Now that the play-in game is over (Blazers beat the Grizzlies to get the 8th seed in the West), the playoffs are here—today—and games will be starting at noon. It’s simply broken into two nights that’ll give us a preview of the entire playoffs, or at least round one.
First we have the Nuggets/Jazz: should be a good series that goes back and forth. Next we have Raptors/Nets: this one should be a sweep. This should be an very easy one for the Raptors. Then we have 76ers/Celtics: this one will be fun. I wish Simmons didn’t get hurt—that would’ve given Philly a better chance, but I’m interested to see Embiid in the playoffs again. What will he do in a situation where he has to be the guy. Will he be the best guy on the floor each night? Ultimately though, the Celtics will be too much for the 6ers.
Last game of the night will be my favorite today: Mavericks/Clippers. Luka versus the favored Clippers. The Clippers have so many defenders that will give Luka fits the whole series. Leonard, Beverley, and George will all take turns guarding him, and that sounds like a nightmare. BUT, if he can find a way to still be himself through this impossible defense, this series will be a blast to watch.
Tomorrow at lunch will be Bucks/Magic. This one should be a 4-0 sweep. Next we’ll have Heat/Pacers. Storylines here: Jimmy Butler vs T.J. Warren, and if Oladipo can return to his old self and make this an interesting series. The next two games are my favorites of round one. Thunder/Rockets will be a blast to watch, with so many storylines and reasons to tune in. Paul vs Harden is the main one (they played together for two years, and eventually ‘hated’ each other. This will be Paul’s revenge to being traded by the Rockets. Big vs Small: Can the Thunder play Adams enough to dominate against the small ball lineup, or will the Rockets’ outside shooting cause a problem for a traditional big man? When will Westbrook return, and will it be too late.
Last series, Blazers/Lakers. Portland is the team on everyone’s radar. They are the ‘darlings’ right now, because they fought their way into these playoffs since the bubble started. Lillard has been incredible. Two big problems though: they can’t seem to play any defense, and they’re about to face the Lakers. After everything Portland did to get a spot in this year’s playoffs, to have now go against LeBron and Davis just doesn’t see fair. But if Portland can keep that same momentum that got them here, as the Lakers have coasted through these seeding games, they might be able to make this an interesting series.