NBA Playoffs Round 1 Recap
Cleveland Cavaliers sweep Indiana Pacers
While the Pacers fought hard and had a chance to win every game in this series, the Cavaliers out fought them. The Pacers lost by a combined 16 points in their first time being swept, and they blew a 26 point lead in Game 3. LeBron James, who became the playoff monster we’re used to seeing, averaged 32.8 points, 9 assists, 9.8 rebounds, 3 steals, and 1 block per game in the series. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love we’re also really important in the Cavaliers sweeping the Pacers. Paul George, who averaged 28 points, 7.3 assists, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks per game, played well and fought hard. Myles Turner also played well averaging 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. In game 3, the Pacers were up by 25 points at halftime. I guess they took their foot off the gas, and LeBron James made them pay for it, having 41 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists, and 2 blocks. The Cavaliers made the historic comeback and won by 5. The Pacers were out worked, and it seemed the Cavaliers wanted the series more than they did.
Golden State Warriors sweep Portland Trail Blazers
YouTuber Mike Korzemba tweeted “Okay Golden State we get it… you’re really good at basketball.” That tweet pretty much sums up the series. The Warriors dominated the series even though star forward Kevin Durant was out for 2 of the 4 games due to injury. Steph Curry averaged 29.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 0.8 blocks per game. Draymond Green was a beast defensively averaging 4.3 blocks, 1.5 steals, and 9.5 rebounds per game. Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, and Draymond Green lit it up from behind the arc with a 45.5 combined three point percentage. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum also had a good series. Damian averaged 27.8 points, 3.3 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks per game. C.J. was the second best scorer on the Trail Blazers averaging 22.5 points. They had a good series but they were out talented and out performed by the Golden State Warriors.
Houston Rockets beat Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games
Thunder fans should fear the beard. James Harden lead the Rockets along with a strong performance from their bench in game 4. James Harden averaged 33.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 7 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.6 blocks per game. He was a man on a mission in that series, but so was Russell “Triple-Double” Westbrook. Russell averaged a triple-double this series with 37.4 points, 10.8 assists, 11.6 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game. Now Patrick Beverley and Andre Roberson probably had the hardest job in the series, guarding these two beasts. Patrick Beverley, who defended Russell Westbrook, averaged 11.6 points, 3 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 steals, and 0 blocks per game. Andre Roberson, who defended James Harden, averaged 11.6 points, 1.8 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 2.4 steals, and 3.4 blocks per game. The Thunder’s main problem was when Russell Westbrook went to the bench, their team fell apart. A good example would be in game 4. James Harden didn’t have a great game, only having 16 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, and 7 turnovers, yet the Rockets still won by 4, because of their bench, who scored 64 of the 113 total points. The Thunder are close to being championship contenders, but they are just missing a key piece.
Toronto Raptors beat Milwaukee Bucks in 6 games
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry survive a scary series against the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis and the Bucks almost forced a game 7 when the Raptors blew a 25 point lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Raptors came together and pulled through and won by 3. The series was pretty defensive with 3 games where neither team scored 100 points and 1 game where neither team score above 90 points. DeMar DeRozan, the biggest reason the Raptors are still in this series, averaged 23.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0 blocks per game. His offensive sidekick Kyle Lowry averaged 14.3 points and 5.2 assists per game, and his defensive sidekick Serge Ibocka averaged 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game. Giannis had a really good series as well averaging 24.8 points, 4 assists, 9.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 2.2 steals per game. He was the main reason they were contenders in this series. Kris Middleton also had a pretty good series averging 14.5 points, 4.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2 steals, and 0 blocks per game. The Raptors got lucky in game 6, but they earned every other win in the series.
San Antonio Spurs beat Memphis Grizzlies in 6 games
The Spurs beat the Grizzlies again in the playoffs for the 3rd time in the last 5 years. It was a hard fought series featuring the first overtime game in this year’s playoffs. Marc Gasol hit the game winning shot in that game, which was game 4. Marc averaged 19.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 0.3 steals per game. His teammate Mike Conley averaged 24.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7 assists, 0.5 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game. Mike and Marc’s counterparts Finals MVPs Kwahi Leonard (in 2014) and Tony Parker (in 2007) had good series as well. Kwahi averaged 31.2 points, 6 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.2 blocks, and 2 steals per game, and Tony averaged 16.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0 blocks per game. LaMarcus Aldridge also had a good series. He averaged 14.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 0.5 steals per game. The series was a “grit and grind” series and the Spurs, once again, won.
Washington Wizards beat Atlanta Hawks in 6 games
The Wizards win in a high scoring series against the Hawks. John Wall and Bradley Beal both scored over 25 points per game, and Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder both scored about 24 points per game. John Wall averaged 29.5 points, 10.3 assists, 4 rebounds, 1.7 steals, and 0.7 blocks per game. He was a pretty big reason that the Wizards won. Bradley Beal averaged 25.8 points, 2.2 assists, 2.3 steals , 0.8 blocks , and 3.7 rebounds per game. One big reason that the Hawks lost was that star center Dwight Howard didn’t perform as well as he could have. He averaged 8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, 1 steal per game. He is known as a pretty good defensive player considering he has 3 defensive player of the year awards, and he only averaged 0.8 blocks and 3.7 rebounds on 26.2 minutes per game. Thankfully Paul and Dennis picked up the slack. Paul averaged 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.7 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game, and Dennis averaged 24.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 0 blocks, and 1 steal per game. They were a major part in forcing this series to 6 games. In the end, the Wizards out scored the Hawks, and they took advantage of Dwight Howard’s poor performance to win the series.
Boston Celtics beat Chicago Bulls in 6 games
The Bulls shocked the NBA when they won the first 2 games in this series, but it was clear that the Celtics were the better team during games 3 through 6. The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler and Dwane Wade while the Celtics were led by Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. Jimmy Butler averaged 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.8 blocks, and 1.7 steals per game while Dwane Wade had a solid series averaging 15 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 0.8 steals per game. They were key in the wins in games 1 and 2. The Celtics turned it on in games 3 through 6. Brad Stevens, the Celtics coach, I guess said something because the Celtics turned a complete 180. They won their next 4 games to win the series. Isaiah Thomas averaged 23 points, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 5.7 assists, and 4.3 rebounds per game, and Al Horford averaged 15.3 points, 1.2 steals, 0.5 blocks, 6.5 assists, and 8.5 rebounds per game. Their performances were key in winning the series.
Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Clippers in 7 games
The Jazz hold off the Clippers in a back-and-fourth series. This was anybody’s series to take. The Clippers and the Jazz both have a lot of depth on their bench. This series was close until the very end. Chris Paul averaged 25.3 points, 0.1 blocks, 9.9 assists, 1.7 steals, and 5 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan was key on the boards averaging 15.4 points, 0.9 blocks, 0.7 assists, 0.4 steals, and 14.3 rebounds per game. Paul Pierce averaged 3 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 0.2 steals, and 0 blocks per game in his final playoff series. Blake Griffin averaged 20.3 points, 0.7 steals, 0.3 blocks, 2.3 assists, and 6 rebounds per game in the 3 games he played in before exiting the series due to a toe injury. Another star who was injured was Rudy Gobert, and he averaged 10.5 points, 1.8 steals, 1.5 blocks, 1 assist, and 9.3 rebounds per game when he came back from a knee injury in game 4. All-Star Gordon Hayward averaged 23.7 points, 0.7 steals, 2.9 assists, 0.3 blocks, and 7.3 rebounds per game. An unexpected star in the series was Joe Johnson. He hit the game winning shot in game 1, and he led the game in scoring in scoring with 28 points in game 4. He averaged 15.7 points, 0.1 blocks, 3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 4.1 rebounds per game. Sometimes it takes an unexpected hero to win a back-and-fourth series, and that exactly what Joe Johnson and the Jazz did.