NBA EAST CAPSULES
60-22 (Home: 35-6; Road: 25-16)
38-44 (Home: 19-22; Road: 19-22)
Season series: Atlanta, 4-0.
Key stat: Atlanta plays well on both sides of the ball. They were 10th in the NBA in scoring (102.2) and fifth in points allowed (97.1).
Outlook: The Hawks must prove they are up to the challenge of coming out of the East by dispatching the Nets, otherwise there will be a lot of “told-you-sos” if Atlanta struggles in the series. The inconsistent Nets will need Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez to be consistent for Brooklyn to have any chance.
Prediction: The Hawks are really good and will show it during the playoffs. Atlanta in five.
53-29 (Home: 31-10; Road: 22-19)
40-42 (Home: 21-20; Road 19-22)
Season series: Tied, 2-2.
Key stat: The Cavaliers won 20 of their last 21 games at home. The Celtics finished the season on a six-game winning streak, including a win over the Cavaliers.
Outlook: LeBron James played in the last four NBA Finals, winning two championships with Miami. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are playing in the playoffs for the first time. Can Irving and Love handle the playoff pressure alongside James? This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Celtics, but they went 24-14 since Feb. 1 to claim a playoff spot.
Prediction: Cleveland shouldn’t have much to stress over in this series. Cavaliers in four.
50-32 (Home: 27-14; Road: 23-18)
41-41 (Home: 23-18; Road: 18-23)
Season series: Bulls, 3-1.
Key stat: Pau Gasol had a comeback season after leaving the Lakers for the Bulls, posting a league-high 54 double-doubles.
It wasn’t a good sign for the Bulls when Derrick Rose sat out the second half of the regular-season finale with a sore left knee. Rose’s health is paramount if the Bulls have any chance of winning the NBA championship. Nobody expected the Bucks would make the playoffs after a league-worst 67-losses last season, but they are in.
Prediction: The Bulls have too many offensive weapons for the Bucks to handle. Chicago in six.
49-33 (Home: 27-14; Road: 22-19)
46-36 (Home: 29-12; Road: 17-24)
Season series: Toronto, 3-0.
Key stat: The Raptors were the only NBA team to have five players make at least 100 three-pointers in a single season — Lou Williams (152), Terrence Ross (145), Greivis Vasquez (133), Kyle Lowry (132) and Patrick Patterson (104).
Outlook: Washington’s Paul Pierce started the trash-talking, saying the Raptors don’t have the kind of team that “makes you worried.” John Wall, the Wizards’ All-Star point guard who averaged a career-high 10 assists per game (second in the NBA), runs the show. The Raptors are a high-scoring team, averaging 104 points per game, tied for fourth-best in the league.
Prediction: Normally the four-five matchup pairs evenly matched teams. Home court wins it for the Raptors in seven.