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NBA playoffs 2017: Picture set

The NBA playoffs won’t begin until Saturday afternoon, but we now know with certainty who will be playing who in the quarterfinals.

Starting in the East, there are some interesting matchups to be parsed. The Boston Celtics were able to land the top seed, beating out the Cleveland Cavaliers by two games, after Cleveland dropped six of its final 10 regular season games. For their trouble, the Celtics are awarded with the Chicago Bulls in the first round. Chicago lost Dwyane Wade down the stretch but managed to finish 41-41, earning the eighth and final seed in a tiebreaker with Wade’s old team, the Miami Heat.

Nobody believes Boston will have any real trouble with the Bulls, but does provide some good star power. The Celtics have Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford to go against Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo, a former Boston favorite.

The rest of the Eastern series don’t hold quite that kind of cache. The Cavaliers ended up as the second seed and will play the Indiana Pacers, who won 42 games. Indiana has a tremendous talent in Paul George who will match up against LeBron James throughout the series, but that’s all the Pacers can offer. It would be shocking to see anything more than five games.

The other two series on that side of the bracket offers little intrigue. The Toronto Raptors should handle the Milwaukee Bucks, while the Washington Wizards are favorites to take down the Atlanta Hawks.

In the West, there are two laughers and two excellent series that could very well go the distance. In the quarters, we get the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. Portland might win a game because of Damian Lillard, but that would be the extent of the possible damage. The same can be said for the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis is much better than Portland, but can only offer token resistance to the most complete team in basketball.

In the 4-5 matchup, look for the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers to trade blows all series long. Utah and Los Angeles are extremely tough teams, with the stars coming out to shine. The Jazz are led by Rudy Gobert and Gordon Hayward, while the Clippers have the trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Either team could win this and move on to face the Warriors in the second round.

Finally, we see the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets. Houston, the third seed, won 55 games as the surprise team of the year. This will have the top two MVP candidates, Russell Westbrook and James Harde, going toe-to-toe. If there is a better series than this, it’s tough to see at this juncture.

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