(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (1) Cleveland Cavaliers: Warriors in 5 Continue reading “NBA Finals – Results”
Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120: The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers to win the 2017 NBA championship. This is the first championship for Finals MVP Kevin Durant. Although this helps his legacy, it’s hard to overlook that he joined the best team in NBA history (a team that he lost to in the playoffs) to win the title. Durant was fantastic in these finals, scoring 30 or more points in all five games. He finished this game with 39 points on 14-20 shooting from the field. Stephen Curry added 34 points of his own. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson didn’t consistently put up points, but they were fantastic on the defensive end of the floor all series. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love picked a bad day to struggle. Although Irving’s 26 points seems impressive, he struggled down the stretch when his team needed him most. Kevin Love finished the game with only 6 points. That’s not even close to good enough. J.R. Smith backed up his “Cavs in 7” tweet with a fantastic game, scoring 26 points on 9-11 shooting from the field. He shot 7-8 from three-point range. LeBron James was the best player in this series. He became the first player in NBA Finals history to average a triple-double. He’s now 3-5 in his 8 Finals appearances, but it’s hard to blame him. He’s been the underdog in six of the 8 Finals matchups. LeBron finished game five with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists. Congrats to the Golden State Warriors!
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Cavaliers in game five of the NBA Finals. After losing their first game of the playoffs, the Warriors have a chance of winning the championship in front of their home crowd. Now up 3-1 in the series, the Cavaliers hope to have the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, just one year after having the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history. Imagine if the “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead” turned into “Warriors blew a 3-0 lead.” Although it’s unlikely, nothing is impossible for LeBron James. He’s the best player on the planet. The Warriors will try to force someone else to step up, something that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are capable of doing. This will either be the last game of the NBA season, or a horrifying reminder to the Warriors that a series isn’t over until it’s over.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Golden State Warriors 137-116: Well, I was wrong. Although the series is still likely over, the Cavaliers should be proud of the fight they put up in game four. The Cavaliers scored an NBA Finals record 49 points in the first quarter. If they didn’t miss a bunch of free throws, they could’ve scored nearly 60 points. They ended up leading 86-68 at halftime, which was also a record for most points in the first half of a Finals game. To put that into context, scoring 68 points in a half is extremely impressive. But the Warriors were losing by 18! WOW! Kevin Durant had another fantastic game, scoring a team-high 35 points. Draymond Green got two technical fouls, but for some reason wasn’t ejected. Zaza Pachulia punched Iman Shumpert in the groin, but for some reason wasn’t ejected. This officiating crew should be suspended and ashamed of themselves. The NBA has to take action, watching the game made me extremely angry. Stephen Curry had 14 points on 4-13 shooting, and nobody was talking about it. If LeBron James had a similarly horrible performance, the media would never forget it. Talk about double standards. The aforementioned James had 31 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had 40 points of his own. Kevin Love had 23 points. Tristan Thompson finally showed up, only scoring 5 points but was dominant rebounding the basketball and playing defense. Now that the Warriors are up 3-1 in the series, cue the “Warriors blew a 3-1 lead jokes.” With Golden State hosting the next game, the Cavaliers will need a herculean effort to push the series to a sixth game. These two teams will play game five on Monday in Oakland.
Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Warriors in game four of the NBA Finals. The Cavaliers will need to win the last four games of the series to win their second consecutive championship. But they won’t, the series is over. Golden State is too good. Thanks Kevin Durant for ruining the competitive balance in the NBA. Even the second best team in the league looks like a high school team against the Warriors. It’s over, better luck next year. But if Durant is still on the Warriors next year, then the same thing will happen. Lame.
Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 118-113: The Warriors stole game three from the Cavaliers to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Warriors were losing after three quarters, but outscored the Cavaliers 29-19 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. The Warriors would score the game’s final 11 points. LeBron James had a fantastic game, but seemed to run out of gas down the stretch. He hasn’t gotten enough help from his teammates. LeBron’s stat line of 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists shows how much of the burden he had to take offensively. Kevin Durant has been better in this series, but he’s had a lot more help than LeBron. Durant finished the game with 31 points and 8 rebounds. Klay Thompson has found his stroke after a disappointing first game. He finished with 30 points and played stellar defense once again. Stephen Curry had 26 points and a staggering 13 rebounds. Kyrie Irving finished with 38 points, but his “hero ball” mentality at the end of the game cost the Cavaliers. Kevin Love only had 9 points, which was a major disappointment for Cleveland. Irving and Love haven’t been able to both put together great games in the same game. LeBron needs them both to play at an extremely high level to beat the Warriors. But for all intents and purposes, this series is over. These two teams will play game four on Friday in Cleveland.
Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Warriors in game three of the NBA Finals. After losing the first two games on the road, the Cavaliers return home and need to use last year’s Finals as an example of what they need to do this year. The Cavaliers were blown out in the first two games of last year’s Finals before winning the championship. But this is a different year and a different Warriors team. Last year’s team may have broken the regular season record for victories, but they didn’t have Kevin Durant. This year’s Warriors look poised to win their second championship in three years. The Cavaliers will need to find a way to slow down Durant and get some quality production from their bench. Otherwise, they will get embarrassed once again. This is a must win game for the Cavaliers.
Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 132-113: The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers to take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals. With the Warriors holding serve at home, both teams will fly to Cleveland to play games three and four of the series. The game was close at halftime, but the Warriors took over in the second half. LeBron James had a great performance, but was outplayed again by Kevin Durant. James has a lot less to work with, so it takes more out of him to outplay Durant than vice versa. LeBron had a triple-double, scoring 29 points, 14 assists, and 11 rebounds. James was in attack mode in the first half, which was both effective and impressive to watch. He was in facilitator mode in the second half, which was somewhat impressive and extremely ineffective. LeBron didn’t seem to have the energy to attack the entire game due to the hectic up-and-down pace both teams were playing at. Kevin Love had an impressive game, scoring 27 points on 12-23 shooting from the field. Kyrie Irving had an awful night, scoring 19 points but shooting an abysmal 8-23 from the field. Durant scored a game-high 33 points on 13-22 shooting from the field. Curry almost matched his total with 32 points. Draymond Green had a nice all-around game. Klay Thompson broke out of his shooting woes and dominated on both ends of the floor. He scored 22 points on 8-12 shooting from the field, including making four of his seven three-point attempts. Neither bench was extremely productive, but the Warriors got more out of their bench than the Cavaliers did. J.R. Smith was terrible once again. He scored zero points, and has more turnovers than points in this series. Iman Shumpert didn’t shoot well, but played his usual tenacious defense. He should probably start in game three instead of Smith. These two teams will play game three of the Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Cavaliers in game two of the NBA Finals. After a dominating win in game one, the Warriors will attempt to take a 2-0 lead and keep home-court advantage in this series. The Cavaliers will be looking to even the series at one game apiece with an upset win in Oakland. LeBron James had a poor performance in game one, and will need to rebound and be the best player on the court if the Cavaliers are going to keep the game competitive and possibly steal a game on the road. They’ll also need to find a way of slowing down Kevin Durant, who was unstoppable in game one. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but it’s a pivotal game that could set the tone for the remainder of the series.
Golden State Warriors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 113-91: The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals. Although the first half of the game was relatively close, the Warriors took over in the third quarter and never looked back. LeBron James’ stat line of 28 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists looks impressive, but they don’t coincide with the performance he put out on the court. James was responsible for 8 of Cleveland’s 20 turnovers and struggled on the defensive end of the floor. On the contrary, Kevin Durant had 0 turnovers in 38 minutes of play. His impressive stat line of 38 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists matched what I saw during the game. He was clearly the best player on the court. In order for the Cavaliers to win, LeBron needs to be the best player on the court. Draymond Green and Klay Thompson struggled with their shots, but played stellar defense all game long. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love had solid games, but nobody for Cleveland stepped up besides their big three. The Cavaliers will need a bigger contribution from their other two starters and bench players. These two teams will play game two on Sunday in Oakland.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Cavaliers in game one of the NBA Finals. This is the third consecutive year that these teams are meeting in the Finals, which hasn’t ever happened before in NBA history. The Warriors haven’t played in more than a week, and the Cavaliers haven’t played in exactly a week. Since both of these teams dominated in their prior playoff series, they’ve been used to the long layoffs before starting the next series. The key to this game will be how each team is affected by the long layoff. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game will set the tone for the rest of the series.
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (2) Cleveland Cavaliers: Warriors in 5 Continue reading “NBA Finals – What I expect to see”
(1) Golden State Warriors vs. (2) Cleveland Cavaliers: Cavaliers in 7 Continue reading “NBA Finals – What I want to see”
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 135-102: The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. This is the third consecutive year that the Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. Avery Bradley led the Celtics with 23 points. He’s been their most consistent player on both ends of the floor throughout the postseason. LeBron James had another stellar game, scoring a game-high 35 points on 13-18 shooting from the field. He’s proven all postseason that he’s still the best player in the world. The Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors in game one of the NBA Finals next Thursday in Oakland.
Pittsburgh Penguins defeat Ottawa Senators 3-2 (2OT): WOW, what a game! This is why the playoffs are exciting. There are no two words more exciting in sports than game seven, and this game was more exciting than most game sevens. The Penguins scored the first goal of the game in the second period, but the Senators responded with a goal twenty seconds later. The Penguins took the lead again in the third period with a power play goal. Once again, the Senators responded with a goal to tie the game a few minutes later. Neither team would score again in regulation, so the game would head to overtime. Neither team scored in the first overtime period, so the game headed to a second overtime. Chris Kunitz would score the game-winning goal in the second overtime, which was his second goal of the game. This goal clinched a Stanley Cup Finals berth for the Penguins. The Penguins will host the Nashville Predators in game one of the Stanley Cup Finals on Monday.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals. With a 3-1 series lead, the Cavaliers have a chance of finishing the series and clinching their third straight trip to the NBA Finals. With star point guard Isaiah Thomas sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, the Cavaliers will be heavy favorites to win this game. If the Cavaliers do win the game, they’ll play the Warriors for the third straight year in the NBA Finals. This is a must-win game for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins host the Senators in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals. There are no two words more exciting in sports than game seven. Although the Penguins are favorites to win the game, anything can happen in a game seven. This is what makes sports exciting. The winner of the game will face the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 112-99: The Cavaliers defeated the Celtics to take a 3-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics led by 10 points at halftime, largely due to the stellar play of Avery Bradley. Bradley scored a team-high 19 point and played at a high level on the defensive end of the floor. But the second half belonged to the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James took over the game in the third and fourth quarters. Irving and James scored 42 points and 34 points, respectively. Kevin Love tallied 17 points and 17 rebounds. This was a pivotal game for the Cavaliers’ big three. With Isaiah Thomas out for the remainder of the season, the Cavaliers will be favorites to finish the series in the next game. These two teams will play game five on Thursday in Boston.
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Celtics in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals. After dominating the first two games in Boston, the Cavaliers returned home for game three as heavy favorites to complete their third straight series sweep. The Celtics ruled out star Isaiah Thomas for the rest of the season, so it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers would easily win. However, the Celtics showed their resilience and defeated the Cavaliers on a game winning three-point shot by Avery Bradley. They were down by 21 points in the third quarter, but didn’t quit fighting. LeBron James had his worst playoff performance in years. He looked tentative the whole game. This should be a wake-up call for King James and company. They’ll be heavy favorites to win this game too, but cannot be complacent against the desperate Celtics. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Boston Celtics defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 111-108: The Celtics shocked the Cavaliers in Cleveland to win their first game of the Eastern Conference Finals. They won the game without their All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. Marcus Smart stepped up in his absence and scored a team-high 27 points on 7-10 shooting from beyond the three-point line. The Cavaliers had a 21 point lead in the third quarter before collapsing down the stretch. LeBron James had his worst playoff performance in years, scoring 11 points on 13 shots. Avery Bradley hit the game winning three-point shot with 0.1 seconds remaining. Celtics coach Brad Stevens drew up a great play to get Bradley open. The last two threes by Boston were made because of defensive miscues by J.R. Smith. He continuously makes boneheaded decisions and has lapses in judgment during key moments of games, especially on the defensive end of the floor. It’s shocking that Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue continues to keep Smith in the game in key moments. He shot the ball well, but has been a defensive liability throughout his career. The Cavaliers are still favored to win the series, but losing this game in the manner that they did seems like something a championship caliber team wouldn’t do. These two teams will play game four on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers host the Celtics in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals. After two dominating performances in Boston, the Cavaliers return home to play in front of their home crowd. Boston’s star point guard Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out for the rest of the season. Boston’s chances of defeating the defending champions were already decimated when they got embarrassed in game two, but now it seems like a foregone conclusion that the Cavaliers will be playing in their third straight NBA Finals. This game will give the Celtics an opportunity to show what they’re made of. They’ll have to find a way to slow down LeBron James. He’s had ten straight fantastic games, and seems to be using the playoffs as an opportunity to remind the world that he’s the best player in the NBA. This is a must-win game for the Celtics.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 130-86: WOW! The Cavaliers are a team on a mission. This game was over at halftime. Actually, this game was over before either team arrived to the arena. LeBron James decided that they would win by a lot, so King James made it happen. He proved again that he’s the best player in the world and it’s not even close. The Cavaliers led 72-31 at halftime, which was the biggest halftime lead in NBA playoff history. This was embarrassing for the Celtics and boring for casual fans. We should skip the rest of the Conference Finals because we are all tired of these boring games. The Cavaliers are going to play the Warriors for the NBA championship, let’s just get it on right now. Unfortunately, these two teams will play game three on Sunday in Cleveland.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. After getting dismantled in game one, the Celtics need to rebound and even the series. They cannot afford to lose the first two games at home in this series. They were able to win their first round series after losing the first two games at home, but this Cavaliers team is a lot more talented than the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James has increased his intensity during the postseason. He is showing everyone that he’s still the best player in the world. He’s been dominant in all nine games this postseason. Boston will need to find a way to limit his impact. This is a must-win game for the Celtics.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Boston Celtics 117-104: The Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston to take a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavaliers had this game won by halftime. The Celtics were outscored by eleven points in each of the first two quarters. LeBron James and Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 38 points and 32 points, respectively. Isaiah Thomas struggled in this game, scoring 17 points on 7-19 shooting from the field. Avery Bradley scored 21 points and was gritty on defense, but didn’t get enough help from his teammates to help get the Celtics back in the game after a horrible first quarter. The Cavaliers didn’t care about getting the number one seed. After this game, it seems like they made the right decision to rest their starters during the final games of the regular season. The Cavaliers now have the home-court advantage in this series. The Celtics cannot afford to lose game two. These two teams will play game two on Friday in Boston.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics host the Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference Finals. After conceding the number one seed by resting their starters in the final games of the regular season, the Cavaliers have to go on the road to Boston to start this series. The Cavaliers cared more about resting their starters than owning home-court advantage over the Celtics. The last time these two teams played in Boston, the Cavaliers won in convincing fashion. The Cavaliers haven’t lost a game yet in the playoffs and are heavy favorites to win the series, but they’re facing their toughest challenge yet this season. The Celtics have been called the worst number one seed in NBA history by many NBA experts. They will definitely use this as motivation. The Celtics are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and have multiple wing defenders that they can put on LeBron James. If they want to win this series, they’ll have to find a way to limit King James’ impact. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game can set the tone for the rest of the series.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 109-102: The Cavaliers completed a four game sweep of the Raptors to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Kyle Lowry missed the game due to an ankle sprain. His backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan was dominant in his absence. DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Corey Joseph all scored at least twenty points. P.J. Tucker scored 14 points and competed at a high level on the defensive end of the floor against LeBron James. The starters played well enough to win, but they didn’t get enough help from their bench. The Raptors’ bench scored a combined 15 points. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving scored 35 points and 27 points, respectively. Kevin Love only scored 5 points, but the Cavaliers didn’t need him to contribute in this game. They were the dominant team all series. Cleveland has won their first eight playoff games. They look poised to return to the NBA Finals, but have one more team standing in their way. The Cavaliers will either play the Boston Celtics or Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Washington Wizards defeat Boston Celtics 121-102: The Wizards held serve at home against the Celtics to tie the series at two games apiece. John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter led the way with 27 points, 29 points, and 18 points, respectively. If they all play well, the Wizards are nearly impossible to beat. John Wall has been fantastic all postseason. He’s been scoring at will and gets double-digit assists on a regular basis. Markieff Morris battled through an ankle sprain to score 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. The Wizards’ bench struggled again, but their starters dominated the Celtics’ starters. Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 19 points. The rest of the starters scored eleven points or fewer. Boston’s bench played well, but not well enough to overcome the starters’ lackluster performance. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.
Houston Rockets defeat San Antonio Spurs 125-104: The Rockets dominated the Spurs to even the series at two games apiece. After a poor performance in game three, the Rockets rebounded by shooting 44.2 percent from three point range. Since they shoot so many three point shots, the outcome of their games usually depends on how well they shoot. The Rockets did a great job of penetrating the Spurs’ defense and kicking the ball out to open shooters. This was their recipe for success in game one, but they got away from this strategy in games two and three. James Harden led the Rockets with 28 points and did a fantastic job of getting his teammates involved. The Spurs struggled without Tony Parker, even though his backups did a solid job replacing him in this game. They could’ve used his veteran leadership in the second half when they were struggling. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge each scored 16 points. The Spurs needed a greater contribution from their two best players. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in San Antonio.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors: The Cavaliers look to sweep the Raptors in Toronto. Raptors’ All-Star Kyle Lowry will miss this game with a left ankle sprain. Without Lowry, DeMar DeRozan will have to pick up the slack. He’s been inconsistent throughout these playoffs. The Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline to try and knock off Cleveland in the playoffs. So far this plan has backfired. Ibaka and Tucker are both free agents after the season, so they may have wasted their one opportunity. LeBron James has played at an extremely high level in all seven postseason games. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have been inconsistent, but have shown flashes of brilliance. They’ll need to be more consistent if they want to repeat as NBA champions. This is a must-win game for Toronto, but even they know the series is over.
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards: The Wizards will attempt to hold serve at home and even the series at two games apiece. After losing the first two games in Boston, the Wizards dominated the Celtics in game three to keep their chances of advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals alive. They cannot afford to lose game four at home. Although it’s possible to win a series after falling behind 3-1 (Warriors blew a 3-1 lead!), the Wizards are not talented enough to pull off that feat. John Wall has been fantastic throughout the playoffs, and will need another fantastic performance to help even the series. Wall’s teammates have been inconsistent during the playoffs. They cannot afford another poor performance. Isaiah Thomas has elevated his game in these playoffs, which has been an amazing feat because of the tragic loss of his sister before game one of their first round series. Thomas and the Celtics have an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. This is the most important game for the Wizards this season.
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: The Rockets look to rebound after a game three loss at home to even the series at two games apiece. After losing Tony Parker in game two, the Spurs pulled off a shocking upset in game three on the road. The Rockets have struggled from behind the three point line in the last two games. They’ll have to make these open shots if they want to advance to the Western Conference Finals. After game one, coach Gregg Popovich decided to put Kawhi Leonard on James Harden. Leonard has done a fantastic job of limiting Harden’s impact. Harden has struggled with his shot in the last two games, but he’s had a tough time finding open looks. He’s getting to the hoop but is having trouble finishing over the Spurs’ bigs. Harden will need to do a better job of putting the ball in the hoop when he gets near the basket. His teammates will have to help him by knocking down open threes. The winner of this game will be favorites to advance to the Western Conference Finals.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 115-94: The Cavaliers took a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Raptors. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers had a two point lead. Cleveland outscored Toronto 36-17 in the fourth quarter to essentially end the series. Although Toronto isn’t eliminated yet, they would have to become the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series after losing the first three games if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto added P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka at the trade deadline in an attempt to knock off Cleveland. With both players becoming free agents after the season, it seems like these trades will end up being a waste. Kyle Lowry didn’t play due to an injury, but his “trash bro” backcourt mate DeMar DeRozan picked up the slack by scoring 37 points. But he didn’t get enough help from his teammates to overcome LeBron James’ fantastic performance. LeBron has increased his level of play in the playoffs on both ends of the floor. He scored 35 points on 16 shots and played fantastic defense throughout the game. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Toronto.
San Antonio Spurs defeat Houston Rockets 103-92: Without the services of Tony Parker, the Spurs were able to pull off the road upset of the Rockets in Houston. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge both scored 26 points. Rookie point guard Dejounte Murray started in Parker’s place, scoring only two points and looking lost at times. Although he didn’t always seem to know what he was doing, his team outscored Houston by 11 points when he was on the floor. He gained valuable experience and played at a high enough level to help his team win. James Harden struggled in the first half, but was able to rebound in the second half and help keep the game close. He finished with 43 points but his team was outscored by 14 points when he was on the floor. Harden didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates. Houston’s bench scored 10 points, which isn’t nearly enough to help win the game. They’ll have to play better in game four if they want to even the series at two games apiece. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Houston.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors: The Cavaliers look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in Toronto against the Raptors. This is a must-win game for the Raptors, not only to keep their season alive but to validate the moves they made at the trade deadline. They traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to help them defeat the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Both of these players are free agents after the season, so it’ll seem like a waste if they don’t give the Cavaliers a challenge. The “trash bros” backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan need to play at a high level. They’ve been inconsistent throughout the playoffs, which has been their Achilles heel. LeBron James has been fantastic all postseason on both ends of the floor. The Raptors will need to find a way to limit his impact if they want to win their first game in this series.
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: Both the Rockets and Spurs are trying to take a 2-1 series lead in Houston. After losing the home-court advantage and point guard Tony Parker to a season-ending injury, the Spurs are facing adversity that they haven’t faced all season. They have veterans on their roster with championship experience, but that may not be enough to beat the Rockets. After dominating the Spurs from the three point line in game one, the Rockets were missing three point shots at a high rate in game two. The outcome of this game will depend on Houston’s ability to make three point shots. James Harden was fantastic in game one but struggled in game two. Kawhi Leonard struggled in game one but was fantastic in game two. The superstar that plays at a higher level in game three will likely lead his team to victory. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 125-103: The Cavaliers held serve at home to take a 2-0 series lead over the Raptors. Toronto’s “trash bros” backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan haven’t played up to their potential so far this postseason. They’ve made a habit of underachieving in the playoffs, which happened again in this game. Although Lowry scored 20 points on 7-12 shooting from the field, his Raptors were outscored by 22 points when he was on the floor. DeRozan had a horrible performance all game. He scored five points on 2-11 shooting and was a major defensive liability. If the Raptors are going to win the series, they’ll need dominating performances in every game from their backcourt. LeBron James was the best player on the floor in this game (and every game), scoring 39 points on 14 shots. He’s increased his defensive effort in the postseason, which has helped the Cavaliers win all six of their postseason games. He’ll have to continue this dominating level of play if they are going to repeat as NBA champions. These two teams will play game three on Friday in Toronto.
San Antonio Spurs defeat Houston Rockets 121-96: The Spurs bounced back from a humiliating defeat in game one to dominate the Rockets in the second game of this series. This game proves that the NBA is a make or miss league. In game one, Houston was knocking down threes at an extremely high rate. In game two, Houston was missing the same three point shots that they were making in the first game. James Harden dominated in game one, but struggled in this game by scoring 13 points on 3-17 shooting from the field. Kawhi Leonard struggled in game one, but was dominant in game two on both ends of the floor. He scored a game-high 34 points and was a big reason for James Harden’s offensive woes. The Spurs lost point guard Tony Parker to a devastating quadriceps injury. He’ll need surgery and will miss the remainder of the postseason. Although the Rockets lost this game, they own the home-court advantage in this series after winning game one in San Antonio. These two teams will play game three on Friday in Houston.
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Raptors. Toronto’s trade deadline additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker were a direct response to the Cavaliers’ dominance in the Eastern Conference. To defeat the best, you need the personnel to defeat the best. Toronto was missing a rim protector and wing defender, and was able to add both in lopsided trades at the trade deadline. These two additions will not win the series for Toronto, but they can help them get over the hump if Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan play up to their potential. The “trash bros” backcourt often struggle in the playoffs, but cannot afford to take a single game off in this series if they are going to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. LeBron James has been dominant in all five games this postseason, but needs his teammates to pick up the intensity on defense. The Cavaliers have enough offensive firepower to run through the Eastern Conference, but they’ve struggled to defend all season. Toronto will need to exploit their defensive lapses if they want to even the series at one game apiece. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but the winner will have the home-court advantage in this series.
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs look to rebound against the Rockets after an embarrassing defeat in the first game of this series. The Spurs were punched in the mouth early, and didn’t have the heart to respond. Their defensive effort was poor, and they seemed to give up in the second quarter. Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in NBA history, and he won’t let his team get away with another lethargic performance. The Rockets were moving the ball and finding open shooters all game, which is the way they need to play to defeat the Spurs. If their shots are falling, they’re nearly impossible to beat. San Antonio has the experience advantage, but they don’t have the personnel to matchup with the Rockets’ pick-and-roll action. Popovich will need to make adjustments including benching Pau Gasol and David Lee when they’re getting exposed defensively. The Spurs cannot afford to lose the first two games of this series in front of their home crowd.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Toronto Raptors 116-105: In a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggests, the Cavaliers defeated the Raptors at home to take a 1-0 series lead. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love combined to score 77 of Cleveland’s 116 points. Their starters dominated the Raptors’ starters, and the game wouldn’t have been this close if it wasn’t for the Raptors’ bench flourishing in garbage time. The “trash bros” backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to score 49 points, but were dominated on the defensive end of the floor. Jonas Valanciunas continues to struggle in the playoffs. He’s had a size advantage in every playoff game (including their first round series with the Milwaukee Bucks), but hasn’t been able to dominate like a player of his size and caliber should. These two teams will play game two on Wednesday in Cleveland.
Houston Rockets defeat San Antonio Spurs 126-99: Wow! The Rockets dominated the Spurs to take a 1-0 series lead. Although the Spurs are the higher seeded team, many experts picked the Rockets to win this series. But nobody saw this beatdown coming. The Spurs were punched in the mouth early, and looked completely lethargic on the defensive end of the floor. They were shell-shocked, but that is no excuse for their putrid performance. The Rockets were 22-50 from three (44%), which wasn’t too surprising because of the open looks they were getting. James Harden is their superstar, but Trevor Ariza, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, and Lou Williams all had stellar performances. The Spurs didn’t have an answer for the Rockets’ offense. David Lee and Pau Gasol were getting eaten alive in the pick-and-roll, which may force coach Gregg Popovich to play them sparingly for the remainder of the series. LaMarcus Aldridge was brought to San Antonio to be Robin to Kawhi Leonard’s Batman. Aldridge hasn’t fit in with the Spurs as well as they hoped, but there’s no excuse for him being the worst player on the floor. His game worst plus-minus of minus 36 points showed how much of a liability he can be against this Rockets team if he isn’t making shots. He was defended by smaller players all game, but was hesitant to back them down and instead settled for fadeaway jump shots far too often. The Spurs will need to make some serious adjustments heading into game two. I expect Popovich to play Leonard at power forward and Aldridge at center in the next game. This would be a logical change, but it won’t be enough if they can’t stop Houston from constantly getting uncontested threes. These two teams will play game two on Wednesday in San Antonio.
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Raptors and Cavaliers begin their second round series in Cleveland. After defeating the Bucks in six hard-fought games, the Raptors need to step up their game if they want to knock the king off his throne. LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals in each of the last six seasons. The Cavaliers had time to rest because of their short four game sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the first round. Although they will be the favorites in this series, they have shown a propensity for underachieving all season. The Raptors added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline in an attempt to get over their playoff woes and defeat the defending NBA champions. Tucker will be tasked with guarding LeBron James, which is something that he’s capable of doing at a higher level than most wing defenders. There isn’t a player in the NBA that can stop LeBron James, but Tucker has the ability to limit his impact. Since both teams have had highs and lows throughout the season, anything can happen in this series.
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs: The Rockets and Spurs begin their second round series in San Antonio. The Rockets defeat Russell Westbrook (not the Oklahoma City Thunder) in five games in their first round playoff series. The Spurs needed six tough games to defeat the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies in their first round playoff series. Although the Spurs are the higher seeded team, many experts are picking the Rockets to advance to the conference finals. These teams are evenly matched, so it should be an extremely competitive series. The Spurs have the advantage of having Gregg Popovich and a championship pedigree, whereas the Rockets have MVP candidate James Harden and the most electric offense in the NBA other than the Golden State Warriors. The Spurs have the best defensive player in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard, and it will be interesting to see if coach Popovich matches him up against James Harden. As an NBA fan, I’m hoping that we get to see these teams compete for seven games.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 106-102: The Cavaliers completed the sweep against the Pacers in what might be Paul George’s last game in Indiana. If this was George’s last game in Indiana, it was a terrible way to conclude a great Pacers career. George shot 5-21 from the field and ended up with 15 points. Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson scored 20 points and 22 points respectively. Both Turner and Stephenson were criticized by George in the media, and both outplayed their teammate in this must-win game. LeBron James had another fantastic game leading the Cavaliers with 33 points. Kevin Love struggled again scoring just five points on 2-13 shooting from the field. The Cavaliers had the ball up by three points in the final seconds when J.R. Smith went full J.R. Smith and tried an extremely stupid behind-the-back pass that resulted in a turnover. Paul George would get off a three pointer with a few seconds remaining that would’ve tied the game, but he missed wide right which ended the Pacers’ season. The Cavaliers will face the Toronto Raptors or Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs.
Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109: The Houston Rockets got an impressive contribution from their bench to help win game four and take a 3-1 series lead against the Thunder. The Rockets played three bench players, and they happened to be the team’s three leading scorers. Nene scored a team-high 28 points on 12-12 shooting from the field. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams both contributed 18 points to help pick up the struggling starters. James Harden shot 0-7 from three-point range and made only six free throws. His 16 point performance was way below his average, but he was able to depend on his teammates to help him in ways that Russell Westbrook’s teammates couldn’t. Westbrook scored a game-high 35 points and had a triple-double at halftime. Steven Adams had a solid game, but they didn’t get any contribution from their bench. Andre Roberson played great defense, but he shot 2-12 from the free throw line. The Thunder need to win three straight games to win the series, but don’t have any chance if they don’t get a contribution from their bench. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in Houston.
Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 104-95: The Celtics defeated the Bulls in Chicago to even the series at two games apiece. Without Rajon Rondo, the Bulls have struggled to keep the momentum that they obtained after winning the first two games in Boston. Jerami Grant and Michael Carter-Williams took Rondo’s place at point guard and combined to score as many points as I did in this game. Yes, the two point guards for Chicago couldn’t manage to score a single point. Michael Carter-Williams has been a terrible basketball player since his first game of his career when he almost registered a quadruple-double, but he and Grant need to at least score a few points if they want to have a chance in this series. They won’t be able to match Rondo’s level of production, but they can’t afford to play as terribly as they did in this game. Jimmy Butler was fantastic again, but he can’t carry the team by himself. Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green led the Celtics with 33 points and 18 points, respectively. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.
Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 105-98: The Jazz evened the series at two games apiece with a home win against the Clippers. The Jazz were able to win without a contribution from their star player. Gordon Hayward was struggling with food poisoning, and was only able to play nine minutes in the game. “Iso” Joe Johnson was able to pick up the slack, scoring a game-high 28 points off the bench. He was very mamba-esque in the fourth quarter hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 27 points and 25 points respectively, but they didn’t get much of a contribution from the rest of their team. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: The Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to pull off a four game sweep of the Pacers in Indiana. LeBron James and Paul George have been dominant throughout the series. George has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Pacers, but hasn’t gotten consistent help from his teammates. Although Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love haven’t been consistent, they’ve had enough flashes to help the Cavaliers win each of the first three games. The Pacers will try to become the first team in NBA history to win a seven game series after falling behind 3-0. They can’t win all four games at once, so they’ll have to start by winning this game at home.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder look to even the series at 2-2 at home against the Rockets. After an exciting game three, both teams have a chance to make their mark on the series in game four. The Thunder need to keep pace with the Rockets by winning their second straight home game. If they lose, the Rockets will take a commanding 3-1 series lead and look to finish off the Thunder in game five at home. This is a pivotal game for both teams.
Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls: The Boston Celtics will look to even the series at two games apiece with a road win against the Bulls. After losing the first two games at home, the Celtics rebounded with a dominating road win. The Bulls lost point guard Rajon Rondo to an injury suffered in game two, which was a major reason why they lost game three. Rondo will likely miss the rest of the series (and playoffs), so they’ll have to find a way to win without him. Jimmy Butler is the best player in this series, so he’ll have to put the Bulls on his back if they want to advance to the second round. The Celtics can regain the home-court advantage with a win, which will put them in the driver’s seat to move on to the second round. The winner of this game will be huge favorites to win the series.
Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz: The Jazz look to even the series at two games apiece against the Clippers in Utah. These two teams can beat anyone when healthy, but both have suffered a key injury during this series. They’re both used to playing with adversity due to the plethora of injuries both teams suffered during the regular season. Jazz star Rudy Gobert got injured ten seconds into the first game of the series, and is questionable to return in game three. His injury looked worse than it was, but he still might not be able to return in this series. Clippers star Blake Griffin injured his toe and will miss the rest of the postseason. This is a huge blow to the Clippers, which they were able to overcome in game three because of the brilliance of Chris Paul. The winner of this game will likely win the series, so it’s extremely important for both teams that they play their best basketball.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 119-114: The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers in the craziest game of the postseason. After leading at halftime by 25 points, the Pacers had an unbelievable collapse that basically ended their season. Although they could still win four straight games to move on to the second round, it’s not going to happen. Paul George led the Pacers with 36 points, but struggled with his shot all game. The Cavaliers’ defense was putrid in the first half, but they were able to figure things out in the second half. Amazingly, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. They were struggling and the team was making a run with them on the bench, so coach Tyronn Lue decided against putting them back in the game. LeBron James put the team on his back and singlehandedly won them the game. He scored a game-high 41 points to go with his 13 rebounds and 12 assists. These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Indiana.
Milwaukee Bucks defeat Toronto Raptors 104-77: In a game that was a blowout from the beginning, the Milwaukee Bucks punked the Raptors to take a 2-1 series lead. The Bucks won the first quarter 32-12 and never looked back. The Raptors’ star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 21 points. DeRozan scored as many field goals as I did during the game (zero). Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo only scored 19 points, but he was extremely efficient. Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, and Matthew Dellavedova all scored in double figures off the bench. Everyone stepped up for Milwaukee and nobody stepped up for Toronto. This was an embarrassing effort by the Raptors on the road. These two teams will play game four on Saturday in Milwaukee.
Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs 105-94: The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Spurs at home in a must-win game. Grizzlies coach (take that for data!) David Fizdale decided to move Zach Randolph into the starting lineup, and Z-Bo rewarded him by scoring 21 points. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both scored over twenty points, which was crucial for the Grizzlies. They needed their stars to step up, and that’s exactly what they did. The game was close at halftime, but got away from San Antonio in the third quarter. Coach Gregg Popovich would say after the game that they lost because of the first minutes of the second half. Popovich was so upset with his team’s effort to start the third quarter that he benched all five players after a timeout. Kawhi Leonard was not his usual self in this game. Former stars (and soon-to-be retirees) Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to score as many points as I did. This was a game that the Grizzlies needed to win, and they played dominant basketball on both sides of the court. These two teams will play game four on Saturday in Memphis.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: The Cavaliers head to Indiana up 2-0 in the series to face the desperate Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were able to keep both games competitive before falling apart down the stretch. Cleveland is the much more talented team, but Indiana has proven that they can win if a few breaks go their way late in the fourth quarter. With their fans cheering them on, the Pacers need to win this game to avoid going down 3-0 in the series. Paul George has been fantastic in both games, but he needs help. Usually role players play better at home in the playoffs, so they might get a much needed boost from their bench. Myles Turner has emerged as the second best player on this team, and he’ll need to play like it after an abysmal game two. George was critical of both Turner and Lance Stephenson in the media. He claimed that it was to motivate his teammates. Both Turner and Stephenson will be counted on to give George support, which will be crucial if the Pacers want to get back in this series. This is a must-win game for the Pacers.
Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks: The winner of game three between the Raptors and Bucks will take a 2-1 lead in this series. After struggling in game one at home, the Raptors were able to even the series by hitting a few clutch shots late in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were playing catch-up all game, but had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. Coach Jason Kidd played a few questionable lineups during the game that put the Bucks behind the eight ball. This was an inopportune time for his inexperience to rear its ugly head. The Raptors did a much better job of limiting superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in game two. He wasn’t able to get to the rim as easily as he did in game one, and he had trouble finishing due to the presence of Serge Ibaka. With Milwaukee stealing the home-court advantage from the Raptors, they’ll need to win these two games at home if they want to win the series. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies need to defeat the Spurs to avoid going down 3-0 in this series. If Memphis doesn’t win this game, they’ll have to try to become the first team to win a seven game series after losing the first three games. “TAKE THAT FOR DATA!” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was recently fined after criticizing the officials after game two. He was upset that Kawhi Leonard shot more free throws than his entire team. The NBA playoff officials have been so terrible for so many years that this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Right when Memphis was getting back into the game, the officials started making one-sided calls that helped the Spurs regain a double-digit lead. This was blatantly obvious to any non-biased observer. As a fan of basketball that loves playoff competition, I was furious. Now that Fizdale made his point, look for the refs to swing in the opposite direction and start making calls to benefit the Grizzlies. We all hope they start calling the game fair, but don’t get your hopes up. These are NBA playoff refs, and they take sucking at their jobs very seriously. I appreciate Fizdale standing up for his players and criticizing the terrible playoff referees, and his “take that for data” rant was so fantastic that I hope this motivates his team and the officials to do a great job for the Memphis fans.
Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 117-111: In another closely contested game, the Cavaliers defeated the Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in this series. Although the game wasn’t as close as the first game, the Pacers dominated the fourth quarter to make it close at the end. At the end of the day, the Pacers weren’t able to get enough out of their role players. Myles Turner struggled all game, scoring just six points in 37 minutes. Paul George played like a superstar again, scoring a team-high 32 points. George and Lance Stephenson have been the best two players for the Pacers during the first two games of the series, but they haven’t been able to lead the Pacers to victory. The Cavaliers got another dominating performance from their big three. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 37 points, with Love and James adding 27 points and 25 points, respectively. The Pacers head home, where they hope to get a boost from their crowd and their bench. They’ve played Cleveland close on the road, but now they’ll face a lot of pressure with a couple of must-win games at home. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Indiana.
San Antonio Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 96-82: In a game that was a blowout by halftime, the Spurs defeated the Grizzlies to take a 2-0 lead in this series. The Grizzlies dominated the third quarter and early fourth quarter to make the game competitive, but the Spurs pulled away in the end to win by double digits. Kawhi Leonard dominated again with a game-high 37 points and stellar defense. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 18 points, respectively. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was extremely critical of the referees after the game, correctly pointing out that Kawhi Leonard shot more free throws than the entire Grizzlies team. It was hard not to notice that the Spurs were getting a lot of ticky-tack calls in their favor late in the fourth quarter when Memphis was coming back. It was extremely frustrating to watch, especially for the Grizzlies’ head coach. Fizdale should expect a fine from the league, but it’s time the NBA holds their officials accountable for doing a terrible job in the playoffs. This is an issue every year, and it seems intentional. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Memphis.
Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pacers and Cavaliers will face each other in game two of this first round playoff matchup. After an exciting first game of the series that featured no defense, both teams will attempt to make it more difficult for their opponent to put the ball in the basket. Stars Paul George and LeBron James were both dominant in game one, and will have to shoulder the majority of the burden in the rest of the series. Paul George was upset about not getting the last shot in game one, which could fuel him going forward. These two teams know each other extremely well, which will make it interesting to see which team will make the necessary adjustments. This game isn’t a must-win for either team, but it would be extremely helpful if the Pacers can get one game before the series heads to Indiana.
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs: The Grizzlies will try and bounce back after a humiliating loss in the first game of this series. The Grizzlies kept the game close early, but were outclassed in the last three quarters of the game. San Antonio is the much more talented team, especially with the injury to Memphis’ defensive star Tony Allen. The Grizzlies have enough talent and playoff experience to pull off the upset, but they’ll need to make a lot of adjustments if they want to even the series before heading home to Memphis.
Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pacers and Cavaliers will meet in Cleveland for game one of this first round playoff series. LeBron James looks to lead the defending champion Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals. This would be LeBron’s seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals. The Indiana Pacers aren’t as good as they’ve been in past seasons, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George is starting to look like the pre-injury Paul George again, which could give the Cavaliers trouble. LeBron’s teams have beaten the Pacers in multiple playoff series in the past, and shouldn’t have any problems beating this weaker Pacers team. The Cavaliers struggled towards the end of the regular season, so they’ll have to find their rhythm if they want to repeat as champions. This should make for an exciting series.
Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors: The Bucks and Raptors will meet in Toronto for game one of this first round playoff series. The Raptors are at full strength since the return of Kyle Lowry from his wrist injury. This Raptors team is more dangerous since the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. The Raptors traded for these players to help them during the postseason, so now we’ll see if these moves pay off. The Bucks have been a much better team since the return of Khris Middleton, even though Jabari Parker tore his ACL in the game Middleton returned. With Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, the Bucks have enough firepower to challenge any team in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is the favorites in the series, but Milwaukee has enough talent to pull off the upset.
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs: The Grizzlies and Spurs will meet in San Antonio for game one of this first round playoff series. The Grizzlies will likely be without Tony “first team all defense” Allen for the playoffs, so this might be a lopsided series. The Grizzlies still have a lot of playoff experience with Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph on the roster, even though their coach David Fizdale doesn’t have any playoff experience. This could be an issue going up against the great Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have a ton of playoff experience too, led by superstar MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. Both of these teams play a slower style of basketball, which could limit the number of possessions each team gets while keeping the games close. The Spurs are heavy favorites in this series, but they better not underestimate the Grizzlies with all of their playoff experience.
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: The Jazz and Clippers will meet in Los Angeles for game one of this first round playoff series. The Jazz and Clippers both underachieved this season largely due to the injuries both teams sustained. Now that both teams are relatively healthy, they should both be playing their best basketball at the most important time. The Jazz are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but depth isn’t extremely important in the playoffs because starters usually get the bulk of the minutes. But the Jazz had to play a lot of their bench players in crucial minutes during the regular season because of the plethora of injuries their starters sustained. They received valuable experience that should help them during this playoff run. The Clippers also had to overcome a lot of injuries during the season. They were one of the hottest teams in the NBA during the first month of the season and then started to cool off when star players got injured. Now that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are both healthy, the Clippers have enough firepower to beat any team in the Western Conference. This may be the most exciting and competitive first round series, so winning game one will be crucial for both teams.
Toronto Raptors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 98-83: The Cavaliers decided a few days ago that it is more important to rest their starters before the playoffs than try and compete for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Cavaliers are confident that they can win a seven game series against the Celtics without home-court advantage. The last time these two teams played, the Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston. It’s hard to bet against LeBron James, but the Cavaliers aren’t playing their best basketball heading into the postseason. This strategy will be questioned all offseason if the Cavaliers don’t make it back to the NBA Finals. Although this game was played by backups for both teams, this could be a potential second round playoff matchup. The Raptors are a much more dangerous team with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. With the return of a healthy Kyle Lowry, this Raptors team has enough firepower to make an NBA Finals run.
Boston Celtics defeat Milwaukee Bucks 112-94: In a game that was a lot closer than the score suggests, the Boston Celtics were able to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference by defeating the Bucks. This game was extremely close through three quarters before the Celtics were able to pull away in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were resting most of their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This game shouldn’t have been close, but it seemed like the Celtics were feeling the pressure of competing for the top seed. Since the Cavaliers lost, the Celtics would’ve been the number one seed even if they lost this game. If this is how the Celtics play under pressure, they may have a disappointing showing in the playoffs.
Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 110-102: The Miami Heat’s improbable season came to an end after a victory over the Wizards. The Heat needed either the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls to lose in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but both of those teams won and clinched playoff berths. The Heat had one of the greatest endings to a season for a non-playoff team in NBA history. They had a ton of injuries and had one of the worst records in the NBA halfway through the season, but they never gave up. Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for the way he led his team to the precipice of the playoffs. Although they came up short, this season proves Miami has a bright future ahead of them.
Indiana Pacers defeat Atlanta Hawks 104-86: The Indiana Pacers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a win against the Hawks. The Pacers would’ve missed the playoffs if they lost this game. The Pacers have a great challenge ahead of them in the first round of the playoffs when they face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Although LeBron has had the Pacers’ number in past postseason matchups, this year’s Cavaliers limped into the playoffs. The Pacers aren’t as big of a threat as they’ve been in year’s past, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George looks like the pre-injury Paul George again, and that could be a major problem for the Cavaliers. The defending champions will be heavy favorites in this series, but you can’t sleep on a team with a superstar of Paul George’s caliber.
Playoff standings –
- Golden State Warriors
- San Antonio Spurs
- Houston Rockets
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Utah Jazz
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Portland Trail Blazers
- Boston Celtics
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Toronto Raptors
- Washington Wizards
- Atlanta Hawks
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Indiana Pacers
- Chicago Bulls
All non-playoff teams: Fans of non-playoff teams should watch their team’s season finale. This will be the last time to watch your team until next season.
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: Although this is an extremely important game for the Cavaliers, there is a good chance that they will rest their starters. The Cavaliers are in second place in the Eastern Conference and are just one game behind the Boston Celtics. They rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in their last game, which cost them the top seed in the playoffs. The Cavaliers seem to care more about resting their players than getting the top seed. The Cavaliers destroyed the Celtics in Boston the last time they played, so they might not be worried about beating the Celtics on the road in the playoffs. This strategy is extremely risky and may come back to bite them in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: The Boston Celtics are currently one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. With Milwaukee already locking up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s a good chance the Bucks will rest their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This could help the Celtics clinch home-court advantage.
Washington Wizards at Miami Heat: This game is a must-win for the Miami Heat. They are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls, but they don’t own the tiebreaker. They are one game behind the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers, but in this case they own the tiebreaker over Indiana. If the Heat lose to the Wizards, their valiant effort to get back into postseason contention will be wasted. There are multiple scenarios that could lead to the Heat making the playoffs. If the Heat and Pacers win and Bulls lose, the Pacers and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If the Heat and Bulls win and Pacers lose, the Bulls and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If all three teams win, the Heat will stay in ninth place and will miss the playoffs. The Heat must win and hope either the Bulls or Pacers lose.
Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers control their own destiny. If the Pacers beat the Hawks, they will clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Pacers lose, they could fall to eighth place if the Heat or Bulls win. The Pacers will miss the playoffs if they lose and both the Heat and Bulls win. If all three teams win or lose, the playoff standings will remain the same. The Hawks have already clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and may decide to sit their starters. This would be an enormous help for the Pacers. Indiana cannot focus on all the potential playoff scenarios, they just need to focus on themselves and beat the Hawks to clinch a spot in the playoffs.
Miami Heat defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 124-121 (OT): For the second straight day, the Cleveland Cavaliers blew a fourth quarter lead before losing in overtime. This game was a lot different than Sunday’s loss against the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavaliers were tied with the Boston Celtics with the best record in the Eastern Conference before yesterday’s game, but decided to bench LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. If they didn’t rest their stars, the Cavaliers would’ve won and would likely be the top seed. But for some reason the struggling Cavaliers thought it was more important to rest their starters than try and gain home-court advantage. They dominated the Boston Celtics in Boston the last time they played, so it seems like they don’t believe they need home-court advantage to make it to the NBA finals. The Heat had to win this game in order to stay in playoff contention after both the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls won earlier in the day. The Heat need to win their last game and have the Bulls lose to make the postseason as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee Bucks defeat Charlotte Hornets 89-79: The Milwaukee Bucks won their last home game of the season against the Hornets behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s triple-double. With the Hornets having nothing to play for, this was a game that the Bucks couldn’t afford to lose. The Bucks are now a half game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the fifth seed and one game ahead of the Indiana Pacers for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The last game for Milwaukee will be against the Boston Celtics, who currently have a one game lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. This will be a pivotal game for both teams.
Los Angeles Clippers defeat Houston Rockets 125-96: In a game that meant nothing to the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles Clippers won in convincing fashion to stay in fourth place in the Western Conference. The Rockets already have the third seed locked up, so coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t play their key players their usual minutes. The Clippers were tied with the Utah Jazz heading into today’s game, but owned the tiebreaker over Utah. They will play each other in the first round of the playoffs, but the last game will decide which team will get home-court advantage.
Utah Jazz defeat Golden State Warriors 105-99: The Utah Jazz won against the NBA’s best team without their star player. Gordon Hayward didn’t play yesterday, but that didn’t stop the Jazz from pulling out the victory. Klay Thompson didn’t play for the Warriors either, but Hayward is a more important piece for the Jazz than Thompson is for the Warriors. The Warriors have already clinched the number one seed in the Western Conference, so this game was meaningless to them. With this victory, the Jazz kept pace with the Clippers after they defeated the Houston Rockets. With one game remaining for the Jazz and Clippers, Utah needs to win and have the Clippers lose in order to jump them in the standings. If both teams win or lose, then the Clippers will have home-court advantage over the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat: The Cavaliers look to rebound after yesterday’s debacle in Atlanta. They are currently tied with the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference, but own the tiebreaker over Boston. The Miami Heat are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls but wouldn’t make the playoffs if they started today. Since the Bulls own the tiebreaker, the Heat will likely need to win their last two games to make the postseason. This is an extremely important game for both teams.
Charlotte Hornets at Milwaukee Bucks: This is an important game for the Milwaukee Bucks. The Hornets have already been eliminated from playoff contention, but are a talented team that many expected to make a postseason run before the season started. The Bucks cannot take these Hornets lightly. Milwaukee is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They are one game behind the fifth seeded Atlanta Hawks and one game ahead of the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers.
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers (TNT): The Houston Rockets have already locked up the third seed in the Western Conference and will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. The Rockets may decide to sit their starters for their final two games. The Clippers do not have that luxury. Los Angeles is currently in fourth place in the Western Conference with two games remaining on their schedule. They are tied with the fifth seeded Utah Jazz, but own the tiebreaker over Utah. They will face each other in the first round of the playoffs, and these last two games will determine which team will get the home-court advantage.
Utah Jazz at Golden State Warriors: The Golden State Warriors have already locked up the number one seed in the Western Conference and will play the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the playoffs. The Utah Jazz are currently in fifth place in the Western Conference with two games remaining on their schedule. They are tied with the fourth seeded Los Angeles Clippers, but do not own the tiebreaker. They’ll face the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, but will have to end the season with the better record if they want home-court advantage in the first round.
Sergio!!!!!! Sergio Garcia finally got the monkey off his back and won a major for the first time in his career. Although it looked as though Sergio may have once again blown his chance when he missed an easy put to win on the 18th hole, he was able to keep his composure and win on the first playoff hole against Justin Rose. Sergio had back-to-back bogies on the 10th and 11th holes and hit a terrible shot to start the 12th hole before miraculously saving par. These three holes put him two shots behind Rose, but he was able to tie him heading into the last hole after Rose bogeyed on 17. Sergio missed an easy put on 18 that would have won him his first career major, but that didn’t end up haunting him. Garcia was able to birdie the first playoff hole to win his first major. Sergio Garcia will no longer have to deal with the label of being one of the world’s greatest golfers without a major.
Atlanta Hawks defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 126-125 (OT): What a game! The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to struggle heading towards postseason play. They blew a 26 point 4th quarter lead in shocking fashion. Although there were a few questionable calls down the stretch that helped Atlanta send the game into overtime, the Cavaliers shouldn’t have let the game get that close in the first place. The Cavaliers are now tied with the Boston Celtics for the best record in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining. The Cavaliers still control their own destiny because they own the tiebreaker over Boston. The Hawks are still in fifth place in the Eastern Conference with a game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Denver Nuggets 106-105: Again, what a game! Russell Westbrook recorded his record breaking 42nd triple double of the season in dramatic fashion. Westbrook had 16 rebounds and 10 assists to go along with a game high 50 points. He broke the hearts of Nuggets fans by hitting a deep three at the buzzer to win the game. This loss knocked the Nuggets out of contention for the Western Conference’s last spot in the playoffs. The Portland Trail Blazers will be the eighth seed and will face the Golden State Warriors in the first round.
Sunday’s final round at The Masters should be must-see TV. Will this finally be the major that puts Sergio Garcia over the hump? He’s been one of the world’s best golfers for years but hasn’t been able to shake the major curse. Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth are hot on his heels after both posted back-to-back solid rounds. Sunday’s action should be full of high-pressure moments, and we’ll all be on the edge of our seats wondering who will crack under the pressure.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks (NBATV): This Eastern Conference battle between the Cavaliers and Hawks has major playoff implications. The Cavaliers are currently in first place with a half game lead over the Boston Celtics. The Hawks are in fifth place with a half game lead over the sixth seeded Milwaukee Bucks. With both teams’ recent struggles, the Hawks and Cavaliers want to get some momentum heading into the postseason.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets: This game is extremely important for the Denver Nuggets. The Thunder already clinched the sixth seed in the Western Conference and will face the third seeded Houston Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. Russell Westbrook is going for his record breaking 42nd triple-double this season against a Nuggets team that needs to win. The Nuggets are in ninth place in the Western Conference with three games left on their schedule. They are 1.5 games behind the eighth seeded Portland Trail Blazers. If the Nuggets lose this game, they can kiss their playoff dreams goodbye.