With the first edition of the NBA Play-In Tournament concluded, the true form of the NBA Playoffs is in full swing. In this article, SBS will preview two games in the Eastern Conference portion of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. In the first game of this showcase, the Nets will face the Celtics in Boston as they try to rebound from a one-point loss in game one of the series. After that, the Bulls face the Bucks in Milwaukee as they try to even the series.
Below, SBS breaks down each team, what to look for and who will prevail in each matchup.
|NBA Playoffs Picks (Eastern)||The Pick|
|Nets vs. Celtics||Celtics -3.5||-110||-110||-110|
|Bulls vs. Bucks||Bucks ML||-520||-520||-520|
What to look for from: The Boston Celtics
Following a harrowing one-point victory at home, the Celtics are looking to gain an even bigger advantage over the Nets. In game one, Boston was able to outlast Brooklyn even though they had an inferior shooting percentage (53.8% to 47.2%), but vastly outrebounded the Nets, 43 to 29. Boston’s Jayson Tatum paced the Celtics with 31 points on 50% shooting while center Al Horford was able to lead all players with 15 rebounds. A tough battle, Boston did lead for a good portion of the game and even led by 11 points at the end of the third quarter. However, Brooklyn battled back to make it a close contest, but Tatum’s layup at the buzzer sealed the victory for the Celtics.
What to look for from: The Brooklyn Nets
A tough season for the star-studded Nets, Brooklyn will need the services of all its star players if they want to outlast Boston. In game one, the Nets’ Kyrie Irving led all players with 39 points to go along with six assists in his playoff return to Boston. Behind him, Kevin Durant chipped in 23 points, but had a terrible plus/minus rating of -13 during the contest. In fact, only Irving and bench players Nic Claxton, Goran Dragic and Patty Mills had positive ratings in the contest. After a 29-point spurt in the fourth quarter, the Nets looked like they might steal the win on the road, but alas Tatum and Celtics had other ideas. Look for this to be another dogfight in Boston.
Prediction: In what should be another blistering contest, the Celtics have not lost to the Nets in the 2022 calendar year, so look for this trend to continue with Boston winning again.
What to look for from: The Milwaukee Bucks
Coming off a solid victory over the Bulls at home, 93-86, Milwaukee certainly does have the offensive firepower to sweep this series. In their game one matchup, the Bucks controlled most of the contest until the third quarter when the Bulls outscored Milwaukee, 28-23. After that, the Bucks were able to hold off the pesky Chicago squad with a four-point advantage in the final quarter. Milwaukee superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo led all players with 27 points and a tremendous plus/minus mark of +19. He also had four different teammates in double figures with Kris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday and Bobby Portis all having solid nights.
What to look for from: The Chicago Bulls
For the Bulls to win, they will need some stellar performances from their superstar players – DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. In the first game of the series, The former played an astounding 43 minutes, but had a poor shooting night by going 6 for 25. Though he ended up with 18 points, DeRozan had a plus/minus of -5. LaVine on the other hand, had an even tougher evening with a -11 mark on plus/minus and 2 for 10 shooting from three point land. If the Bulls want to stay competitive with the high-flying Bucks, their best players need to play better when it matters most.
Prediction: This game should be another win for Milwaukee, but look for the Bulls to keep it close again. Take the Bucks moneyline.
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