Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Can Hawks, Nets or Knicks Pull Off Upset?


Apr 13, 2023

While the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks won’t know its opponent until after Friday’s Chicago Bulls-Miami Heat meeting, we can kick things off with the three matchups already set in the East. Here’s a glance at the Conference’s series slated for this weekend. You can click to read more for the complete series previews with key matchups and best bets.No. 2 Boston Celtics vs. No. 7 Atlanta Hawks


The series between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks has the potential to be an offensive display. Still, the difference lies in defensive rating, with the Celtics ranking second and the Hawks 22nd. The teams have played each other three times in the regular season, with Boston winning all three, but they have yet to face each other at full strength.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be a challenge for Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to keep up with. The series opens on Saturday, with the Celtics holding home-court advantage. Expect Boston to win in five games.


No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets

The Philadelphia Sixers are set to face the Brooklyn Nets this Saturday, and Philly is heavily favored (-800) to advance to the next round. Joel Embiid’s MVP season makes them a top contender. The Nets had an up-and-down season, and the Sixers’ supporting cast should be enough to secure a win.

With both teams dealing with injuries, the key for Brooklyn will be limiting James Harden. Overall, the Sixers should take the series in five games, with the Nets potentially stealing one at home.

No. 4 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. No. 5 New York Knicks
The Cleveland Cavaliers are favorites (-205) despite the New York Knicks winning three out of the four games in their head-to-head matchups. The Knicks averaged 116.0 PPG (11th) and allowed 113.1 PPG (13th), while the Cavaliers averaged 112.3 PPG (25th) and allowed 106.9 PPG (1st).

Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle is questionable due to a left ankle sprain, while Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro’s return from a knee injury could be a big boost. Jalen Brunson and Donovan Mitchell are expected to be the headlining acts of this series and could decide which team advances.

Thumbnail photo via USA TODAY Sports Images

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