If two teams with the same record meet in a round, standard tiebreaker rules are used. In other words, the Eastern Conference isn't the cake-walk it once was, and James won't have such an easy path to the finals in years to come. But before we get to the start of those games, we wanted to look back on the 2017-18 campaign as a whole (and peek into the crystal ball to tell us what they expect to see during the NBA Playoffs).
Eastern Conference matchups Toronto Raptors (1) vs Washington Wizards (8) - The Raptors have all sorts of pressure on them this postseason, but they couldn't have done much better than facing the fledgling Wizards at the start. For the Celtics to go on an extended postseason run, they will need rookie Jayson Tatum to show that he is ready for primetime.
Simmons is the leading candidate for Rookie of the Year after posting 12 triple-doubles, while Embiid was elected to his first All-Star Game and leads the team in scoring at 22.9 points per match - though the latter is a doubt for the first encounter with the Heat due to an orbital fracture.
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No. 3 76ers vs. Also rounding out the conference are likely Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers, who shocked everyone by locking up the fifth seed despite trading away Paul George this summer.
Houston will have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs after earning the best record in the league at 65-17. The four-time All-Star tore his meniscus in their second matchup on February 23, then missed the final two meetings before returning on Friday. The Rockets will be without a valuable rotation player, Luc Mbah a Moute, who sustained a shoulder injury this week in a meaningless game.
Led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, Toronto won the second-most games of any National Basketball Association team during the regular season, with only the Houston Rockets surpassing their 59 victories. But if anyone is capable of creating a game plan to upset the ailing defending champions, it's San Antonio's Gregg Popovich.
At full strength, the 76ers could take care of the Heat in five games.
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Now the student activist appears to have made up his mind about what he will do following his final year of high school. Hogg responded on Twitter by urging his followers to petition advertisers to tug ads from her current.
No. 3 Trail Blazers vs.
Third-placed Portland Trail Blazers come into the playoff with a secret weapon called Damian Lillard when they take on sixth-placed New Orleans Pelicans, the first game in Portland.
Davis went on a tear during the second half of this season, and it will be worth seeing if he can keep putting up video game numbers now that it's playoff time.
As if their injury concerns were not enough to deal with, Boston must contend with Bucks sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 33.5 points against them in the regular season.
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