NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend Recap
Okay, so let me be honest. Writing my playoff preview on Friday, I felt pretty confident in my picks and predictions. After this weekend, I clearly have zero idea what I’m talking about.
Warriors 113, Spurs 92 – GS leads series 1-0
The first game Saturday was Spurs vs. Warriors. I have the Spurs winning in 7. No way in hell that’s going to happen if they play like they did Saturday. I really thought that game was going to be more competitive. Golden State is the real deal. I had mentioned the Spurs might have a deeper bench than Golden State. Clearly I was wrong there also. 2 of the 5 starters for San Antonio were in double figures. But not even an impressive double figures. I said in my prediction article that LaMarcus Aldridge would have to play really well for San Antonio to take Golden State to 7. He scored 14 points. The other 4 starters combined for 19 points. Not going to win many ball games with a starting 5 like that. Kyle Anderson started and scored 0 points. Who is that guy even? Anyway, enough rambling about the Spurs. Golden State might end up sweeping San Antonio.
Raptors 114, Wizards 104 – TOR leads series 1-0
Next game up was Raptors vs. Wizards. Now at this point on Saturday, I was probably already 7 Bud Light’s deep because I forced myself to sit through the entire Golden State/San Antonio game. This series might be the only one I get right, or somewhat close. I have Toronto winning in 5 with Washington stealing 1. However, it seemed like Toronto did everything they could to lose that game down the stretch. Kyle Lowry doesn’t really impress me much, scoring only 11. DeMar DeRozan scored 17 but it was kind of an “ehh” 17. Fortunately, CJ Miles and Delon Wright came off the bench and produced, both scoring in double figures. Otherwise, Washington wins game 1. I still like the Raptors in 5, but they’re going to need a lot more from DeRozan and Lowry.
76ers 130, Miami 103 – PHI leads series 1-0
Still not jumping on this bandwagon….however, hanging 130 points on Miami makes it hard for me not to buy into this ‘Sixers team. On top of Cleveland completely wetting themselves and not even showing up to the arena makes the 76ers the clear favorite in the East. I’m not even going to sugarcoat it, I was never (still not) completely sold on Philly. But Philly proved Saturday that they’re all business and probably the best team in the East. Marco Belinelli, Dario Saric, and JJ Redick all scoring over 20 a piece. Ben Simmons scoring 17 and assisting on 14. Former Buck Ersan Ilyasova coming off the bench and scoring a big 17. Impressive and a statement win for the 76ers.
Pelicans 97, Trail Blazers 95 – NO leads series 1-0
The Pelicans/Blazers game was about what I expected. Anthony Davis having a huge game scoring 35 and snagging 14 rebounds. McCollum and Lillard combining for 37. What I expected. In all, had Portland not gotten off to an awful start and an overall poor first half, they win game 1 as they outscored New Orleans in the 2nd half, especially a big 4th quarter. If game 1 is any sort of indicator, this series should be a fun one to watch. Still sticking with my 6-game prediction.
Sunday I woke up all fired up. It was snowing in April and there was nothing else to do other than drink lots of beer and watch playoff basketball. On top of that, my Milwaukee Bucks kicked Sunday off at noon…so let’s begin there (unfortunately)
Celtics 113, Bucks 107
This game, being a Bucks fan, was a game where during the entire thing I couldn’t decide if I was excited or disgusted. There were times during the first half where I was excited and pumped, as the Bucks seemed to gain complete control in the 2nd quarter after being down big early. Then of course, 2 or 3 AWFUL defensive possessions took place late in the first half and just like that, I went from being excited about where things looked to be going in the first half, the Bucks outscoring Boston 30-15, to being disgusted with a few embarrassing defensive (or lack there of) possessions late and the Celtics going into half time only down 3. Needless to say, this whole game was a rollercoaster of emotions.
Let’s start with the Bucks defense. The Bucks not being able to defend is going to kill them in this series. I can’t tell you how many times I was screaming at the television telling Giannis to get off of Al Horford who BABIED Giannis all game. Suckering him into 3 cheap fouls simply because he wasn’t big nor strong enough to guard Horford and his bully ball. They also struggled mightily defending a basic high screen and roll. Then, of course, late in the game the Bucks got stops when they needed them!! WOO HOO! Aaaaaand then they don’t rebound. I remember two big stops late where the Bucks forced Boston into two terrible shots and then didn’t rebound. Which, of course, led to 2nd chance points for Boston. One being a prayer 3-point shot by Marcus Morris. I’m not even going to talk about Terry Rozier putting Eric Bledose on ice skates…all I’m going to say is Bledose could at least TRIED to recover and close out and get a hand in Rozier’s face. Instead, he gets wrecked by Rozier and then just stands in the lane and watches Rozier drain what I thought was the eventual game winner.
Which leads me into the Middleton shot. don’t get me wrong, that was an unbelievable shot and I was just as excited as I was pissed off at Bledsoe for getting busted by Rozier. But let’s be honest with ourselves…the Bucks should have NEVER been in the position! They lost that game, Boston didn’t win it.
Lastly, I want to discuss Joe Prunty’s rotation and choice of personnel down the stretch. Jabari Parker didn’t see a minute in OT, let alone the last 3-5 minutes of regulation. Instead, 40-year old Jason Terry gets some PT. And then, Tyler Zeller comes in…for maybe :37 seconds combined in OT. As a Bucks fan, Jabari not playing any big minutes is concerning. I get it, Prunty will not be the future head coach of this team (better not be anyway), which plays a part in it. But overall for Jabari’s future in Milwaukee, this doesn’t look good. The Bucks’ draft picks overall have been super disappointing over the last year or so. DJ Wilson doesn’t play…1st round pick. Jabari Parker doesn’t play in crunch time and scores a whole whopping 2 points…1st round pick. Thon Maker doesn’t see the floor…1st round pick. What’re we doing here Milwaukee??
Enough venting…back to this series. Overall, this will be a good series and I still seeing it going to 7. IF the Bucks learn how to defend…
Pacers 98, Cavaliers 80 – IND leads series 1-0
THIS…I did not see coming. I had this as a clean sweep for Cleveland. I watched maybe 2 Cavs games all regular season. I clearly misread this team as they are GOD awful! I went from watching a very entertaining Bucks/Celtics game, to this trash. This game was painful to watch. Oladipo is a stud, and Lance Stephenson is the most entertaining player in the NBA. This Pacer team straight up beat the piss out of Cleveland. The Cavs never once gained control of this game. LeBron played well, getting another triple-double. JR Smith played ok, but nothing worth writing home about. Kevin Love always seems to underachieve every game and do nothing but hit a handful of 3’s, Nance, Clarkson, Hood and Hill all brought nothing to the table in this game. LeBron has to do it all himself. Cleveland is in trouble…and Oladipo and Stephenson are out for blood. Watch out Cleveland.
Thunder 116, Jazz 108 – OKC leads series 1-0
OKC’s Big-3 absolutely took over this game. PG13 and Russ combining for 65 and Carmelo pouring in a helpful 15. This game was fun to watch, and even though OKC won, Utah put up a fight and Donovan Mitchell is a future star.
Utah had 4 of 5 starters in double figures. Derrick Favors scored a weak 7 points, but it ended up not mattering as Exum, Burks, and Crowder came in off the bench and scored double figures. This series will be fun. OKC’s Big-3 seems like they’re poised for a deep playoff run, while Coach Snyder (who I love) has this Jazz team playing great team basketball.
Rockets 104, T’Wolves 101 – HOU leads 1-0
This game was pretty par for the course. James Harden going OFF and solidifying his MVP award. Clint Capela and CP3 having pretty good games. The Rockets maybe go 8-deep, but man can they play. On the flip side, Minnesota didn’t back down! Jeff Teague and D-Rose really impressed me last night, as I didn’t see them producing like they did. I’m sticking with my 6-game prediction, as I feel like Minnesota can steal a couple from Houston, as there’s no way Harden scores 40+ every game. (Although I wouldn’t be shocked)
Overall, successful first weekend of the NBA Playoffs. Other than me being completely wrong about the Spurs/Warriors and Cavs/Pacers series, all my other picks and predictions stand to be fairly accurate as of now. Even though I picked the Bucks to lose in 7, I sure hope they get better and make games easier to watch. To close things out, here’s what’s on slate tonight:
Heat vs. 76ers – 7:00, TNT
Spurs vs. Warriors – 9:30, TNT