Week 25 NBA Storylines

After a long regular season, the NBA playoffs have officially begun. Each team has played game one of their first round series so let’s take a quick look at each matchup.

Pacers vs. Cavaliers

The Cavaliers had every opportunity to put the Pacers away, but it came down to the final shot in game one.

Paul George drained a contested 28-foot 3-pointer with 40 seconds left to cut the Cavs lead to one. LeBron missed a three on the following possession, giving Indiana a chance to win on the final shot.

On the last play of the game, the Cavs blitzed Paul George with a double-team, forcing him to give the ball up to CJ Miles. Miles got an open look, but couldn’t knock down the jumper.

After the game, George told the media, “I talked to CJ about it. In situations like that, I gotta get the last shot. I was asking for it. CJ took it upon himself.”

Even though the Pacers lost, the game exposed the Cavs many issues on the defensive end. If they’re going to have any shot at repeating as champions, their defense has to improve dramatically.

Bucks vs. Raptors

In franchise history, the Raptors have lost game one of every playoff series they have been in except for a series against the Sixers in 2001. So, it wasn’t too much of a surprise Toronto gave up game one to Milwaukee.

What was a surprise was how poorly Lowry and Derozan shot. The Raptors back-court duo combined to shoot 9–32 from the field and 0–8 from deep in game one.

The Greek Freak was a monster for Milwaukee, putting up 28 points on just 18 shots. So, they’ll head back home having taken at least one game on the road.

Toronto should be able to bounce back in game two, assuming DeRozan and Lowry improve their efficiency. If not, Drake’s Raptors might be in trouble.

Grizzlies vs. Spurs

Kawhi Leonard was an MVP candidate for a reason, and he showed that in game one of this series. Leonard finished the game with 32 points, and got plenty of help from Aldridge who was playing bully-ball in the post with Memphis’ big men.

After getting outscored by Memphis in the first quarter, the Spurs crushed the Grizzlies for the rest of the game.

Conley and Gasol were excellent for the Grizzlies, but they didn’t have much help otherwise. Not having Tony Allen is also a huge blow for Memphis’ defense.

They’ll face off again in game two tonight, but I’d be very surprised to see Memphis steal a game on the road.

Jazz vs. Clippers

Not only did Joe Johnson hilariously pull the chair on Blake Griffin in game one, he came up with the game-winning bucket to give the Jazz a 1–0 series lead.

After CP3 banked in a running floater, the Jazz hustled down the other way without calling time-out and Iso Joe did what he does best.

Naturally, CP3 threw one of his typical tantrum’s after another heartbreaking playoff loss.

Unfortunately for Utah, Rudy Gobert went down with a left knee injury just 13 seconds into the game. He will reportedly miss game two and his availability for the rest of the series is uncertain. If he can’t return, it’d be a huge blow to the Jazz. Gobert has been the leader of their defense all season, and winning the series without him would be a tall task.

Hawks vs. Wizards

John Wall is the best player in this series — and it’s not even a debate. He absolutely torched Atlanta’s defense on Sunday, blowing by them multiple times on his way to 32 points and 14 assists.

If the Hawks are going to have any chance in this series, they are going to have to find a way to limit Wall’s production. Otherwise, this one could be over quickly.

Blazers vs. Warriors

We knew this from the start, but the Blazers are in trouble. Lillard and McCollum combined for 75 points while shooting over 50% from the field in game one. They can’t play much better than that, and Portland still lost by double-digits.

The good news is Portland showed they can at least make this series entertaining — something the Nuggets probably wouldn’t have done if they made the playoffs.

As for Golden State, Durant is BACK. He scored 32 points on an efficient 12 of 20 from the field. He showed no signs of still coming back from an injury.

Curry poured in 29 points of his own, but Draymond Green was the MVP of their game on Sunday.

Green was an absolute force on the defensive end, disrupting Portland’s offense all over the court — including two enormous blocks at the rim.

If you didn’t think he was the defensive player of the year before, his game on Sunday should have convinced you.

Bulls vs. Celtics

The NBA playoffs are very different from March Madness in that there are rarely ever upsets. However, heading into this series many people saw the Bulls as a team who had potential to take down the #1 seeded Boston Celtics.

In game one, the Bulls got the win thanks to 30 points from Jimmy Butler and a break-out game for Bobby Portis.

Butler is clearly the best player in this series, and it’s difficult to win a playoff matchup when you don’t have the best player. Butler really turned it up a notch in the 2nd half, and that was a major key in their victory on Sunday.

Isaiah Thomas had 33 points in what had to have been an incredibly emotional game for him. Unfortunately, his teammates didn’t help carry much of the scoring load though.

The Celtics will look to bounce back in game two on Tuesday, but this series has the potential to go seven games.

Thunder vs. Rockets

In the battle of the top two MVP candidates, James Harden proved to be a much more valuable player on Sunday night.

The Beard led the Rockets to a blowout 118–87 victory with 37 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds.

Harden struggled from downtown, shooting just 3–11 from deep, but he was incredibly efficient getting to the rack all night long.

Westbrook, on the other hand, recorded more shot attempts than points and more turnovers than assists. Not exactly an ideal stat line.

We’ll see if OKC can tie the series up on Wednesday.

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