All eight NBA playoffs of the first round have been set – and the search for 16 victories can now officially begin.
The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers find themselves in a unique position as betting favorites in their series against the Phoenix Suns while it is seed number 7. The Brooklyn networks are the favorites that come from the east but face the challenge of their three stars – Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving – Having only played eight games together in the regular season. In the meantime, the top seed should be Philadelphia 76ers and Utah Jazz be concerned about their matchups in the first round against that Washington Wizards and Memphis grizzlies the pioneering guards like employ Bradley Beal and Yes Morant?
Our experts take a look at what to believe in in the opening round. Of Michael Porter Jr.. Taking up the scoring load for an exhausted one Denver nuggets Roster too Jimmy Butler Resurrection of the offensive excellence that the intense heat At last season’s NBA Finals, we’re sorting out what’s real and what’s not in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
Real or not: The switchable Lakers
The Lakers were terrible in the first half of their win over the Warriors for No. 7 seed Wednesday. In the second half they found their way, forcing 15 turnovers on their top notch defenses and sending a multitude of looks on Stephen Curry and attach the brackets to the supporting cast of warriors.
A noticeable difference, yes. Maybe even an upside-down switch, if you will. But the biggest problem for the Lakers in their quest to repeat themselves as champions might be health, not exertion.
The Lakers displayed a lot of character and mental toughness to keep their top-rated defense going Anthony Davis and Lebron James were out with injuries. Think about it. Their defense was better while one of the best defenders in the league was out. This is no blow to Davis. It’s a compliment to people like Alex Caruso, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma. Because without James and Davis, defense was the Lakers’ best way to win. It was the foundation of last year’s championship team, and it has to be again if the Lakers can play their way from qualifying for the game through the Western Conference.
That defense was there all year. You didn’t have to flip any switches. But they still need to get James and Davis back on track, and they absolutely need to both be healthy.
– Ramona Shelburne
Real or not, a long streak in the first round will benefit Brooklyn
Not really. While no team has won a championship with its top three goalscorers who have played fewer than 10 games together, the Brooklyn networks wouldn’t necessarily benefit from a longer series against them Boston Celtics hoping to build chemistry among their stars.
Why? Because in the regular season the Nets had a tendency to battle against teams below their level, including the Celtics. Kevin Durant said they can’t afford to see Boston as an inferior team that will be an easy task. Instead, he said the group must treat the Celtics with the respect of knowing that “we can be beaten if we don’t lock ourselves up”.
Viewing the Celtics as a team they can afford to stretch into a long streak could be dangerous for the nets – and they know it. “We understand we haven’t played many games together,” added Durant. “But we were on the field together in practice, we were in the training facility, on the bus, on the plane around each other. So if we couldn’t get on the ground, we tried to fill ourselves up.” the gaps with other things in terms of watching movies, communicating and saying what we see to one another. “
– Malika Andrews
Stephen A. Smith explains why he’s not a fan of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s comments about the bucks’ chances in the postseason.
Real or not, this sizzling heat crime
On March 14th, the intense heat had the sixth worst offense in the NBA. I don’t care how good your defense is – or how strong your vaunted culture is – you’re not going anywhere in the postseason with an offense this bad.
As of that day – a stretch that spans nearly half the regular season – Miami ranks 10th in points per possession. From April 1 to the end – two dozen games – it took fifth place. If that’s real, if the heat pulls the same “meld at the right moment” trick for the second straight season, they’re absolutely a threat to broadcast Milwaukee Bucks go back to existentialism.
I tend to believe that at least it’s real – that the heat is a good insult, if not a great one. You scored 113.3 points per 100 possessions with Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson on the floor, corresponds to the 10th rank of the Boston Celtics. Both after unequal seasons Goran Dragic and Tyler Herro seem to climb; Dragic hit 3 out of 44 out of 108 (41%) in April and May, and Herro averaged 16.7 points at 54% in his last six regular season games after returning from injury.
Miami got top-of-the-line versions of both in its run to the finals in the bubble; Dragic-Adebayo’s pick-and-roll was one of the heat’s most enduring weapons, and Herro’s scoring helped swing several games.
Go from Jae Crowder to Trevor Ariza is a downgrade – Crowder burned Milwaukee last season – but Ariza hit 35% from the deep with decent volume in Miami. Kendrick Nunn had a solid season under the radar. Dewayne Dedmon stabilized the bank.
The Heat is absolutely solid on defense and as well trained as any team. You don’t have to be an elite on the offensive to push Milwaukee. You just have to be good. They are outsiders – they should be – but they have a real chance of getting excited.
– Zach Lowe
In front Jamal Murray‘s premature ACL crack on April 12th, the Denver nuggets seemed to have found a strong offensive hierarchy with MVP favorites Nikola Jokic as the first option on the offensive, Murray as the No. 2, and Michael Porter Jr. as the third option.
Murray’s absence, compounded by the subsequent loss of the fourth top scorer Will Barton to a thigh strain, created an opportunity for porters. He’s taken full advantage of averaging 23.5 points per game since Murray fell – more than the 21.2 PPG Murray scored.
However, Porter’s efficiency is even more impressive. Although Porter increased his usage rate from 21% of the Nuggets games to 23.5%, he made 63% of his 2-point attempts and 49% of his 3-point attempts over the last month. Only his free throw shooting (85%) prevented Porter from being in the 50-40-90 club during that time.
Based on his skillful shooting at 6-foot-10 with a lanky frame, Porter has long been compared to the 2013-14 MVP Kevin Durant. Their scores stats since April 12th are strikingly similar:
Almost certainly Porter cannot stay these hot. Even Durant had never topped 3-point shooting at 42% in a season, before hitting 45% in just 35 games this year. Nobody who viewed Porter as a top prep sensation is surprised at what he’s doing. Porter’s talent was evident before back surgery affected his lonely season in Missouri, dropping him to 14th place on the 2018 draft.
Denver had the courage to wait for a second back operation that cost Porter the entire 2018-19 season. Now he’s a major reason the Nuggets can potentially win a playoff series or two without Murray.
– Kevin Pelton
Real or not: Joel Embiid is the biggest mismatch in round 1
Type of. Embiid is a disparity with practically every center except for Nikola Jokic and Rudy Gobert, two of the few who can walk from head to toe with him. No disrespect for Washington’s Troika of Hinge Points – Alex Len, Robin Lopez and Daniel Gafford – but none of them can do anything against Embiid, who was arguably the most dominant and best two-way player in the NBA this season. It should lead Philadelphia to a comfortable first-round win.
So why is the answer like this? Because there are a few other matchups across the league that could prove just as crucial to the development of the series. Ironically, they are Jokics Denver nuggets and how they will try to stop it Portland Trail Blazer‘dynamic rear area of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.
The Denver back space entering this series is the equivalent of bringing a fork to a shootout. The nuggets are without Jamal Murrayafter tearing up his ACL earlier this season. In addition, Denver will do without a starting guard Will Barton (Thigh load) and reserve protection PJ Dozier (Adductor trunk) for game 1 and probably beyond. Austin Rivers, which they recently signed to be so detailed, could also be skipped as it is in question for Saturday’s game with a non-COVID-19 disease.
No team is better placed to exploit the evils of Denver than Portland, where there are two real Clutch stars in Lillard and McCollum – both had great moments after the season, including against the Nuggets in an epic semifinals of the 2019 Western Conference seven games. The talent gap at the guard could allow this matchup to distance themselves again this year – and give the Trail Blazers the same result.
– Tim Bontemps