THE TALON

NBA Playoffs First Round Recap

Cleveland, Golden State Progress, OKC Falls Off

LeBron+James+of+the+Cleveland+Cavaliers+and+Lance+Stevenson+of+the+Indiana+Pacers
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lance Stevenson of the Indiana Pacers

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lance Stevenson of the Indiana Pacers

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lance Stevenson of the Indiana Pacers

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The first round of the 2018 NBA playoffs officially ended this past Sunday with the Cleveland Cavaliers moving on to the second round following an impressive game 7 performance by LeBron James. However, the Cavs are not anywhere near the lock for a NBA Finals title. Take a look at the three hottest teams in the East and the West following the first round of the playoffs. Also, how one of the NBA’s biggest star could not carry his team past the first round in the biggest upset of the postseason.

East:

Philadelphia 76ers (3) –

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid allowed Dwayne Wade and Co. in Miami only one win in their 5 game series, and won by double digits in 3 out of 4 of their wins. In a very physical series, Philadelphia came out looking like a potential championship team, especially when they fixed the turnover problem of the early games. Embiid looked especially elite, very similar to the end of the 76ers regular season.

Boston Celtics (2) –

By most in the sports media, the Celtics were written off at the beginning of April when it was discovered that star point guard Kyrie Irving would need surgery on his knee and miss the entire playoffs. However point guards Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart picked up the slack, and gave the Milwaukee Bucks a strong run for their money.

Cleveland Cavaliers (4) –

LeBron James, arguably the best player in the league right now and one of the best players in NBA history, single-handedly led Cleveland to the semifinals through a game 7 win. With LeBron consistently putting up 30-45 points throughout the entire series, a lack of real supporting cast was the only reason it went to seven games. If Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and Kyle Korver can improve their game in the semifinals, LeBron will undoubtedly take them to the championship.

West:

Houston Rockets-

Arguably the best team in the NBA right now, James Harden and Chris Paul III just keep getting better as the postseason progresses. Against a very formidable rival, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Harden found almost every way possible to stay completely unguarded, and with the help of Chris Paul Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets may have what it takes this year to dethrone the Warriors.

with Steph back and healthy, they could be the most dangerous team in the league”

Golden State Warriors-

Going into the postseason, one of the biggest questions was the ability of Golden State to play their same effective system without their backbone, Steph Curry. While Steph has come back for the semifinals, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green found their step in the first round against the Spurs. Giving up only one win in the fourth game, the warriors squad under Steve Kerr kept rolling, and with Steph back and healthy, they could be the most dangerous team in the league.

New Orleans Pelicans-

The Pelicans, led by Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, shut out Portland in a 4-0 win in the first round series. In the fourth game, Holiday and Davis combined for a staggering 88 points, which ties the playoff record. While this year’s New Orleans team may not have what it takes to take on the Warriors or the Rockets, next year’s MVP award is Anthony Davis’ to lose.

Some of the biggest news out of the first round was the upset of Oklahoma City, led by star Russell Westbrook by the Utah Jazz. While there was a lot of talk around the games, Russ could not ultimately carry the team on. After their game 6 loss to the Jazz, Westbrook spoke candidly about how the team cannot keep going on like this, and something has to change. Commentators have been speculating about the future of former star Carmelo Anthony, and small forward George Paul.

The second round is currently well underway, with Cleveland, Boston, and Golden State holding a 2-0 lead over their competitors, with Houston and Utah tied at 1-1. Who will advance to the Finals? The King carrying his team? The stacked Warriors? Fresh blood in the 76ers? The NBA playoffs never fail to excite.

 

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