NBA playoff predictions: Lakers, Bucks will be too good

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77
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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

In this post-Golden State Warriors dynasty era, the 2019-20 NBA playoffs were also going to be tough to predict. After all, there is no longer any clear-cut best team in the league. Throw a four-month hiatus because of the coronavirus into the equation and you get even more of a crapshoot. Things could be nothing short of crazy when the season at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers were the two best teams in the league prior to the break, leading their respective conferences with some room to spare. Will more of the same continue from late July through early October? We predict the answer to that question here, and be sure to check out our daily NBA expert predictions when the 2019-20 campaign resumes.

First round

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (8) Brooklyn Nets in 4 – Brooklyn is without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With those two, this could be the best series in the entire playoffs. Of course, with those two the Nets would not be the eighth seed.

(5) Philadelphia 76ers over (4) Miami Heat in 7 – Miami would normally enjoy home-court advantage, but obviously there is no such thing now. That will allow Philadelphia to win a decisive seventh game.

(3) Boston Celtics over (6) Indiana Pacers in 5 – The Pacers have overachieved so far this season. From a talent standpoint, they cannot hang with Boston in the playoffs.

(2) Toronto Raptors over (7) Orlando Magic in 5 – Orlando should be able to steal the seventh seed from Brooklyn due to an easier regular-season schedule and therefore avoid Milwaukee, but even Toronto will be too tough.

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (8) New Orleans Pelicans in 5 – The NBA basically implemented a “Zion Williamson Rule” to get the Pelicans to Orlando. They may even play their way into the postseason and steal one game from the Lakers.

(5) Houston Rockets over (4) Utah Jazz in 6 – Go with another five seed over four seed due in part to the lack of home-court advantage. The Rockets are currently in sixth, but they should pass Oklahoma City…and maybe even Utah.

(3) Denver Nuggets over (6) Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 – No team has been more surprising than Oklahoma City and Chris Paul is a grizzled playoff veteran. Still, the Nuggets have plenty experience themselves and they are far more talented.

(2) Los Angeles Clippers over (7) Dallas Mavericks in 5 – There is plenty of star power here in the form of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Luka Doncic. It’s just a shame it won’t last more than five games.

Second round

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (5) Philadelphia 76ers in 6 – The 76ers just don’t play smart enough basketball to beat the absolute best teams in the league.

(3) Boston Celtics over (2) Toronto Raptors in 6 – The Raptors have gotten along just fine in the post-Kawhi era, but his absence will catch up to them against Boston.

Western Conference

(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (5) Houston Rockets in 5 – Give me LeBron and Anthony Davis over James Harden and Russell Westbrook any day of the week.

(2) Los Angeles Clippers over (3) Denver Nuggets in 5 – Kawhi was the best player in the 2018-19 postseason and—at least for a while—he could be the same this time.

Conference finals

Eastern Conference

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over (3) Boston Celtics in 7 – Presumptive MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo fell short of the NBA Finals last year. He won’t make the same mistake again.

(1) Los Angeles Lakers over (2) Los Angeles Clippers in 7 – How good could this L.A. showdown be? Anything less than seven games would be a disappointment.

NBA Finals

Los Angeles Lakers over Milwaukee Bucks in 7 – LeBron gets the edge over Kawhi in the West, and his finals experience gets him the nod against Giannis. Plus Giannis doesn’t have A.D. as a sidekick.

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