Round two of the 2019 NBA Playoffs are officially upon us, and to go with our series previews, we polled some of our staff once again to get their thoughts on who they pick to win each series.
Benjamin Bornstein: Bucks in 6. Celtics will get a couple of great games from unexpected players, but it won’t be enough to overcome Giannis and the Bucks. They shoot it too well and will play defense when needed to overwhelm Boston.
Michael De Leon: Bucks in 7. This will be a chess game between two top coaches as we see which one between Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer makes better decisions from game-to-game. In the end Giannis Antetokounmpo with a wealth of shooters around him will be hard to stop, especially if Brogdon is back soon.
Jason Guilbault: Milwaukee In 7 – Home court will pay off for Milwaukee in this one, and it pains me as a Celtics fan, but the Greek Freak will be too much for Boston.
Agustin Ibanez-Baldor: Bucks in 6: No one can stop Giannis and Bledsoe is one of the top 3 guards equipped to stop Kyrie. If even one of Giannis’ sidekicks catches fire it’s a quick series.
Bryan Oringher: BOS over MIL 4-3
Luke Zylstra: Bucks in 6. This should be a fun series, and the Celtics have the top-tier talent to make a splash, especially if Kyrie Irving goes off. But Milwaukee has proven to be the best team in the East and the 2nd or 3rd best team in the NBA. I know what I’m getting with the Bucks, while Boston still has lots of questions.
Bornstein: Raps in 6. 76ers have not been consistent enough to beat the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard is going to be too much for whoever has to guard him. Assuming Kyle Lowry doesn’t goose egg more than one game, the Raps should be fine.
De Leon: Raptors in 6. The Raptors are just too good on both ends of the floor. I picked Raptors in 7 originally, but when the Raptors win with basically just Kawhi and Pascal and their bench doesn’t play well, that has to be concerning for Philly. I give Brett Brown and the 76ers two games, but Kawhi is putting on a show and the 76ers won’t be able to stop it.
Guilbault: Toronto In 6 – Toronto should be able to take away some of the Philly stars for portions of the season, resulting in a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Ibanez-Baldor: Toronto in 5: They have the personnel to scheme out Ben Simmons like Boston did last year. Gasol can’t guard Joel but can do enough that Toronto won’t need to hard double him like Brooklyn did. Jimmy vs Kawhi should be a fun battle.
Oringher: PHI over TOR 4-3
Zylstra: Raptors in 5. In Game One, Toronto showed that they really are more talented than Philly, and their lineup really fits, unlike the Sixers’. Kawhi Leonard is one of the best closers in the game, maybe #1, and Siakam, Lowry, and company know their roles.
Bornstein: Warriors in 7. The Warriors are just too good and have too many defensive options. It will take them a game or two to figure out how they want to guard Harden, but once they do that, it’s over.
De Leon: Warriors in seven. Golden State is looking beatable for the first time, but Houston relies too heavily on James Harden and the Warriors’ defense is too good to allow him to go off every game. It’ll be a fun battle, but the Warriors have too many weapons.
Guilbault: GSW In 7 – This one will push to the brink just like last year, but hopefully with everybody healthy. Golden State still pulls it out in seven.
Ibanez-Baldor: Houston in 6: GSW needed 50 from KD to eliminate the Clippers. They look disinterested in playing defense. Meeting Houston a round earlier means Harden won’t burn out and CP3 is less likely to get injured. If they got destroyed by Lou Williams/Montrezl pick and rolls what are they going to do versus Harden/Capela picks?
Oringher: GSW over HOU 4-3
Zylstra: Warriors in 7. Golden State may be as vulnerable as they’ve ever been, and this Houston team may be better than last season’s, but I’m gonna have to go with the more talented team in the end of a series that can go the distance.
(2) Denver Nuggets vs. (3) Portland Trail Blazers
Bornstein: Blazers in 7. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will not be denied this year. They’ve been tearing it up and the Nuggets going through 7 games against a lesser team in the Spurs will have the Blazers licking their chops.
De Leon: Blazers in 7. The Nuggets are a tough squad and they grew up a lot in the first round, but their backcourt will no longer have an easy advantage and will have to to deal with Next Level Dame. If Kanter is back healthy, Portland should be able to take the series, but I’m ready to see how Portland defends the Joker and how Denver tries to deny Dame and CJ McCollum.
Guilbault: Portland In 7 – Portland’s backcourt is on a major roll, and while Nikola Jokic is going to be a problem, I am hesitant that he holds up for another seven-game series.
Ibanez-Baldor: Portland in 5 or 6: Denver can’t slow down either of their guards, although Gary Harris will try his best. Kanter being hurt is worrisome but they can go super small with Aminu at center.
Oringher: POR over DEN 4-3
Zylstra: Blazers in 5. While the Nuggets may have escaped the first round, they proved their inconsistency and inexperience. Meanwhile, Dame Lillard and the Blazers proved they’re ready for a deep run.