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NBA Playoff Bracket 2018: Predictions for Remainder of Postseason Picture

17 April 2018

After the long wait, it's finally nearly the time that National Basketball Association fans wait all season for. Lillard will win a game by himself, but Davis could very well win 2 or 3 if he came put up some of the stellar performances he has down the stretch.

Pressure is on: Oddly, it's probably more on the Warriors than the Spurs.

You have to feel for Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins. They will be playing without their star player, Kiwiad Leonard.

Houston enters the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and are coming off their first 60-win season in franchise history, so you know the pre-playoff hype video was on another level. James Harden and LeBron James have been getting a lot of MVP mentions, but don't sleep on this guy. He doesn't need to be babysitting the league, he just wants the message to get across. Unfortunately, one-half of the awesome-twosome Embiid might miss a couple of opening games, leaving the 76ers vulnerable in the post. The Celtics' defense does well defending penetrators like Ben Simmons, but an offensive monster like Embiid figures to be too much. I think the guards will take over this one. The Thunder could be the surprise team that emerges from the loaded West.

James' teams have won 21 consecutive opening-round contests, a streak that started in Game 5 of the Miami-New York series in 2012.

The Thunder have been a middle-of-the-road defensive team since losing Andre Roberson in January, and that figures to make the difference here - the Rockets will shoot 35-40 3-pointers per game against OKC, a team that has allowed opponents to make 39.1 percent of their 3s over their final 25 games.

Sixers great, HOF guard Greer dies at 81
Greer also became the first player to be honored with a sculpture on 76ers Legends Walk at the team training complex in 2017. He was picked in the second round of the 1958 NBA Draft by the Syracuse nationals, who later became the Philadelphia 76ers.

If Erik Spoelstra's Game 2 adjustments fail to slow Philly down, this series might be over quickly for the Heat. Portland and Toronto have been to five in a row, and four teams in this postseason - Miami, Minnesota, Philadelphia and New Orleans - didn't qualify for the playoffs a year ago. "Worry about Game 2". Both of those teams are arguably tougher draws than the Spurs, so if Curry can't suit up, the Warriors might have a tricky time progressing.

The Warriors kicked things off with a big Steph Curry-less win 113-92 proving that the team can win without one of its biggest stars, and hope to continue this trend if/when Curry makes his return after suffering a knee injury.

Finally, the Warriors are still the favorite to win it all. "Process" backers will rejoice and likely demand a statue of Sam Hinkie outside of the Wells Fargo Center, pronto. There were two "upsets", if you can call them that, as the Pacers beat the Cavaliers in Cleveland 98-80, holding LeBron James to 24-points, and, the Pelicans beating the Trailblazers 97-95, even with a fourth-quarter comeback by Portland. The Sixers will have Joel Embiid at full strength here (hopefully) and will be able to give James all he can handle. Simmons looked in command one game into the postseason, finishing a rebound shy of a triple-double. But the fun ends here.

In this first round of the playoffs the higher seeded teams will play host to the lower seeded team. It is far from championship form, although Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green also spent time out during that dismal stretch.

It'll be fun to see old colleagues Steve Kerr and Mike D'Antoni head-to-head, but Kerr has a stronger hand to play here.

Last year Cleveland swept them and that was when they had all-star talent with Paul George. Toronto, maybe, can knock off Cleveland in the semis. But the Warriors-Spurs series was going to be competitive only if Golden State failed to show up.

NBA Playoff Bracket 2018: Predictions for Remainder of Postseason Picture