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2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference

Reflections on the four Eastern Conference series to come.

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The Eastern Conference in the 2017 NBA playoff preview offers a little more mystery than its Western counterpart.

Out there, the overarching sense is that Golden State is toying with the field, even though San Antonio and Houston are also elite teams. The East is a little wider open. Maybe not by a lot, but at least enough to be noticed.

Four playoff series will commence shortly in the conference quarterfinals. Eight Eastern Conference teams soon will turn into four. Each series offers its own angle and intrigue, but perhaps not all will be competitive.

We offer one musing on each of the four Eastern Conference series, and why it matters.

2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Chicago vs. Boston

This series will go longer than some fans would expect. It does not have to do with the fact that the two teams split their four regular-season games. Half of them were in the opening week or two of the season. You can’t really compare the October product to the April one.

What does matter is that the Bulls are inconsistent, but when they’re on, they’re on. Chicago ended the year in a good stretch, though have you seen the teams they played? They lost to the Nets on April 8; that’s the inconsistency for you. Nevertheless, they have Dwyane Wade, and he’ll keep his team afloat as long as he can. It probably won’t be enough, but the Bulls can steal a couple games.

2017 NBA Playoff Preview: Atlanta vs. Washington

John Wall and his teammates have some real pressure on them to win. Washington basketball had been a doormat for quite some time. Then, in both 2014 and 2015, the Wiz made the playoffs and actually won a series. 2016 was a letdown which got the coach fired.

Playing some of the best basketball of anyone in the East, much will be expected of this group. They’re a division champion with home-court advantage, something they lacked in 2014 and 2015. All they’d like is for the five seed, Atlanta, not to turn the tables on them. The Hawks hadn’t had much luck with that in the regular season, but Dwight Howard can still cause issues for the Wizards.

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