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SportNBA playoff predictions 2019: Picking the bracket, from first round to NBA Finals

17:19  12 april  2019
17:19  12 april  2019 Source:   sportingnews.com

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The 2019 NBA Playoffs will be a postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association 's 2018–19 season. The playoffs will begin on April 13 and will end with the NBA Finals .

The official home of the 2019 NBA Playoffs : Matchups, schedules, stats, news, features, video highlights and playoff bracket . First Round Playoff Schedule: Playoffs Begin April 13. NBA .com Power Rankings. Season Stats Leaders. 2018 Recap: Warriors Win It All.

NBA playoff predictions 2019: Picking the bracket, from first round to NBA Finals © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited

In true NBA fashion, the standings weren't settled until the final day of the 2018-19 regular season. But late Wednesday night, the league's 16 playoff participants locked into their positions ahead of what should be an entertaining postseason run.

The Warriors are undoubtedly the favorite to win the Western Conference (and the 2019 NBA championship), but they must get past a feisty Clippers team in the first round, then the Rockets or Jazz just to reach the conference finals. The Nuggets are hoping to carry over the success from a 54-win regular season into the playoffs, but the Spurs, Thunder and Trail Blazers could all present the No. 2 seed with problems on that side of the bracket.

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Can any contenders prevent another Cavs-Warriors matchup in the NBA Finals ? Let's go through the NBA playoff bracket to find out.

The Eastern Conference is looking top-heavy to start with the Bucks, Raptors, Sixers and Celtics all expected to advance to the second round. The East bracket could have a far-reaching impact on these teams beyond the playoffs with a pivotal offseason on the horizon. Get bounced early, and it could prove costly in free agency.

Can anyone prevent another Warriors championship? Who will emerge from the Eastern Conference with LeBron James no longer in charge? Let's go through the 2019 NBA playoff bracket to find out.

NBA PLAYOFFS 2019:

Full schedule | West breakdown | East breakdown

NBA playoff bracket

NBA playoff predictions 2019: Picking the bracket, from first round to NBA Finals © Provided by Perform Media Channels Limited nba-playoff-bracket-2019-ftr.jpg

NBA playoffs: East first-round predictions

The Nos. 6 and 7 seeds have a chance to put a scare into their first-round foes, but no upsets are expected here. The second round should be a dandy.

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Now, it has analyzed the current 2019 NBA Finals odds and locked in its top targets and teams to avoid like the plague. You can only see them over at The Rockets, a 4-seed in the 2019 NBA Playoff bracket , are led by James Harden, the first player in NBA history to average at least 35 points and

FiveThirtyEight’s NBA forecast projects the winner of each game and predicts each team's chances of advancing to the playoffs and winning the NBA finals . Updated after every game and depth chart revision. More NBA :CARMELO player projections Every team’s Elo history How this works.

Bucks over Pistons

Raptors over Magic

Sixers over Nets

Celtics over Pacers

NBA playoffs: West first-round predictions

The defending champs cruise, No. 2 will struggle to get by, a shorthanded No. 3 seed goes down and the Rockets shoot down Utah (again).

Warriors over Clippers

Nuggets over Spurs

Thunder over Trail Blazers

Rockets over Jazz

Eastern Conference semifinal predictions

Celtics over Bucks, 4-2

If there were a contest based on chemistry, the Celtics would have missed the postseason altogether. But talent is a factor, especially as the playoff rounds get tougher. The Celtics have depth and can create matchup advantages all over the lineup against the Bucks — Boston can throw big, medium and small lineups on the floor, with solid players in each.

The Celtics will miss Marcus Smart, and that could be enough to make them unravel against a relentless, fast-paced team with a system as well-organized as the Bucks. The Celtics will need to figure out how to challenge Milwaukee on the perimeter while still containing likely league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The bet here is that they’ll have enough versatility to do it.

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Raptors over Sixers, 4-3

Joel Embiid is not completely healthy, and there’s no telling whether the impact of that will seep into the second round — or even be a problem in the first round.

But even with a healthy Embiid, Philly does not have the depth to keep pace with Toronto, and the Raptors’ versatility gives them a distinct edge here. The Sixers have addressed some of their weak spots by adding Tobias Harris via trade, but there are still too many holes — Ben Simmons’ jumper, JJ Redick’s defense, the bench as a whole — that the Raptors can exploit.

Western Conference semifinal predictions

Warriors over Rockets, 4-2

This will likely be Golden State’s biggest threat in this postseason. Houston was not able to complete the upset in last year’s Western Conference finals after taking a 3-2 advantage in the series — Chris Paul got hurt before Game 6, and the Rockets went 7-for-44 from the 3-point line in the final loss.

Despite the comparatively rough regular season, the Rockets might be in better position to do so this time. But expect the Golden State defense, which ranked just 11th this season, to snap into place in the postseason, as it did last year when the team was 11th in the regular season and first in the playoffs.

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Nuggets over Thunder, 4-3

It would be a surprise if the Nuggets, who have precious little playoff experience, were able to break through to the conference finals, but then it would be a surprise if the Thunder had the breakthrough, considering they were 11-13 to finish the season. ​OKC has the experience edge, but the Nuggets have talent on their side, and we’re going to stick with talent here.

Denver struggles away from home, but they’ll get four games at the Pepsi Center, and that’s a big advantage for them. It wouldn’t be shocking if the Nuggets got through to the conference finals with eight home wins and six road losses in the first two rounds.

Conference finals predictions

Raptors over Celtics, 4-3

The Celtics played well against the Raptors during the season, winning twice at home and losing the two road games. But the Raptors have a better combination of talent and chemistry and have home-court advantage.

Toronto did not exactly tear through the league after trading for Marc Gasol, but the Raptors do have a high-post big man who can pass and shoot and figures to scramble the Celtics’ options in the middle of the floor. The key here may be point guard Kyle Lowry, who had a rough season and struggled especially against Boston (11.5 points, 36.1 percent shooting). Lowry did shoot better down the stretch, and if he can maintain that through the postseason, it will be a major boost for the Raptors.

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The NBA playoffs are a best-of-seven elimination tournament annually held after the National Basketball Association ( NBA )’s regular season to determine the league's champion.

The National Basketball Association 's first overall pick is the player who is selected first among all eligible draftees by a team during the annual National Basketball Association ( NBA ) draft.

Warriors over Nuggets, 4-1

The Nuggets got pretty favorable seeding in the playoffs, if they can handle the experience advantage the Spurs have in the first round. They’re young but talented enough to get past both the Spurs and the Thunder.

The Warriors are a different story, though. Golden State has a way of locking in during the postseason, and the Nuggets certainly do not have a talent advantage in this matchup. Denver won the first meeting of the two teams, back in October, but the Warriors won the last three games by margins of 14, 17 and 31 points.

NBA Finals prediction

Warriors over Raptors, 4-2

A trip to the Finals could be enough to validate the risky move the Raptors made in trading for Kawhi Leonard last summer, and it may be enough to persuade Leonard to stick around in free agency next summer. One thing it is very unlikely to mean is a Toronto championship this season.

The Warriors simply have too many weapons, too many players — Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala — who can navigate a high-pressure series like this. And the Warriors have advantages at every position, even at small forward, where Leonard is among the league’s best. Durant is a bit better.

Go down the list, and the Warriors have advantages everywhere. For the fourth time in five years, then, put the Warriors down as league champs.

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