Mark off your calendars for the next two months as we get ready for the NBA Playoffs. While it feels like the longest postseason in pro sports it always delivers with excitement. It’s been an incredible year for the league as some new blood is in the playoffs this year – looking at you Sacramento Kings after a 17-year absence. We also saw some colossal swings and misses. After making the conference finals last season, the Dallas Mavericks will be sitting at home watching this postseason even after acquiring Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline. Here’s our NBA Playoffs 2023 Eastern Conference Preview.
The very top of the Eastern Conference looks pretty familiar with three teams dominating this race over the last few years and that didn’t change this year. Here are the seeds 1-10
- Milwaukee Bucks (58-24)
- Boston Celtics (57-25)
- Philadelphia 76ers (54-28)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
- New York Knicks (47-35)
- Brooklyn Nets (45-37)
- Miami Heat (44-38)
- Atlanta Hawks (41-41)
- Toronto Raptors (41-41)
- Chicago Bulls (40-42)
First, we must get through the play-in tournament. This was created a few years back by the NBA and it has worked out quite well, making the league more competitive and even encouraging teams not to tank. In the first play-in game Tuesday, we saw the Atlanta Hawks defeat the Miami Heat for the right to face the #2 seed Boston Celtics in the first round. In the other play-in game Wednesday, the Chicago Bull earned the right to face off against the Heat Friday night for the final playoff spot. The winner of that game gets to face the #1 seed Milwaukee Buck while the loser goes home.
First Round: Cleveland vs New York
My favorite series coming out of the East will be played between 4-seed Cleveland and 5-seed New York. Both teams have electric scorers. Cleveland beat New York this offseason by getting a Donovan Mitchell trade done first which has helped the Cavs get back into the postseason and relevant for seemingly the first time since Lebron left for Los Angeles. New York is battling some injuries, but I still think they are good enough to compete in a series that could go awhile. I like the Cavs in 7.
Potential Second Round: Philadelphia vs Boston
The Celtics and the Sixers hate each other, and they’ve given us some incredible postseason series over the past few years. Boston went 3-1 against Philly this season but all those games gave us some incredible drama. How can we forget the epic Jayson Tatum game-winner in Philly that just beat Joel Embiid’s full court shot that was a second too late.
Conference Finals Prediction: Boston over Milwaukee in Six
We have seen these two teams battle in the postseason before. Last year, Boston had the Bucks number. In 2022, the series went to seven games and lived up to the billing. I like a similar outcome this time around. If Boston is healthy, they can beat anybody, and I like them taking down Milwaukee in a thriller.