Sue Ogrocki / Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers (1) sur Trail Blazers ou Grizzlies (8)
If the Blazers hang on to the eighth seed they recently snatched from the Grizzlies, that series has some potential.
Damian Lillard is on an absolute tear in the bubble. If he’s near that level in the playoffs – and the Lakers won’t have Avery Bradley to bother him – Portland could steal a few games.
Gary Trent Jr. and Carmelo Anthony are feeling it too. CJ McCollum has experience in handling big games. And Jusuf Nurkic is back. Everything is in place at the right time for the Blazers.
But LeBron James is still LeBron James. And Portland has no one to verify it. The Lakers would likely win this series, but we’ve reached a point where a Blazers upset wouldn’t be shocking.
As for the Grizzlies, they have a lot of intriguing young talent, but they seem less ready to challenge the King on the game’s bigger stage.
Los Angeles Clippers (2) sur Dallas Mavericks (7)
This series has the potential to be a blast. Like Lillard, Luka Doncic was unreal in Orlando. In fact, he’s the only player with at least 100 minutes and a better plus / minus box in August. And the way he designs an attack when surrounded by gunfire is electrifying.
But this list of Clippers is just too crowded. They can throw Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris or even Patrick Beverley at Doncic. They might not be able to stop it, but it’s a group that will definitely make it difficult.
On the other side, Kawhi, PG and Lou Williams will choose a defense that ranks 18th this season (and 19th in the bubble).
Denver Nuggets (3) sur Utah Jazz (6)
When those two teams played on August 8, it took two overtime for the Nuggets to win. Even without their second top scorer, Bojan Bogdanovic, the Jazz won’t collapse without a fight.
Rudy Gobert remains one of the most impactful players in the game, and he has kept Nikola Jokic well below his usual production in head-to-head clashes. Donovan Mitchell may be subject to fierce fluctuations in efficiency (shooting 38.2% in Orlando), but he can leave at any time.
The Nuggets should have plenty of answers, however. With Jokic orchestrating from mid-ground or a low post and Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. (averaging 22.0 points in the bubble) flying around him, the Utah defense (15th in the bubble) will be overwhelmed.
Oklahoma City Thunder (4) sur Houston Rockets (5)
Tachometers on internet takeout machines will be marked in red if Chris Paul eliminates the Rockets from the playoffs.
Last summer, Houston traded him and many Thunder picks for Russell Westbrook, who is likely to miss much of this series.
And while Houston is stoned, the Thunder are at full blast. Over the season, OKC is over-7.4 when CP3 shares the floor with Danilo Gallinari. Both are expected to play more in the playoffs.
Steven Adams is perhaps the biggest issue for the Rockets, however. Against the micro-ball philosophy, he should feast on the boards and get plenty of open looks from Paul, Dennis Schroder and rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.