The NBA postseason is upon us and each and every series is now underway, it’s a great time of the season where upsets and close shaves reign supreme. A reminder of the series match-ups that take centre stage at the moment –
(1) Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards (8)
(2) Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks (7)
(3) Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat (6)
(4) Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers (5)
(1) Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves (8)
(2) Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs (7)
(3) Portland Trailblazers v New Orleans Pelicans (6)
(4) Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz (5)
Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards – Raptors lead 1-0
The Raptors got off to the start they wanted in this series but they did have to work hard for it against the Wizards. These two teams have met in the postseason recently, back in 2015 when the Wizards swept the Raptors in the first round.
The Wizards had the lead midway through the final quarter before CJ Miles hit one of his four threes for the night to put the Raptors back in front and they managed to keep the Wizards at bay from that point on.
The Raptors shooting was a key point in this game, the team going 16/30 from deep – Miles hitting four and Serge Ibaka and Delon Wright each hitting three. Both of the latter players had big games, particularly in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
Game 1 – TOR: 114, WAS: 106
Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks – Celtics lead 1-0
An incredible finish to this game with three three-point shots being knocked down in the final 15-odd seconds to send this game to overtime – including a shot from near half court by Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton to send the game to overtime with 0.5secs remaining.
The Celtics had great games from a number of players in the absence of Kyrie Irving – Al Horford had 24pts and 12rbds, Terry Rozier 23pts, Jaylen Brown 20pts and rookie Jayson Tatum finished with 19pts and 10rbds.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks, along with Middleton, but he did get fouled out of the game during the OT period.
The problem for the Bucks in the end was their turnovers, they had 20 of them and the Celtics were able to capitalise with 27 of their points coming from those turnovers.
Game 1 – BOS: 113, MIL: 107
Philadelphia 76ers v Miami Heat – 76ers lead 1-0
Without Joel Embiid, still rocking the face mask (broken orbital bone) and sitting on the sidelines, the 76ers continued on their merry way, winning their 17th game in a row.
Ben Simmons was sensational as usual with 17pts, 9rbds and 14asts but it was the shooting and scoring of Ersan Illyasova, Marco Belinelli and JJ Redick who got the job done for the 76ers.
The Heat were competitive in the first half but were outscored in the second half 74-43 and in coming games will need more input from Goran Dragic and, in particular, Hassan Whiteside if they are to have any chance.
Game 1 – PHI: 130, MIA: 103
Cleveland Cavaliers v Indiana Pacers – Pacers lead 1-0
A great start to this series by the Indiana Pacers taking the first game in the hostile Cleveland “Q”, led by Victor Oladipo.
The Pacers led from the get-go, with a fast starting 33-14 first quarter they never looked back. During the final quarter the Cavs managed to whittle the lead down to single figures but Oladipo and the Pacers had other ideas.
The Pacers were swept in the first round in the last years postseason by the Cavs and, with some recent quotes in the media by Cavs admin, they’ve come into this years match-up with a point to prove.
LeBron James finished with a triple double but that’s about all for the Cavs, they shot poorly, defended poorly and were simply run off the court by the visitors.
Game 1 – IND: 98, CLE: 80
Houston Rockets v Minnesota Timberwolves – Rockets lead 1-0
The Rockets survived a scare at home in game one of their series against the Timberwolves. There’s no real surprise that it was James Harden who got the Rockets over the line, “The Beard” scoring 11pts in a row for his team to put some distance between them and the Timberwolves in a tense final quarter.
Harden finished the game with 44pts and Clint Capela also had a big game, particularly in the first half where he had 20pts and 10rbds at the main break.
Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague played well for the Timberwolves and their were very good contributions off the bench from Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford. However, Karl Anthony Towns had a quiet game, only scoring 8pts in 40mins off nine shot attempts and he struggled to beat the Rockets suffocating defense on him.
Game 1 – HOU: 104, MIN: 101
Golden State Warriors v San Antonio Spurs – Warriors lead 1-0
It is an extremely weird feeling seeing these two teams come together in just the first round of the playoffs, both teams are mainstays of the Western Conference Finals but one will be knocked out much earlier this time around.
Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green led the way for the Warriors, who are going forward without Steph Curry who has been out since March 23 with a knee injury.
Thompson scored 27pts on 11/13 shooting, Durant had 24pts, 8rbds and 7asts and Green had a near triple double as well with 12pts, 11asts and 8rbds.
LaMarcus Aldridge was held to just 14pts by the Warriors defense and he’s going to need plenty of help from the outside shooters and maybe some veteran magic from the likes of Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker for the Spurs to have any real chance in this series.
Game 1 – GS: 113, SA: 92
Portland Trailblazers v New Orleans Pelicans – Pelicans lead 1-0
The Pelicans came, they saw and they stole home court advantage in the first game of the series against the Trailblazers.
Rajon Rondo has been the missing piece for the Pelicans, or rather, a player like Rondo who can man the point and set the table for the other four players on the court – he finished with 17 assists for this game. This allows Jrue Holiday to be an attacking option while still being able to create off those attacks.
It was “The Brow” (Anthony Davis) though who continues to have big games for his team, finishing this one with 35pts, 14rbds and 4blks.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum once again paced the Trailblazers and they almost came back from a 19pt deficit during the final quarter but were just unable to get over the line. Someone else will need to step up and be an offensive option though.
Game 1 – NO: 97, POR: 95
Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz – Thunder lead 1-0
Paul George does seem to lift to another level when playoffs come around and he is a big reason why OKC were able to get by the Jazz in the first game of the series.
The Jazz got out to a fast start, leading the Thunder by double digits during the first quarter before George started knocking down shots to tie it up heading into the first break. He finished the game with 36pts, including eight from downtown.
This was a game where fans could see how good the “big 3” could be and how hard it could be to stop them in flight. Carmelo Anthony finished with 15pts in a fairly quiet display behind George and Russell Westbrook, who had 29pts, 13rbds and 8asts.
The Jazz got another good game from rookie Donovan Mitchell (27pts, 10rbds), who did injure himself during the game but continued to play on although was hampered as the game went on.
Game 1 – OKC: 116, UTA: 108