2023 NBA Eastern Conference First Round Playoff Predictions

The 2022-23 NBA regular season ended in anticipation for a fun eastern conference playoff race. 76ers star Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo are breaking, setting and tying records to win league MVP. Most basketball analysts and fans see this conference as two elite teams versus everyone else. Philadelphia’s inconsistency makes them a distant third even if they take care of their first round opponent early. Cleveland and New York are two young teams that will use this postseason experience for further runs in later seasons. Four talented and competitive teams will advance to the second round. Time to break down which four have the best chance.

#8 Miami Heat v. #1 Milwaukee Bucks

Regardless of how long Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton plays most of the first round series versus Miami, point-guard Jrue Holiday (21) will have a field day against the Heat’s lack of depth at guard.

The easiest series in the east. Miami’s lack of guard depth puts them at a disadvantage against any opponent. Unfortunately for the Heat they face the league’s best Milwaukee Bucks in round one. Regardless of how long Khris Middleton plays, the best unit in the east should make quick work of an exhausted Jimmy Butler-led team.

Prediction: Bucks win series 4-0

#7 Atlanta Hawks v. #2 Boston Celtics

Trae Young v. Jayson Tatum is a fun matchup. Sadly the Hawks lack scoring depth to challenge the Celtics. Boston should make quick work of their first round opponent.

This is another series that will go five games at most. Boston swept the Hawks in the regular season with an average point difference of 20. Atlanta has little depth outside the guard tandem of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, so this postseason series may pick up where the regular season one left off.

Prediction: Celtics win series 4-0

#6 Brooklyn Nets v. #3 Philadelphia 76ers

Even without Ben Simmons, Brooklyn can still find ways to frustrate Joel Embiid (21), James Harden and the Philadelphia starters.

Many think Philadelphia should dominate start to finish just by looking at both rosters. However coach Doc Rivers has a history of not coaching his best in series that should be finished early and the 76ers struggled throughout the regular season to put opponents away in the last 15 minutes of action.

Fortunately for Philadelphia, Brooklyn doesn’t have much star power since the trade deadline. Nic Claxton, Spencer Dinwiddie, Mikal Bridges, Joe Harris and Seth Curry are good players but the Nets’ defense keeps them in games. While roster depth and better coaching from Jacque Vaughn should prolong the series, star center Joel Embiid will take over and propel the 76ers to round two.

Prediction: 76ers win series 4-2

#5 New York Knicks v. #4 Cleveland Cavaliers

It’ll be hard for the Knicks to win a best of seven series versus the Donovan Mitchell-led Cavaliers while managing Jalen Brunson (left), RJ Barrett and Julius Randle’s minutes.

This was the first playoff series in the NBA clinched before April and the end of the regular season. It’s also the best first round matchup in the east. Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks are defensively stout and rebound well. Cleveland won’t have many second or third chance scoring opportunities. They’ll have to create and make good shots early to stay a game or two ahead of New York. The Cavaliers are the better shooting team while the Knicks score more points with a team lacking star players. The deciding factor could be how long Jalen Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle play every game of the series considering both were injured heading into the postseason. Cleveland has healthier stars and better depth at both guard positions. This could become an issue for the Knicks and a relief for the Cavaliers when game six rolls around.

Prediction: Cavaliers win series 4-3

Regular season playoffs and play-in Predictions record: 6-2


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s