The first round of the NBA Playoffs continues this evening. With one exception (sorry, Portland) each series remains interesting. Some spare thoughts:
1. Toronto Raptors (1) vs. Washington Wizards (8) (series tied 2-2)
Both teams have held serve at home, with very little by way of competitive games prior to Sunday when the Wizards won 106-98. This is supposed to be the year the top-seeded Raptors can actually challenge LeBron James for Eastern Conference dominance. They better step up soon, given the Wizards are a dysfunctional mess. The next game is Wednesday in Toronto.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (4) vs. Indiana Pacers (5) (series tied 2-2)
Another series split between two games, and perhaps the most entertaining in the playoffs so far. James has played well, if not at top level, and Cleveland has needed some breaks to even be in position to take control of the series at home. Its been a long time since LeBron was challenged in round one. They meet again Wednesday as well.
3. Philadelphia 76ers (3) vs. Miami Heat (6) (Philly leads 3-1)
Ben Simmons is going to be one of the best players of all time. Everyone has focused on Joel Embiid this year, and for good reason: he is also going to be great. But the Australian is some kind of a mixture of LeBron, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd. In any event, the 76ers are a sleeping giant. Welcome our future overlords, absent injury. These teams return to action on Tuesday.
4. Boston Celtics (2) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (7) (series tied 2-2)
The Eastern Conference playoffs are good, huh? Bucks in six.
— Chris Williamson (@CWilliamson44) April 21, 2018
The series picks up on Tuesday.
1. Houston Rockets (1) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (2) (Houston leads 2-1)
Houston barely escaped game 1 with a win before destroying the Timberwolves in game 2 while Harden misfired all night. It appeared the Wolves blew their chance for a “gentleman’s sweep,” and let the one game go that they could have won. However, in game three Minnesota rolled, and game 4, tonight, will determine if this is an interesting series.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (4) vs. Utah Jazz (5) (Utah leads 2-1)
Another strong series with one supposed super-team struggling against an opponent based around defense and rookie star on offense. Russell Westbrook is salty following a beatdown at the hands of Ricky Rubio. It should lead to an interesting game 4, this evening.
3. Portland Trailblazers (3) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (6) (Pelicans win series, 4-0)
This series was a bloodbath. Anthony Davis is the best player in basketball, or has been for two months anyway. Nobody else is putting up well over 30 points per game, grabbing rebounds at his rate, and playing defense both on the interior as a shot blocker, and gobbling up guards on the switch, like Davis. Portland, a guard-driven team, was out of sorts from the start. He’s a tailor-made center in the modern NBA. Good thing the Pelicans finally figured that out. Jrue Holiday has also been a revelation, now that he is not injured. Look out Golden State.
4. Golden State Warriors (2) vs. San Antonio Spurs (7) (Golden State leads 2-1)
The Warriors appear to have this one in hand. The Spurs did well to take game three, and can perhaps surprise yours truly by winning game 4 and making it a series. Drama queen Kawhi Leonard appears to have sat out would could have been a pretty interesting round one series. They return to action late on Tuesday.