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NBA Playoffs 2019: Full Bracket, Expert Picks and Predictions Ahead of Opening Round

The wait is finally over. After 177 days of regular season activity, the 16 spots on the NBA playoffs bracket have been filled, with the Golden State Warriors starting their quest for a third consecutive title.

The 2019 edition of the playoffs made history before it even began. That is because for the first time since 2010 the team that will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals will not be led by LeBron James, who is missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2005.

The Warriors went 57-25 this season, and the fact that is their worst record in the last five years speaks volumes for how high a bar they have set for themselves.

Golden State faces a first-round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. A possible Conference Semifinal against the Rockets looms large on the horizon, if Houston gets past the Utah Jazz.

The other half of the Western Conference bracket sees the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Denver Nuggets face the San Antonio Spurs. The Nuggets were one of the most impressive teams of the season and won over 50 games for the first time since 2012-13, while the Spurs clinched a postseason berth for the 22nd consecutive year.

On the Eastern Conference side of the playoffs bracket, the Milwaukee Bucks enter the postseason with the best record in the NBA for the first time since 1974. Milwaukee is the only team in the league to win at least 60 games this season and the playoffs could fully establish Giannis Antetokounmpo as the face of the league.

The Bucks face the Detroit Pistons in the first round, with a conference semifinal against either the Indiana Pacers or the Boston Celtics on the cards.

The Toronto Raptors, second seeds in the Eastern Conference, face the Orlando Magic, who return to the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Brooklyn Nets, which means that—barring major surprises—the Sixers and Celtics won’t cross path in the postseason.

Top picks

The Warriors might have finished with the third-best regular season record, but remain the overwhelming favorites to win the title.

Bovada has Golden State as 9/20 favorite (-220 in moneyline terms) to win a third title in a row, with the Bucks at 15/2. The Raptors are third-favorites at 10/1, followed by the Rockets and Sixers at 11/1 and 13/1 respectively.

The picture is similar at VegasInsider, where the Warriors are 1/2 favorites followed by the Bucks at 6/1. Houston is 8/1, while the Raptors and Celtics are 15/1 and 20/1, respectively.

Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight gives Golden State a 60 percent chance of winning the title, a figure that plummets to 16 and 14 percent for Toronto and Milwaukee.

Potential upsets

The matchup between the Blazers and the Thunder is arguably the most intriguing in the Western Conference. Oklahoma looked like a title contender at one stage, before losing its way somewhat, and now enters the playoff as the sixth seed.

While the Thunder might not have home court advantage in the playoffs, ESPN’s BPI rating gives them a 41 percent chance of causing an upset against Portland.

The Jazz, meanwhile, have a 45 percent chance of beating the Rockets. Utah started the season slowly but put together a superb run since the turn of the year, with only the Bucks recording a better win percentage than the Jazz from January 1.

 Golden State Warriors The Golden State Warriors celebrate with the Larry O'Brien Trophy after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

 

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