What We Learned from Day 1 in the NBA Playoffs

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NBA Playoffs

            Everyone…we are officially back. After grinding through the post All-Star schedule, we have finally reached the playoffs. It feels weird not having a LeBron James team in the post season, but hey when you try to trade your whole team in the middle of the season, maybe this is what he deserves. No more games with teams that are subtly and not so subtly tanking, by the way, shout out to the Knicks for FINALLY learning how to be bad. With eight games the past two days, we now have a little glimpse into every series. The question is, what have we learned so far? We definitely had some surprises on the first day of the playoffs, with three underdogs winning on the road. Is this just a fluke, or are we witnessing something more than that? Let’s find out together.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

            If I told you that D’Angelo Russell started the game 1-10 from the field, how many points would you think the Nets would be losing by? 10? 15? Nope, they had a lead at that point. It was just one of those games for Brooklyn. It seems fitting that the first playoff game of the post season ended in an upset. Look, there’s no reason for Philly to panic here. The 76ers had more rebounds, assists, and blocks than the Nets. The issue was they shot 3-25 from three, and made under 70% of their free throws, that probably won’t happen again at any point during the series. Joel Embiid also didn’t look 100%, he definitely settled for jumpers more often than we are used to seeing.

            All that being said, it’s definitely not a great look when you’re getting booed at home in Game 1…but give a ton of credit to the Nets here. Joe Harris got going early when Russell wasn’t playing well, and Caris LeVert played as well as we’ve seen him all year with 23 points and hitting all three of his three-point attempts. I’m so glad LeVert looks to be back in his form before his devastating injury, such an amazing story. The Nets winning a game on the road puts them in a great situation moving forward. We know this Philly team has struggled with chemistry issues at times, and putting that added pressure on them heading into Game 2 might just play to the Nets advantage.

Orlando Magic vs. Toronto Raptors

Kyle Lowry and choking in the playoffs, name a more iconic duo. I mean…what do Raptors fans have to do to catch a break in the playoffs? They are quietly up there in the most tortured fanbase conversation. But, like I said before, this is no time to panic! Even though Lowry went 0-7 from the field and put up a goose egg in game one. They still have the best player in the series in Kawhi Leonard, who along with Pascal Siakam, had 20+ points and looked in complete control. The Magic shot 48% from three as a team, that’s not happening again. I wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto swept the remaining games here, but it does have to be worrisome they choked away another Game 1.

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times, D.J. Augustin is an all-world player, and we should treat him as such. What a performance, the stones you have to have to go into an opposing arena and drop the game winner in the playoffs is astounding. Outside of D.J. the next highest scoring player for Orlando was Fournier with 16. The Magic did just enough to steal a game on the road, and they are going to need Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic to be more involved in Game 2 if they want to try and really put the clamps down on Toronto.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors

            Our first game where everything went as we thought it would! I do love this Clippers team, I think they are a great story. However, they just don’t have the horses to run with this Golden State team. They are going to need a complete game from everyone if they have a chance of stealing a game. Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams combined for 51 of the Clippers 104 points. They also outscored the entire starting five for L.A. That just can’t happen against Golden State, especially in a game where K.D. got tossed and Steph went full nuclear chef mode.         

            When you have Draymond Green going for 17 points and shooting 50% from three, you’re going to have a rough night. The Warriors didn’t really look scared at any point during this game, and they shouldn’t, but it was still nice to see them take care of business against a team that isn’t as talented as them. Steph has gotten to the point where he scores 38 and we just don’t even bat an eye. He was absolutely incredible last night, and made up for Klay Thompson not having a great shooting night and getting 22 total points from their bench.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Denver Nuggets

            I know I’ve said not to panic, but, when you play the Spurs, it’s a totally different animal. You know they are going to make you work on the defensive end of the floor, and if you’re cuts aren’t perfect they will make you pay for it. Also, Derrick White is good everyone, and the San Antonio machine continues to churn on. With Game 1 secured, the Spurs are in prime position to try and knock off the second seed in the West.

            I love Jokic a lot. I think he should be first team All-NBA, but you have to take more than nine shots in a game, you just have to. There’s no reason Jamaal Murray should be taking twenty four shots. The Nuggets did do some good things on Saturday Night, they had more rebounds than the Spurs, and 13 of those came on the offensive glass. You can bully this Spurs team a little, and I think the Nuggets will need to exploit that moving forward. Denver shot 21% as a team from deep, that probably won’t happen again, but they need to continue to get up good shots and take care of business in Game 2.

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