4-0? No problem. In the NBA Eastern Conference playoffs, three teams went 4-0, sweeping their first-round opponents out of the postseason. The #2 Toronto Raptors defeated the #7 Brooklyn Nets 4-0. The #3 Boston Celtics knocked out #6 Philadelphia 76ers in four games. The #5 Miami Heat won their “coin-flip series” over the #4 Indiana Pacers in four games.
The top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks are the only team in the Eastern Conference still playing their opening series. The Bucks dropped Game 1 against the #8 Orlando Magic, but have since won three games in a row to take a 3-1 series lead.
2020 EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS – ROUND 1
#1 Milwaukee leads 3-1 vs #8 Orlando
#2 Toronto wins 4-0 vs #7 Brooklyn
#3 Boston wins 4-0 vs #6 Philadelphia
#5 Miami wins 4-0 vs #4 Indiana
The Bucks could wrap up their series on Wednesday. The Greek Freak has Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat waiting for him in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
On the other side of the bracket, the #2 Toronto Raptors square off against the #3 Boston Celtics. That best-of-seven semifinal series commences on Thursday.
In the Western Conference, there were no first-round sweeps. All eight teams are still alive, but the Utah Jazz have the Denver Nuggets down 3-1 and on the edge of elimination.
Defending Champs Press On
The defending champion Toronto Raptors dismantled the Brooklyn Nets. The Raptors won three blowouts by 24 points or more. The closest the Nets came to a win occurred in Game 3 when they lost by only 5 points.
“That was a fast first round for both teams really,” said Toronto head coach Nick Nurse. “A lot faster than normal. That first round usually goes so slow.”
In Game 4, the Raptors completed a sweep thanks to their reserves. Toronto’s bench set an NBA record with 100 points. The starters scored only 50 points in a 150-122 victory. Norman Powell led all of the Raptors with 29 points off the bench, while Serge Ibaka added 25 points and 17 rebounds in less than 20 minutes off the bench.
“It’s cool, I guess, but my main focus is winning,” said Powell. “Don’t matter how we do it, by 30 or a point. I just care about winning. It’s a cool little record to have. But I’m not going to harp on it or think about it.”
In the injury department, Kyle Lowry left Game 4 early due to a knee problem. His status is unknown for the next series against the Boston Celtics. Lowry averaged 19.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, a 7.5 assists per game this season.
According to the last update by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Toronto Raptors are 8/1 odds to repeat as NBA champions.
Boston Advances, Philly Implodes
The Boston Celtics came into the first-round series as a -400 favorite to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics won Game 1 by 8 points and never looked back. They blew out the Sixers in Game 2 with a 27-point victory. In Game 3, the Sixers tried to keep it close, but the Celtics pulled away in the second half to win by 8 points.
In Game 4, Kemba Walker sealed the sweep with 32 points in a 110-106 victory. Jayson Tatum added 26 points and 15 rebounds.
“I don’t know if it’s much to celebrate, honestly,” said Walker. “We didn’t do much yet.”
Joel Embiid put up a valiant fight for the Sixers. He averaged 30 points and 13 rebounds per game. He showed up every night, but his teammates were inconsistent.
The Sixers were toast before the series began.
“We could never find a rhythm this year,” said Embiid. “It is disappointing. The focus was not always there.”
Losing Ben Simmons (knee) set them up for a quick sweep. It didn’t take long before the Sixers fired head coach Brett Brown. Will the team try to rebuild around Embiid, or will they punt on the big man?
“I don’t make the decisions,” said Embiid. “I’m here in Philly. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve always said that I want to end my career here, and if it happens, good. If it doesn’t happen, well, you move on and all that stuff.”
According to an update by the Westgate in Vegas, the Boston Celtics are a 10/1 favorite to win the 2020 NBA championship.
Jimmy ‘Wolverine’ Butler Leads Heat to Sweep
Oddsmakers thought the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers series would be the closest one in the Eastern Conference. The Heat were only -335 to advance to the next round, while the Pacers (without injured Domantas Sabonis) were +250 to pull off the upset.
The Heat won three games by double-digits and all four games by 9-plus points. Without Sabonis, the Pacers didn’t have a chance.
Jimmy Butler nursed a strained shoulder during the series, but you hardly noticed as he played through the injury.
“My shoulder was hurting a little bit,” admitted Butler. “It was hurting before the game, but as I was warming up, I was like maybe it will loosen up, and maybe I’ll be able to play at 100% or whatever it was. It wasn’t the case. So we decided, ‘We’re going to just lock in on defense.’ I did that, played hard, and affected the game besides scoring on the offensive end.”
Goran Dragic picked up the scoring slack for Butler with a team-high 23 points, while Tyler Herro chipped in 16 points off the bench.
“What he needs more than anything is rest, and then he’ll start to work his way back into it,” said Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra. “I asked him if he’s like Wolverine, if he heals like that. I have seen some other injuries that looked more significant and they look like they’re tough injuries, and he comes back the next day and he’s ready to go.”
With Butler’s quick healing properties in full force, the Heat will most likely face the #1 Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The Miami Heat are now 20/1 odds to win the NBA championship, according to an update by the Westgate SuperBook.