With the first round of the NBA Playoffs officially in the books, let’s break down who is most likely to hold the Larry O’Brien. Here’s Fantrax’s Second Round NBA Playoff Outlook:
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2021 Second Round Playoff Outlook
1: Utah (52-20)
4: LA Clippers (47-25)
Well, the Clippers certainly didn’t make it look easy against the Mavs. Luka Doncic is not only going to sign a $200M extension, but he’s also going to be the face of the league in a few years time. As great as he is, that Mavs team had no business taking a team, as complete as LAC, to seven games. This isn’t the LAC team that was 2nd in net rating and top ten in defensive rating. If they could barely handle Luka and Tim Hardaway…Donovan Mitchell, Bogdanovic, Ingles, Clarkson, and Gobert are going to give LAC hell. The Jazz finished the season first in net rating and top five in defensive and offensive rating. There simply isn’t room for error for LAC. Utah should make this a gentleman’s sweep.
2: Phoenix (51-21)
3: Denver (47-25)
This series is already underway and the Suns have a 1-0 lead and looked very dominant doing so. However, at the end of the day, Denver squeezed out a win in seven against a Portland team that relied too heavily on Dame. That way I see it, Portland had more talent at the top. I figured with Jamal Murray being out, Jokic didn’t have enough firepower to overcome Dame’s scoring barrages, but I was wrong. This Denver team finds a way to adjust and adapt. Whether it’s MPJ, Austin Rivers, Monte Morris, or Campazzo, Denver will keep this close. I trust that Ayton won’t be able to slow down Jokic over the long run, and CP3 is still less than 100%. Devin Booker is a bucket getter, but I don’t think he’s “lean on me in the playoffs” level yet. I like Denver to win this one in seven.
1: Philadelphia (49-23)
5: Atlanta (41-31)
If you told me Atlanta would be in the playoffs before the season started, I would’ve laughed you out of the room. The fact that they’ve made it to the second round, AND they have a 1-0 lead over the #1 seed in the East is absurd. Over the long-term though, we have to trust the numbers. Philly is 2nd in defensive rating and 5th in net rating. They’re just a better team, and that will show over the course of the series. Trae is good to put a team on his back for one, maybe two, and possibly three games. But you need to win four games in a series to advance. My fear of Joel Embiid’s injury was quelled the moment he dropped 39 points and 9 boards in Game 1. 76ers have too much firepower for Atlanta. Philly wins this series.
2: Brooklyn (48-24)
3: Milwaukee: (46-26)
James Harden is hurt, but the Nets are built to sustain a superstar’s absence…BECAUSE THEY HAVE TWO MORE!!! Brooklyn is up 2-0 in this series. However, you’re supposed to win at home. I know the Bucks’ coach has a reputation for not being able to adjust, but this series is on the players. There’s no game plan to neutralize two superstars (there’s definitely no game plan to beat three superstars). At the end of the day, Giannis, Jrue, and Middleton are going to need to make shots. They will be able to do that against the 23rd ranked defense in the league. The Bucks should win their home games, and force a Game 7. Brooklyn isn’t battle-tested and hasn’t had enough time together to overcome that kind of stress and pressure, flawlessly. It’s a hot take, but I like Milwaukee to win this series.
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