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2. Brooklyn Nets -182 (48-24)
3. Milwaukee Bucks +150 (46-26)
And down goes the giant! The Lakers have been defeated, alongside the Boston Celtics. Two teams that have a history of raising banners, but not this year! The remaining teams combined have no more than three championships, which makes the remaining games that much more interesting. For starters, we have the Brooklyn Nets taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. Out of the teams remaining, these two come off as the best two. Coming out of Round 1, Nets won in 5 games, while the Bucks have been on a mini vacation after sweeping the Heat. The Nets lost one game to the Celtics, where Tatum put up 50 points and the surrounding core were unable to help out the 3 stars in Durant, Irving, and Harden. Kevin Durant even came out and stated that he’s guarded the likes of Kobe, LeBron and Duncan and that Tatum was equally as tough. The Heat were unable to show up at any point, so the Bucks offense just made them look lazy throughout each of the four games. The high powered offense, seen throughout the regular season, was on full display as they also got some help on defense. The Bucks managed to be up by double digits consistently, outside of the first game, and it never appeared as though the Heat wanted to be there. I have the Nets doing damage in these playoffs, but if there’s a team to challenge them in any regard it’s the Bucks. The Nets rely a lot on their 3 stars, while the Bucks are able to disperse the ball throughout their team equally. The depth of the Bucks may make this series interesting at times, and if Blake Griffin can’t become more consistent, I can imagine the Bucks being able to take a game or two in this one. In the end, the star power from the Nets have problem to be enough. Even if someone within their ‘Big 3’ were to have a bad game, the other two are likely to pull the weight alongside the possibility of Blake Griffin stepping up or even the likes of someone like Joe Harris. I can’t picture these Nets losing and have them in 6.
PICK: Brooklyn Nets (-182 ON DRAFTKINGS)
1. Philadelphia 76ers -145 (49-23)
4. Atlanta Hawks +115 (41-31)
If you’re looking for some star talent, I think you’ll get more than you bargained for with this matchup. The Atlanta Hawks aren’t a pushover and they showed that when going up against a Knicks team that was coming into the playoffs on a nice run. Trae Young, even with the crowd in his ear, was able to showcase to the world why he’s a future star and someone to be concerned of now and moving forward in this 2021 NBA Playoffs. As of now, Young is showcasing as one of the lead floor generals going into this next round of the playoffs. Luckily for Young and company is the recent injury to of one of the league leaders in points, and also a favorite for MVP this season, in Joel Embiid. Not only was he averaging over 28 PPG, but he was also adding over 10.5 RPG as well. These numbers were able to help translate to wins and if he’s not able to be on the court as much as the team would like, then this could be a quick series for the 76ers. Ben Simmons is key to the 76ers success with his ability to assist and rebound, and players like Tobias Harris and Seth Curry help space the shooting out for Philadelphia. It’ll be up to Young to be the floor general, we know him to be, if the Hawks want to make this an interesting series. Expect to see Young challenge down the court and force the big men to approach him at the point. From here, it’ll be up to Young to do what he does best – float a shot over the head of the defender(s) who challenges him, or pass the ball to the open man after being pressed and/or double covered. That open man has been either Clint Capela or Bogdan Bogdanovic, but look for players like John Collins to step up and help as well. We’ve had an interesting first round, full of random injuries and surprise losses. As we approach Round 2, it’ll be interesting to see some teams showcase success in ways they haven’t been able to in years past – that will start with a great series between these two teams. In my opinion, the 76ers will fold in these playoffs as they traditionally do, players like Embiid will be exposed by the offensive IQ of Young and company, and the Hawks will take this series in 6 and surprise the basketball world as they take down the 1-seeded 76ers in Round 2.
PICK: Atlanta Hawks (+115 ON DRAFTKINGS)