What the 2018 NBA Playoffs would look like without conferences

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That may be so. Yes, Curry was still feeling the effects of a knee injury when the Warriors lost the 2016 Finals to the Cavaliers, but the circumstances have changed significantly over the last two years: Golden State added a go-to scorer in Durant to supplement Curry and Cleveland lost a crucial weapon in Irving. The Rockets are going to score like 300 points a night and this series will be done in four games, five at the most if the Rockets decide to take a night off on the road.

The Spurs (+7,000) weren't able to extend their incredible streak of 50-win seasons, but their run of playoff appearances remains intact.

"All I got from Steve at the start of the season was kind of a preview", Myers said. History repeats itself, and LeBron is going to dominate this series and will elevate the play of his mediocre supporting cast. We're projecting they win the first round series.

New young talent emerging in Philadelphia and Minnesota, stalwarts like LeBron James and James Harden continuing their excellence, and surprising strength from teams in Milwaukee and New Orleans drove the excitement during the regular season. Here is a look at both the Eastern and Western Conference match-ups and you can find the schedules here for these games.

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.

Superstars are missing, teams are streaking, and the real season is just beginning.

Philadelphia 76ers (3) vs. Miami Heat (6) - Philadelphia comes in as the league's hottest team, having won 16 games in a row. They are an older, more experienced, and better version of the Sixers, same run and gun concept just much, much better. Plus Embiid should be back and ready.

Portland beats New Orleans in seven games: I absolutely love Anthony Davis. After the Minnesota Timberwolves escaped a late push by the Denver Nuggets, that forced overtime, the 16-team field was set. The Rockets two best players, Harden and Paul, have also had notable postseason struggles throughout their careers.


Houston Rockets forward Trevor Ariza, below, dunks as Los Angeles Lakers forward Julius Randle defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, in Los Angeles. Spoiler? We think the Houston Rockets will win the championship.

The Thunder might be the best-possible draw for the Jazz since it allows defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert to be matched up with a traditional center in Steve Adams rather than a more athletic player who would drag him away from the rim and closer to the perimeter. Carmelo Anthony worries me a little bit. James was clearly outgunned a year ago, and Cleveland still doesn't have great defensive answers for Curry or Durant despite its flurry of trades.

This series could be interesting. Even though Westbrook is the best player in this battle, Utah is playing with nothing to lose. Portland, which had the league's ninth-best defensive rating this season, will have all it can handle with the way Pelicans star Anthony Davis has been playing (a league-leading 30.2 points, 11.9 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game since DeMarcus Cousins' season-ending Achilles injury January 26).

Neither team is at 100 percent with Steph Curry out for at least the first round and Kawhi Leonard still a big question mark.

The Warriors still boast the same core of outstanding players that went all the way to the championship past year, making them the favourites to go back to back this season. This will also be a 6-game series regardless of the opponent.

Portland Trail Blazers (3) vs. Curry is not expected to play in this series, while the Spurs haven't ever ruled out Leonard, but also given no indication he could play. Add that to a team with a supporting cast that features; J. J. Redick, Markelle Fultz, Marco Belinelli, Robert Covington, Dario Saric makes them one of the deepest teams in the East.

Key matchup: Lillard and CJ McCollum vs. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday.

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