The opening round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs is beginning to wind down, and the semifinal matchups for each conference are taking shape. The Eastern Conference bracket is locked in, as the Boston Celtics swept the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks rolled past the Detroit Pistons without losing a game as well.
Now, the Celtics and Bucks will meet in the second round for a rematch of last year’s first-round matchup. In that series, Boston defeated Milwaukee in seven games as the No. 2 seed, but the script is flipped this time, as Giannis Antetokounmpo and company will be at home.
While the Bucks vs. Celtics matchup is set, both the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers advanced on Tuesday night to finalize the other semifinal matchup. Let’s take a look at the updated Eastern Conference NBA playoff bracket for 2019.
Eastern Conference NBA Playoff Bracket & 2019 Semifinals Matchups
With the Bucks and Celtics both reeling off clean sweeps, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers have bounced back from Game 1 losses to win four straight. This sets up a second-round matchup between Raptors and Sixers. In turn, this means the top four seeds in the East all advanced out of the first round.
Eastern Conference Semifinal Predictions & Picks
There’s a lot to be excited about with these two matchups on tap, and home-court advantage could prove to be big. With that said, upsets in either series wouldn’t be a huge surprise, as these are undoubtedly the four best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Both of these matchups could potentially go seven games. All four teams won 49 or more games, with the Bucks leading the way by posting a 60-22 record during the regular season. I do think Giannis and company will get the job done, even though betting against Kyrie Irving and Brad Stevens is a tough task. Regardless, the Bucks have looked exceptional all season, and I’m taking them to win in seven games.
Bucks vs. Celtics prediction: Bucks win in seven
On the other side of the bracket, the Sixers and Raptors is a great matchup. Toronto won three of four games during the regular season against Philly, with the only loss coming when Kawhi Leonard was sidelined. Leonard and company have been exceptional this season, but Joel Embiid and the Sixers have arguably the best starting lineup in the Eastern Conference.
After acquiring both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris to group with Embiid, Ben Simmons and JJ Redick, the talent is certainly there. They may have a tough time against the Raptors, but if Embiid’s knee is healthy and he’s cleared and anywhere close to 100 percent, I think the Sixers are capable of pulling off the upset.
Raptors vs. 76ers prediction: Sixers win in seven