an awesome season, way better than anyone could have expected. Their reward? A date with the wagon that is the Golden State Warriors. You know, those guys with the best point differential in the West, a 30-11 home record and the best talent in the league. I could go through and show you all the numbers but we all understand how good GS is once the playoffs start and they actually try. I don’t even care that Steph rolled his ankle the other night, the Warriors dropped at least 120 in 3 of the 4 meetings, the last two matchups have been absolute blowouts, and this may be the quickest series of any matchup out West.

The only chance the Clippers have in my opinion is if Patrick Beverly does something crazy and somehow contains Curry, and then Gallo plays out of his mind at an All NBA level or something but even then that doesn’t even give them much hope. The Clippers finished the year with like the 19th ranked defense, and I’d be shocked if they won more than 2 games.

Greenie Pick: GS in 5

(2) Denver Nuggets vs (7) San Antonio Spurs

Head to head results: Series tied 2-2

I think every Nuggets fan has been a little nervous over the last few weeks not knowing where they may end up, and with everyone thinking they could be the high seed that gets upset, a date with Pop and the Spurs isn’t exactly the best draw. They enter the playoffs as an unknown mostly because none of their players have really ever been in this situation outside of Millsap, and three of the four meetings with SA this year were decided by 8 points or less. You know how many people think of the Nuggets as this high powered offense? Well guess who actually finished one spot ahead of them this year? The Spurs. Where the Nuggets actually have the advantage is on the defensive side which sounds weird but it’s true. The bench scoring is basically a wash, neither team really shoots the three all that well, and both teams actually play at a pretty slow pace. This is about as even a matchup as you’re going to find in the West, and while both sides are probably relieved they don’t have to deal with HOU/GS, this series is a toss up for me.

Greenie Pick: DEN in 7

(3) Portland Trail Blazers vs (6) Oklahoma City Thunder

Head to head results: OKC won 4-1

Tough draw for the Blazers and a series that I fully expect to be an absolute bloodbath. Sure the Thunder are a 6 seed, but they may be the best 6 seed I’ve ever seen. We all know about the Blazers playoff struggles from last year, and any way you slice it this is just a tough matchup for them. You have a high powered offense in POR (3rd) going up against a lock down defensive club in OKC (4th), so something is going to have to give. I will say the Thunder’s defense has slipped a little bit dropping down to 11th, while the Blazers offense has been the 2nd best offense in the league despite missing Nurkic. But that absence is where I think POR is kind of screwed. Who the hell is going to match up with Steven Adams? Is anyone going to be able to step up to help Dame/CJ while going up against one of the best defenses in the league? The Dame vs Westbrook showdown is going to be awesome, but I look at the secondary talent and I just feel like OKC has more weapons.

Also not to mention you turn it over against OKC, it’s a death wish. Second in the league in points off turnovers, that’s a big deal for POR who just so happens to turn it over almost 14 times a game.

Greenie Pick: OKC in 6

(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Utah Jazz

Head to head results: Tied 2-2

The Rockets really have no one but themselves to blame for this position. There was a time during the year where I feel like everyone was trying to jockey position to face the Jazz, but that’s no longer the case. This Jazz team is good, their defense is fucking legit (2nd best over the last two months) and their 21-9 record over that span is right there with HOU’s 24-8. Would you believe me if I told you the Jazz over the last 2 months have actually played at a faster pace than the Rockets? That doesn’t make sense but it’s true. This is not your slow everything down and beat you in the half court Jazz team. They can beat you from three, coming in at 9th in the league in makes and 10th in percentage, they have a guy in Mitchell who can take over a game by himself and give someone like CP3 fits, and then they have the interior defense to challenge things at the rim.

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The problem here though is of course James Harden. Also the fact that when the Rockets have been completely healthy like they are now with their main guys, they basically never lose. This will be a battle of a series for sure, but I just think a healthy Rockets team is too much, as long as they don’t go 0-27 from three

Greenie Pick: HOU in 6


So there you have it. Naturally things will probably work out way different than this blog, but the one thing we know for sure is this year’s playoffs is loaded with awesome matchups that could honestly go either way. Really only GS/MIL have absolute locks in my opinion and frankly that’s what I want. I want every round of this tournament to be an absolute slugfest, so I’m hoping for nothing other than good health and competitive basketball. If the regular season was any indication, we’re about to get a couple months of AWESOME basketball now that everyone is trying. This weekend can’t come soon enough.