The opening night of the 2019 NBA Playoffs has come and gone. Interestingly, the only top seed to win on Saturday night was the Golden State Warriors. The seventh-seeded Orlando Magic and San Antonio Spurs won, as did the sixth-seeded Brooklyn Nets.
What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Not a whole lot, other than that the losers of Game 1 have not lost home-court advantage for the opening round. It does suggest, however, that teams shouldn't get comfortable being the higher-seeded team in any matchup during the playoffs.
Here you'll find some predictions for the 2019 postseason, based on what we have seen and expect to see in the playoffs. We'll also take a look at the remaining round-by-round schedule and the latest odds, according to Oddschecker.
2019 NBA Playoffs, Round 1
1. Milwaukee Bucks vs. 8. Detroit Pistons
2. Toronto Raptors vs. 7. Orlando Magic
3. Philadelphia 76ers vs. 6. Brooklyn Nets
4. Boston Celtics vs. 5. Indiana Pacers
1. Golden State Warriors vs. 8. Los Angeles Clippers
2. Denver Nuggets vs. 7. San Antonio Spurs
3. Portland Trail Blazers vs. 6. Oklahoma City Thunder
4. Houston Rockets vs. 5. Utah Jazz
Known Start Dates for Remaining Rounds (via NBA.com)
First Round: Saturday, April 13
Conference Semifinals: Monday, April 29 or Tuesday, April 30 (possible move up to April 27-28)
Conference Finals: Tuesday, May 14 or Wednesday, May 15 (possible move up to May 12-13)
Finals: Thursday, May 30
Latest Championship Odds
Golden State Warriors: 12-25
Milwaukee Bucks: 6-1
Houston Rockets 11-1
Toronto Raptors: 14-1
Philadelphia 76ers: 14-1
Boston Celtics: 16-1
Denver Nuggets: 30-1
Oklahoma City Thunder: 30-1
San Antonio Spurs: 50-1
Utah Jazz: 60-1
Portland Trail Blazers: 60-1
Brooklyn Nets: 150-1
Los Angeles Clippers: 200-1
Indiana Pacers: 150-1
Orlando Magic: 150-1
Detroit Pistons: 200-1
Toronto Will Again Exit Early
The Toronto Raptors lost on Saturday to the lowly Orlando Magic, who haven't been to the playoffs since the 2011-12 season. The Raptors never seemed to get in a rhythm, and the few times they generated momentum, they failed to hold it. Still, the Magic deserve some credit for winning the game.
This has been a playoff trend for the Raptors in recent years, even though they have regularly looked like a dangerous team during the regular season. Since the 2013-14 season, Toronto has never finished lower than fourth in the Eastern Conference—which means the Raptors have held home-court advantage for at least Round 1 for six straight years.
The Raptors lost in the first round twice and in the second round twice, and they are in a hole this year. They did make it to the Eastern Conference Finals back in 2016, but they fell in six games to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With the addition of former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, it felt like the Raptors might finally have the goods to go on a deep postseason run. They will probably get past Orlando, but if they cannot turn up the intensity now, they are not going to do so for three consecutive series.
The Warriors Will Again Cruise to the Finals
While the Raptors struggled to flip on the playoff switch against Orlando, the Warriors had zero trouble doing so against the No. 8 seed Los Angeles Clippers. The game was close for a while early, and then the Warriors turned up the volume and started to run away with proceedings.
It's was easy to forget during the regular season just how well Golden State can play as a team. The uncertainty surrounding Kevin Durant's future, his spat with Draymond Green and the general disinterest the Warriors seemed to have for the regular season masked the fact that this is still one of the most dominant teams in modern NBA history.
When Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Co. get hot, there isn't a defense in the league that can shut them down completely.
Can a team like the Houston Rockets give Golden State some trouble in the playoffs? Sure. Houston took the Warriors to a Game 7 last year and owns a 3-1 head-to-head record this season. However, if the Warriors want to dominate, they are going to—all the way to another fifth consecutive Finals appearance.
The Process Won't Be Completed This Year
The Philadelphia 76ers have endured some tough seasons in recent years, but the losing has led to some great draft pick-ups and a team brimming with overall talent. After losing for five straight years, Philadelphia finally got back into the playoffs last season and are making an encore appearance in 2019.
However, the 76ers just don't have the feel of a team poised for a deep run in the East. They were outclassed by the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Amir Johnson got caught playing with his cell phone on the bench during the loss, and the Philadelphia fans booed their team when the game was still within reach.
"If you're going to boo, stay on that side," 76ers star Ben Simmons told fans after the game.
If Simmons and the 76ers want more adoration from fans, they need to get on the right side of the conference semifinals. That isn't going to happen this postseason.
Predictions for Conference Finals
Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Toronto Raptors
Prediction for Finals
Warriors vs. Bucks