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The playoffs begin: Heat-Bucks, Mavs-Clips, Celts-Nets, & Blazers-Nuggets, Game Thread

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Miami Heat v Milwaukee Bucks - Game One Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Because the Play-In tournament isn’t officially considered the postseason that means today is the official jump of the 2021 playoffs. The Eastern Conference’s end of the play-in wasn’t actually that exciting. In the East, there were some round-robin pummelings. The Washington Wizards got throttled by the Boston Celtics. The Indiana Pacers swatted the Charlotte Hornets. Then the Wizards turned the Pacers into toads with the wave of a wand. The West was a lot more exciting. The Memphis Grizzlies blew a big lead to the San Antonio Spurs but hung on to win. Both of the Golden State Warriors games (they lost) were thrilling. Steph Curry is always must-see-TV and didn’t disappoint. The Dubs dropped a heart breaker to the Lakers on a LeBron James game-winner, and then they lost another squeaker to the Grizz last night.

Now that the brackets are fully set and the playoffs are officially underway we have two ball games from each conference and none of the four include the Sixers who play in the NFL slot at 1 PM on Sunday.

3 vs. 6: Milwaukee Bucks host the Miami Heat, 2:00 PM ET, ESPN

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat - Game Three Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

In the bubble last summer the Miami Heat clobbered the Bucks in just 5 games en route to the Finals. That disappointing series prompted the Bucks to pay big in draft assets (to the New Orleans Pelicans) and cash for former Sixer Jrue Holiday (who recently signed a massive extension) to help them close out games. The Bucks wound up with a worse record than both the Sixers and Nets but they’ll be in Milwaukee today.

The Heat are not your average 6th seed. A combination of injuries and health and safety protocols led to a rough year. But if healthy, they’re probably right up there talent-wise with the Sixers and Bucks.

Poll

Who do you think will win?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Heat
    (21 votes)
  • 78%
    Bucks
    (76 votes)
97 votes total Vote Now

4 vs. 5: Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers, 4:30 PM ET, ESPN

Los Angeles Clippers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In another bubble rematch, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks travel to visit the team who eliminated them last summer, the L.A. Clippers. Last year the Mavs surprised and frustrated the Clips winning two games. But Kristaps Porzingis was not healthy then and they lost. This go round Porzingis isn’t quite healthy either, although he is available tonight. The Clips seem poised to repeat their results from last season’s playoff and send Dallas fishing.

Poll

Who do you think will win

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    Mavs
    (54 votes)
  • 41%
    Clips
    (39 votes)
93 votes total Vote Now

7 vs. 2 Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets, 8:00 pm ET, ABC

Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Jayson Tatum and the 7th seed Celtics head to Brooklyn to take on Tatum’s former C’s teammate in Kyrie Irving. Tatum will not have his usual running mate on the wing in Jaylen Brown, who is done for the year with a wrist injury. Irving however, will play with a pair of former MVPs (and former Thunder teammates now reunited in New York) in Kevin Durant and James Harden.

Poll

Who do you think will win?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Celts
    (13 votes)
  • 86%
    Nets
    (82 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now

6 vs. 3 Portland Trailblazers at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 PM ET, ESPN

Portland Trail Blazers v Denver Nuggets Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Damian Lillard and the Blazers head to take on the likely MVP in Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. Unfortunately for Denver, they are without the help of their star guard Jamal Murray, who suffered a torn ACL in the second half of the season in a game against the Warriors. The Nuggets will still have home court, their Rocky Mountain altitude, along with Michael Porter Jr. But man, Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum are a couple of the last dudes you want to see in the first round; that duo helped knock the Nuggets off in the second round two seasons ago.

Poll

Who do you think will win?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Blazers
    (53 votes)
  • 44%
    Nuggts
    (43 votes)
96 votes total Vote Now