Each series is roughly halfway finished, so how has each team fared thus far? Which teams will make it through to the second round of the NBA playoffs?
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) vs. Detroit Pistons (0-2)
Of all the match ups in the Eastern Conference, the outcome of this series was likely the most clear-cut. The Pistons are missing their best player in Blake Griffin, and the first two games have not been pretty. In game one, the Bucks won by 35 despite Giannis Antetokounmpo only playing 23 minutes. Pat Connaughton led the way in minutes with 28, which is still a rather light work load. The Pistons closed the gap slightly in game two, and only lost by 21, however they still looked largely out of sync. With the way this series has played out thus far, a sweep seems most likely.
Toronto Raptors (2-1) vs. Orlando Magic (1-2)
In terms of game scores, this series has been much closer than anyone had anticipated. The Magic shocked the NBA world with a game one win, however the Raptors came back swinging and won by 29 in game two. Game three was much closer as the Raptors won by just five following a clutch hustle rebound by Kyle Lowry and free throws by Kawhi Leonard. This series is unlikely to go seven games, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility for Orlando to drag it out to six games.
Philadelphia 76ers (2-1) vs. Brooklyn Nets (1-2)
The Nets came ready to play in game one, and their performance led to the 76ers being booed by their own home fans. While games two and three were far less close, the Nets might be able to push the series to six games, especially with Joel Embiid doubtful for game four. The 76ers are clearly the better team, however, and it’s highly unlikely that this series goes to seven, let alone Brooklyn comes out the victor.
Boston Celtics (3-0) vs. Indiana Pacers (0-3)
This series has been great for the first half of each game, however the Pacers’ lack of a closer has really come to light in the second half of all three games. Their number one scoring option is Bojan Bogdanovic, and while he’s a great shooter, he’s better suited as a second or third option. In theory the Pacers should be able to win at least one game if they can manage to maintain their level of play the entire game. The problem is that they’ve collapsed at the end of each game, and a sweep looks likely at this point.
Western Conference Playoffs
Golden State Warriors (2-1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (1-2)
Even though the Clippers managed to take a game off of the Warriors, the series really has not been close. Their one win required a historic comeback after trailing for the majority of the game. For LA to win another game, they likely need to pull off another “trade” in which Patrick Beverly and Kevin Durant are both ejected. Barring a massive game from Lou Williams and the whole Clippers team, this series looks like it’ll be over in five.
Denver Nuggets (1-2) vs. San Antonio Spurs (2-1)
In terms of upset potential, this series was the most likely candidate. The Nuggets are young and for the majority of the team, this is their first time in the playoffs. On the other end is numerous seasoned playoff veterans led by a legendary coach in Gregg Popovich. The Nuggets are too good a team to roll over in five games, but with how this series has played out thus far, it seems likely that the Spurs win in six.
Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-2)
Damian Lillard has been lights out this series, and he’s the primary reason why the Blazers are doing so well, even without Jusuf Nurkic. The story of this match-up has been the rivalry between Dame and Russ. Westbrook came out swinging in game three following a poor game two performance, and his fourth quarter dominance helped OKC to avoid an 0-3 deficit. When Russ is fired up and making shots, he’s one of the most unstoppable players in the league. Out of any first round series, this is the most likely to go to seven games, and at that point it can go either way.
Houston Rockets (2-0) vs. Utah Jazz (0-2)
With how good the Jazz are defensively, it seemed like this series would be closer. The problem is that Utah’s best defender in Rudy Gobert is not a great match up against the Rockets defense. He’s an elite defender in the paint, however he struggles when switched onto the perimeter. Houston’s offense involves a lot of pick and rolls, which forces Gobert out of the paint frequently. Furthermore, James Harden has been nothing short of incredible this series. The Jazz will most likely win a game, however this series is probably over in five.
Stats courtesy of NBA.com
Featured image courtesy of Craig Mitchelldyer / Associated Press
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