Cards in the National Basketball Association: 2018 Playoffs are Here

Arnold Nichols
April 14, 2018

On opening night, there were 108 global players from a record 42 countries on each team.

All the Game 1s will be Saturday or Sunday, at the lower seed. He'll have to play through two series (probably) without home court advantage.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced Friday, April 13, that team rosters (active and inactive) for the 2018 NBA Playoffs will feature a record 62 worldwide players from a record 33 countries.

The numbers were released following the final round of regular season games on Wednesday. No. 8 Minnesota: No one is giving the Wolves much of a chance to win this one, and it's hard to blame them. Many people are buying Portland after a convincing win against Utah on the final game of the regular season, but the Pelicans could be risky as they win this first round series.

For the first time since 2008, LeBron James is not.

James has been to the finals seven years in a row - four times with the Heat, three more since returning to Cleveland. They'll be an overwhelming favorite not only in the highest-scoring first-quarter prop - the Rockets' boasted an NBA-best plus-4.5 first-quarter scoring margin during the regular season - but also to win the race to 20 points. The 1-seeded Raptors underperform in the playoffs just about every year, the 2-seeded Celtics are depleted, and the 3-seeded 76ers just simply are not ready yet-they're way too young and inexperienced. The league decides its postseason crews based on a process that included everything from study of analytics, ratings filed by teams and coaches, the assessments of retired veteran referees and much more.

Minnesota Timberwolves - Falling from grace and nearly out of the playoffs means the Timberwolves will probably lose in four or five games against the Houston Rockets, even with Jimmy Butler. The 76ers are going into the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak.

Not often is a No. 4 seed one of the teams to beat in the postseason, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are no ordinary No. 4 seed. The Sixers bench is deeper and more talented than Milwaukee's, and if Embiid can get back in the groove in time, it will be tough to guard a Ben Simmons/Embiid pick and roll. He's a marvelous player and has had a sensational year.

James' previous high for appearances was 81, back in the 2008-09 season.

This is direct proof that the league under the leadership of commissioner Adam Silver is in great hands. I believe this is Houston's and James Harden's year.

Toronto coach Dwane Casey is not giving his most important starters the night off in a finale that means nothing standings-wise to the Raptors. Finishing ahead of them were the first-place Toronto Raptors, whose stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry have finally matured into legitimate threats. Kerr remembers how mentally draining it was just to drag through three seasons like this as a player, specifically as a teammate to Michael Jordan before Jordan's second retirement from the Bulls. The different predictions also keep everyone excited, one reason being a 4th match-up between the Warriors and The Cavaliers. A season that began with the Finals looking like a foregone conclusion has given us all kinds threads to follow along the way.

There are also individual milestones and team records on the line.

For the first time in 14 years, the Timberwolves are back in the National Basketball Association playoffs.

Utah's game at Portland will decide the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. Later that day, at 8 p.m. on ESPN, Adebayo and the Heat play the Philadelphia 76ers before the five Wildcats on the Pelicans face the Portland Trail Blazers at 10:30 p.m. on ESPN.

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