2017 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Week Preview

 

2017 NBA Playoffs Round 1 ends by this Sunday. Some teams have already moved on to the NBA Conference Semifinals. The defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers, the 2-seed in the East, beat Indiana 4 games to 0 in their 7-game series.

Golden State, the 1-seed in the West, beat Portland 4 games to 0 in their 7-game series. Every other team appears to be in a desperate struggle to get past their Round 1 opponents. This includes San Antonio who is in a 2 to 2 series tie with Memphis going into Game 5 on Tuesday night, April 25.

Check out a preview of this week’s NBA Playoff Action!

2017 NBA Playoffs Round 1 Week Preview

NBA Western Conference Playoffs

** Records and stats as of April 23 and April 24

1 Boston Celtics (2-2) vs 8 Chicago Bulls (2-2)

Game 5: Wednesday, April 26
Game 6: Friday, April 28
Game 7: Sunday, April 30 *If necessary

After Chicago won Game 1 106 to 102, most NBA analysts believed that the Celtics would storm back and win Game 2. That didn’t happen. Instead, Chicago blitzed Boston 111 to 97 in Game 2. But, as soon as the series moved to the United Center in Chicago, the Celtics turned it on. They dominated Chicago 104 to 87 in Game 3 and 104 to 95 in Game 4.

Boston shared the rock That’s how they won Game 3. The Celtics had 34 assists in Game 3 compared to only 14 for the Bulls. Boston won Game 4 by holding the Bulls to 42.1% from the field and 20.8% from three.

It’s difficult for me to see Chicago making the necessary adjustments to get back into this series. I think Boston continues to play excellent defense, which is based around allowing Jimmy Butler to create while stopping his teammates from getting it going. If I’m right, the Celtics should win and cover the spread in both Game 5 and Game 6.

I like Boston to march on to the NBA Conference Semifinals before Sunday.

3 Toronto Raptors (3-1) vs 6 Milwaukee Bucks (1-3)

Game 5: Monday, April 24 at 7:00 pm ET
Toronto Raptors 118, Milwaukee Bucks 93
Game 6: Thursday, April 27
Game 7: Saturday, April 29 *If necessary

Toronto has taken charge of this series. The Raptors lost Game 1 83 to 97. They bounced back with a terrific 106 to 101 win in Game 2. In Game 3, Bucks’ coach Jason Kidd made the necessary adjustments, which led to a stunning 104 to 77 Milwaukee win. But, since Game 3, Toronto has done pretty much what it wants. The Raptors beat Milwaukee 87 to 76 in Game 4. They dominated the Bucks 118 to 93 on April 24 in Game 5.

The Game 5 win is the one that should give Toronto fans hope going into Game 6 on Thursday. Although Toronto allowed Milwaukee to shoot 50% from the field and 45.5% from three, the Raptors outrebounded the Bucks 40 to 23.

What had to be exhilarating for Raptor fans is how Norman Powell led the Raptors in scoring with 25 points. If Powell remains hot throughout the playoffs, Toronto has a reason to be incredibly bullish. We know that Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan, and Kyle Lowry can put the ball in the basket.
Another scorer makes the Raptors that much more difficult to beat. Kidd’s got a tough job staving off elimination this Thursday.

4 Washington Wizards (2-2) vs 5 Atlanta Hawks (2-2)

Game 4: Monday, April 24 at 8:00 pm ET
Atlanta Hawks 111, Washington Wizards 101
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26
Game 6: Friday, April 28 *If necessary
Game 7: Sunday, April 30 *If necessary

Like Boston, Atlanta has turned their series versus Washington right around. The Wizards looked fantastic at the Verizon Center in D.C. when beating Atlanta 114 to 107 in Game 1 and 109 to 101 in Game 2.

Then, the Hawks Picked it up big time in Game 3 and Game 4. In Game 3, Atlanta held the Wizards to 41.6% shooting from the field and 24.1% shooting from three. They outrebounded the Wizards 50 to 42.

Game 4 saw seven Atlanta players score in double-figures. Dennis Schroeder scored 18. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 15. Paul Millsap scored 19. Taurean Prince scored 11. Both Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore each scored 16 while Jose Calderon threw in 10.

What’s going to happen in Game 5 through Game 7? It’s tough to say. On one hand, Washington gets the edge because 2 of the 3 remaining games are in D.C. On the other hand, it’s hard to see what adjustments Washington can possibly make to beat Atlanta.

In Game 4, John Wall scored 22 points and dished 10 assists. Bradley Beal scored 32 points. The only way for Washington to beat Atlanta is for one of those guys to score more because nobody else is stepping it up for the Wizards. But, if Wall improves, there’s the danger that Beal’s scoring might suffer. If Beal improves, there’s the danger that Wall doesn’t score any more than around 22.

I think the Washington Wizards are in trouble.

NBA Western Conference Playoffs

** Records and stats as of April 23 and April 24

2 San Antonio Spurs vs 7 Memphis Grizzlies

Game 5: Tuesday, April 25 at 9:00 pm ET
Game 6: Thursday, April 27
Game 7: Saturday, April 29 *If necessary

Who knew this was going to turn into a series? After the first two games, San Antonio appeared well on their way to a 4-game sweep of the talented, but almost always underachieving, Memphis Grizzlies. Then, almost like magic, the Grizzlies stormed back to a 105 to 94 Game 3 win and a 110 to 108 Game 4 win in overtime.

Are the Spurs in trouble? They might be. Although San Antonio pushed Memphis to overtime in Game 4, Memphis’s style of basketball won out. The Grizzlies held San Antonio to 42.3% shooting from the field and 30% shooting from three. They outrebounded the Spurs 51 to 37.

Unless San Antonio somehow, someway, matches the Grizzlies’ rebounding and defensive intensity, the Spurs could be headed home for the NBA Conference Semifinals.

Memphis is just a bad match up for Gregg Popovich’s squad.

3 Houston Rockets (3-1) vs 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (1-3)

Game 5: Tuesday, April 25 at 8:00 pm ET
Game 6: Thursday, April 27 *If necessary
Game 7: Saturday, April 29 *If necessary

Oh, man, what are you doing, Billy Donovan? When Russell Westbrook is on the floor, it’s hard to see Houston beating the Thunder. Once Billy pulls Westbrook, things fall apart for OKC. It happened in Game 4 when Houston turned around a 6-point deficit into an 81 to 79 Rockets lead after Westbrook left the floor.

Unless Donovan doesn’t rest Westbrook more than a minute or two during the entire game, Houston should make quick work of the Thunder. Westbrook is this year’s NBA MVP. Oklahoma City thrives when he plays. When he doesn’t, they have no shot of winning.

That’s just the way it goes. So, if you’re Billy Donovan and you want to win, you can’t rest Russell Westbrook. Mike Dantoni, Houston’s coach, is smart enough to know what adjustment to make once Westbrook goes to the bench.

Dammitt, Billy! Don’t rest Westbrook.

4 L.A. Clippers vs 5 Utah Jazz

Game 5: Tuesday, April 25 at 10:30 pm ET
Game 6: Friday, April 28
Game 7: Sunday, April 30 *If necessary

The Clippers got some terrible news after their 111 to 106 Game 3 win over Utah. Blake Griffin, due to a toe injury, is out for the rest of the NBA Playoffs. Utah subsequently beat the Clippers 105 to 98 in Game 4.

But, I’m not ready to right off Los Angeles’ A-Hoops Team just yet. I think that the Clippers have a decided edge at the point-guard position with Chris Paul versus Dante Exum and George Hill.

I also believe that DeAndre Jordan comes out swinging on Tuesday night and in the rest of this series. Utah center Rudy Gobert outplayed Jordan in Game 4. Gobert scored 15 and grabbed 13 boards. Jordan scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.

I think DeAndre could turn those stats around against Gobert in Game 5. My gut tells me that this series goes 7 with Utah pulling out the Game 7 win. Why Utah? Because by Game 7, I believe both Jordan and CP3 are going to be spent. Game 7 is when Blake’s loss will truly be felt.

Enjoy the rest of NBA Playoffs Round 1. Next week, the NBA Conference Semifinals start. See you then.