The NBA playoffs are finally upon us and the first day’s slate features four intriguing match-ups involving quality teams.

First up on the schedule is the East’s 4-vs-5 match-up featuring two up-and-coming teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic. Both teams were separated by just one game in the standings and the Magic might have actually finished fourth if they did not go 1-3 over their last four games of the regular season.

These two teams have promising young cores and a second round appearance for either franchise would serve as much-needed validation for their rebuilding process.

The second game involves the 3-vs-6 battle of the Western Conference where the Minnesota Timberwolves will host the Phoenix Suns. The Timberwolves were in a dead heat with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets for first place in the West over the last two months of the season, but ultimately fell short as they ended the campaign behind the two teams by one game.


Minnesota’s size should prove to be problematic for the perimeter-oriented Phoenix, yet the firepower of the latter’s Big Three featuring Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal could easily swing the odds in their favor.

The slate’s third contest pits the East’s second seed, the New York Knicks, against the seventh place Philadelphia 76ers. This is anticipated to be one of, if not the, closest match-up of the first round as this Sixers team is much better than their seventh seed suggests. The return of Joel Embiid, though he is still not yet back to 100%, has come at just the right time, but they will be in for a thrilling match-up versus the gritty Jalen Brunson-led Knicks.

The fourth and final match of the day is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals featuring the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets enter as the overwhelming favorites after sweeping last year’s West Finals and this year’s three-game season series.

However, any team featuring the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis cannot be counted out and it will be interesting to see if they can steal one of the first two games of the series to gain some early momentum.

Ultimately, it looks like the Nuggets are destined to face the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals this year, but the history of the NBA has proven time and time again that the only thing guaranteed in this league is to expect the unexpected.