On Sunday the first round of the playoffs officially came to a close with the Utah Jazz eliminating the LA Clippers in game 7. Let’s take a look back at the first round and a preview of what’s on the horizon in round two.
With the season and future of the team on the line, the Clippers were a major disappointment in game 7 against Utah. Chris Paul was nowhere to be found in the 2nd half and JJ Redick didn’t hit his first 3-pointer until the game was basically over.
The Clippers are the first team in NBA history to blow a series lead in five straight postseasons. pic.twitter.com/erZVz2RXRP
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 30, 2017
The Jazz will move on to face Utah in the second round, while the Clippers will head into a summer of uncertainty.
Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and JJ Redick can all be free agents this summer. It seems like Redick will leave. He’s bound to get a big offer in free agency, and it would be tough for the Clippers to keep him and improve. As for Paul, he’ll be heading into his 13th season. Is it time to go chase a ring? Would he look at joining a team like San Antonio?
Blake’s situation is much more tricky because of his injury history. Naturally the Blake for Melo rumors will probably resurface this summer. Would those teams finally pull the trigger on that deal?
At this point, the core is only getting older and it will come down to whether or not the players want to run it back with the same group again.
It’s going to be an interesting summer for this team to say the least.
Larry Bird Steps Down in Indiana
The Pacers have yet to make it official, but Larry Bird is stepping down as President of the Pacers. Indiana’s GM Kevin Pritchard will now take over as the top decision maker.
Obviously, this is huge news as Paul George will likely be the story of the summer.
One school of thought is that Bird doesn’t want to be the guy to trade George, and that Pritchard will be the one to rebuild the team.
Gut first reaction: Bird stepping down, Pritchard in is a sign that a rebuild is coming to Indiana, and that includes a Paul George trade.
— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) April 28, 2017
On the other hand, Pritchard could still look to build a contender around George —an enormous risk with George’s 2018 free agency looming.
For the first domino to fall, we’ll need to see if George is selected to an All-NBA team or not. If he makes All-NBA, staying in Indiana becomes a little more likely. If not, a trade could happen as early as the draft.
Jimmy Butler is another name that has popped up in trade talks over the past few years. Does he have a future in Chicago?
Jimmy Butler asked about playing with the Chicago Bulls in the future. pic.twitter.com/qvGl1LmWgV
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) April 29, 2017
Butler also mentioned he would like the team to keep Rondo for next season.
Jimmy Butler wants Rajon Rondo back. pic.twitter.com/hLccon8s0r
— ⓂarcusD (@_MarcusD2_) April 29, 2017
As for Dwyane Wade, he wants to see where the organization is headed before he makes any decisions.
Dwyane Wade discusses his player option this summer pic.twitter.com/xd4nwNxNoP
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) April 29, 2017
When asked if he has a desire to chase another ring, Wade didn’t rule that out as an option.
Is this the last of Dwyane Wade on his hometown team, the Chicago Bulls? pic.twitter.com/VjIUQeC2Um
— Bulls Nation (@BullsNationNet) April 30, 2017
Celtics vs. Wizards
After getting off to a quick 16–0 lead in the first quarter, the Celtics outscored the Wizards 35–26 in the second quarter and 36–16 in the third quarter.
What fueled Boston’s run? Isaiah Thomas, of course.
— GM Hoops (@GM_Hoops) April 30, 2017
After getting his tooth knocked out, Isaiah hit back-to-back 3-pointers, and led the Celtics comeback with 33 points and 9 assists.
Boston hit an incredible 19 3-pointers in game one while shooting 48.7% from deep. Obviously, Boston won’t be able to continue to shoot that well. But if the rest of the series is anything like the competitiveness of game one, we’re in for an entertaining series.
Rockets vs. Spurs
In their series against Memphis, Kawhi Leonard took his game to another level. As always, he was incredible on defense. But his offense was by far the most impressive part of his game.
Leonard averaged 31.2 points per game while shooting 54.8% from the field and 48.3% from deep.
Now, he’ll have to match up against James Harden who led the Rockets past Russell Westbrook and the Thunder.
In the regular season, San Antonio won three of the team’s four match-ups against Houston this year. The Spurs’ only loss to the Rockets came in their first meeting of the season in which Harden put up 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 15 assists.
With homecourt advantage, San Antonio is definitely the favorite. Harden and the Rockets are far from an under-dog though.
Cavs vs. Raptors
The Raptors have not beaten the Cavaliers with LeBron James on the floor since last year’s playoffs.
With a slightly different roster featuring Serge Ibaka, Toronto will look to change that in the upcoming series.
While Cleveland swept the Pacers in the first round, their defense still has not been great. If they step up on the defensive end, this series could be over quickly. If not, this one could get very interesting.