Seeding is based off of overall record
All games are played at a neutral site in Las Vegas
Injured players are only considered if they would be able to compete right now (No KD, Kyrie, Klay, etc.)
Top 2 teams receive a first round bye (Bucks and Lakers)
17 Trail Blazers vs. 16 Magic:
Final Score: 113 -108 Trailblazers
The return of Damian Lillard got the Blazers back to the style of basketball they want to play. The Blazers will also get Nurkic back from injury to form a tantalizing duo at center with Hassan Whiteside. Even though Orlando has put together another respectable season, they don’t have the firepower to hang with the Blazers.
24 Bulls vs. 9 Thunder:
Final Score: 112 - 98 Thunder
Two teams that have been surprises this year for different reasons. The Bull’s young core was supposed to keep developing, giving them a chance to sneak in the playoffs, but instead they’ve actually regressed. OKC, on the other hand, has been a major sleeper all year and has a shot to hang with some really good teams. CP3, SGA, and Gallo should have no problem torching the Bulls in round one.
25 Knicks vs. 8 Heat
Final Score: 121 - 93 Heat
The Knicks can’t do anything right. They continue to flounder because of bad free agent moves and an incompetent owner. Signing three bigs (Randle, Gibson, Portis) when you have a rising star at center already (Robinson) and zero guard play is indefensible. J-But, Adebayo, and Co. should steamroll the Ass Hats in round one.
28 Timberwolves vs. 5 Celtics
Final Score: 110 - 101 Celtics
The T-Wolves have talent, but they’ve yet to unlock their success. D-Lo and KAT still need help and while they gained a great PG, losing Covington stings. The C’s are a dynamo with 4 all-star caliber starters, and are too much for the Wolves to handle.
21 Suns vs. 12 76ers
Final Score: 109 -106 76ers
This was tougher to call than most would think. A lineup of Rubio/Booker/Oubre/Saric/Ayton can do some serious damage if the 76ers aren’t careful. The 76ers are a functioning disaster. The team still wins plenty of games, but with the talent they have, they should be a bona fide championship contender. Simmons and Embiid should be able to coexist against a bad defense to pull out a close victory.
20 Spurs vs. 13 Mavs
Final Score: 102 - 99 Spurs
Upset alert. Doncic is incredible but the rest of the roster has been too inconsistent to count on. KP’s percentages are not where they need to be and they lack other top end talent. Coach Pop should have enough in DeRozan and Aldridge to pull out at least one victory.
29 Cavs vs. 4 Clippers
Final Score: 116 - 88 Clippers
The Cavs have been just as bad as expected. Garland has been a disappointment and Sexton has been one dimensional. It also doesn’t help when your coach calls the team thugs and is out before he can finish a single season. The Clips have lived up to the hype and should crush the Cavs and roll on to the sweet sixteen without breaking a sweat.
30 Warriors vs. 3 Raptors
Final Score: 124 - 108 Raptors
The dynamic of this game changes a bit with Steph back coupled with the arrival of Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors just don’t have enough without Klay. The defending champs should pour on the points against a porous Warriors defense. Siakam and Ibaka should eat down low and the Raps advance.
19 Kings vs. 14 Grizzlies
Final Score: 113 - 111 Kings
This would be an extremely fun matchup. Fox and Morant, two of the game's most electric young guards, battling all game would be a show. The Kings have the shooting the Grizzlies need though, which should result in an upset victory. The Grizzlies have a bright future though, and Morant should continue to help them ascend.
22 Wizards vs. 11 Pacers
Final Score: 106 - 92 Pacers
Brad Beal dropping 50 is the Wizards only hope in this one, although even that's happened before and they’ve lost. Brogdon should be back in time for a tourney, forming a tantalizing guard duo with Oladipo. Add in the trio of Warren, Sabonis, and Turner and the Pacers win easily.
27 Hawks vs. 6 Nuggets
Final Score: 123 - 114 Nuggets
The Hawks can score with anyone when they’re hot, but they can’t stop Hellen Keller from making a layup. The Nuggets are still winning plenty of games, but they aren’t at the same level they were last year. Trae and Collins should score enough to keep it close, but the Nuggets pull away late.
26 Pistons vs. 7 Jazz
Final Score: 109 - 94 Jazz
The Jazz are lucky they get the sorry Pistons in round one. Christian Wood has been producing since the Drummond trade, but that's all they have to celebrate about. The Jazz, on the other hand, have a great team on paper, but the extenuating circumstances could derail them. We don’t know if Mitchell and Gobert could coexist, add in Mike Conley’s poor season and the Jazz are headed to the next round on shaky ground.
23 Hornets vs. 10 Rockets
Final Score: 122 - 103 Rockets
The Hornets have some positives to build on, no one saw Devonte Graham’s ascension coming, but they have a long way to go. While their backcourt can score in bunches, their efficiency is bad and their defense is worse. The Rockets small ball lineup should torch them on offense with Westbrook and Harden facing little resistance. Rockets kill em.
18 Pelicans vs. 15 Nets
Final Score: 114 - 108 Pelicans
This could be a dream matchup as early as next year if the Nets get their superstars back to full go. For now, the Nets have to rely on Levert, Dinwiddie, and Harris to score the majority of the points. The Pels were starting to hit their stride and giving Zion a chance to rest and train should only help. The Pels have enough on both ends to take the Nets out early, leading to a second round battle with the rested Lakers.
17 Trailblazers vs 1 Bucks
Final Score: 120 - 109 Bucks
Dame will need a vintage performance for the Blazers to keep this one close, but we’ve seen him do it before. CJ, Melo, Ariza, and Whiteside should also help score enough to keep the Blazers in it. Their defense will be their downfall though, and they have zero room for error against the fully rested Bucks. Dame goes off, but it’s still not enough.
9 Thunder vs. 8 Heat
Final Score: 106 - 101 Heat
The 8/9 matchup should be a fun one. The Thunder and Heat play the same style of ball and are extremely well coached teams. The Heat have too much talent to lose this one though. Herro and Robinson keep chucking, while Bam and But keep doing the dirty work. Oh and don’t forget about the undrafted rookie Kendrick Nunn or even the former finals MVP Andre Iguodala for that matter. The Heat win, but we could be in for a classic.
12 76ers vs. 5 Celtics
Final Score: 114 - 102 Celtics
At the beginning of the year, the 76ers were the title threat while the C’s were fresh off losing Kyrie and Horford to rival clubs. Fast forward 6 months, and the tables have turned. The C’s play a complementary style of basketball with studs at almost every position. The 76ers struggle to score with Horford, Embiid, and Simmons on the floor and it will cost them a chance at the elite eight. Celtics by double digits.
20 Spurs vs. 4 Clippers
Final Score: 120 - 103 Clippers
The Spurs are looking to get revenge on Kawhi, but they don’t have enough to do it. The Clips are locked and loaded with studs everywhere, and after the addition of Marcus Morris Sr., the Clips will be tough to beat. The Spurs have the experience and coaching to keep it close for a while, but starpower wins out.
19 Kings vs. 3 Raptors
Final Score: 121 - 108 Raptors
The Raptors are too much for the Kings to handle. They have no one capable of guarding Siakam, and don’t have the scoring to keep up. The Raptor’s stifling defense should further help keep the good times rolling. The defending champs win big and keep the repeat dreams alive.
11 Pacers vs. 6 Nuggets
Final Score: 110 - 107 Pacers
Here's two teams that are easily forgotten but stay contenders. Both teams play great team ball and have shooters all over the court. While the Nuggets have the best player on either team (Jokic), the Pacers have 5 above average starters that can all shoot threes. Like the Thunder/Heat matchup, this one could be a dogfight, but my money’s on Indy.
10 Rockets vs. 7 Jazz
Final Score: 119 - 112 Rockets
Flashback to January when the Jazz lost to a Rockets team that was missing Westbrook, Harden, and Capela (before RoCo trade). While the Jazz are a better team than that, they’ve got too much drama off the court to beat a top team on the floor. Westbrook and Harden find their groove and play enough defense to move on.
18 Pelicans vs 2 Lakers
Final Score: 122 - 109 Lakers
For most this would be a dream matchup, but LeBron has too much pride to let Zion beat him in a winner take all game. Reddick, Zo, and BI should provide enough help to keep it close for around 3 quarters, but when the 4th comes around, LeBron and AD will take over and send them back to Bourbon Street.
8 Heat vs. 1 Bucks
Final Score: 112 - 105 Heat
Contrary to popular belief, Miami can keep this one very tight. Butler could thrive in a winner-take-all format, leading a team of young ballers to a final four. Just a week before the league suspension Miami beat the Bucks by 16 at home. They were playing without their starting shooting guard, Tyler Herro, in that game. Bam has the athleticism to check Giannis, leaving Butler to lock up Bledsoe or Middleton. Miami is a force, and they’ll be getting Herro back along with much bigger minutes from Iguodala. Miami takes out the 1 seed and books a trip to the final for. This is March.
5 Celtics vs. 4 Clippers
Final Score: 108 - 99 Clippers
After an upset of the 1 seed, we get a five star matchup right away. The Celtics are arguably a top 4 team at this point, but they drew a terrible matchup. Beverly to lock Kemba, PG to lock Brown, Kawhi to lock Tatum, Morris Sr. to lock Hayward. Boston just isn’t as good on defense and can’t keep up with the Clippers.
11 Pacers vs. 3 Raptors
Final Score: 111 - 107 Raptors
In the second Eastern conference battle, two balanced teams with top coaches will battle for the final four. While the pacers stack up well in the backcourt and at the 3 spot, Siakam and Ibaka will be too much for the Pacers bigs to handle. It should be close in its entirety, but Siakam’s gained the experience to come up big in clutch moments. Raptors squeak one out.
10 Rockets vs. 2 Lakers
Final Score: 120 - 109 Lakers
Russ and Harden will be rolling into this one on a hot streak, but they can’t do enough to take one from The King. Playoff Rondo and Danny Green can do enough defensively to keep the two Rockets stars in check. Lebron has the brain to slow the pace down, causing Houston to run more half court offense-- not their strong suit. RoCo and PJ Tucker do what they can against LBJ and AD but they come up short in the end.
4 Clippers vs. 8 Heat
Final Score: 109 - 106 Clippers
Miami is en fuego. Butler has been leading a team that has a roster full of good players around him. It still won’t be enough to contain PG and Kawhi all game. They may not put up monster stats, but they’ll play great defense with Morris, Lou, and Harrell picking up the slack on offense. Clippers win a thriller.
3 Raptors vs. 2 Lakers
Final Score: 116 - 105 Lakers
Toronto trying to retain their title against LeBron chasing number 4 would be epic. The Lakers are a daunting matchup for Toronto though. AD is the perfect Siakam stopper and could shut Toronto’s biggest weapon off. Lowry isn’t capable of being the number one scorer on a championship team, and the Raps falter. Lakers head to the finals unscathed.
4 Clippers vs. 2 Lakers
Final Score: 104 - 99 Lakers
The Battle for LA concludes an epic tournament. 4 of the league's top stars go to battle with strong supporting casts behind them. While The Clippers have the better supporting cast, LeBron’s greatness paired with a top flight star is too much to overcome. Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kyle Kuzma, and Dion Waiters hit enough shots to come out on top. The Lakers are 2020 champs.