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2020 NBA Playoffs: First round predictions

(Bleacher Report)

By: The Intermission Staff

With the 2020 NBA playoffs starting today, The Intermission team has come together to give you our series predictions for round one. 


Milwaukee Bucks vs Orlando Magic

Drew - Bucks in 4

With the reigning MVP leading the charge for the Bucks, it’s no doubt that their depth and offensive efficiency can help them get past the Magic with ease. Jonathan Isaac was a critical piece in determining Orlando’s playoff run. But seeing as the Magic lost Isaac to a torn ACL, that damages their already slim chance of getting past the Bucks. 

Jamie - Bucks in 4

The Bucks shouldn’t have much of a problem with the Magic. Especially with the Magic’s Forward Jonathon Issac, out. I am predicting Giannis to dominate for the Bucks and for it to be a quick series.

Alex - Bucks in 4

Milwaukee ran away with the Eastern Conference this year and Giannis has put up another MVP worthy season. Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac is out of the playoffs, I don’t see them winning a game against the Bucks.

Joseph - Bucks in 4 

With the Orlando Magic missing Jonathan Isaac, their key defender, the Bucks’ Antetokounmpo will be scoring at free will. Which will make this a very easy matchup for the Bucks, and it will be four straight blowout victories.

Gavin - Bucks in 4 

Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets

Drew - Raps in 5

With the second best record in the NBA Bubble (7-1), the Raptors proved to the rest of the league that they are still an elite level team. Toronto’s versatile lineup will be a problem for this Nets team, especially on the defensive side. I would’ve had the Raptors making a clean sweep of the Nets, but my Spidey Sense is telling me that Caris Levert might drop a 40 piece to help the Nets secure at least one win in this series. 

Jamie - Raps in 5

I believe Brooklyn will give Toronto more of a problem than people may think. Brooklyn is full of young talented players who are trying to make a name for themselves. Although I think Brooklyn will provide a scrappy series, I predict, at most, Brooklyn might steal one game. 

Alex - Raps in 5 

Statistically speaking, Toronto is a better team than they were in the regular season last year. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry all look even better than they did last year. The Raptor’s bench is stacked and they were one of the best teams in the bubble. I think the Nets can scrape one win away in this series, but without their star Kyrie Irving playing, Toronto will move on to round 2.

Joseph - Raps in 4

The Brooklyn Nets are coming into this series practically without their whole team, and I do not think Caris Levert will be able to single handedly defeat the defending champions. If Siakam, Vanvleet, Lowry, and company come out hitting their shots it will very easily be Raptors in four.

Gavin - Raps in 5

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers

Drew - Celtics in 6

The 76ers have disappointed fans from all around by placing sixth in the East while being regarded as a top four team in the East by many. Brett Brown will have to draw up a new plan to get past the Jolly Green Giants of Boston, which could come in the form of (and will probably be) more minutes for Tobias Harris and Al Horford if they want to make up for the scoring deficiency from the loss of Ben Simmons.

Jamie - Celtics in 7

People are writing the Sixers off, now that they will be playing without all-star Ben Simmons. Although the Celtics are going to have a very tough time stopping Joel Embiid, I believe the Sixers will take this series all the way to seven games. That being said, Boston has too many weapons to lose this series. 

Alex - Celtics in 6

Philadelphia hasn’t impressed me this season and with Ben Simmons out for the series, I don’t think they can take down Boston in seven. Embiid will be playing but he was injured just a few weeks ago. Boston has been a really dominant team this year, I think they get the job done. The worst part of Philly going out in round one is the fact that Matisse Thybulle can’t vlog anymore.

Joseph - Celtics in 6

The Jayson Tatum led Boston Celtics have looked great all season, and the 76ers are coming into this series without Ben Simmons. I do believe Embiid will be able to steal a couple games for Philly, but the Celtics will be too overpowering and end this series in six games.

Gavin - Celtics in 6

Miami Heat vs Indiana Pacers

Drew - Heat in 5 

Bubble T.J. Warren might have looked like the second coming of Michael Jordan on paper, but I don’t think the Pacers have what it takes to get past Jimmy Butler and the rest of the South Beach crew. With Erik Spoelstra being regarded as a top coach in the league, combined with an incredibly talented roster, Pacers fans should be scared of what the Heat have to bring. The only thing keeping me from predicting a clean sweep by the Heat is the way T.J. Warren made the NBA Bubble look like a MyCareer simulation. 

Jamie - Heat in 5

The Heat have dominated the Pacers all season long. This series is personal for Jimmy Butler. He looks to prove he can win in the playoffs as the best player on his team. The starpower of Butler, the defensive energy of Bam Adebayo matched with the deadly shooting of Duncan Robinson;this Heat team will be too much to handle for the Pacers. The Heat are going to come out fast and look to prove themselves. 

Alex - Heat in 5

Miami has been an extremely good team all season. Bam Adebayo is my favourite to win MIP and Jimmy Butler is a top-15 player in the league. Duncan Robinson might be the best shooter in the NBA and the Heat have insane depth off the bench. Indiana gets one game but the Heat Culture comes up big and moves on to round two.

Joseph - Heat in 6

This will be the most heated series of the Eastern Conference with the ongoing issues between TJ Warren and Jimmy Butler. However, I see the Miami Heat going to the ECF, so they will finish the Pacers off in six games with their grimy way of playing.

Gavin - Heat in 7 


LA Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers

Drew - Lakers in 5

With the Lakers, you have one of the best dynamic duos in the league, plus a talented bench, who although put up a disappointing 3-5 performance in the Bubble, have shown pre-hiatus that they are in fact a winning team. And then you have the Portland Trail Blazers, who barely made it to the playoffs by making their way up the standings only to get a close win over a young Grizzlies team. Put those two teams in one series and what do you get? Another disappointing playoff exit for the Trail Blazers. 

Jamie - Blazers in 6

Damian Lillard and the Blazers are arguably the hottest team in the bubble headed into the playoffs.They are clearly playoff ready; as they have been playing playoff games for  4 games already, recently knocking the young Grizzlies out of the playoff picture. The Lakers have looked mediocre at best. Aside from Lebron and AD, the Lakers really don’t have much firepower. I’m predicting an upset here.

Alex - Lakers in 6

I could have jumped on the Portland hype train and penciled them in for an upset, but then I let my logic talk. Damian Lillard has been balling in the bubble and Nurkic looks like a top centre in the league, but how much can those two do. Melo hasn’t been amazing and CJ needs to show up big if they want a chance at taking down the two-headed monster of Lebron and AD. Lakers take this one.

Joseph - Lakers in 6

The Portland Trail Blazers are coming into this series very hot, and Damian Lillard has been the best player in basketball in the bubble. So, I do see Lillard stealing two games for the Blazers, but the Lakers are still the 1st seed and they will end this series in six games.

Gavin - Lakers in 6

LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks

Drew - Clippers in 5

In my opinion, this will be one of the most entertaining matchups we’ll get to watch in the Western Conference. Both incredibly talented teams filled with award-worthy players and great supporting casts is everything to get hyped about. I have the Clippers taking this one, but the Clippers and their load management trend could give the Mavericks a chance to push this series to six or maybe  even seven games. 

Jamie - Clippers in 6 

Luka’s first real taste of the postseason will be very exciting to watch., As exciting as that will be to watch. I don’t believe the Mavs superstar is enough to dethrone Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi and the Clippers are just too deep. 

Alex - Clippers in 5

Luka Doncic is one of my favourite players in the league, but I don’t think he can put this team on his back and take out the Clippers. Kawhi and PG are two of the best two-way players in the game and LAC has two of the three sixth man of the year nominees on their bench. The Clippers won’t lose in round one.

Joseph - Mavs in 7

My big hot take for the playoffs, the Mavs will upset the Clippers in a very competitive seven game series. The Clippers just do not seem like a well gelled team to me, and I can see Doncic and Porzingis stealing the show.

Gavin - Clippers in 6

Denver Nuggets vs Utah Jazz

Drew - Nuggets in 5 

This was an easy one. The Denver Nuggets have easily one of the deepest rotations in the league, and are regarded as one of the most talented teams both offensively and defensively. I’ll give the Jazz the benefit of the doubt, Gobert’s defense can force a couple of close games and can give the Nuggets some trouble in the paint. But in my mind, there’s no way this Jazz team is making it past five games against this Nuggets squad. 

Jamie - Jazz in 7

Probably the most untalked about series in the first round, it’s still a very interesting matchup. It’s all going to come down to the big man matchup of Gobert and Jokic. I think this will be a dead even series that could go either way. 

Alex - Nuggets in 6

These two teams are both overlooked when we talk about contenders in the West. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are both really good players, but Denver has too much fire power for them. Jokic is one of the best centres in the league and Jamal Murray is a bucket.

Joseph - Nuggets in 7

The Denver Nuggets are one of my favourite teams to watch in the NBA, and with Jokic playing at the top of his game they will be a strong force. Also, the Jazz will be without Mike Conley for the first three games at least, so I see these two fairly even teams going to seven games with the Nuggets coming out on top.

Gavin - Nuggets in 7

Houston Rockets vs OKC Thunder

Drew - Thunder in 6 

While Houston’s small ball tactics have proven to be effective despite all the skepticism, the Thunder have done the unthinkable and managed to secure the 4th seed in the Western Conference after the damage of summer of 2019. This is a pretty even matchup in my eyes, but the Rockets are going to have a tough time getting around the trio of Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Steven Adams, as well as the supporting cast that consists of players like Dennis Schröeder, Danilo Galinari, and Darius Bazely

Jamie - Rockets in 6 

After being traded for one another prior to the season, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul meet in the first round. Great back story that will most likely add some drama. What Paul has done with this Thunder roster has been remarkable, but I’m afraid his remarkable run is coming to an end. The Rockets small ball lineup seems to be working, and the Rockets starpower will outmatch the scrappy OKC group. 

Alex - Rockets in 6

Can Westbrook and Harden make a run together and will this small ball rotation be able to cope with Steven Adams? OKC picked up a few big wins in the bubble and CP3 is a certified baller, but I think the duo of former Thunder players in Westbrook and Harden will pull this series out.

Joseph - Thunder in 6

The Oklahoma City Thunder have been the Cinderella story of this season, and I expect that to continue in the playoffs. The Rockets are a great team with their strong backcourt, but without a centre I expect to see the Thunder eat in the paint and take the series in six games.

Gavin - Thunder in 7


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