2018 NBA Playoffs
With the second round under way, let’s dive in straight into the series on hand.
Toronto Raptors vs Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers have knocked the Toronto Raptors out of the playoffs the last two years but the Raptors are finally the favored team and hope to play like it when the teams begin their Eastern Conference semifinals matchup.
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers
The Boston Celtics needed everything they had to survive a seven-game, first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks. Their reward is an Eastern Conference semifinals matchup with one of the hottest teams in the league in the rested Philadelphia 76ers.
Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz
The Jazz vs. Rockets series is a classic matchup. The league’s best offense vs. the league’s best defense.
Golden State Warriors vs New Orleans Pelicans
One team was supposed to be here all along. The other was two regular-season losses away from missing the playoffs and setting into motion a major overhaul that likely would have included firing its coach and front office, and possibly would have stretched into a trade involving one of the league’s best players. But the stunning sweep of Portland by the Pelicans earned them a spot in the conference semifinals for the first time in a decade. It surely saved the job of head coach Alvin Gentry, and likely the job of GM Dell Demps, too. That means teams anticipating a Pels fire sale can cross off Anthony Davis from their wish lists.
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2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins
The Lightning will come into this series as the more rested team after making quick work of the New Jersey Devils in Round 1. But after coming off an emotional high from a wild Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, don’t take the Bruins lightly. In fact, the Bruins owned the Lightning during the regular season after walking away with the W in three of their four meetings.
The matchup should be highlighted by a battle between two of the best lines in hockey: Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak versus Kucherov-Stamkos-Miller. The Bruins’ trio combined for 30 points in Round 1, while the Lightning’s top three had 20 points in its five-game series with the Devils.
Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins
What would a second round be without the Capitals and Penguins going head to head?
The Capitals will be looking for revenge after being eliminated by their Metropolitan rivals the past two postseasons. And, of course, the spotlight will once again shine brightest on the renewed showdown between the teams’ respective captains. While Sidney Crosby (10 goals, 22 points) historically comes out on top in terms of series wins, Alex Ovechkin (12 goals, 26 points) has statistically fared better between the two in their 20 playoff contests against one another.
Nashville Predators vs Winnipeg Jets
It’ll be a Battle of the Titans in this second-round series. The Predators and Jets finished first and second league-wide, while their regular-season meet ups were always competitive. One key to the series could be the Predators’ Pekka Rinne, who was only average in Round 1 against the Colorado Avalanche, while Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck put up a far superior performance in eliminating the Minnesota Wild.
Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks
Both sides made quick work in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sweeping away the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, respectively. If Vegas isn’t already getting its due credit, it should after taking out a two-time Cup champion. Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury played like a virtual wall, while Sharks goalie Martin Jones was no slouch either. San Jose could also get a boost in the second round should Joe Thornton return from injury.