The 2018 NBA Season has been full of tantalizing stories with some to forget, and some to hold onto forever. We’ve seen some old faces perform new tricks & new faces razzle and dazzle in their first tenure. We have also witnessed greatness in familiar places while many names brought their talents elsewhere. With only 5 days or so left in the NBA Season, we’re here to review what could have been, what was, and what we are looking forward to during the NBA Playoffs which are setting up to be exciting so if you’re looking to make an investment and have a little fun with the games, purchase our NBA Playoff sports picks package today!
NBA Season Stories: Battle For The Top
If opening night was any indication for the rest of the season, we probably could have just started the NBA Conference Finals right there. The first game of the year provided us the matchup of the Boston Celtics visiting the King and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving debuted in Celtic Green against some familiar faces who were now foes. Unfortunately, the other new high-profile star for the Celtics, Gordon Hayward, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in just the first few minutes. In the end, LeBron dominated the box score with 29 points and 10 rebounds. LeBron, who was now surrounded by the likes of his buddy Dwayne Wade and the one-time MVP of Derrick Rose, squeaked by with the W for the Cavs. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for both teams this year, but could this be a preview to the Eastern Conference Finals? We think so.
The second game of the year undoubtedly provided us a preview to the most prolific teams in the NBA for the 2018 season. The Houston Rockets visited the reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors. The Rockets oddly enough had only two leads in this game. They were up 2-0 after the first basket and then 122-121 after the final one. This high scoring game displayed to us how important it is in today’s NBA to space the floor, knock down 3-pointers, and what an amazing luxury it is to have several star players on your squad. Our basketball pick will definitely look for the Rockets and Warriors to battle for the Western Conference this May.
2018 NBA Hi’s and Low’s
In addition to some wild trades, this NBA Season has provided its share of Hi’s as well as Low points. The swap of Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas made many people scratch their heads. With that trade, it appeared the Boston Celtics were primed for a championship run with Kyrie leading the pack (and still might be), but who knows how much better they could have been with Hayward being a regular starter? With that said, Hayward’s injury has allowed for the emergence of Jason Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Jaylen Brown which shows much promise for a bright future in Boston.
Staying in the East, but regarding the Cavs, they totally revamped their roster in the pre-season with the Kyrie trade and added more pieces to what they thought would complete their puzzle. With IT being injured, however, he didn’t even suit up for the Cavs until a couple months into the season and then was a somewhat non-factor. With the Cavs losing 10 of 13 games after Christmas, the Cavs traded and let go a few of their newcomers that they just brought in, including Thomas who only played a dozen or so games for the team. IT was shipped to the Lakers while Wade went back home to Miami. With all this madness going on, LeBron has put up stellar numbers as a 33-year old veteran who is certainly in the MVP discussions. In January, LeBron scored his 30,000th point being the youngest to do ever so.
The East has also seen the Toronto Raptors tear up the competition all year and are actually in prime position to finish #1 in the East! With the up and down year for both the Celtics and Cavs, the Raptors have been able to stay consistent and produce. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have had amazing years, especially DeMar who is a dark horse in the MVP race. Despite their success, they continue to lack the respect they probably deserve.
It might be Philly’s year with Villanova and the Eagles both winning championships. The 76ers “Trust the Process” formula seems to be slowly paying off as Joel Embiid & “rookie” Ben Simmons have been wreaking havoc and may just end the season with a better than .600 record as they are currently riding at 12-game winning streak!
Out West, much of the spotlight has been shared by the Houston Rockets & Golden State Warriors. With CP3 joining Harden in Houston, they have dominated and laid the groundwork for what the future of the NBA looks like: more run and gun and hitting open 3’s. They even had a 17-game winning streak, but it was broken by, you guessed it, the quietly-great Toronto Raptors. Golden State continues to do their thing with the Splash Bro’s, Durant, and Green leading the way. It hasn’t been a totally dominant 70+ win season, but they will be in contention once again for the NBA Championship.
In addition to these two top teams, a lot of the conversations about this year’s Western Conference revolved around the OKC Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, and the LA Lakers. OKC was able to gather Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to team up with Westbrook and Co. They’ve done well with Carmelo entering the 25K-point club, PG13 playing his usual amazing defense, and Westbrook putting up triple doubles left and right. Although not terribly consistent, no one will want to match up with them in the playoffs.
The Spurs haven’t been their usual selves and much of the season has been tormented by the slowly dying relationship between Kawhi and the organization. They’ve done their business, but we wonder what they could’ve done with a healthy and happy Kawhi. In effect, we don’t see the Spurs going very far this year.
Finally, you couldn’t go anywhere this season without hearing Lonzo and LaVar Ball’s names. The pressure for Lonzo to perform as a rookie in the Lakers uniform was certainly exacerbated by his father’s antics, but the Lakers may also have a bright future if they can sign two big free-agents this summer.
2018 NBA Playoff Predictions
So, enough recap. Who do we think will make the playoffs and then end up winners. Well, here is our breakdown by conference:
Eastern Conference Basketball Picks
The East, as it has been recently, is certainly a much weaker conference so here are our predictions:
- Many teams are mathematically eliminated at this point, so we are excited to see some new faces gain some extra run. The Milwaukee Bucks make the cut as a potential 8 seed as Giannis Antetokounmpo has broken out into a real stud. They will most likely match up with the Raptors who we think will get by, but not without a challenge from the Bucks.
- What we’re really excited about is the potential matchup between the Miami Heat (6 seed) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (3 seed). Dwayne and LeBron facing off in a season where they were once teammates would be a great story. Miami has had an above-average season, but we don’t think the Cavs will have any trouble.
- In the end, we’re thinking the Raptors and Cavs will be going at it in the Conference Finals. The Raptors have just been so consistent all-year and with LeBron still performing at an MVP-rate, this is the clash we see occurring. The Celtics could be there, but with their injuries and lack of major experience, we don’t think this is their year.
- When it comes down to it, the Cavs still have LeBron and we trust him and his group will push past The North.
Western Conference Basketball Picks
The West Playoff structure will come down to the wire as there are only 4 games separating the 3 seed and the 8 seed. Here are our predictions:
- The Rockets and Warriors will be 1 & 2 respectively.
- Big names like the Lakers and Mavericks are already eliminated so no Lonzo and no Dirk this post-season.
- Although the Pelicans are currently holding the 8 seed, we believe they will miss the playoffs as they have a tough schedule to end the season. In their place, we think the Nuggets or Clippers will end of taking the 8 spot. We’re leaning that the Clippers will be the last team standing for that spot.
- What we’re truly excited about is the potential first-round match up of the OKC Thunder and GS Warriors. Westbrook and Durant battling once again would be a sight to see.
- In the end, we think the Rockets and Warriors will survive and be the final two. Ultimately, we believe Warriors’ experience will push them into the Finals for the 4th straight year.
2018 NBA Finals Picks
- Although the Warriors and Cavs rematch is a boring pick, we still think they are the teams to beat. Their overall experience and know-how to remain standing are what we think sets them apart.
For our entire NBA Playoff basketball picks info, buy our basketball picks package today & enjoy what will be a thrilling post-season!