What a start to the 2017-2018 NBA playoffs. We’ve had a few gimme’s and some far from that. In the first two days, every team has played and have given us sizeable hopes and expectations for how this first round could play out.
San Antonio at Golden State
We got what we expected out of this one, maybe a little less from the Spurs. Popovic was interviewed after the game and said his team looked like deer in headlights. He said he thought they were prepared but he was wrong. With a lot of speculation of Kawhi returning to face a Curry-less Warrior team I thought…. maybe… there is a small chance San Antonio could make the Warriors a little uncomfortable. But, we were all reminded why the Warriors are the Warriors in game one. Pop was also asked if he thinks Leonard could return in the series and his response… “You will have to ask Kawhi and his group that question”. That doesn’t sound reassuring at all.
Washington at Toronto
The playoffs started to heat up as John Wall and the Wizards tried all they could to steal home court away from the Toronto Raptors and contribute to their history of struggles in game one’s. If the Raptors would have let that one slip, I don’t think they would have ever heard the end of it after all the talk prior to the game about how they are treating this one as their game 7. Losing Game one of a series does not always dictate the final outcome of a series but I still can’t believe Toronto hadn’t pulled off a game one win in over 16 years. They finally got one, and look to carry that momentum into game 2 on Tuesday.
Miami at Philadelphia
Up until halftime you would have thought Miami was playing a proficient game. Unfortunately, if you’re a Miami Heat fan you witnessed a 15-0 run by the Sixers in the third quarter that put the game out of reach pretty quickly. The 76ers finished the game in dominating fashion, winning by almost 30 points. They drained a team playoff-record 18 3-pointers on 28 attempts, which was a big reason why they were able to win the way they did. Allow me to mention that this was all without Joel Embiid. There is something special about this team, and they may not even need Embiid to move on to the second round.
NOTE: Joel Embiid has confirmed he will not be playing in game two.
New Orleans at Portland
The Pelicans were the first team in the playoffs to steal a game one and home court advantage. Anthony Davis proved why he deserves to be in the conversation for MVP with a dominating individual performance, putting up 35 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Rondo also had a “Playoff Rondo” performance, assisting on 17 made baskets while only turning the ball over twice. Jrue Holiday had an impressive game saving block at the end as well. This game was not all about The Pelicans though. Portland never gave up, and was one layup away from erasing a 19 point deficit in the end which would have devastated a Pelican team that had outplayed their opponent in almost every way.
Milwaukee at Boston
This was the most exciting game of the playoffs so far. It was filled with great performances, lead changes, and buzzer beaters. Al Horford, the X factor in this series for Boston, scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. With the game tied and the clock running out, Celtics guard Terry Rozier embarrassed Eric Bledsoe as if he had been on ice skates, as he drained a 3 pointer to give Boston a three point lead with 0.5 seconds left. People on social media had already begun posting about how great the victory was for the Celtics, meanwhile Kris Middleton was heaving up a long three pointer sending the game to overtime. As the game wound down the Bucks were given plenty of chances to win. Overall I think the biggest reason why Boston came out on top of this one was their ability to force turnovers. The Bucks committed 20 turnovers in the game that lead to 27 Boston points. If the Bucks want to win game two, they will have to take care of the ball, and play better defense so they can take advantage of their strength as a team, which is fastbreak scoring.
Indiana at Cleveland
Before the playoffs started, if I were to have told you that that both Raptors would snap their 16 year game 1 losing streak, AND LeBron James would snap his 6 year game 1 winning streak, would you have believed me? Well, it happened. So much for data right? The Indiana Pacers came out firing on all cylinders and never let their foot off the pedal. To nobody’s surprise, Cleveland made a run coming out of the half, but they were never able to amount to a position late in the game to have a chance to win. They never lead for even a second in this one. In all honesty the performance that the Cavaliers put on in game one did not look like a performance from a finals bound team. As this is only game 1 I’d hate to over-react and say that the Cavs won’t be able to get it together, but they have a lot of work ahead of them to get themselves on track to be able to compete for a championship this year. Victor Oladipo (if you weren’t convinced yet) proved once again that the trade for him and Sabonis for Paul George over the summer was the best thing for the franchise. He scored 32 points, and left Cleveland fans wondering how tough this series may actually be.
Utah at Oklahoma City
The Utah Jazz looked great to start to the game and it seemed like they were going to be the aggressors, coming out of the gate scoring 16 points to OKC’s 4. That didn’t last very long. The Thunder answered right back with a run of their own and tied the game up at 25 to end the first. Paul George was undeniably the best player on the court. Whether he had a hand in his face or was wide open he was hitting every shot he took. He set a Oklahoma City postseason record with 8 three pointers and finished with 36 points as the Thunder routed the Utah Jazz 108-116. He simply was too much for Utah to handle. Coach Quin Snyder now has until Wednesday to figure out a game plan to stop the three headed monster of Westbrook, George, and Melo.
NOTE: Donovan Mitchell left the game in the second half due to foot soreness. He received imaging on the toe and results came back negative and he finished the game, although he did not look himself, making 8 shots out of 22 to finish the game.
Minnesota at Houston
Minnesota threatened the Rockets in this one. Houston didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, and gave the Wolves a chance to win at the end. As Minnesota was waiting to foul in the last second, trying to get the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands, Paul ended up turning it over with 8 seconds left. Jimmy Butler wanted the shot to win and he got it, but ended up air balling the potential game tying three as the clock expired. James Harden once again had an MVP playoff performance, scoring 44 points with 8 assists and 4 rebounds. Clint Capela Stood out as well with a double double. Butler had the best +/- for Minnesota, but it was Jeff Teague who was the player of the game for them with a near triple double performance. Karl Anthony Towns will want to forget this one and move on, as he shot just 33% and only scored 8 points the entire game. He will need to step up big time if the T-wolves want any chance at winning any games this series.
Featured image credit: dailymail.co.uk
Photo credits: NBA.com