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Bruins vs Maple Leafs; Celtics vs Heat Playoff Preview

It is officially that time of the year. Both the Bruins and the Celtics have lived up to, and in some cases, exceeded expectations, setting the stage for an eventful start to the summer for Boston sports fans. As playoffs get started this weekend, let’s take a look at what stands in front of each respective squad.

The Bruins are entering the playoffs on a two game losing streak. The kicker in that losing streak, is that it actually helped them. Falling in their final regular season games allowed the Florida Panthers to jump them in the standings and win the Atlantic Division. As a result, the Bruins will now face the Toronto Maple Leafs while the Panthers will play the most dangerous and ascending team in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is one of those rare cases where playing the team with the better record is okay based on experience, past history and the recent hot play of the Lightning.

How does it make it easier on the Bruins? Why would losing the final regular season games help them?

Tampa Bay’s years of playoff experience and success against the Bruins provide enough sample size for the Bruins to be fearful of them. On the other hand, the Maple Leafs have had nationally documented failure after failure in the first round, and have not defeated the Bruins in the playoffs since 1959. While no matchup is easy in the playoffs, there is no question that the Bruins match up better against the Maple Leafs. In most series with the Bruins, I expect this to come down to seven games. I think the two teams are evenly matched, and as a bounce back from last year, I think the Bruins get the job done at home before moving on to face the winner of the Lightning and Panthers series. After a fast start this past Saturday night in game one and getting the win 4-1, the Bruins will look to expand their series leads on Monday night in Boston at 7pm.

Pick: Bruins in seven games

As for the Celtics, they are experiencing their best season since the 2007-2008 calendar year. For most Celtics fans, that year resonates well as it was the year that they won their last title. After the NBA Play-In Tournament concluded, to no one’s surprise, the Celtics matched up with a very familiar foe, the Miami Heat. For the fourth year in a row, these two teams will meet in the playoffs. For at least game one, the Heat will be without star forward, Jimmy Butler. After suffering an MCL injury in the play-in tournament, the Heat will be forced to depend on young talent like Jaime Jacquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic. The expectations for the Celtics are the highest possible. Winning 64 games in the regular season means anything short of a championship is a failure. Should the Celtics happen to slip up against the Heat for the third time in four years, with as much talent as they currently possess, coach Joe Mazzulla will undoubtedly be under the microscope of the front office. 

This is not going to be an easy series by any means. When it comes to the Celtics and Heat, regular season games, records, playoff seeding all gets thrown out the window. To win their 18th banner, the Celtics will need to exorcize their demons from last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. With the additions of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday in the offseason, I believe the Celtics are much more equipped to take down the Heat and move on to the second round. They’ll kick things off Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in Boston.

Pick: Celtics in six games

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