Ryan and I unfortunately had to delay in sharing our predictions as teams continue to fight for a chance in the semifinals. But atlas here are our predictions for the Eastern Conference Semifinals. (We made predictions prior to any games)
Bucks (1) v Heat (5)
Jarael: I have watched every Bucks game this year, the only team I thought outplayed the Bucks consistently are the Miami Heat. The Heat played great team defense against Giannis while also being an efficient 3-point shooting team. Both are a good recipe for beating the Bucks. Typically, the best team with the best player wins out in the playoffs but I’m very hesitant to pick the Bucks winning this series. I think if Khris Middleton is able to be halfway decent and you can get some bench production from Hill or DiVencenzo, the Bucks have a good chance to play to their full potential. My heart has to go with the Bucks but these will be hard games. I have the Bucks (4-3).
Ryan: The Bucks and Heat looked impressive in their domination in the first round. While the Bucks were surprisingly the only team to advance with a loss under their belt in the East but I still see them as the heavy favorite in the East. However, this Miami Heat team matches up pretty decently against Giannis and the Bucks. The Heat will not be able to completely stop the monster Giannis, but have a great chance of slowing him down with Bam Adebayo and Jae Crowder. This will be a back and forth series, but I have the Bucks advancing as Giannis seems too great to be completely slowed down for an entire series. (Bucks 4-2).
Raptors (2) v Celtics (3)
Jarael: I am really excited about this series. Apparently the Celtics and the Raptors have never met in the playoffs? (insert Nick young questionable gif) I don’t know how that is possible but here we are. The defending champs against the team we all expect to take over the east at some point in the future. The Celtics have a lot of talent. My concern is you only have one ball, so it’s hard for everyone to play to their full potential. Sadly, Hayward not being available helps the Celtics. Tatum, Walker, and Brown come into the series understanding the type of production they need in order to advance. This series is going to be more about defense than offense. Which team is going to insert their will? Which team plays smart basketball and turns the ball over less? The Celtics are young so you expect them to make more mistakes but they have a good amount of experience being in this position and they haven’t been able to get over the hump. I expect the Celtics to send Kyle Lowry home, I am taking the Celtics. However, I feel it’s a little disrespectful to not mention how talented the Raptors are. Siakum and VanFleet continue to improve offensively. I am impressed with VanFleet the most. I thought his game took a step forward after the birth of his second child last year. I watched him torch the Bucks and it hurt my soul. It will be nice to see if he can have the same type of impact this series. The Raptors have an opportunity if they are able to control the pace of the game. If the Raptors can make the Celtics feel uncomfortable and get them on their heels, I can see the momentum being too much for the Celtics like years past. This will be a very good series. Celtics (4-2)
Ryan: Bruh, the Raptors can flat out shoot and they continue to show their high scoring ability from multiple players. But this Celtics team is a different beast compared to the Nets. The Nets were missing 2 incredible talents in KD and Kyrie, but this Celtics team has multiple studs from Tatum to Brown to Walker. This will be a high scoring exciting series, but I think the injury to Hayward and the Raptors experience edges out a tough series. Raptors (4-3)