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NBA Playoffs Scenarios: Eastern Conference, Western Conference matchups


And 15 teams already have clinched playoff berths.

Former Parker High School standout Eric Bledsoe will be in the backcourt when the Milwaukee Bucks square off with the Boston Celtics in the first round of the National Basketball Association playoffs.

As Casey Holdahl mentions, Portland can either end third, fourth or fifth.

Before we start making predictions and crowning a champion, here is a complete first-round schedule along with a few initial thoughts on each series. Golden State went 7-10 in its final 17 games, and clearly sputtered across the finish line. No. 2 Golden State opens its quest for a third championship in four seasons against No. 7 San Antonio, No. 3 Portland drew No. 6 New Orleans and No. 4 Oklahoma City opens against No. 5 Utah.

Start with the East pairings: Lowry and the top-seeded Raptors play No. 8 Washington, No. 2 Boston faces No. 7 Milwaukee, No. 3 Philadelphia gets No. 6 Miami and No. 4 Cleveland - with LeBron James bidding for an eighth consecutive appearance in The Finals - opening against No. 5 in, a surprise team at the start of the season and one that isn't a surprise anymore. No matter which team lands in fourth, it plays the Pacers in the first round. The Jazz have won six straight, including a 40-point beatdown of the defending champs on Tuesday.

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The reason for all the uncertainty is that seeds 5-9 are all separated by only one game.

The Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs every have 6. Those new players with LeBron James are all unproven in the postseason, so LeBron will have to test his guys and help make plays for them. The Blazers dropped two of the three matchups this season and would definitely need to rediscover its shooting against the tough San Antonio defense. They could have moved up had New Orleans or Oklahoma City lost, but they did not. Without DeMarcus Cousins, Portland can focus its defense entirely on Anthony Davis.

The playoffs are back, with Golden State and Cleveland - who've met in the last three NBA Finals - not exactly looking like the overwhelming favorites the league has come to expect. Houston has also been the best team in transition this season, scoring more than half the time (51 per cent) with 1.2 points per possession.

New Orleans Pelicans (4/6 scenarios). The Warriors are locked in the second seed. While Portland always plays Houston tough, James Harden ends up too much for the Blazers' defense down the stretch, resulting in a tight loss.

But, if both the Timberwolves and Thunder get the job done, then it's either a matchup with the San Antonio Spurs or Timberwolves in round one for the Warriors. Same matchup as being the third or fourth seed, but this time without home court advantage. Our postseason probabilities are based on the win rates that fuel our weekly power rankings and take into account a team's actual win-loss record; its expected win-loss record based on points scored and allowed, also known as its Pythagorean winning per centage; and its regressed win-loss record to account for a small sample size of only 82 games played. But given how great the 76ers are playing, maybe this was a pyrrhic victory?

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