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The NBA Playoffs – First Round

The NBA Playoffs – First Round

In a wacky NBA season that saw records broken and teams soar to new heights. Let’s look at the First Round of the NBA Playoffs and how each has fared thus far and what the outcomes should be.

Western Conference:

Warriors v. Blazers

Blazers guard and Oakland product Damian Lillard guaranteed Portland would win the series against Golden State. But, so far, the Blazers haven’t been able to hang with the Warriors for more than a half. Even without Kevin Durant in Game 2, the Blazers couldn’t capitalize and took a lopsided defeat. Golden State looks locked in to make another Finals run. Warriors sweep the series and look to take on the Clippers or Jazz.

Steph

Spurs v. Grizzlies

Even with an old roster and their first season without Tim Duncan anchoring the squad, the Spurs finished with the second-best record in the NBA. The Grizzlies had an up and down year but defeated the Spurs twice in four tries and even took down the Warriors twice. So far this series has been about the potential MVP, Kawhi Leonard. Leonard took 19 free throws in Game 2 and the entire Grizzlies team took 15. The Grizzlies have been without defensive stalwart Tony Allen, so look for the Spurs to take the series in five games.

Rockets v. Thunder

This is the series everyone wanted to see. James Harden versus Russell Westbrook. The two leading candidates for MVP. Westbrook rewrote history with 42 triple-doubles in a season, one more than Oscar Robertson had. Harden wasn’t slacking either by producing 22 of his own. The difference is that Harden has the supporting cast around him to make a push for the NBA Finals. Westbrook is having to do a lot on his own, like drop 51 points in Game 2 of the series and still take the L. The Thunder should be able to take a game or two somewhere in the series, but the Rockets shouldn’t have to play more than six games in this series.

Russ

Clippers v. Jazz

The Jazz went into Game 1 with one of the best rim defenders in the NBA in Rudy Gobert, but 17 seconds into the game he went down with a hyperextended knee. Somehow the undermanned Jazz stole Game 1 in LA on a Joe Johnson buzzer-beater. But the Clippers came back in Game 2 with a victory led by Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. If the Jazz can’t get Gobert back before it’s too late, the Clippers should roll into the next round in six games.

Eastern Conference:

Celtics v. Bulls

Very few (if any) people who follow the NBA could have predicted the way the first two games of this series have played out so far. This was a Bulls team who not even two months ago looked like they even wanted to be on the court and showed every sign of giving up on the season. Chicago ended up grabbing the eighth seed in the East and have the top-seed Celtics in panic mode. Jimmy Butler is playing like his usual self, Dwyane Wade has been great in the clutch, and Rajon Rondo is tearing it up against his former team. The series shifts to Chicago on Friday and everything as of right now points in the Bulls’ favor.

Cavaliers v. Pacers

The Pacers are looking to regroup and get on track as they head home Thursday to play game three against Lebron and the Cavs. Cleveland’s Big Three have been outstanding the first two games of this series, dominating Indiana’s perimeter defense and forcing the Pacers to take well-contested shots. Paul George is the only Pacer doing much of anything so far, averaging 30 points through the first two games. George was vocal about his frustrations with his teammates in the postgame presser, mainly Lance Stephenson. The Pacers must find an answer to the Cavaliers high-scoring offense to make this a competitive series. Regardless, the Cavs are the more talented squad and will win this series in four or five games.

LeBron

Raptors v. Bucks

The only Eastern Conference playoff matchup that is currently tied at one a piece will shift to Milwaukee Thursday night. Milwaukee went to Toronto and stole game one behind the efforts of Giannis Antetokounmpo and rookie Malcolm Brogdon. Game Two was a closer contest, with Demar DeRozan leading the Raptors and Kyle Lowry hitting clutch shots down the stretch. Toronto has more playoff experience between the two teams, and this will give them the edge in an exciting six or seven game series.

The Greek Freak

Wizards v. Hawks

Washington took care of business at home for games one and two of this series against the Atlanta Hawks. John Wall scored 32 points in both the first two contests and Bradley Beal has been an important contributor as well. If Atlanta is to make any sort of comeback, they will need much better production from Dwight Howard, who is averaging just 6.5 points through the first two games as well has their bench, who combined for just 14 points in game two on Wednesday.