Today in Sports: 5/22/17 Review

NBA:

Golden State Warriors defeat San Antonio Spurs 129-115: The Warriors completed their third consecutive series sweep to return to the NBA Finals for the third straight year. The Spurs weren’t the same team in the last 3.5 games without superstar Kawhi Leonard. Gregg Popovich is a genius, but he wasn’t able to come up with a game plan to defeat the Warriors without his star. LaMarcus Aldridge had another terrible performance, scoring just 8 points in 22 minutes. He’s been a major disappointment since joining San Antonio. Manu Ginobli scored 15 points in possibly the final game of his illustrious career. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant scored 36 points and 29 points, respectively. They’ve both been dominant throughout the playoffs. The Warriors will face the Cleveland Cavaliers or Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals.

Today in Sports: 5/22/17 Preview

NBA:

Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs host the Warriors in game four of the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are looking to sweep their third straight series. This will be Golden State’s third straight NBA Finals appearance. Kawhi Leonard is not expected to play, which is detrimental to San Antonio’s chances of extending the series. LaMarcus Aldridge will need to step up in Leonard’s absence, which is something that he’s been unable to do during the playoffs. The Warriors are heavy favorites to finish the sweep. This is a must-win game for the Spurs.

Today in Sports: 5/20/17 Review

NBA:

Golden State Warriors defeat San Antonio Spurs 120-108: The Warriors defeated the Spurs to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs were playing without their superstar Kawhi Leonard for the second consecutive game. They weren’t able to win the game, but they put forth an impressive effort without their leader. The Spurs were counting on LaMarcus Aldridge to bounce back from his pitiful game two performance. He led the Spurs with 18 points, but wasn’t effective enough to help lead San Antonio to victory. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry were dominant, scoring 33 points and 21 points, respectively. The Warriors look poised to advance to their third straight NBA Finals. These two teams will play game four on Monday in San Antonio.

Today in Sports: 5/20/17 Preview

NBA:

Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs host the Warriors in game three of the Western Conference Finals. After losing the first two games, the Spurs need to win this game to keep their NBA Finals hopes alive. Kawhi Leonard will not play in this game, which seriously cripples the Spurs’ chances of defeating the heavily favored Warriors. The Spurs need LaMarcus Aldridge to step up in Leonard’s absence. Golden State hasn’t lost a game in the playoffs, and looks like a team on a mission to redeem themselves from last year’s collapse in the NBA Finals. In all likelihood, the Warriors are going to win and it won’t be close. Hopefully the Spurs can keep the game close, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Today in Sports: 5/16/17 Review

NBA:

Golden State Warriors defeat San Antonio Spurs 136-100: The Warriors dominated the Spurs to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. The Spurs have looked shell shocked after their superstar Kawhi Leonard re-injured his ankle in the first game of the series. Jonathon Simmons was the only player that stepped up for the Spurs, leading the team with 22 points. LaMarcus Aldridge only scored 8 points. He’s been a major disappointment since joining the Spurs. He looked timid all game. He’s the best player on the Spurs now that Kawhi Leonard is injured. His lackluster performances this postseason are inexcusable. The Warriors dominated the game from the start. The game was over before halftime. The Spurs will need to step up their intensity in game three if they want to keep their season alive. These two teams will play game three on Saturday in San Antonio.

Draft Lottery:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Sacramento Kings
  6. Orlando Magic
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Dallas Mavericks
  10. Sacramento Kings
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Detroit Pistons
  13. Denver Nuggets
  14. Miami Heat

Today in Sports: 5/16/17 Preview

NBA:

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Spurs in game two of the Western Conference Finals. After a controversial game one, the Warriors look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series. The Spurs will be playing without superstar Kawhi Leonard because of an ankle injury that he re-aggravated in game one. Zaza Pachulia injured Leonard on a questionable play that many people (including myself) think was dirty and intentional. Given Pachulia’s history, he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. The Warriors were being dominated before Leonard’s injury. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were fantastic in game one, and will have a better chance of dominating again without Leonard’s presence on defense. This should be an easy win for the Warriors.

Draft Lottery: The NBA Draft Lottery will determine the draft order for the 2017 NBA Draft. The Miles Files will have all of your NBA Draft needs covered.

Today in Sports: 5/14/17 Review

NBA:

Golden State Warriors defeat San Antonio Spurs 113-111: The Warriors defeated the Spurs in game one of the Western Conference Finals. Down by more than twenty points, the Warriors outscored the Spurs by 22 points in the second half to steal the game from the San Antonio. Kawhi Leonard re-injured his ankle in the third quarter when Zaza Pachulia contested his jump shot. With the way that Leonard was dominating, it seems curious that Pachulia’s foot ended up under Leonard’s foot. Although Pachulia and Leonard both claim it was an accident, the move by Pachulia didn’t seem natural or accidental. The Warriors dominated the Spurs once Leonard was ruled out for the remainder of the game. Hopefully Leonard will be able to return for game two. Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant scored 40 points and 34 points, respectively. The Spurs will need to limit their impact in the series if they want to pull off the upset. These two teams will play game two on Tuesday in Oakland.

Today in Sports: 5/14/17 Preview

NBA:

San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors: The Warriors host the Spurs in game one of the Western Conference Finals. After missing game six of their last series, Kawhi Leonard should be healthy enough to play in this game without any limitations. The Warriors swept their first two series, and are heavy favorites to advance to the NBA Finals. The Spurs have Gregg Popovich, arguably the best coach in NBA history. Although they have the coaching advantage, the Warriors have the personnel advantage. If the Spurs are going to win this series, they’ll need to steal a few games in Oakland. This isn’t a must-win game for either team, but this game can set the tone for the rest of the series.

Today in Sports: 5/11/17 Review

NBA:

San Antonio Spurs defeat Houston Rockets 114-75: What an embarrassing way to end your season! The Houston Rockets got humiliated at home by the Spurs. With Tony Parker out for the season and superstar Kawhi Leonard sidelined with an ankle injury, the Rockets should’ve won this game easily. LaMarcus Aldridge looked like the star that San Antonio thought he’d be when they signed him. He’s struggled with consistency since joining the Spurs, but he scored 34 points and had 12 rebounds in this blowout victory. Dejounte Murray was the best point guard in the game. His stat line of 11 points, 10 rebounds, 5assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in 24 minutes was more impressive than MVP candidate James Harden’s stat line. Harden was horrible all game. I can excuse his bad performance if he seemed like he was trying, but he looked defeated before the game started. He only shot the ball twice in the first half. You’re supposed to be a superstar. WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON! Harden finished with 10 points on 2-11 shooting and reverted back to playing pathetic defense. He should be embarrassed by this performance. This choke job was worse than his 2012 NBA Finals appearance. The Spurs will face the Golden State Warriors in game one of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday in Oakland.

Today in Sports: 5/11/17 Preview

NBA:

San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets: The Rockets look to keep their season alive at home in a must-win game against the Spurs. Facing a 3-2 series deficit, the Rockets need to win the last two games of the series to advance to the Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors. In overtime of game five, James Harden single-handedly cost the Rockets the game by forcing up terrible shots and having costly turnovers. Kawhi Leonard was too injured to play in overtime, and the Rockets still lost the game. Harden will have to play like an MVP candidate in the next two games. Kawhi Leonard is questionable for game six. He said that he would play after game five ended, but coach Popovich isn’t as sure. If Leonard isn’t able to play, the Rockets shouldn’t have any issues forcing a game seven.

Today in Sports: 5/9/17 Review

NBA:

San Antonio Spurs defeat Houston Rockets 110-107 (OT): In the best game of the series, the Spurs defeated the Rockets in overtime to take a commanding 3-2 series lead. With Tony Parker sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, Patty Mills stepped up and scored 20 points in 43 minutes in his absence. Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge both played their best games of the series. Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points, but was too injured to play in overtime. With Leonard sidelined in overtime, the Rockets had a phenomenal opportunity to steal the game and take a 3-2 series lead back home to Houston. Although James Harden scored 33 points, he choked in overtime. He had multiple costly turnovers and was bricking shots left and right. The Rockets play their best ball when they are pushing the pace. But for some reason, Harden dribbled the ball 30 feet away from the hoop until there were five seconds left in the shot clock on multiple overtime possessions. He’d then try and make a quick move before launching up a contested three point shot. The Rockets deserved to lose the game because of their pathetic overtime offense. They’ll have to regroup and win the next two games if they want to advance to the Western Conference Finals. These two teams will play game six on Thursday in Houston.

Today in Sports: 5/9/17 Preview

NBA:

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs: The Rockets and Spurs will play a pivotal game five in San Antonio. With the series tied at two games apiece, the winner of this game will be overwhelming favorites to advance to the Western Conference Finals to face the Golden State Warriors. Although the Spurs are the home team, the Rockets proved in game one that they can win on the road. With Tony Parker out for the remainder of the postseason, the Rockets have a good chance of pulling off another road victory. James Harden hasn’t been shooting as consistently as he did during the regular season. Kawhi Leonard has done a fantastic job on the defensive end making Harden take difficult and contested shots. The Rockets typically win when they are making three pointers. The Spurs will need to limit the amount of uncontested three point shots Houston takes if they want to hold serve at home.

Today in Sports: 5/7/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/7/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/5/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/5/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/3/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/3/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/1/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 5/1/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 4/25/17 Review

NBA:

Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 105-99: The Houston Rockets defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder to win this first round series 4-1. Once again, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were the game’s leading scorers with 47 points and 34 points, respectively. The Thunder were outscored by 18 points in the six minutes that Russell Westbrook sat on the bench. Although Westbrook took offense to the question a reporter asked after game four that insinuated that the Thunder were struggling with him on the bench, stats from every game prove that the reporter was correct. Westbrook tried to play “hero ball” again in the fourth quarter, and it backfired when his jump shot fell apart. He was obviously exhausted, which wasn’t surprising due to the amount of effort he exudes to help his horrible supporting cast stay afloat. James Harden struggled with his jump shot again, but was able to get to the free throw line at a high rate. He was able to rely on Nene, Patrick Beverley, and Lou Williams to help him in ways that Russell Westbrook’s teammates couldn’t. Although this was a battle between the two MVP candidates, Houston won the series because their MVP candidate had a supporting cast that helped him. The Thunder need to get Westbrook help if they want to compete for a championship next season. The Rockets will either face the San Antonio Spurs or Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 116-103: The San Antonio Spurs took a 3-2 series lead with a home win against the Memphis Grizzlies. Kawhi Leonard continued his impressive series with another dominating performance. He scored a game-high 28 points and was a hassle on the defensive end of the floor. The Spurs’ bench was superb again, led by a 20 point performance from Patty Mills. Manu Ginobili scored ten points on 4-6 shooting from the field, which was a pleasant surprise to Spurs fans because he hadn’t made a shot all series prior to game five. The Grizzlies had decent performances from Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, but they didn’t play with the same level of intensity as they did in games three and four in Memphis. The home team has won every game in this series, and the Grizzlies will need to continue that trend if they want to keep their season alive. These two teams will play game six on Thursday in San Antonio.

Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 96-92: The Utah Jazz stole game six in Los Angeles to take a 3-2 series lead over the Clippers. Gordon Hayward played like an All-Star in a game that they needed him to dominate. He missed most of game four because of food poisoning, but seemed fully recovered during this game. Rudy Gobert seems fully recovered from his knee injury that caused him to miss the first three games of this series (except the first ten seconds of game one). Chris Paul proved again that he’s still the best point guard in the NBA. He scored 28 points and played a great game defensively. He wasn’t able to overcome the loss of Blake Griffin, which has hurt them drastically in the scoring department. The Clippers need to win the last two games of this series, which is something that they probably won’t be able to do without Griffin. These two teams will play game six on Friday in Utah.

Today in Sports: 4/25/17 Preview

NBA:

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: The Rockets look to finish this series against the Thunder by winning game five at home. After losing three of the first four games of this series, the Thunder need to win three straight games to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Probable MVP Russell Westbrook has put up fantastic numbers all series, but he hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates. James Harden has also put up fantastic numbers, but he’s been able to rely on his teammates when his shot isn’t falling. The Rockets are heavy favorites to win this game and advance to the second round of the playoffs, but it seems like Russell Westbrook plays his best when his back is against the wall. This game will likely be won by whichever of the two MVP candidates that can make a greater impact for their team.

Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs: The Grizzlies and Spurs will play game five in San Antonio with both teams trying to take a commanding 3-2 lead in this series. After losing the first two games in San Antonio, few people thought the Grizzlies were going to even the series with two wins in Memphis. Although Kawhi Leonard almost singlehandedly won game four, the Grizzlies were able to survive in overtime. The Spurs are the more talented team and are still favored to win the series, but the Grizzlies have shown that they do not fear San Antonio. Even without Tony “first team all defense” Allen, the Grizzlies have played great team basketball. The winner of this game will likely win the series, so it’s crucial for both teams that they play at a high level in this pivotal game five.

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: The Jazz and Clippers will play game five in Los Angeles with both teams trying to take a commanding 3-2 lead in this series. These teams have been two of the unluckiest teams in the NBA with all the injuries that they’ve suffered, but both still have a good chance of advancing to the second round of the playoffs. The Clippers are playing without star Blake Griffin for the rest of the playoffs, but have a lot of experience over the last few years of playing without the oft-injured Griffin. Rudy Gobert returned from injury to play in game four, which helped the Jazz overcome the loss of Gordon Hayward to food poisoning. Hayward should be able to return for game five, and they’ll need him healthy to pull off the road win against this desperate Clippers team. The winner of this game will likely win the series, so it’s crucial for both teams that they play at a high level in this pivotal game five.

Today in Sports: 4/22/17 Review

NBA:

Toronto Raptors defeat Milwaukee Bucks 87-76: The Raptors defeated the Bucks in a defensive struggle that evened the series at two games apiece. The Raptors were able to regain the home-court advantage by shutting down Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Khris Middleton also struggled with his shot all game, which caused the Bucks to lean on their role players. Tony Snell was their best player all game, but he doesn’t have the talent of Antetokounmpo or Middleton to lead the Bucks to victory. Both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry had a great game for the Raptors. This was the first game in the series that both of their stars showed up. These two teams will play game five on Monday in Toronto.

Atlanta Hawks defeat Washington Wizards 116-98: The Hawks dominated the Wizards to win their first game of the series. They outscored the Wizards 38-20 in the first quarter and never looked back. Dennis Schroder, Paul Millsap, and Taurean Prince all had huge games for the Hawks. The Wizards were switching every pick and roll all game long, which ended up being a failed strategy. The Hawks were attacking the mismatches and scored at will. The Wizards’ starting unit struggled all game. John Wall was fantastic again, but didn’t get any help from the other four starters. Wall had the highlight of the game when he went coast-to-coast and dribbled the ball behind his back before dunking on Kent Bazemore. That was the only highlight of the game for Washington. These two teams will play game four on Monday in Atlanta.

Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs 110-108 (OT): In the most exciting game of the playoffs, the Grizzlies defeated the Spurs in overtime on a last-second shot by Marc Gasol. The final few minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime were absolutely fantastic. This is what playoff basketball is all about. Kawhi Leonard was the best player on the floor and made his case for being the league’s MVP (although it is a regular season award). He hit multiple clutch shots in the final minutes to send it to overtime. A few times I caught myself calling him Kobe because his performance was mamba-esque. He led all scorers with 43 points and played fantastic defense all game long. Mike Conley played like a superstar point guard. He hit clutch shots down the stretch and helped rally his team when it seemed like Leonard was going to win the game singlehandedly. After Leonard hit a game tying shot in the final seconds of overtime, Marc Gasol put in an ugly looking game-winning shot with a second remaining. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in San Antonio.

Golden State Warriors defeat Portland Trail Blazers 119-113: In a game that the Warriors were missing star Kevin Durant and coach Steve Kerr, Golden State took a commanding 3-0 lead in this series. The Trail Blazers got off to a fast start with a 67-54 halftime lead. But the Warriors came out in the second half and dominated to get the victory. Klay Thompson took over the third quarter by hitting multiple threes. The Warriors started getting stops defensively, which fueled their fast break offense. The Warriors have won both games without Kevin Durant, which shows how dominant of a team they are. Portland’s star backcourt put in a combined 63 points, but they were not enough to defeat the heavily favored Warriors. These two teams will play game four on Monday in Portland.

Today in Sports: 4/22/17 Preview

NBA:

Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks: After a pathetic showing in game three, the Raptors will look to bounce back and even the series at two games apiece. The Raptors cannot afford to go down 3-1 in the series, even though they are the more talented team and have the potential to win three straight games against the Bucks. The problem with this Raptors team is their confidence. If they go down 3-1 in this series, they’ll have to win despite being a perennial playoff underachiever. They added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline, which will end up being a huge waste if they don’t make it out of the first round (especially if both leave in free agency). The Bucks have outplayed the Raptors in all three games of this series. With this game being in front of their home crowd, they have a good chance of taking a commanding lead in this series. The winner of this game will be huge favorites to advance to the second round.

Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are playing the Wizards at home in a must-win game. After losing both games in Washington, the Hawks cannot afford to go down 3-0 in this series. They’ve been competitive in the first three quarters of both games, but have struggled to close in the fourth quarter. John Wall has been the best player on the floor in both games. The Hawks don’t have a player that can stop him, so they’ll have to collectively try to limit his impact. The Wizards have the much more talented starting lineup, so the Hawks will need their bench players to rise to the occasion if they want to stay competitive in this series

San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies: After a convincing win in game three, the Grizzlies can even the series at home against the Spurs. After game two, the Grizzlies’ coach was critical of the referees. Although they won game three, the Spurs still received more foul calls than the Grizzlies. But that didn’t matter, because coach David Fizdale got his point across. He wanted his team to realize that they shouldn’t change their game plan because of how the refs were calling the game. The Grizzlies are a tough and aggressive team, and they cannot afford to stray from that style of basketball because they aren’t getting calls. Fizdale moved Zach Randolph into the starting lineup, which ended up being a fantastic decision. Although this game is extremely important for the Grizzlies, the Spurs will still be the favorites to win the series no matter who wins this game.

Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers: The Trail Blazers return home to Portland in this must-win game against the heavily favored Warriors. After an embarrassing loss in game two, the Trail Blazers’ star backcourt needs to bounce back and lead their team to victory. With Kevin Durant missing game two, the Trail Blazers had their best chance to steal a road game from the Warriors. The Warriors will be heavy favorites to advance no matter what happens in this game. Durant may miss this game too, which likely won’t end up mattering. Portland needs to win four straight games to make Damian Lillard’s “Trail Blazers in 6” prediction come true. If Lillard doesn’t have a stellar game tonight, the Warriors will take a commanding 3-0 lead in this series.

Today in Sports: 4/20/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 4/20/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 4/17/17 Review

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 4/17/17 Preview

NBA:

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.

Today in Sports: 4/15/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 109-108: In the first game of the NBA postseason, the Cavaliers squeaked out the victory against the Pacers in Cleveland. The game was back-and-forth until the final shot, which was a missed shot at the buzzer by the Pacers’ C.J. Miles. Down by one with roughly ten seconds remaining, the Pacers’ coach Nate McMillan called a timeout to set up a play. This was a crucial mistake because it allowed the Cavaliers to set up their defense and get the ball out of Paul George’s hands. George passed the ball to Miles and tried to get open to take the final shot, but it was too late and Miles was forced to take the shot. Miles got off a good shot, but it came up just short. Paul George had a fantastic game in which he scored 29 points and was 6-8 from three point range. LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 32 points and 13 assists. These two teams will play game two on Monday in Cleveland.

Milwaukee Bucks defeat Toronto Raptors 97-83: The Bucks pulled off the road upset in Toronto in the first game of this series. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a stellar game full of blocks and ferocious dunks. He blocked DeMar Derozan at the end of the game and was called for a technical foul, even though it was DeRozan who started acting like a child. Although poor officiating isn’t rare in the playoffs, it didn’t cost the Bucks in this game. The Greek Freak scored 28 points and had 8 rebounds to lead his Bucks. Rookie Thon Maker had an impactful game including three blocks in a matter of minutes. Kyle Lowry had another terrible postseason game in which he shot 2-11 from the field and scored four points.  DeRozan had a decent game, but roughly half of his 27 points came from the free throw line. The self-proclaimed “trash bros” need to step up their game in game two unless they want to head to Milwaukee down two games to none. Game two will be played on Tuesday in Toronto.

San Antonio Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 111-82: In the one boring game of the day, the Spurs routed the Grizzlies in San Antonio. Although the Grizzlies won the first quarter, they would be outscored in the remaining three quarters. In a battle featuring the Gasol brother, Marc would outscore his brother 32-6. But Marc Gasol was the only player on the Grizzlies who had a good game. Kawhi Leonard would also put in 32 points and played stellar defense throughout the game. The Grizzlies clearly missed Tony “first team all defense” Allen, who got hurt in the meaningless last game of the season. He would’ve guarded Kawhi Leonard, but will likely miss the entire series. These teams will play game two on Monday in San Antonio.

Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 97-95: In an game that featured Jazz star Rudy Gobert injuring his knee ten second into the game, the Utah Jazz were able to defeat the Clippers on the road in the first game of this series. The Jazz could’ve easily folded after watching their big man go down with a potentially serious knee injury, but they rallied around his injury and pulled off the upset. The Jazz are used to playing with backups due to the plethora of injuries their starters have sustained this season. Both of these teams had injury issues during the regular season, but were relatively healthy heading into the playoffs. If these teams didn’t have so many injuries, they both could’ve been the two seed in the Western Conference. That’s how talented both of these teams are, and it’s why this series will likely be the best first round series in the playoffs (regardless of the status of Rudy Gobert). This game came down to the last shot, in which “Iso Joe” Joe Johnson hit the game winning floater at the buzzer to stun the crowd in Los Angeles. Jazz coach Quin Snyder elected not to call a timeout before Johnson hit the game winning shot, which was a fantastic decision. Hopefully Gobert’s knee injury isn’t as serious as it looked, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be ready for game two. Their next game will be on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Today in Sports: 4/15/17 Preview

NBA:

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.