Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece |

In the latter half of 2019, I wrote my third consecutive NBA season preview piece in which I made predictions in the form of questions or statements about all 30 NBA teams. But like anyone else, I never would’ve predicted playoff basketball would be upon our eyes in August.

Usually by now, a champion is crowned, most highly-touted free agents are signed and the No. 1 pick in the Draft has shaken the hand of the commissioner. But COVID-19 delayed all of those events in March when the NBA shut down all competition to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Now with the quarantined area (The Bubble) in Orlando successfully operating free of the virus, the NBA is moving into the playoffs after an eight-game schedule for the 22 teams invited to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Therefore and thankfully, the next set of questions and predictions pertaining to the NBA will produce answers or come to fruition in the ensuing months if COVID-19 doesn’t intrude.

No. 1 vs. No. 8

Will the neutral site provide an advantage for an underdog like the Portland Trail Blazers? As hot as Damian Lillard has been, a  series’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers wouldn’t be a total shocker since players of his caliber have led that type of charge before. But is Anthony Davis ready to show us he is the Lakers’ best player since LeBron James is 35 years old?

How long will it take Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to eliminate the “home” team–the Orlando Magic? It should end in four or five games.

No. 2 vs. No. 7

Will Luka Doncic be humbled in his first playoff series like so many other young stars before him? Overcoming Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is highly unlikely this time around.

Who do the Toronto Raptors have to be concerned with on the Brooklyn Nets’ depleted roster? Caris LeVert. The defending champs shouldn’t have any problems advancing.

No. 3 vs. No. 6

With Mike Conley absent due to the birth of his child and Bojan Bogdanovic not there to help Donovan Mitchell, does this series swing heavily in favor of Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets?

The Philadelphia 76ers have the advantage in the paint with Joel Embiid but the Boston Celtics have the advantage on the perimeter, starting with Jayson Tatum, and the game today is won from the outside in so Boston should advance right?

No. 4 vs. No. 5

Despite possibly not having Russell Westbrook for the series, the Houston Rockets still have the advantage in talent with James Harden but Chris Paul and the Oklahoma City Thunder have been surprising all season.

The beef between Jimmy Butler and TJ Warren has been way more public than Paul and Harden’s but this series between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers should be be just as competitive.