#4 Seed Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #5 Seed Orlando Magic

Season series 2-2

Tariq’s Outlook and Prediction

Can the Cavs erase the memory of last year’s playoffs? Can the Magic jumpstart their future?

On paper, the Cavs have more top end talent, but the Magic have an intriguing blend of young budding stars, and motivated defensive minded vets. The Magic desperately need their offense to match their defense, as they are 3rd in defensive rating and 22nd in offensive rating. Both teams battled different injury-riddled stretches during the season, but were able to overcome them, and at times play better during them. Donovan Mitchell is no stranger to the playoffs, as he’s always found a way to get his team in. This will be Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, and Jalen Suggs’s first playoff series, and seem poised to make a name for themselves on the big stage. The Cavs need consistency from Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, and just an overall better mentality this time around. The Magic need to continue to hang their hat on their defensive prowess.

X-Factors: Franz Wagner/Jonathan Isaac

Prediction: Magic in 6

#2 Seed New York Knicks #7 Seed Philadelphia 76ers

Knicks won Season series 3-1

Bryce’s Outlook and Prediction

The New York Knicks finished the season with a 17-10 record after the All-Star break, landing them the second seed in the Eastern Conference.. Throughout the season, many asked if Jalen Brunson could lead the New York Knicks to a championship being an undersized guard. Well their first challenge is against the reigning MVP Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. After Embiid suffered a torn meniscus the 76ers saw themselves fall down the Eastern Conference standing where they would finish as the seventh seed. In the play-in game, they took care of business and look like one of the more serious seventh seeds in recent memory. The matchup itself is a little polarizing. The Knicks have one of the strongest guard/wing cores in the league up against the dynamic duo of Most Improved candidate Tyrese Maxey and reigning MVP Joel Embiid. Since returning from injury, Embiid has averaged 30.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists. With the Knicks being without Julius Randle due to injury, their bigs will have a handful trying to neutralize one of the best centers in the association. But with the way the Villanova trio of Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, and Josh Hart have played to finish the season, along with how good their defense has been, the Knicks have what it takes to advance to the next round. They can match, if not surpass the offensive output and have the edge defensively.

X-Factors: Donte DiVincenzo

Prediction: Knicks in 6

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An avid sports fan and journalist who’s main focus is the lovely game of basketball. If I’m not covering the game, I’m either playing ball or watching it.