Published: Wed, April 17, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Playoff time: 10 things to know for the NBA postseason

Playoff time: 10 things to know for the NBA postseason

It earned the top spot in the Western Conference in 2018-19 and opens the playoffs as the Vegas favorites to hang a third straight banner. I was trying to come up with reasons to pick IN in this series, but Kyrie Irving vs. Darren Collison really isn't much of a contest. Remember, Philly is 31-10 at home and have more playoff experience. The Magic have gone 11-2 in their last 13 games to surge into the seventh seed. So, my prediction for the Eastern Conference Finals will be Celtics versus the Raptors, and I think the Raptors will finally end their drought and win the series in six games.

Cousins has played in 565 regular-season games and zero postseason games. It will be interesting to see if the Bucks speed up the timeline if the first round series gets interesting. Embiid had troubles against the Boston Celtics when Philadelphia was eliminated in last year's second round, so he does have something to prove in the postseason. The gifted center is a focal point for Mike Malone's team, taking plenty of the playmaking responsibilities away from whichever combination of guards are out on the court alongside him.

Stephen Curry's shot seemed to fail him before he began wearing contact lens on the court - in a scary admission that he had struggled with his vision for years even as he established himself as the deadliest three-point shooter in National Basketball Association history. Their four top minutes leaders have combined for zero playoff minutes (Jokic, Murray, Harris, Barton). The series might be decided by which side can defend the rim better. It'll also be fun to watch DeMar DeRozan in the playoffs again, but without LeBron in his path.

San Antonio and Denver is a matchup between two teams that enter the playoffs with a number of categories that point to the under.

There won't be much to watch, as I expect the Bucks to beat the Pistons in four or five games. Let's break this down. Tough to stop around the rim, but can also handle the ball and is an elite passer - averaging 7.7 assists per game. But behind a historic scoring season by James Harden, Houston still has one of the strongest defenses in the league, anchored by a switchable Clint Capela and an extremely versatile P.J. Tucker. "And then you got wing players like [Landry] Shamet and Wilson Chandler, guys that can come in and give you some problems in the playoffs for a stretch; having another big like [Ivica] Zubac, so they got a nice team, well-coached". Last year, our simulation fell a little below the mark, so we're hoping this year's sim takes a turn for the positive. That being said, with a healthy Embiid, Philly is bigger than Brooklyn at every position, literally, and Joel Embiid looks at Jarrett Allen like the lion from Madagascar looks at a cartoon steak. Based on the way last season went, the milestone game will come late in the conference-semifinal round or early in the conference-final round.

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This season, thanks to the return of Irving and Hayward, Tatum and Hayward had to adjust to different roles and bench stars like Terry Rozier had less opportunity than previous year. As we march on into the postseason, things will only get crazier.

Key matchup: Harden vs. Donovan Mitchell.

Post All-Star break, he's averaging 27, 5, and 5, shooting 46%, 45%, 83%.

What's more impressive for Orlando is the offense.

Doc Rivers' team had managed to climb up to sixth leading up to the final few games but four losses in their final seven saw them drop down to eighth place in the West. I guess it's Jae Crowder, but I don't feel great about that. When he plays for the Warriors this weekend, and when Kyle O'Quinn - now No. 2 on the list with 443 regular-season games without a postseason minute - plays for IN, the new active leader IN games played without a postseason appearance will be Brandon Knight.

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