Western Conference Opening Round

1. Houston Rockets vs. 8. Minnesota Timberwolves

The Houston Rockets have been the NBA’s best team in 2017-18, and they should be almost impervious to any first-round matchups. Drawing the Minnesota Timberwolves is the least appealing option out of the candidates that existed during the season’s final week, but James Harden and Co. cheap nfl jerseys china still match up nicely against their opening foes.

Even with Jimmy Butler back on the court, the T-Wolves aren’t a great defensive team. They allow 105.1 points per 100 possessions when he’s logging minutes (the best mark of any rotation member), but that would still be just the No. 12 defensive rating in the season-long standings. Plus, Butler isn’t going to play 48 minutes per game throughout an entire postseason series, despite Tom Thibodeau’s enduring presence as Minnesota’s head coach. authentic nfl jerseys

A team with defense as its primary weakness isn’t going to topple the top-seeded juggernaut that’s climbed to its perch on the shoulders of historic offensive efforts. Harden and Chris Paul are going to have a field day, easily overcoming the absence of Luc Mbah a Moute as he tries to recover from a dislocated shoulder in time for the second round.nfl jerseys wholesale

Prediction: Rockets in five.b10b7f075e280e5ea410090f87232ccd_crop_exact

2. Golden State Warriors vs. 7. San Antonio Spurs

Watching the Golden State Warriors over the last few weeks, you get the sense they’re just biding their time and waiting to flip the proverbial switch at the most opportune moment. Injuries have decimated their rotation at times, but they still boast the services of three healthy wholesale nfl jerseys All-Stars in Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Beyond that, their bench is filled with useful veterans who understand their roles, as well as some high-upside youngsters. nfl jerseys china

But the Dubs aren’t the same without Stephen Curry, who isn’t likely to be available for this first-round clash with the San Antonio Spurs. On the season, they’ve notched a 2.9 net rating sans their star point guard (easily the worst mark on the roster), and that dropped to minus-2.7 since his second-to-last injury on March 8.

This is concerning. The defending champions are vulnerable until their floor general returns, no matter how impressive nfl jerseys from china Quinn Cook has been while capitalizing on this unforeseen opportunity.

However, the Spurs aren’t suited to pull off the upset. Head coach Gregg Popovich will milk as much production from his troops as humanly possible, but San Antonio is outclassed without Kawhi Leonard. It overachieved throughout the season with a roster filled of middling talents and downward-trending veterans, but it now has to deal with its leading offensive star (LaMarcus Aldridge) lining up against Golden State’s premier individual stopper (Green).

NBA Playoff Bracket 2018: Round-by-Round Predictions

You can now breathe.

The end of the NBA’s 2017-18 regular season featured one twist after another as myriad squads battled for playoff positioning in both conferences. We saw a de facto play-in game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets that wasn’t necessarily just for the No. 8 seed because of the jam-packed nature of the standings. We witnessed the Philadelphia 76ers winning roughly 43 games in a row to steal away the East’s No. 3 spot.nfl jersey

So on and so forth.

But now the playoff field is set. After weeks of breathless speculation, we know all of the first-round matchups.

Let’s see what’s going to happen next—not just in the opening round, but in every one that would follow authentic nfl jerseys . From the Houston Rockets’ defense of the West’s No. 1 seed against the dangerous Timberwolves to the conclusion of the NBA Finals, we’ve peered into the crystal ball and figured it all out. f46ef5b4f7cd485579959c5728c3aa17_crop_exact

1. Toronto Raptors vs. 8. Washington Wizards

Though the Toronto Raptors cooled off at the end of the regular season, that’s understandable. cheap nfl jerseys china They had been operating in sole possession of the No. 1 seed for quite some time, and complacency was bound to set in for an outfit so universally focused on doing away with the unfortunate reputation it’s earned over the last few postseasons.

Why focus on meaningless regular-season contests when the playoffs are all that matters? wholesale nfl jerseys

Toronto has struggled to gain momentum during prior opening rounds, but that won’t be the case in 2018. This team is built for the playoffs, as it no longer relies as heavily on isolation proclivities. Instead, the Raptors share the ball and make the most of a wealth of secondary talents. While Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan remain the leading contributors, they haven’t had the luxury of operating alongside a wide range of talented running mates quite like this. nfl jerseys wholesale

Benches typically aren’t as effective in the playoffs. The Washington Wizards, for example, will lean heavily on their starting five and attempt to minimize the minutes of any secondary contributors not named Tomas Satoransky or Kelly Oubre Jr. But reserves still matter, and Toronto’s have been the best in the league (8.3 net rating).