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Tank's NBA Eastern Conference Second Round Preview

Due to the second round in the East starting before Game 7 of Spurs and Nuggets I will do the second round in two parts.

Celtics in 6

After a dreadful lackluster first round, we have some genuine juicy matchups in the second. None may be better than the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston had lost the in Eastern Conference Finals each of the last two years was seen as the heir apparent for the Cavaliers minus LeBron at the start of the season. The Celtics though went through an often-uninspired regular season, posting a record of 49-33 to get the fourth seed. Meanwhile, Milwaukee was the NBA’s only 60-win team. The Bucks and Celtics both had easy wins in the first round, sweeping the Pistons and Pacers respectively. The teams me in the first round last year, with the Bucks pushing Boston to a seventh game, as the home team won all seven games in the series. Milwaukee won two of three against the Celtics in the regular season, but the Celtics appear to be playing their best basketball of the season now. Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an MVP season, leading the Bucks and the key to Boston will be keeping him from having a huge series. The Celtics main advantage comes with their depth. Most of the season, Boston seemed to have trouble finding the right formula, but after a sweep of Indiana and a strong series from Kyrie Irving, the time is now for the Celtics. The Bucks still have some growing to do, while the Celtics finally knock the door down on the way to the NBA Finals.

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Raptors in 6

There has to be a sense of urgency for the Toronto Raptors, as their ability to retain Kawhi Leonard will be the biggest question when the season is over. Over the last few seasons, the Raptors have been among the best teams in the East but were unable to get past LeBron’s Cavaliers. Now that LeBron is gone the pat is clear for Toronto, who took great risk dealing DeMar DeRozan, a popular player who liked playing in Toronto. However, Leonard makes them better suited for a championship run and has often bee their best player. The Philadelphia 76ers are still a growing team, as one of the younger teams in the NBA Playoffs which comes into this series hoping to take the next step in the process. In some ways these teams are mirror images of each other, where both teams had bad losses at home to start the first round, only to have four straight impressive wins to close the series in five games. In four regular-season meetings, the Raptors handled Philadelphia with ease, winning three-of-four. One thing the Sixers will need in this series is Joel Embiid to be healthy and Ben Simmons needs to be more consistent. The same could be said for Kyle Lowry, who far too often has shrunk in big postseason games for the Raptors. However, with the emergence of Pascal Siakam, the Raptors appear to be the stronger team and should be able to take this series in six games.