Previewing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference matchup for Saturday
Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors
5:30PM ET on ESPN
The Toronto Raptors have had a dominate season which resulted in a franchise record, 59 wins, along with finishing as the No. 1 seed for the first time. The Raptors are 1-12 during the first game of a playoff series with their only win coming against the 76ers back in 2001. The Raptors look to change that tonight as they face the No. 8 seed, the Washington Wizards. This will be the 8th time the Raptors hold home court advantage to open a series. The Raptors have been a dominate force at home this season with a record of 34-7 at the Air Canada Centre. The Wizards and Raptors split the series at two games a piece this season. However, the Wizard point guard, John Wall, missed all four games due to knee surgery.
During the 2016-17 season, John Wall averaged 25 points, 10.3 assists, and 5.7 rebounds during the three meetings against the Raptors. The Wizards lost five of the last 6 games of the regular season including the season finale against the Orlando Magic. Though the Wizards struggled against teams that fell below .500, they were able to defeat 9 playoff bound teams since the All-Star break. The two are familiar with each other in the post season as they met in the 2015 playoffs when the Wizards swept the Raptors 4-0. The Wizard finished the season as the No. 8 seed and finished 16 games behind the Raptors.
Raptors: Fred VanVleet injured his shoulder against the Miami Heat and will be considered a game time decision.
Wizards: Otto Porter Jr. (mild calf strain) and Mike Scott (concussion protocol) are both questionable for Game 1
The Raptors are a much better team than in the past and with the depth on the bench they will succeed in this series. The Wizards are a very tough and physical team and have depth across the board when it comes to shooting beyond the arc.
Game 1 Final: Raptors 102 – Wizards 97
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat
8PM ET on ESPN
This is the first time the 76ers have made the playoffs in six years. The last time the No. 3 seed 76ers won 50 regular season games was back in 2000-01. Both Simmons and Fultz were under the age of 5 when the 76ers made the run for the NBA Finals. Joel Embiid is likely going to miss the beginning of the series as he is still recovering from a broken orbital bone. Unfortunately, Embiids absence could affect the 76ers success as the Miami Heat have two good centers in Whiteside and Adebayo. Adebayo made a strong rookie campaign as he has become one of the leagues best rebounders per 48 minutes. Both the 76ers and Heat are coming off very solid months although the 76ers lead the league with a 16 game win streak. The Miami Heat were able to end the season winning five of the final eight games. The regular season series was split at two apiece as all four games were played within five weeks of each other.
The young talent from the 76ers will be enough to power the team on both ends of the ball and with continuous help from the veteran players the 76ers will give the Heat a tough series especially when Embiid comes back. Miami has a lot of talent on the roster and possess a good amount of depth to provide a tough matchup for the 76ers. If Whiteside can be a dominate force then the Heat can walk away victorious.
Game 1 Final: 76ers 103 – Heat 100