1) Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Currently penciled in as the Raptors’ first round playoff matchup, the Brooklyn Nets have been on the lips of many an NBA reporter this week, and for good reason.
Earlier in the month, rumours swirled surrounding the possible return of Durant and Irving to the Nets lineup. Casesars Sportsbook even lowered the odds of a Brooklyn championship run from 750-1 to 60-1, in anticipation of a return of either both or one of the Nets’ superstars.
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These rumours have been, for the most part, put to bed. Durant told ESPN’s The Undefeated that he will not play in 2020, stating in no uncertain terms that his “season is over.”
Speculation rose its ugly head concerning a KD return in early March, when CBS Sports reported that Durant might be interested in playing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics which, coincidentally, were slated to kick off just a week before the NBA’s return date of July 31. We now know that neither the Olympics nor the NBA playoffs will be in play for KD, but what about Irving?
After checking in and out of the Nets’ lineup in 2019-20, Irving underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery on March 3. A return of the 2011-12 rookie of the year to an already formidable lineup would certainly shake up the Eastern Conference playoff picture, but according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a comeback for the Duke product isn’t likely.
Whereas Durant left no room for misunderstandings, Irving left the door open just a tad. It’s still unlikely that we see him suit up in Orlando, but if Irving does go back on his word (Celtics fans know it wouldn’t be the first time), Brooklyn could prove to be a tough out in the first round.
Which team do you predict the Toronto Raptors will meet in the first round of the playoffs and who will advance? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.