NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview and Betting Tips

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Friday, April 26, 2019 9:27 AM UTC

Friday, Apr. 26, 2019 9:27 AM UTC

The four teams we expected to be here are here. Now the fun begins!

<p>The first round went exactly as expected. The favorites advanced with little resistance setting up the marquee matchups we've been anticipating since the offseason moves showed us the tiers of the East. The remaining 4 teams are clearly the top tier. All 4 have reasonable finals expectations and 3 teams will end the season in disappointment. The odds reflect that with Milwaukee coming in at 2.1, Toronto at 3.5, Boston at 4.8, and Philadelphia 5.0. Boston has the most playoff experience, losing in 7 to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals last year. Toronto has had a LeBron problem, but with LeBron out in LA, they have gone all in this year by adding Kawhi Leonard. Milwaukee has little experience but had an outstanding regular season and rolled their first round matchup. Philly is another all in team with midseason additions of Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. This is the most exciting Eastern field in a decade and I can't wait.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;The &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@Raptors&lt;/a&gt; (4-1), &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@sixers&lt;/a&gt; (4-1) &amp;amp; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@trailblazers&lt;/a&gt; (4-1) each advance... while the &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@nuggets&lt;/a&gt; take 3-2 series lead... in Tuesday’s &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#NBAPlayoffs&lt;/a&gt; action!&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;About last night: &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— NBA (@NBA) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;April 24, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><div><h2><b>Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics</b></h2><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>Boston has been downplaying their roller coaster regular season, saying that the playoffs is when we will see how great this team is. So far they have backed up their talk with a sweep of the overmatched Indiana Pacers. Even without defensive stalwart Marcus Smart they were able to shut down the Pacers, although the Pacers don't have the individual scorers who can create their own shots, relying on a team, system based approach. Gordon Hayward has started to be the player they expected when they signed him to a max deal last year, finding his shot and feeling more comfortable in his role in the offense. Al Horford will be a deciding factor in this series, as he is who I expect to guard Giannis when it matters. Horford is the solid veteran presence that the Celtics need, and he has the size and intelligence to slow down Giannis, as no one is stopping the "Greek Freak". I expect this matchup to decide the series. Kyrie Irving has been a monster in the playoffs. He can still get any shot he wants, even when the defensive intensity picks up, which some players struggle with. Many a regular season scorer has been stifled by the huge increase in defensive intensity that the playoffs bring. Kyrie has not. He can get to the rim and hit his jump shot against any defender. After shutting down the Pacers, Milwaukee will provide a challenge much greater for Boston's defense.</p><p>Milwaukee has thrived under new coach Mike Budenholzer. He has installed a motion offense, surrounded Giannis Antetokounmpo with scorers, and the offense has exploded. Brook Lopez has fantastic range for a center, and his propensity for hitting 3 point shots brings the opposing center out of the lane to the perimeter, leaving the paint wide open for Giannis to drive and finish or get the defense to collapse so he can find one of his shooters. They exemplify the new style of offense in the NBA, looking for layups and 3's. Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton can also create their own good shots, and knock down the catch and shoot. They have the most efficient offense in the league statistically and in my mind are second only to the Warriors in scoring. Milwaukee has a lot of length defensively and Giannis is an X factor as they can rotate him to cover almost any player with whom the are struggling to stop. Malcom Brogdon will return, although he struggled defensively in the series against Jaylen Brown last year, and we don't know how healthy and fit he will be.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;\"Malcolm will not be available for the first two games...when he's ready, we'll welcome him back with open arms.\"&lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#FearTheDeer&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;April 26, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>Last year Boston beat Milwaukee in 7 games, a series in which team won all of its home games. The home court advantage has switched this year and I believe this could be the difference in the series. The Bucks were 2-1 against Boston this season, with one win coming in Boston. On offense, the Celtics will try and use a pick and roll to get switches against Lopez, Mirotic, and Ilysova. By targeting the slower defenders, the Celtics will be able to score, but can they keep up with Milwaukee? It's a tough proposition, but if any team can do it it's the Celtics. They have amazing depth and can beat you in multiple ways on offense. They can absorb bad nights because they have so many offensive options when they need a big basket. This is a fantastic matchup for hardcore and casual fans alike. I expect a classic series.</p><p><a href=";a=4fd3c129-b898-4816-9a61-9f7e8f34295a&amp;f=1" target="_blank" title="NBA Playoffs Betting Odds"><b>Best Tip: Milwaukee to win 4-3 @4.5 at Unibet</b></a></p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><h2><b>Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors</b></h2><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p>Toronto is looking to shake their playoff problems. They have come up short against LeBron the last couple years. Now their boogeyman is gone and to them the field looks wide open. They made a stunning trade this offseason trading Demar DeRozan and Jacob Poeltl for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. How they managed to get Danny Green in this trade is still a mystery, he has been fantastic. Now they have a top 5 player, a former finals MVP, to lead them. Kawhi has been fantastic as well, on offense and being the defensive stopper that Toronto needs. they have an up and coming star in Pascal Siakam who has emerged as a #2 option, reducing the stress on Lowry offensively. Trading Jonas Valanciunas for Marc Gasol also allows them to spread the floor more on offense as Gasol has a solid jumper out to 3 pt range. Although he isn't quick he is very savvy on the defensive end and is an upgrade to this team. A well constructed roster, this is my pick to come out of the East. But they must overcome the ultra talented Philadelphia 76ers first.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;br /&gt;Cash&lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@npowell2404&lt;/a&gt; | &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#WeTheNorth&lt;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;April 25, 2019&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>Philly used their tanking "Process" to emerge with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Simmons is a 6'10" PG who can get to the rim and has elite passing vision. He can guard all 5 positions on defense, which is invaluable in the new switch oriented defensive philosophy of the NBA. Embiid is arguably the games best center. He can score from the post and perimeter, rebounds exceptionally, and defends the rim very well. In addition to these 2 young stars they went all out trading picks and role players for Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, both of whom can get their own shots and are good defenders. JJ Redick is a sharpshooter rounding out the most talented starting 5 in the league. Depth can be an issue, but with shortened playoff rotations and their ability to stagger their 4 all star caliber players Philly is set up well to overcome it.</p><p>Toronto won the season series 3-1, although none of the games featured Philly's new starting 5. Philadelphia has struggled in Toronto, with their last win up north coming in 2012. Gasol vs Embiid will be a fascinating matchup, wily veteran skills vs pure talent and athleticism. Leonard could be guarded by Jimmy Butler, another great matchup. Siakam and Green give the Raptors great switchable options to combat the Sixers wealth of scoring options. Toronto will need a strong series from Lowry, and this is really his time to shine. He has struggled in the playoffs in the past, and really needs a strong performance in a winning series to turn around the narrative that he can't perform under the bright lights and increased defensive pressure of the playoffs. In the end though, I think Leonard will be the difference. I expect him to be the best player on the floor, and his ability to get stops and score in the deciding moments of the game should catapult the Raptors to victory. Toronto is the best defensive team left and all challenge Philadelphia's identity. Who will take the big shots? Embiid? Butler? We can reasonably assume Leonard will for Toronto, which is a change from the past where it would alternate between DeRozan and Lowry. This is a huge advantage in my mind as it allows the team and each player to be aware of their role, and execute it. I think Toronto has the defensive acumen and identity required to overcome Philadelphia's wealth of talent.</p><p><a href=";a=4fd3c129-b898-4816-9a61-9f7e8f34295a&amp;f=1" target="_blank" title="NBA Playoffs Betting Odds"><b>Best Tip: Toronto -1.5 games @ 2.12 at Unibet</b></a></p></div>
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