ASA NBA PLAYOFF 1st ROUND SERIES
Magic vs. Bucks (Bucks in 4 games) – The Bucks and Magic first round match up will be a quick one with the Bucks sweeping the Magic in four games much like the regular season. Milwaukee beat this team by an average of 17PPG this season and one of those wins came without Giannis suiting up for the Bucks. Milwaukee dominated the Magic on the boards with a plus +17 margin of total rebounds per game. Orlando will struggle offensively as they’ve done for the majority of the season with the 23rd ranked offensive efficiency numbers. Not too mention the Bucks have the best defensive efficiency unit in the NBA. The Bucks in four.
Heat vs. Pacers (Heat in 7) – Back in March we predicted the Pacers would advance in this series, but our thinking has changed. The Heat have a guy like Jimmy Butler who can take a game over by himself. The Pacers do not have that as Oladipo is not back to 100% and despite TJ Warrens emergence in the Bubble games we do not feel he can sustain that type of success in the Playoffs. There are only a handful of NBA teams that rank in the top 11 in both offensive and defensive efficiency and the Heat are one of them. While the Pacers are only slightly better defensively, the Heat are much better offensively.
Thunder vs. Rockets (Rockets in 6) – The backdrop for this series is a great one with Russell Westbrook facing his former team along with Chris Paul getting a chance to face the team that traded him before the season. Obviously, the health of Westbrook is a huge concern for the Rockets who hope to get him back soon, but they did recently get Eric Gordon back who can take relieve some of the scoring burden off Harden. The Thunder have been a great story this season is what was believed to be a rebuilding year, but Alexander, Schroeder and Paul have been outstanding. OKC holds the edge defensively but Houston gets the nod offensively and we see the Rockets “small ball” working in this post season.
Blazers vs. Lakers (Lakers in 6) – The Blazers have put together and incredible run in the Bubble and have been a great story in the NBA but now the games are for real and we expect the Lakers to show up. Damian Lillard has been sensational and the return of Nurkic has had a huge impact on the Blazers who went 6-2 SU in the Bubble just to get in. Even though the Lakers offense has been horrible in the restart, but they will face a Portland defense that has been just as bad with the 2nd worst defensive efficiency rating in the restart. In the end Anthony Davis is the difference in this series and the Lakers move on.