A look around the Eastern Conference, checking in on the 1st round

As the first round of the 2022-23 NBA playoffs head into the later stages, let's look at some storylines from each series up to this point.

Eastern Conference
#1 Milwaukee Bucks Vs. #8 Miami Heat, Miami leads 2-1
A series that has been riddled with injuries, Miami has found a way to gain a slight advantage thus far. This is in large part thanks to the play of Jimmy Butler. Butler is averaging 30 points per game in the series on 60% shooting, while also dishing out 6 assists and grabbing 5 rebounds. With Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo both unavailable the rest of the year, he's going to have to continue his high level of play if the Heat want to pull off the upset.

On the Bucks side, they have been without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo for basically the entire series. He is set to make his return tonight though, in what is as close to a must-win game as you can have. With a win, Milwaukee regains the homecourt advantage and evens the series at 2 games each. But if Miami goes up 3-1, they could be in serious trouble. It'll be interesting to see just how healthy Giannis is and if the Bucks can get the series back to level.

#2 Boston Celtics Vs. #7 Atlanta Hawks, Boston leads 3-1
After a subpar performance in game 3, the Celtics got back to their winning formula from games 1 and 2 in game 4. With Dejounte Murray officially being suspended for game 5 in Boston, there is no excuse for the Celtics to not close it out and move on to the second round. The Hawks don't have enough defensive resistance to keep the Celtics down, especially without Murray, who is one of their best perimeter defenders. Boston should have a field day in game 5.

#3 Philadelphia 76ers Vs. #6 Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia won 4-0
This matchup was over before it even started. The Nets were awful after they traded away both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant at the deadline and it showed in the playoffs. Brooklyn averaged a mere 92.5 points per game in the sweep, which can partially be credited to Philly's solid defense, but also to the lack of weapons that Brooklyn has. While the 76ers were great on the defensive end, they also struggled offensively a little, scoring under 103 points in 3 of the 4 games. With Joel Embiid battling a little bit of a knee injury, Philly will be hoping Atlanta can somehow steal another game against Boston to give him more time to rest. If Boston does close out Atlanta on Tuesday, the 76ers series against the Celtics will start on Saturday in Boston.

#4 Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. #5 New York Knicks, New York leads 3-1
This has been the biggest surprise of any Eastern Conference first-round series in my opinion. I expected this series to be really tightly contested, with the Cavs having the slight advantage because of the home-court advantage and the play of Donovan Mitchell this season. However, it's been the exact opposite. After getting the split on the road in Cleveland, the Knicks came back home to MSG and took care of business. New York's defense has been nails all series, holding Cleveland under 100 points in 3 of the 4 games, including a season-low 79 in game 3. After an excellent regular season, Mitchell has had a very underwhelming postseason for the Cavs, averaging 22 points on 43% shooting with 4 turnovers per night. If Cleveland wants to have any chance at a comeback, Mitchell and Garland are going to need to be a lot better the remainder of the series.