Playoff time: 10 things to know for the National Basketball Association postseason

Rex Christensen
April 17, 2019

There are some banged-up contenders in the East, which will not have LeBron James leading a team to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010. But with star player Giannis Antetokounpo and others, the Bucks have fans hoping for a title. The 2017 Most Improved Player proved that he could still better himself. If that's the case, who are the top 10 players in the 2019 playoffs?

Or Toronto, humiliated by the Cavaliers in the last two years but armed now with a former NBA Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard. They went under the total in 47 of their 82 games, largely due to both their defensive metrics and minuscule 101.1 possessions per game, which ranked No. 28 in the National Basketball Association. Join the Blue Man Hoop team!

The Golden State Warriors will be aiming to win third straight National Basketball Association title, but they will face a new challenge coming out of the Eastern Conference, with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics all capable of putting up a challenge. The German star was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2007 and the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 2011. His version of the Bucks have averaged more points and more attempts from beyond the arc than any other team - and that includes the shot-happy Warriors. The Pistons, who didn't clinch a playoff berth until the fight night of the season, are 4-0 against the Bucks in the postseason.

They also, once again, missed out on having the best record in the league due to the rise of the Milwaukee Bucks and the MVP caliber season of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even with a playoff berth on the line, Griffin didn't play in the season finale against the New York Knicks.

It's easy to forget how unbelievable Leonard was two postseasons ago when he briefly put a scare into the Warriors before suffering an injury that ended his playoff run. The Nuggets excelled in the regular season, but the playoffs are different.

If it wasn't for his postseason failures, Harden might have an argument to top the list. Recently even the dominant Golden State Warriors have posted a top 2 Defense in two out of their three NBA Champion runs. Again, I am going to take the higher seed. You don't just roll out of bed and learn how to win - it takes time, and this franchise hasn't won in a long time. This matchup features some of the most electrifying talents in the playoffs, and there are also some interesting matchup details.

The key player in the series for Los Angeles will be Williams, who has not had a single-digit scoring game since December 6 - a run of 47 consecutive games in double figures.

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The Lakers are probably wishing they hadn't traded Russell to Brooklyn after his career year with the Nets this season. He's a beast defensively and is usually unstoppable in the paint.

The East's healthiest team are the second-seeded Toronto Raptors (58-24), who open today at home against the seventh-seeded Orlando Magic (42-40).

Everything else, just like all the West matchups, fell into place during Game 82s on Wednesday. A shoulder injury slowed him down and he likely wouldn't have been able to continue that pace, but the small forward has to be regarded more highly than he was a year ago.

The Clippers clearly have the best second unit in the league. He also has a history of playoff success, previous year notwithstanding, having made it to a few Eastern Conference Finals with the Indiana Pacers. Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins will appear in the playoffs for the first time, and Golden State beat Doc Rivers' club by 27 points earlier this week.

Oklahoma City at Portland, 3:30 p.m. Denver's rotation guys - other than Paul Millsap - aren't swimming in postseason experience, and the question becomes how equipped they are to handle this stage.

They came through a testing opening-round series with the Sacramento Kings and a seven-game Conference Finals series with the Portland Trail Blazers before overcoming the Pacers in six games in the Finals, O'Neal racking up 41 points in the close-out game and adding Finals MVP to his league MVP award.

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