By Shane Rabacs ’18
It’s the best time of year to be a basketball fan. The NBA playoffs are in full swing. After the first round of the playoffs, let’s take a look back at the matchups.
1 CELTICS vs 8 BULLS
What a weird series. Chicago looked terrible all year and snuck into the playoffs on the last day of the season. But soon after the first two games, they looked unstoppable. Rajon Rondo was orchestrating the offense to perfection and Jimmy Butler looked like he was shooting the ball into water from a boat. Boston looked lost after the death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister. But then, Rondo went down with a mysterious broken pinkie before game three. Chicago didn’t have a chance after that, and Boston steamrolled their way to a series win in six.
2 CAVALIERS vs 7 PACERS
Lebron James showed why he is the greatest player in the league. James absolutely dominated this series, averaging 33 ppg, 10 rpg, and 9 ast. After struggling late in the regular season, Cleveland showed that they can in fact flip a switch in the playoffs. This isn’t to say that Indiana didn’t compete. They had a solid look to win in game one from C.J. Miles and a 27 point halftime lead in game three. But the Cavs were too much and swept, pushing James’ round one winning streak to 21.
3 RAPTORS vs 6 BUCKS
This series had the most pettiness in the entire league. Giannis Antetokounmpo was an absolute beast, showing that he is a future superstar. But Milwaukee’s youth showed here. Kyle Lowry struggled, but the veteran Raptors were able to outlast the Bucks and win in six games.
4 WIZARDS vs 5 HAWKS
Both of these teams didn’t look great. Washington did all they could to try to blow these games. John Wall, though, was absolutely phenomenal. He shredded anyone that Atlanta put in front of him. For Atlanta, Paul Millsap led the way, averaging 24 ppg and 7.5 rpg. Washington was able to win in six games.
1 WARRIORS vs 8 TRAIL BLAZERS
Without Joeseph Nurkic, Portland had no answers for the (mostly) Kevin Durant-less Warriors. In his place, Draymond Green had a great series. CJ McCollum had a breakout series putting up 22.5 ppg, showing that he is a big game player. Steve Kerr didn’t coach in much of this series, dealing with chronic back pain. None of that mattered, as Golden State swept.
2 SPURS vs 7 GRIZZLIES
The best first round series of the playoffs. Kawhi Leonard was a monster, putting up 31 ppg. We also got one of the best quote(s) from a coach’s press conference. Memphis encaptured their “Grit n Grind” montra, making this a great series while playing a bunch of guys you have never heard of before. A reminder, Vince Carter is 40 and can do this. San Antonio and Kawhi were simply too much, though, winning the series in six.
3 ROCKETS vs 6 THUNDER
This series was pretty disappointing, to be honest. You would think a matchup of the top two MVP candidates would go more than five games, but Houston put Oklahoma City away quickly. The Thunder were an absolute joke without Russell Westbrook on the floor. When Westbrook was on the bench, the Thunder were outscored 137-79. The Rockets high powered offense won out, and James Harden looked very much like the MVP.
4 CLIPPERS vs 5 JAZZ
The only seven game series of the first round, this matchup was odd. Rudy Gobert was hurt on the first possession of game one. Blake Griffin was sidelined with a toe injury and missed the majority of this series. Chris Paul again played like a top 3 point guard, willing Los Angeles to push this to seven games. But Gordon Hayward and Joe Johnson led Utah to their first playoff series win since 2010.