2020 NBA Playoff Opening-round Series Preview

LeBron James and the Lakers look to end the season on top of the NBA world. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By DaVince “Dino” Wright

Some might say, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!” The NBA has its playoff brackets set for the eight teams to make their championship run starting on Monday. COVID-19, racial unrest and the economy couldn’t stop the NBA train from rolling down the sports track. This will be the first time in history that the NBA playoffs will be held in a controlled environment without fans. The host venue will be Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida played on three different courts. For the past three weeks 19 teams were invited for seeding, gearing up for the playoffs and the table is now set. Here are the playoff series and my predictions to every game and key players.

The Eastern Conference

The Eastern Conference will be a bit intriguing this year. There are so many talented players not playing this year that made that conference look a bit weak. New young and young unnamed players have made a name for themselves, but is it enough to carry a team? Let’s check out the Eastern Conference match ups.

#1 Milwaukee Bucks (56-17) vs #8 Orlando Magic (33-40)
Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the key for the Bucks. He’s the reigning NBA MVP and there’s no one on the Magic team that can match up with him. He’s big, strong and can score on anyone at anytime.  Orlando is a good team with stars missing. This series will be quick work for the Bucks. My prediction: Milwaukee wins a series sweep 4-0!

#2 Toronto Raptors (53-17) vs #7 Brooklyn Nets (35-37)
Last year’s NBA champions are looking to repeat from last year’s magical title run. Kyle Lowry will be the key for the Raptors. His experience leading a talented team is poised to get to the conference finals again. The Nets have too many big named players out. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant won’t be on the floor for the Nets. Another quick series. My prediction: Toronto Raptors win in a sweep 4-0!

#3 Boston Celtics (48-24) vs #6 Philadelphia 76ers (43-30)
This series will be tougher than anyone is thinking. 76ers Center Joel Embiid is a dominate force in the paint. He can score from anywhere, but his downfall is being too passive on both ends. Ben Simmons is out with a knee injury and that will hamper the 76ers. Boston is ready! Kemba Walker, Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown is ready. My prediction: Boston wins 4-3 in Game 7

#4 Indiana Pacers (45-28) vs #5 Miami Heat (44-29)
This is the series that everyone is waiting for! The match up between Miami’s star Jimmy Butler and Indiana’s T. J. Warren is like a made for movie story. They both can their team to victory, but they hate each other! Miami owns the regular season series this year, 3-1, but it’s playoff time and a championship is on the line. This will be action packed from the first game to the last. My prediction: Miami wins 4-2!

The Western Conference

The Western Conference playoffs is littered with big named stars seeking their first championships in new places. There’s no clear cut path to the NBA championship. It will be earned on the defensive end trying to shutdown great offensive players and teams. Here are the match ups and key players in the West.

#1 Los Angeles Lakers (52-19) vs #8 Portland Trail Blazers (35-39)
The Lakers really don’t want to face these guys. This will be a very interesting series from start to finish. This could be the second time a #8 seed could win a series! That’s exactly what I said! LA has the best team that money can buy. LeBron James and Anthony Davis played way below their standards, but Damien Lillard is an assassin on the court. This series will be the catalyst for the West this year.
My prediction: LA Lakers wins it in five games 4-1!

#2 LA Clippers (49-23) vs #7 Dallas Mavericks (43-23)
The Clippers are considered the best team in basketball. They have balance at every position and plays stifling defense as well. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will lead this talented team deep into the playoffs. Dallas’ “Wonder Boy” Luka Doncic along with Tim Hardaway Jr. will have something to say about that. Dallas has to play tougher on defense to get to the next level. My prediction: Clippers will win the series in five games as well, 4-1!

#3 Denver Nuggets (46-27) vs #6 Utah Jazz (44-28)
This will be the series to watch in the West. Both teams can be dangerous, but also their won worst enemy. Denver has the biggest team in the NBA, but failed to gel in the latter parts of close games. Utah on the other hand starts every game slow. You just don’t know what your going to get with these teams. I’m up in the air with a clear cut winner. This series could easily go seven games. Denver’s Micheal Porter Jr. is key for Denver winning this one. My prediction: Denver wins in 7 games, 4-3!

#4 Houston Rockets (44-28) vs #5 Oklahoma City Thunder (44-28)
Evenly matched teams that will require a role player to push their team over the edge. OKC’s Chris Paul will be the key for the Thunder. If he struggles, the Thunder is in trouble. The Rocket’s James Harden will let it fly from the first quarter to the fourth. Russell Westbrook if healthy will give the Thunder the blues. This will be another series to watch. My prediction: Houston will take it in 6, 4-2!