In bracket order/All times ET
Toronto (1) vs. Washington (8)
Rapt music: Kyle Lowry, the Cardinal Dougherty/Villanova product, led the league in charges taken with 37. Sixers forward Ersan Ilyasova (32) was second. When your four-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist is making those type of plays, it tends to reverberate. … Toronto is the seventh different team to be the East’s No. 1 seed in the last seven years. … The Raptors won a franchise-high 59 games this season, but were 2-2 against Washington.
Wiz wit’: The Wizards had lofty goals at the start of the season – 50 wins, repeat as Southeast Division champs – but injuries and erratic play led to their slipping in as the 8-seed. … Star point guard John Wall missed two months after knee surgery, but played 36 minutes in Tuesday’s season finale. The Wizards were 23-18 with Wall in the lineup, 20-21 without him. … Starting power forward and Philadelphia native Markieff Morris said that Washington “felt sorry for ourselves a little bit” during the lean times this season. … The last 8-seed to beat a No. 1 in the East was in 2012 when the Sixers upset the Bulls, who had lost then-star Derrick Rose to a torn ACL in Game 1.
Series money line: Raptors -$700; Wizards +$500.
The pick: Toronto was dominant at home. Raptors in 5.
|1||Saturday, April 14||at Toronto||5:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|2||Tuesday, April 17||at Toronto||7 p.m.||NBATV|
|3||Friday, April 20||at Washington||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|4||Sunday, April 22||at Washington||6 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Weds., April 25||at Toronto||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Friday, April 27||at Washington||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Sunday, April 29||at Toronto||TBD||TBD|
Cleveland (4) vs. Indiana (5)
Cav crumbs: There’s been so much drama in Cleveland this year that Kevin Love said “it feels like a number of seasons within the season.” … LeBron James’ teams have won the Eastern Conference finals seven consecutive years. First four with Miami, the most recent three with the Cavs. He’s played 146 playoff games in that span, which is almost two extra seasons’ worth of games. … Cleveland lost three of four to the Pacers this year.
Pace makers: If not for the Sixers, the Pacers would be the surprise team of the conference. … Victor Oladipo, already beloved as a former Indiana Hoosier, has had a career year after being acquired in the surprising trade with Oklahoma City for Paul George. Though Oladipo played only one season at OKC, he points to his time with Russell Westbrook as key to his emergence. … Thaddeus Young, who still has yet to turn 30, averaged 12 points and 32 minutes. … Indiana was a remarkable 11-2 in games decided by three points or fewer.
Series money line: Cavaliers -$700; Pacers +$500.
The pick: If Indiana wins, it will not be the biggest upset of the sports year against a Cavaliers team. That still will belong to Maryland-Baltimore County, which beat Virginia. But Indiana’s not winning. Cavs in 6.
|1||Sunday, April 15||at Cleveland||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|2||Weds., April 18||at Cleveland||7 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Friday, April 20||at Indiana||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Sunday, April 22||at Indiana||8:30 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Weds., April 25||at Cleveland||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Friday, April 27||at Indiana||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Sunday, April 29||at Cleveland||TD||TBD|
Sixers (3) vs. Miami (6)
Process this: First team in history to enter the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak. The last eight wins came without Joel Embiid, who suffered a concussion and facial injuries on March 28. He won’t play in Game 1, but is expected back at some point in the series. … The Sixers were third in the NBA in attendance this year (20,329 avg.). Just two years ago, when they lost 72 of 82 games, they were 28th (14,881). … Nearly half of Ben Simmons’ field-goal attempts (462 of 998) came within three feet of the basket. Preventing Simmons from penetrating should be Miami’s top priority. If not, it’ll be a quick series.
Heat strokes: Dwyane Wade is the face of the team, but the most valuable is Goran Dragic, who led the Heat in scoring (17.3) and assists (4.8). … Episcopal Academy alum Wayne Ellington averaged 11 points, a career best, and set the record for most threes made coming off the bench (227). That’s also a Heat record. Robert Covington led the 76ers with 203. … The Sixers won the first two meetings this season; Miami, the most recent two.
Series money line: Sixers -$500; Heat +$400.
The pick: Would love to see Embiid come back just to continue his rivalry with Hassan Whiteside. Sixers in 5.
|1||Saturday, April 14||at Philadelphia||8 p.m.||NBCSP/ESPN|
|2||Monday, April 16||at Philadelphia||8 p.m.||NBCSP/TNT|
|3||Thursday, April 19||at Miami||7 p.m.||NBCSP/TNT|
|4||Saturday, April 21||at Miami||2:30 p.m.||NBCSP/TNT|
|5*||Tuesday, April 24||at Philadelphia||TBD||TDB|
|6*||Thursday, April 26||at Miami||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Saturday, April 28||at Philadelphia||TBD||TBD|
Note: NBC Sports Philadelphia will televise a one-hour show before each contest. … All games also will be broadcast on ESPN/The Fanatic (97.5-FM).
Boston (2) vs. Milwaukee (7)
Irish times: The Celtics are vulnerable because of the injuries to stars Kyrie Irving (knee surgery) and Gordon Hayward (fractured tibia/dislocated ankle) and role players Marcus Smart (thumb) and Daniel Theis (knee). Hayward went down five minutes into the season opener, and Irving’s last game was March 11. The Celtics were 14-8 without him (41-19 with him). … Boston’s defense was third in fewest points allowed, second in regular field-goal percentage, first in three-point percentage. The Celtics are gonna need it.
Buck shots: This will be the Bucks’ third trip to the postseason in the Giannis Antetokounmpo era. They lost in six games to the Raptors last year and in six to Chicago in 2015. … In fact, the Bucks have lost in the first round in each of their last seven playoff appearances and 11 times in their last 12 dating to 1990. The exception was when they reached the Eastern Conference finals in 2001 and lost to the Sixers in seven games. … Rookie head coach Joe Prunty was tabbed midseason to replace Jason Kidd. Milwaukee went 21-16 with him, including a win over Boston on April 3. … The teams split four meetings.
Series money line: Celtics -$150; Bucks +$130.
The pick: This one won’t sting Beantowners as much as Super Bowl 52. Bucks in 6.
|1||Sunday, April 15||at Boston||1 p.m.||TNT|
|2||Tuesday, April 17||at Boston||8 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Friday, April 20||at Milwaukee||9:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Sunday, April 22||at Milwaukee||1 p.m.||ABC|
|5*||Tuesday, April 24||at Boston||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Thursday, April 26||at Milwaukee||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Saturday, April 28||at Boston||TBD||TBD|
Houston (1) vs. Minnesota (8)
Rocket fuel: This will be the first time James Harden’s team is the No. 1 seed. When his Thunder went to the 2012 Finals, they were the West’s two-seed. Last year’s playoff exit was particularly grim as the Spurs held Harden to 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting in a 39-point Houston loss. … D’Antoni, who will turn 67 on May 8, would be the oldest coach to win the title. Gregg Popovich was 65 when he last won it in 2014.
Chris Paul ties Dominique Wilkins for the most ASG selections (9) among players that have never made a Conference Finals (@EliasSports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 29, 2016
Minnutiae: This is Minnesota’s first postseason game in 14 years, one shy of the Clippers’ dubious record for longest playoff drought. Tavern trivia alert: The T’wolves lost to the Lakers in the 2004 conference finals with a starting lineup of Kevin Garnett, Michael Olowokandi, Trenton Hassell, Darick Martin and Latrell Sprewell. Trenton Hassell? … This might be a quick lesson for the young Wolves. They lost all four meetings with Houston; three times by 18 points, the fourth by nine.
Series money line: -$5,000; Timberwolves +$1,500
The pick: Maybe if Garnett and Sprewell were in their primes. Rockets in 6.
|1||Sunday, April 15||at Houston||9 p.m.||TNT|
|2||Weds., April 18||at Houston||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Saturday, April 21||at Minnesota||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Monday, April 23||at Minnesota||8 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Weds., April 25||at Houston||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Friday, April 27||at Minnesota||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Sunday, April 29||at Houston||TBD||TBD|
Oklahoma City (4) vs. Utah (5)
Thunder bolts: Russell Westbrook’s numbers were down this year. He averaged only 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists. The guy’s a machine. He was the fourth pick in 2008. Tavern trivia alert: The first three were Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley and O.J. Mayo … Carmelo Anthony averaged 32.1 minutes and 16.2 points in his first season in OKC; both are career lows. In late March, Anthony was set to return to a game, but his replacement, Jerami Grant, was playing so well that Anthony convinced coach Billy Donovan that Grant should remain in. The Thunder won the game in overtime. Good for Carmelo.
Billy Donovan confirms that yes, Carmelo Anthony was set to go in the game for Jerami Grant in the 4Q and made the decision on his own to go back to the bench after Grant made that 3-pointer.
— Brett Dawson (@BDawsonWrites) March 31, 2018
Musical numbers: Jazz fans will argue that Donovan Mitchell should win rookie of the year over Ben Simmons, which is fine, though Mitchell should get a couple of demerits for wearing clothes that suggest Simmons is not a rookie. Grow up, pal. … Utah was 19-28, but closed with a remarkable 29-6 run that put Quin Snyder in the coach-of-the-year discussion and Mitchell as the potential top rookie. Mitchell vs. Westbrook should be quite a treat. OKC won three of four, but all of those games were before the Jazz got their act together.
Series money line: Thunder -$145; Jazz +$125.
The pick: Wonder if Anthony would be so generous with his playing time in the postseason. Thunder in 7.
|1||Sunday, April 15||at Oklahoma City||6:30 p.m.||TNT|
|2||Weds., April 18||at Oklahoma City||8 p.m.||NBATV|
|3||Saturday, April 21||at Utah||10 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Monday, April 23||at Utah||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Weds., April 25||at Oklahoma City||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Friday, April 27||at Utah||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Sunday, April 29||at Oklahoma City||TBD||TBD|
Portland (3) vs. New Orleans (6)
Blazer bits: Nice job by coach Terry Stotts, who guided the Blazers to a mildly surprising Northwest Division title by one game over Oklahoma City. A four-game slide in the final week nearly undid the work of March’s 13-game winning streak, but a win over Utah clinched the third seed. … Damian Lillard (26.9), C.J. McCollum (21.4) and Jusuf Nurkic (14.9) are the only double-figure scorers. McCollum and Lillard were the only teammates to score 50 in a game this season. McCollum had his 50 against the Bulls on Jan. 31, Lillard matched it Feb. 9 in Sacramento.
Beaking news: Alvin Gentry also did a nice job to get New Orleans to the postseason, especially after big man DeMarcus Cousins ruptured his Achilles’ on Jan. 26. The Pelicans were 26-21 before that game. They went 22-15 without him, very respectable in that conference. … Roll into the postseason on a five-game winning streak, which is second to the 16-gamer the Sixers are riding. … Guard Jrue Holiday averaged a career-best 19.0 points … The Pelicans and Blazers split their four games, each winning once at home and once on the road.
Series money line: -$220; Pelicans +$180.
The pick: The only thing better for hoops junkies than 10:30 starts is a long series. Pelicans in 7.
|1||Saturday, April 14||at Portland||10:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|2||Tuesday, April 17||at Portland||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Thursday, April 19||at New Orleans||9 p.m.||NBATV|
|4||Saturday, April 21||at New Orleans||5 p.m.||TNT|
|5*||Tuesday, April 24||at Portland||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Thursday, April 26||at New Orleans||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Saturday, April 28||at Portland||TBD||TBD|
Golden State (2) vs. San Antonio (7)
State news: Star guard Steph Curry (knee) is not expected to play in this round. The Warriors were 41-10 with him this year, 15-16 without him. … Quinn Cook, a three-time D-League All-Star who went undrafted, has been starting in Curry’s place and doing a pretty good job. The former Duke star is averaging 15.6 points and 4.2 assists since early March. … Golden State knew it was headed for the 2-seed and closed with a largely disinterested 4-9 finish. The Warriors won three of four against the Spurs.
Spur points: San Antonio extended the longest active postseason streak in major sports to 21 years despite not having All-Star Kawhi Leonard for most of the season because of a quad injury. Leonard has been cleared by Spurs doctors but not his own, which is a bit, um, awkward. … The Spurs were 33-8 at home, but just 14-27 on the road – the ugliest mark among the 16 playoff teams. … LaMarcus Aldridge against Draymond Green should be fun. Aldridge averaged 27 and 11 this season against Golden State, which won three of four.
Series money line: Warriors -$1,500; Spurs +$900.
The pick: Would be a little more intriguing if everybody was healthy — and if the Spurs were five years younger. Warriors in 6.
|1||Saturday, April 14||at Golden State||3 p.m.||ABC|
|2||Monday, April 16||at Golden State||10:30 p.m.||TNT|
|3||Thursday, April 19||at San Antonio||9:30 p.m.||TNT|
|4||Sunday, April 22||at San Antonio||3:30 p.m.||ABC|
|5*||Tuesday, April 24||at Golden State||TBD||TBD|
|6*||Thursday, April 26||at San Antonio||TBD||TBD|
|7*||Saturday, April 28||at Golden State||TBD||TBD|
The annual reminder of Gregg Popovich's greatness: Manu Ginobili is 40, Pau Gasol is 37, Tony Parker isn't Tony Parker of old, Kawhi Leonard played 210 minutes all year, and the Spurs are in the playoffs for a 21st consecutive year.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) April 10, 2018