The NBA took a protracted and winding road to get proper right here, nevertheless positive, the 2020 playoffs have lastly arrived.

Whereas there have been a great deal of reputable points about restarting play amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the league did deal with to create a protected ambiance contained within the bubble for participating teams as they accomplished out an unusual widespread season schedule. The “seeding video video games” supplied some much-needed leisure for decided hoops followers, along with an especially tight race for the last word playoff spot inside the Western Conference. 

For the teams nonetheless hanging throughout the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., the depth will leap to a unique stage as a result of the postseason begins. Betting favorites similar to the Bucks, Clippers and Lakers are chasing down a championship, nevertheless the trail to the NBA Finals is full of challenges.

The final weirdness of the NBA’s “bubble” makes the first spherical of the playoffs (and previous) troublesome to predict. Nonetheless, we’re ready to produce some picks for each assortment.

MORE: Explaining the NBA’s play-in occasion

NBA playoff bracket 2020

The No. 9 Grizzlies accomplished inside Four video video games of the No. Eight Path Blazers inside the Western Conference standings, triggering a play-in occasion for the last word playoff spot. The Path Blazers solely have to win one sport to have the ability to advance to the first spherical, nevertheless Memphis ought to defeat Portland twice if it must enter the playoff bracket.

Previous the play-in spherical, the 2020 NBA playoffs will adjust to the on a regular basis format with full best-of-seven assortment all through the NBA Finals.

Listed below are the first-round matchups in each conference:

Jap Conference

(1) Bucks vs. (8) Magic

(2) Raptors vs. (7) Nets

(3) Celtics vs. (6) 76ers

(4) Heat vs. (5) Pacers

Western Conference

(1) Lakers vs. (8) Path Blazers/Grizzlies

(2) Clippers vs. (7) Mavericks

(3) Nuggets vs. (6) Jazz

(4) Thunder vs. (5) Rockets

(Getty Photographs)

NBA playoff predictions: Jap Conference

(1) Bucks vs. (8) Magic

The necessary factor participant: Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 26.Three components, 15.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists in three video video games in opposition to the Magic this season. With Jonathan Isaac unavailable after struggling a torn ACL, depend on Orlando coach Steve Clifford to throw Aaron Gordon at Antetokounmpo — and depend on “The Greek Freak” to place up some ridiculous stat traces. 

The huge amount: When Brook Lopez sat all through the Bucks’ “seeding video video games,” Milwaukee had a web rating of minus-11.2. When he carried out, that amount jumped to plus-8.9. It’s easy to place the spotlight on Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton — they’re really good! — nevertheless keep in mind about Lopez’s have an effect on, notably on the defensive end.

The prediction: Bucks win, 4-0

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 18 Sport 1 1:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 20 Sport 2 6 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 22 Sport 3 1 p.m. TNT
Aug. 24 Sport 4 1:30 p.m. NBA TV
Aug. 26 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 28 Sport 6* TBD TBD
Aug. 30 Sport 7* TBD TBD

*if compulsory

(2) Raptors vs. (7) Nets

The necessary factor participant: What’s going to Pascal Siakam do in his first playoff assortment as a result of the Raptors’ excessive offensive menace? After bumping up his scoring widespread by six components from ultimate season (16.9 to 22.9), the All-Star forward could be anticipated to carry the load with Kawhi Leonard gone. The Nets are an ideal matchup for him because of they don’t have an superior wing-stopping selection.

The huge amount: Toronto has a defensive rating of 101.8 contained within the “bubble,” the perfect mark inside the NBA by an enormous margin. Brooklyn has been surprisingly feisty given its effectively being factors, nevertheless exterior of Caris LeVert, the Nets don’t possess a ton of strong initiators on offense. That could be a critical problem when coping with a workforce with plus defenders at each place.

The prediction: Raptors win, 4-0

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 17 Sport 1 4 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 19 Sport 2 1:30 p.m. NBA TV
Aug. 21 Sport 3 1:30 p.m. NBA TV
Aug. 23 Sport 4 6:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 25 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 27 Sport 6* TBD ESPN
Aug. 29 Sport 7* TBD TNT

*if compulsory

(3) Celtics vs. (6) 76ers

The necessary factor participant: It should be Joel Embiid. The 76ers know Ben Simmons is unlikely to return this season, in order that they need Embiid to be the perfect participant on the bottom and administration the within on every ends. If the 26-year-old vacillates between dominant and customary, this assortment won’t ultimate prolonged.

The huge amount: Gordon Hayward has been terrific common in Orlando, nevertheless his aggression stands out. In his ultimate seven video video games, Hayward has averaged 4.9 free throw makes an try, nearly doubling his output earlier to the suspension of play (2.8). If he continues to assault with confidence, Boston turns into far more dangerous inside the East.

The prediction: Celtics win, 4-1

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 17 Sport 1 6:30 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 19 Sport 2 6:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 21 Sport 3 6:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 23 Sport 4 1 p.m. ABC
Aug. 25 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 27 Sport 6* TBD ESPN
Aug. 29 Sport 7* TBD TNT

*if compulsory

(4) Heat vs. (5) Pacers

The necessary factor participant: Is T.J. Warren the next Michael Jordan, or is the latest streak over? The Pacers forward averaged 31.Zero components per sport whereas capturing a scorching 57.Eight % from the sector contained within the “bubble.” However, he has struggled in three video video games in opposition to the Heat, averaging merely 10.Three components on 35.5 % capturing, along with a 5-for-14 outing on Aug. 10. Jimmy Butler is effectively worthwhile this new rivalry in the intervening time. The Pacers need Warren to flip the script.

The huge amount: Miami is usually seen as a hard-nosed, grind-it-out workforce, nevertheless don’t dismiss the firepower. The Heat shot a league-high 38.1 % from 3-point fluctuate this season. Indiana ought to uncover the shooters on the perimeter, notably Duncan Robinson, who’s capable of taking place his private non-public 6-Zero run at any second.

The prediction: Heat win, 4-2

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 18 Sport 1 4 p.m. TNT
Aug. 20 Sport 2 1 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 22 Sport 3 3:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 24 Sport 4 6:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 26 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 28 Sport 6* TBD TBD
Aug. 30 Sport 7* TBD TBD

*if compulsory

(Getty Photographs)

NBA playoff predictions: Western Conference

(1) Lakers vs. (8) Path Blazers/Grizzlies

This half could be updated following the conclusion of the play-in occasion.

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 18 Sport 1 9 p.m. TNT
Aug. 20 Sport 2 9 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 22 Sport 3 8:30 p.m. ABC
Aug. 24 Sport 4 9 p.m. TNT
Aug. 26 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 28 Sport 6* TBD TBD
Aug. 30 Sport 7* TBD TBD

*if compulsory

(2) Clippers vs. (7) Mavericks

The necessary factor participant: At merely 21 years earlier, Luka Doncic has confirmed he’s an expert well-known particular person, and he is ready to take coronary heart stage. Sadly for Doncic, the Clippers are designed to make life troublesome with a mix of Patrick Beverley, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard following him throughout the bottom. In three video video games in opposition to Los Angeles, Doncic averaged 29.Zero components, 7.Zero rebounds and 7.Zero assists (good!) nevertheless shot 42.6 % from the sector and 27.Three % from deep whereas totaling 15 turnovers (harmful!). How he handles the stress will resolve whether or not or not the Mavs have an precise shot on the upset.

The huge amount: Anticipate components. Loads of components. The Mavs (115.9) and Clippers (113.6) are the very best two teams inside the league by the use of offensive rating. This assortment could produce only a few video video games inside the 120-130 stage fluctuate. Which workforce will get the necessary factor stops when it points?

The prediction: Clippers win, 4-1

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 17 Sport 1 9 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 19 Sport 2 9 p.m. TNT
Aug. 21 Sport 3 9 p.m. TNT
Aug. 23 Sport 4 3:30 p.m. ABC
Aug. 25 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 27 Sport 6* TBD ESPN
Aug. 29 Sport 7* TBD TNT

*if compulsory

(3) Nuggets vs. (6) Jazz

The necessary factor participant: This assortment could come all the best way right down to an infinite man battle: Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic. In three video video games in opposition to the Jazz this season (all shut wins for the Nuggets), Jokic averaged 29.Three components, 12.Zero rebounds and 9.Zero assists whereas capturing 56.Three % from the sector. However, Gobert saved Jokic to a additional pedestrian 48.9 % of their explicit particular person matchups, per NBA.com monitoring information. Gobert bringing Jokic down from All-NBA to even above widespread might be an infinite win for Utah.

The huge amount: In seven “bubble” video video games, Michael Porter Jr. averaged 22.Zero components on 55.1 % capturing from the sector and 42.2 % from previous the arc. This mannequin of Porter is the appropriate complementary participant subsequent to Jokic and Jamal Murray. Sustaining this stage of producing all by the playoffs may be unrealistic considering his lack of know-how, nevertheless Porter realizing his potential is a sport changer.

The prediction: Nuggets win, 4-2

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 17 Sport 1 1:30 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 19 Sport 2 4 p.m. TNT
Aug. 21 Sport 3 4 p.m. TNT
Aug. 23 Sport 4 9 p.m. TNT
Aug. 25 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 27 Sport 6* TBD ESPN
Aug. 29 Sport 7* TBD TNT

*if compulsory

(4) Thunder vs. (5) Rockets

The necessary factor participant: When will Russell Westbrook take the courtroom docket? That’s the largest question looming over what may presumably be basically essentially the most intriguing first-round assortment. The nine-time All-Star will miss the “first few video video games” of the gathering and possibly longer with a strained quad, in response to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen. It’s onerous to nail down an precise timeline because of Westbrook’s return largely will rely upon how he responds to treatment.

The huge amount: As NBA.com’s Scott Rafferty notes, the Thunder’s lineup of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams has a web rating of 29.9 this season. Amongst lineups which have carried out not lower than 100 minutes, that’s the perfect mark inside the NBA. The Rockets may presumably be notably vulnerable in opposition to that group if Westbrook is unable to play until late inside the assortment.

The prediction: Thunder win, 4-2

Date Sport Time (ET) Nationwide TV
Aug. 18 Sport 1 6:30 p.m. TNT
Aug. 20 Sport 2 3:30 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 22 Sport 3 6 p.m. ESPN
Aug. 24 Sport 4 4 p.m. TNT
Aug. 26 Sport 5* TBD TBD
Aug. 28 Sport 6* TBD TBD
Aug. 30 Sport 7* TBD TBD

*if compulsory

blank
(Getty Photographs)

NBA playoff odds

The Clippers, Lakers and Bucks are unsurprisingly the championship favorites heading into the playoffs. They’ve been considered the very best contenders since ultimate summer season season’s free firm bonanza.

Together with the title odds beneath, you may even uncover odds to win the Jap and Western Conferences proper right here.

Workforce Odds
Clippers +275
Lakers +300
Bucks +325
Celtics +1,000
Raptors +1,000
Rockets +1,200
Nuggets +2,800
Path Blazers +2,800
Heat +3,300
Mavericks +5,000
Thunder +5,000
Jazz +5,000
76ers +6,000
Pacers +12,500
Nets +15,000
Grizzlies +20,000
Magic +25,000

NBA Finals picks 2020

Jap Conference champion: Raptors

Western Conference champion: Clippers

NBA Finals: Clippers win, 4-2

NBA Finals MVP: Kawhi Leonard

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here