First round: 3rd seed Philadelphia 76ers vs. 6th seed Miami Heat
What another great first-round matchup for us here in the Eastern Conference. This is the first series that sees two teams that consistently make the playoffs on a year-in-year-out basis.
Philadelphia needs to keep its guard up in this matchup. The Erik Spoelstra-led Miami Heat are always a formidable and dangerous foe. Regardless, Nick Nurse has proven on his end that he is still a great coach himself and is showing that he can truly get the best out of his players. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are having career seasons. The one-two punch they form is beautiful and incredibly hard to stop. I do believe that Philly should go get more pieces to truly contend, but this team as is, is already performing incredibly well.
Tobias Harris has turned back the clock. Kelly Oubre Jr. is having a resurgence in his career. Guards De'Anthony Melton and Patrick Beverly are great point-of-attack defensive nuisances. This begs the question, "Will this stop the Heat?"
Erik Spoelstra is currently the best coach in the NBA. He gets his players ready to play every night. Talk about getting the most out of your players, no one seems to do this better than Spo. Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro are a very good trio. Add the addition of Terry Rozier and this team gets scary quickly. They have multiple shooters off the bench and are always in the mix come playoff time. Betting against the Heat is typically a poor life choice.
But...this year's Sixers team feels different. Joel Embiid is currently the best player on the planet, and his size presents a matchup nightmare for everyone, and the Heat are no exception. I have this series being one of the more compelling first rounds we've seen in a while, but I do expect the Heat to fall and the Sixers to move on. We're going with the cheesesteaks.
Prediction: Philadelphia 76ers win 4-2