The most exciting time of the year is here, the NBA playoffs are finally upon us, tipping off Saturday, April 15. With the playoff picture all set, its time to make predictions for the Eastern Conference first round.

1. Boston Celtics vs 8. Chicago Bulls

This will be an interesting first-round matchup between one of the best rebounding teams, the Chicago Bulls, against one of the worst rebounding teams, the Boston Celtics. Although the Celtics should be able to take this series behind their little leader Isaiah Thomas, rebounding could win Chicago a couple of games. Boston must heavily rely on its offense and rather efficient three-point shooting to blow past the Bulls.

Dwyane Wade will be a crucial player for Chicago since he has the most playoffs experience and has won championships. If the Bulls get in trouble, they could depend on Wade to carry them even at this age.

Celtics 4-2

2. Cleveland Cavaliers vs 7. Indiana Pacers

Just because the Cleveland Cavaliers considerably struggled during the second half of the season, it doesn’t mean they are going to fold during the playoffs. This is the time when LeBron James comes alive, and his spirit and drive should be enough to carry the Cavaliers out of the first round. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving will come to life as well to help lead the Cavs over the Indiana Pacers. However, with their new addition of Lance Stephenson, LeBron’s best friend, the Pacers played inspirational basketball to close the season and could make Cleveland work for its money.

Cavaliers 4-2

3. Toronto Raptors vs 6. Milwaukee Bucks

The Toronto Raptors will have their hands full with the young, lengthy, athletic Milwaukee Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo has become a star in this league and should be able to lead his team to a couple of victories in the playoffs.

However, it probably won’t be enough to overcome DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and the rest of the fiery Raptors. With a much improved defense, Toronto is fully equipped to go far in the playoffs, and Milwaukee isn’t experienced enough to stop that.

Raptors 4-2

4. Washington Wizards vs 5. Atlanta Hawks

Although the Atlanta Hawks tend to coast through the regular season, they become very competitive during playoffs time.

They shut down the Boston Celtics as the fourth seed last season with their defense and will push the Washington Wizards to the limit. Although I expect the Wizards to win the series, this battle could go to seven games. However, John Wall and Bradley Beal have been a magnificent backcourt duo all season and should be able to ultimately carve the Hawks up. Both teams are well-coached, so it’s going to also come down to execution.

Wizards 4-3

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