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NBA playoffs: Hard to find an upset in the Eastern Conference

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Boston's Marcus Morris pump-fakes against Indiana's Myles Turner last week. (AP Photo)
Boston's Marcus Morris pump-fakes against Indiana's Myles Turner last week. (AP Photo)


The NBA’s Eastern Conference playoffs seem top heavy, with only one matchup – Indiana-Boston – appearing enticing. Will there be an upset? Here are my predictions for the East’s first round:

76ers vs. Netropolitans

Season series: 2-2.

Season records: Philadelphia 51-31, Brooklyn 42-40.

Playoff history: The 76ers won NBA titles in 1983, 1967 and 1955, the latter as the Syracuse Nationals. The Sixers have made the playoffs 49 times in their 70-year history and have won the Eastern Conference nine times. But Philly has just two series wins since 2003. The Nets won two ABA championships but haven’t won an NBA title, though they made the Finals in 2002 and 2003. The Nets have made the playoffs 20 times in their 43 NBA seasons but have just one series win since 2007.

Playoff series history: The franchises have met twice in the playoffs, splitting first-round series in 1979 and 1984.

Outlook: The health of 76er center Joel Embiid is a concern; Philadelphia is not the same without him. But Brooklyn did not play well down the stretch.

Prediction: 76ers in five.

 

Celtics vs. Pacers

Season series: Boston 3-1.

Season records: Boston 49-33, Indiana 48-34.

Playoff history: The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles and made the playoffs 56 times in their 73 seasons. Boston hasn’t made the NBA Finals since 2010 but reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018, 2017 and 2012. The Pacers have made the playoffs 24 of the last 30 years but haven’t won a series since making back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014. Indiana has made the NBA Finals only once, in 2000.

Playoff series history: Boston is 3-2 vs. Indiana in the postseason, all in first-round series.

Outlook: The Pacers played valiantly in the wake of a season-ending injury to star guard Victor Oladipo. Boston was a season-long disappointment, checking in at fewer than 50 wins.

Prediction: Celtics in five.

 

Bucks vs. Pistons

Season series: Milwaukee 4-0, with only one game decided by single digits.

Season records: Milwaukee 60-22, Detroit 41-41.

Playoff history: The Bucks won the 1971 NBA title with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but haven’t returned to the Finals since 1974. Milwaukee has made the playoffs 31 times in their 51-year history but has won a playoff series in only one year, 2001, since 1989. The Pistons won NBA titles in 1989, 1990 and 2004. They have made the playoffs 42 times in their 71 years but haven’t won a series since their streak of six straight Eastern Conference Finals ended in 2009.

Playoff series history: Detroit is 4-0 in series against Milwaukee, the latest in 2006.

Outlook: The Bucks were the NBA’s best regular-season team. Detroit tailed off at the end of the season, and superstar Blake Griffin’s health is in question.

Prediction: Bucks in five.

 

Raptors vs. Magic

Season series: 2-2.

Season records: Toronto 58-24, Orlando 42-40.

Playoff history: The Raptors have made the playoffs 11 times in their 24-year history but have reached the Eastern Conference Finals only once, losing in 2016. The Magic has made the playoffs 15 times in its 30-year history, including Finals appearances  in 1995 and 2009. But Orlando hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2012 and hasn’t won a series since 2010.

Playoff series history: The only meeting was in the 2008 first round, with Orlando winning.

Outlook: Toronto has been solid all season, fortified by the Kawhi Leonard acquisition. The Magic played well down the stretch, going 22-9 over its last 31 games.

Prediction: Raptors in five.

Related Photos
Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) looks to shoot under Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) looks to shoot under Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-449161243fb0faada83a9b0c732327f4.jpg" alt="Photo - Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) looks to shoot under Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)" title="Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) looks to shoot under Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)"><figcaption>Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris (13) looks to shoot under Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner (33) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Friday, April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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