Milwaukee vs Washington
If you like points – and let’s be honest who doesn’t? – then this matchup would be for you. Milwaukee and Washington both rank in the top 10 in points per game. Milwaukee ranks top 5 in the league in three pointers taken per game. With Giannis being a creator, it’s hard to not get open looks when that man is going to the lane.
Washington ranks top 10 in points, but they rank in the bottom half of the league in threes. They prefer to get this done from two point range. Getting the Wizards into the playoffs would also mean getting my guy, Bradley Beal, into the postseason, and off of the internet as a meme.
Giannis vs Beal for 3-5 games would just be spectacular. Milwaukee would take care of business, but it would be way more entertaining for the fans to see the Bucks play the Wizards than someone like Charlotte or Orlando.
Toronto vs Indiana
We’ll call this the “nobody expected us to be this good” matchup. Toronto and Indiana have both had to overcome low expectations to start out the season. When Kawhi Leonard left Toronto for L.A., most experts picked the Raptors as a team that would try and blow it up, and who could really blame them? After winning a title it would have been easy for Toronto General Manager Masai Ujiri to close up shop and trade away all his good players. Four months into the season, the Raptors are two-seed in the East, and talks of tearing down this team seem like a distant memory.
Indiana had struggles of their own to deal with. When Victor Oladipo went down late last season, it was a guess when he would make his return. Until then, Indiana was expected to just keep the ship afloat until Victor’s return. Well, they did more than that. Without Oladipo, Indiana went on a run to get as high as the three seed in the East, before settling back down in the sixth spot. With Indiana back at full strength, this playoff matchup would be fun to watch.
Boston vs Brooklyn
We could call this the “Where in the world is Kyrie Irving” series. The ultimate irony is Kyrie won’t be playing in this series after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this month. Even without Kyrie, this series would still be super entertaining.
The Celtics started out slow to start the new year, but have gone 9-2 in the month of February, everyone really looks to be hitting their stride at the perfect time. Jayson Tatum has taken the next step in his development and has emerged as the two way star that Boston needs him to be. Gordon Hayward has looked more like Utah Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown continues to make strides.
Brooklyn has been up and down this season. Granted, no one really expected anything out of the Nets this season with the loss of Kevin Durant for the year. Still, this team was a shoe in to make the playoffs with the benefit of just playing in the Eastern Conference.
Having Kyrie say that the Nets still needed more guys to contend for a championship isn’t the greatest team building strategy in the world. Especially when the players on your team are still young and can improve.
This series would more than likely be a short one, but seeing Kyrie talking with his old Celtics teammates would be a nice news story for everyone to follow.
Philadelphia vs Miami
What an awesome series this would be! Jimmy Butler vs his old squad! Joel Embiid vs Bam Adebayo. This series might come down to which team gets home court for Game 5, because the heat and 76ers both struggle away from home.
Miami has again overachieved. They have good pieces, Jimmy Butler is a top 15 player, Bam is an All-Star, but outside of that the rest of their players are just good. What makes Miami go from good to great is Coach Spoelstra. He’s really good at getting his players in a position to succeed.
Talent-wise, Philly was expected to be the #1 seed in the East. With Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid plus a cast of Al Horford, Josh Richardson, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, many experts had picked Philadelphia to be the team with the best odds to win it all this season. Unfortunately for Sixers fans, their team has underperformed all year.
Los Angeles Lakers vs New Orleans
Executives at ESPN won’t say this out loud, but if this playoff matchup came to pass, ratings would be through the roof. Zion + LeBron would just be too good to pass up. It would also mean the former Laker cornerstones Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball would be playing against their former team for at least a week or two.
New Orleans has been fun to watch. Before Zion’s return, the Pelicans were still exciting because they averaged over 110 points per game. Sure, they gave up more than that on defense, but when you’re a bad team, it’s better to be bad on defense than on offense. With Zion, the Pelicans will be a tough out for any opponent.
The Lakers have thrived all season. But it really shouldn’t be a surprise when you have 2 of the top 5 best players in the NBA. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka has managed to surround both Anthony Davis and LeBron James with some really great complimentary pieces. Even in his 17th season, LeBron is leading the league in assists per game. Anthony Davis is averaging 26.6 points (9th), 9.5 rebounds (15th), 3.2 assists (71st), 28.34 PER (3rd) after 53 games played this season.
Denver vs Dallas
This series would be sneaky good. Both teams love to get up and down the floor, and both teams have dominant international players! This series would have the best potential of it going the full seven games in the first round.
Denver was a team that everyone said was a trade away from really being special. Jrue Holiday, Bradley Beal, and a few other big names were often linked to Denver in trade rumors. The Nuggets ended up staying pat, largely because of the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. Nikola Jokic has been a top 10 player in the entire league since Christmas.
The Mavericks are one of the most fun teams in the NBA to watch this season. Watching Luka Doncic on a nightly basis is such a treat. Combine that with Kristaps Porzingis, Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. and you got yourself a solid squad. Could they upset Denver? Anything is possible. Luka would have to be playing at an MVP-level with Porzingis returning to his former All-Star form.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Oklahoma City
A matchup full of nostalgia, CP3 back in L.A. playing against the Clippers, Paul George playing against the Thunder after requesting a trade over the summer.
OKC might be the surprise team in the NBA this season. All the experts picked the Thunder to be among the worst squads in the Western Conference after trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook this offseason. Instead, CP3, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari have led this squad to a playoff berth, and they are stacked to the brim with a treasure chest full of draft picks. SGA should be in the discussion for most improved player in the league. His game has really come together in year 2 for the Kentucky product. Chris Paul has been an amazing addition to the Thunder this season. Even the Clippers would be the overwhelming favorite, it would still be a fun series.
The Los Angeles Clippers began the season as one of the favorites to win the NBA Finals when they signed Two-Time Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard and traded for Paul George. Some have claimed that the Clippers have gotten even better with the addition of Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris. However, Paul George’s numbers have fallen off a cliff from last season when he was an MVP candidate. Throw in the fact that George can’t seem to stay healthy and there are a lot of questions about this Clippers team and how far they can go. That being said, the Clippers’ depth and the reigning Finals MVP will make them a tough out against any opponent.
Houston vs Utah
For those of you who are really into the X’s and O’s of basketball, this series would be for you. Quinn Snyder has been called one of the best defensive coaches in the NBA, and he would really have a test in this matchup. How would he defend against what’s been dubbed as Houston’s style of “small ball”?
Utah was everyone’s sleeper team before the season began. With the addition of point guard Mike Conley in the offseason, some thought this would bring more than enough offensive fire power to guide the Jazz through the post season. Well…that hasn’t exactly worked out, Conley just hasn’t looked like the same player. We’ve seen with point guards that once they push past their prime, there’s no going back, and we might be seeing that with Mike. However, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have been excellent this season, and may be enough to lift the Jazz past Houston.
Houston was criticized for trading out Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook in the offseason. But Darrell Morey is known for taking risks and not caring what anyone else has to say about it. Despite many analysts saying that the pairing wouldn’t work, Russell and Harden have been a great duo this season. Westbrook in particular has been spectacular during the past month, and he could give the Rockets a much needed boost in the playoffs, especially if Harden has his annual slump in April and May.