It was a 3 and a half month wait, but finally we have NBA Playoff basketball. The first round of games started on Monday and will continue through the month of August. As always, we will have 16 total teams separated by conference. Let's take a look into why and how every team can either win or lose in their 1st round match up.
Bucks vs Magic
Why they can win: It's simple. The Bucks have absolutely dominated regular season play which ended up with 56 wins. Overall, they came out with the best record in the NBA. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reigning MVP and did not slow down this year. It will be nearly impossible for the Magic to shut down Giannis .
Why they can win: Although beating a 1 seed in the first round has only been done a few times, the Orlando Magic do have a few key players to help them pull the upset. Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, and Markelle Fultz are the best players on this Magic squad that can help them. These three players can potentially (I say that very loosely) beat the Bucks in a seven game series.
Pacers vs Heat
Why they can win: The Pacers have a lot of young and rising stars on their roster. Bubble breakout T.J. Warren will surely know be added to the mix. The Pacers don't have that one superstar, which means they need to play as a complete team. They did that in the regular season, which earned them the 4 seed in this years' tournament.
Why they can win: The Heat have a dynamic duo with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Along with those two, the Heat have amazing outside shooting with Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro. The Heat are no doubt one of the top teams in the East and to me, are much more deserving of a higher seed. The Heat, as deserved, are every well set up to win this series.
Celtics vs 76ers
Why they can win: The Celtics have some of the best young talent in the league. Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown both are key factors in the series. With Ben Simmons out, these two Celtics back-court members can do damage in this series against the Simmons-less Sixers.
Why they can win: The Sixers roster, believe it or not, is actually pretty good. The only thing they lack is outside shooting, or just any shooting, and spacing. You have to put those things on the front office and coach. The Sixers can win this series as long as every player knocks down shots and can shut down Boston's premier scorers.
Raptors vs Nets
Why they can win: This year, even without Kawhi, the Raptors still managed to hold the 2 seed in the East. Kyle Lowry has shown this year that he doesn't need a premier scorer next to him. Young stars have also stepped up for them this year. Fred Vanvleet and Pascal Siakim both have made crucial shots and have contributed throughout the year. Without any of the star Nets players, the Raptors have a good chance to advance.
Why they can win: This is a tough match up for the 7 seeded Nets. Without Durant, Irving, and other key role players, the Nets will have to turn to younger and less experienced players to help them defeat the Raptors. One thing the Nets do have is Caris Levert. In the bubble, he has been the key player for them. If Lavert has a good run, we might see an interesting series.
Lakers vs Blazers
Why they can win: This year, the Lakers were overwhelmingly title favorites. As of now, the Lakers hold the 3rd best odds at 11-1. The Lakers have two top-seven players and a great bench. They haven't played the best in the bubble, but in the playoffs this team is deadly. The only thing the Lakers have to do is stop Dame. With multiple great defenders on the team, the Lakers will rise to the occasion.
Why they can win: In the bubble, the Blazers have been unstoppable. With the return of Nurkic, the Blazers rebounding game will just get better. The Blazers also have a great trio of stars with Lillard, McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony. Scoring will not be a problem for the Blazers in this series. They just have to stop Lebron and Davis. How hard can that be?
Rockets vs Thunder
Why they can win: The Rockets have the best scorer in the NBA in James Harden. Harden, alone, can account for the majority of the scoring in the game. The Rockets also have Westbrook, who is a great secondary option. The Rockets in the bubble moved up to the 4 seed, which shows they can win crucial games. Harden has tons of experience in the playoffs and look for him to use that to his advantage in this series.
Why they can win: No one, I mean no one, thought the Thunder would be here. But here they are; the 5 seed in the West. The Thunder have learned to play as a team this regular season and they have done it very well. With great coaching and young talent, the Thunder have stayed contenders this year. The Thunder actually match up very well with the Rockets, which will help them to upset and close out the series.
Nuggets vs Jazz
Why they can win: The Nuggets this year have stayed a very consistent team. The duo between Jokic and Murray is unlike any in the NBA. A top shooting center, along with a pass-first point guard, is the key to the Nuggets success. The Nuggets are a very tough team to beat and it won't get any easier to beat this team in the playoffs.
Why they can win: The Utah Jazz are another team in the West that is tough to beat. I know I have said this a lot, but the Jazz have one of the top duos in the NBA. Just like the Nuggets, the Jazz have a top center in Rudy Gobert, and a great guard in Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz have lost a few games in the bubble, but they could not match up with any other team better than the Nuggets.
Clippers vs Mavericks
Why they can win: The Clippers are the top title favorite coming into the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs is just a different breed. With the best bench and starting rotation, it should be easy to stack up with the Mavs. The Clippers are the most complete team in the playoffs and look poised to advance to the next round.
Why they can win: For a 7 seed, the Mavs are a very good team. Luka Doncic and Porzingis are a very underrated duo in my opinion. Both of these players, especially Luka, can definitely turn the tables in this series. Watch out for the Mavs in this series because if they get going, they will be hard to stop.