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The NBA playoffs have arrived, and here's 10 things to watch

The NBA playoffs have arrived, and here's 10 things to watch

Here are our National Basketball Association experts' predictions for first-round series, followed by their brackets for the entire National Basketball Association playoffs - including who they think will win the championship. Take the Boston Celtics for instance.

Meanwhile, the Eastern conference will be a much more even field.

Bogdanovic has been filling it up for the Brooklyn Nets (and the Croatian national team) for years now. David Fizdale has done a solid job as Memphis head coach, but his team is going the wrong way as the regular season ended.

LeBron James quickly moved past Cleveland's disjointed regular season, an uphill, 82-game slog of injuries, roster upheaval and drama. We'll see how well things shape up for the top-seeded Warriors as they start the first round of the playoffs against the Trail Blazers on Sunday.

Reigning champions Cleveland Cavaliers, the supremely-loaded Golden State Warriors, the ever-dangerous San Antonio Spurs, and a handful of other squads will be looking to lay their claim at the championship trophy. As disappointing as the Bulls were this season and as good as the Celtics were defensively at times, for example, Jimmy Butler has the potential to win a couple of games all by himself as one of the best two-way players now in the National Basketball Association.

As it is, the 55-win Houston Rockets came in second at $1.65 million per win.

Thomas is our pick for most improved player, and while he can't play a lick of defense, his shooting will make the Bulls guard him with Butler, their best perimeter defender, at times in this series.

The Atlanta Hawks (+175 on the first-round series prices) and big man Dwight Howard could take advantage of the Washington Wizards (-205) not having C Ian Mahimi for the early portion of their series. The problem for the Grizzlies is that Tony Allen, their defensive anchor, is going to miss most, if not all, of the series with a strained right calf.

No. 4 Los Angeles Clippers (51-31) vs.

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Princess Charlotte and Prince George (with mom and dad, Kate Middleton and Prince William) at St. And, of course, there has been plenty of speculation about what Pippa's dress will look like.

The third seed Houston Rockets take on the sixth seed Oklahoma City Thunder in a Game 1 battle of electric point guards who've come up with individually historic seasons.

Despite the standings holding in the Clippers' favor, there is a definite sense that Los Angeles is something of the past while Utah is a bright spot of the future.

The Jazz will want to slow Chris Paul down and force the Clippers into a bit of a grudge match.

Is it over for Lob City? With the victory, the Celtics locked up the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. "There's no question about that". This one is interesting because Boston is the least dominant No. 1 seed in some time, and the Bulls have an unusual amount of playoff experience for a No. 8 seed. And while some were still questioning his viability as a go-to option during the season, he spent the year getting mentioned in relation to various franchise scoring records along with familiar names like Larry Bird and John Havlicek.

Sports fans will be sufficiently busy in Boston over the next few days. That was a curious strategy since IN will seemingly provide a much more hard first-round matchup than Chicago would have mustered. There's no team you can say "I feel confident they can pull the upset", but I already doubt this first-round bracket very much. Now is the time to flip that switch, so let's see what happens.

No. 3 Rockets vs. Many of these have tried to give you as straight and rational of a take as possible.

"They're the champs for a reason", Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry said Wednesday night after Toronto beat Cleveland.

With all eight series kicking off this weekend, a crop of role players will find their way to the spotlight, swinging some of the most highly-contested series. "We're not coming in saying, 'Because of a year ago, we're trying to get revenge or we're trying to show everybody what we got'".

No. 4 Wizards vs. Unsurprisingly, more bad teams littered the bottom of the rankings. Monroe and Milwaukee will play Toronto, Morris and Washington will play Atlanta.


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