2018 NBA Playoffs First Round Preview

‘I am not satisfied. Our goal is to win the Championship’ – Lowry on NBA Finals

With the NBA Playoffs around the corner, it’s fitting for us here at FOX Sports PH to share our thoughts and chime in on different FAQs about the most exciting part of the season.

1. Series to keep an eye out for the first round?

Imon Olgado: Sixers-Heat. Philly is one year ahead of schedule in the then-GM Sam Hinkie’s seven-year plan as this is their baptism of fire. Also, Embiid will be out probably in their first two games. Warriors-Spurs also looks exciting – an upset probably waiting to happen.

Jordan Samar: I would look at the OKC-Utah matchup closely in Round 1. Both teams have been red-hot lately and are looking to bring their momentum onto the playoffs. You got Mr. Triple-Double and grizzled playoff vets like Melo and George going up against an upstart team with DPOY candidate Rudy Gobert and ROTY candidate Donovan Mitchell – it doesn’t get any better than that.

Jonas Reyes: GSW-SAS will be an interesting series. Let’s see if the ever-resilient Spurs can pull off another playoff magic against the defending champs.

Eros Villanueva: The Pelicans-Blazers matchup. It would have been more exciting if DeMarcus Cousins was around to punk Portland’s frontline, but we’ll still get to see Dame and AD exchange scoring outbursts for a seven-game series.

Lawrence Fernandez: Utah-OKC. With the Thunder having the better lineup on paper, you can’t sleep on the Jazz as they have a dynamic scorer in Donovan Mitchell, a crafty point guard in Ricky Rubio, a steady vet in Favors, and a potential DPOY in Rudy Gobert. They also grind out every possession, which would halt Westbrook’s attacks on the open floor. Expect this series to go the distance.

Voltaire Lozada: Blazers-Pelicans could be a fun matchup and they’re separated only by a full game in the regular season. In the East, Raptors-Wizards would be interesting as well. Wall came back just in time after a lengthy absence while their bench has newfound confidence brought about by the said absence.

2. Who will be the Round 1 MVP?

Imon: Harden obviously. His pick-and-roll with Capela against the Timberwolves has been automatic two points all season long and I don’t think it will change in the postseason. Don’t sleep on Damian Lillard too; he has an axe to grind.

Jordan: I would definitely choose Playoff-LeBron as there isn’t any guy who can “flip the switch” like he does historically in the postseason.

Jonas: Harden definitely, especially if they win against Minnesota.

Eros: Anthony Davis. He’ll be a one man wrecking crew for the New Orleans squad in dire need of superstar production.

Lawrence: If the Celtics move past the Bucks in the first round, Terry Rozier would probably be the first round MVP especially with Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart out. He will have to play exceptional, orchestrating the offense that will heavily rest on his shoulders.

Voltaire: Every team in the East wanted  to face the hobbled Celtics and Jaylen Brown could emerge as their MVP if they move past the first round. Anthony Davis would be an another obvious choice if the Pels upset the Trail Blazers.

3. Bold prediction/s in the first round?

Imon: There won’t be a sweep in the first round.

Jordan: Without Steph, the Warriors will be tested early as the Spurs will give them a run for their money.

Jonas: All higher seeds would move on to the next round, except for the Boston Celtics, and there will be no sweeps in Round 1.

Eros: The Spurs will upset the Warriors with a healthy Kawhi Leonard.

Lawrence: Utah will upset OKC and all other top-seeded teams will advance.

Voltaire: Minnesota will either push Houston to the limit or upset them in the first round. Thibodeau is a top defensive strategist capable of finding holes in the Rockets’ juggernaut offense.