Review of NBA playoffs: Round 1

With the beginning of the NBA Playoffs, there are teams just happy to make the playoffs, contenders for the Larry O’Brien trophy, and some unfamiliar dark horses.

Looking specifically at the Eastern Conference, starting with the matchup of the #1 seed Toronto Raptors vs. the #8 Washington Wizards. With hopes of winning the conference and moving on the Finals with a top five offense and a top five defense the Raptors are well coached and have a solid bench. The Wizards, although an 8 seed, have quite a lot of talent with John Wall running the show, and Bradley Beal topping the scoring table most nights at the shooting guard position. The Wizards were lacking offensive chemistry, and consistent communication on defense: Toronto won, 4-2.

Next, the #2 seeded Boston Celtics were matched up with the #7 Milwaukee Bucks boasting the “Greek Freak,” MVP candidate, Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the young stars of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, along with the veteran Al Horford, the Celtics were able to consistently score on the Bucks. Defending, however, was a far more difficult task. Antetokounmpo was finding ways to the hoop and kicking out to his shooters, Kris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon. Excellent coaching and hard-nosed defense enabled the Celtics to overcome a valiant effort from the Bucks for a 4-3 series victory.

Next, there was the matchup of the #3 seeded Philadelphia 76ers vs. the #6 seeded Miami Heat. With a top 5 defense, the Miami Heat gave the 76ers some toruble in games 2, 4, and 5, otherwise, Philadelphia cruised through and ended the Heat’s Cinderella story with the addition of experienced star Dwyane Wade late in the season.

Finally, the #4 seeded Cavaliers played the #5 seeded Indiana Pacers. This was the most interesting, gripping, intriguing series of them all. While the Cavs have the best player on the planet, and arguably the best player of all-time, Lebron James, the rest of the team was struggling quite mightily. The defense was out of sorts, and the marksmen of the team had not been hitting the net consistently after the All-Star break.

The Pacers, however, had been on a roll and everything was falling into place at the perfect time. Consequently, they were giving the Cavs lots of problems with the size of Myles Turner inside, the three point shooting of CJ Myles, Victor Oladipo, and the expert facilitation from the lightning quick Darren Collison.

Lebron had to put the Cavs on his back in order to beat the Pacers, and that he did: averaging 34.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists. Lebron almost single-handedly, with the help of Kevin Love late in the series, advanced the Cavs in a grueling seven game series.

 

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