First Round Playoff Predictions: Eastern Conference

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The Eastern Conference was a wild one this year in the NBA, possibly the weakest that it has ever been.

Teams that could have finished last in the West made the Playoffs in the East and that's what will ultimately make this interesting.

Let's get started...

Atlanta Hawks (1) Vs. Brooklyn Nets (8)

The Brooklyn Nets just scraped by the Indiana Pacers to make the Playoffs and have had a poor year all around, finishing with a record of 38-44. That record was good enough to get them in, but they will have to do a lot better if they have even the slightest hope of moving past the Atlanta Hawks.

On paper, the Nets actually have a pretty good team, with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. So Brooklyn does have experience on their side, but at the same time all of these 'stars' really aren't stars anymore as their best days are behind them.

Brooklyn will need to overcome the second best team in the NBA this season, the Atlanta Hawks.

Atlanta is a well oiled machine, ready to defeat anyone in their path. The Hawks finished the season with an amazing 60-22 record, not to mention they also had four players selected to the All-Star team, Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, Paul Millsap and Al Horford. The only thing that could hurt this team is if one of those four fall to injury, then the chemistry would be out of sync.

Prediction: Atlanta Hawks win in 5 games

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) Vs. Boston Celtics (7)

Cleveland took some time at the beginning of the season to come into their own, but here they are now and they are dangerous.

The big three of Cleveland, LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, will all need to operate on a high level in order to make it deep in the playoffs, however, for this first round match up, even the insanely deep bench of the Cavs could handle the Celtics.

The Celtics have some good young players with great potential, not to mention Isaiah Thomas, who was acquired on trade deadline day and has been a huge part in the Celtics making the Playoffs.

In all honesty if the Celtics can win just one game, many would be surprised. They aren't ready for the big stage of the Playoffs and they are facing a two time NBA Champion, LeBron James, as well as his whole star studded supporting cast.

Prediction: Cleveland Cavaliers win in 4 games

Chicago Bulls (3) Vs. Milwaukee Bucks (6)

The Milwaukee Bucks have been the surprise of the season, going from last place in the entire NBA in the 2013-14 season to a Playoff spot this season. They have a lot of good young players and could have surprised many, unfortunately they face the Bulls in the first round, a team built for the Playoffs.

The 50-32 Chicago Bulls are going to be a tough team to beat. Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah make up a really solid team with each player bringing something special to the table. This is a perfect example of a team that could perform better in the Playoffs than they did in the regular season. The Bulls could challenge for the NBA Championship.

As for the 41-41 Milwaukee Bucks, in order to survive this Playoff round they will have to really come together and outlast the intensity that the Bulls will bring, both physically and mentally.

Prediction: Chicago Bulls win in 6 games

Toronto Raptors (4) Vs. Washington Wizards (5)

The Raptors had another strong season, finishing with a 49-33 record and are looking to prove to the world that they can make it to the second round of the Playoffs. In order to do that, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas will need to play to their full abilities, the Raptors can never lose focus of the goal of winning or the Wizards will take advantage.

The Washington Wizards are a team on the verge of being a great team and they will be soon, with the emergence of John Wall and Bradley Beal. This team, although sporadic in the regular season, had a real opportunity to do something special this year. They have all the pieces, Wall, Beal, the experience of Paul Pierce, who has the Raptors number from last year's Playoff series, and you can't forget the big men, Nene and Marcin Gortat.

If the Raptors want a chance to move on to the second round they will need to play like they did in the first half of the season, when they were unstoppable, not the second half of the season, when they looked weak and beatable.

Paul Pierce said that the Raptors are missing the 'it' factor and unfortunately, he may be right. Raptors fan hope their team will prove 'The Truth' wrong.

Prediction: Washington Wizards win in 7 games

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Indiana Pacers
Central Division
Eastern Conference
New Jersey Nets
Toronto Raptors
Atlantic Division
Washington Wizards
Southeast Division
Boston Celtics
Cleveland Cavaliers
Milwaukee Bucks
Atlanta Hawks
LeBron James
Chicago Bulls

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