Round 1 2017 NBA Playoffs continue this week to possibly the middle of next week. Some teams, like Golden State and Portland, don’t even play Game 4 until next Monday, April 24.
Cool! That’s gives us plenty of days of excellent NBA Playoff Action to ponder. I write about each Games 2 through Games 4 in each one of the NBA Round 1 Playoffs Series. Check it out!
Round 1 2017 NBA Playoffs Week Preview
NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
** Records and stats as of April 16 and April 17
1 Boston Celtics (0-1) vs 8 Chicago Bulls (1-0)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 18 at 5:00 pm ET
Game 3: Friday, April 21 at 7:00 pm ET
Game 4: Sunday, April 23 at 6:30 pm ET
I’m starting to believe that Boston’s fortunes in this series are going to live and die with Isaiah Thomas’s backcourt mate, Avery Bradley. Thomas, a day after his sister passed away in a car crash, played exceptionally well. Not only did Thomas score 33 points, but he also dished 6 assists, and grabbed 5 boards.
Bradley only scores 14 points per game. That average must get over 20 if the Celtics hope to beat Chicago in this 7-game series. Boston Center Al Horford is good, but he can’t handle Robin Lopez and Bobby Portis. Lopez shocked Horford, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, and the rest of Boston’s front court players, with 10 boards and 14 points. Portis came off the bench to dominate with 19 points and 9 boards.
Boston’s going to win the series only if Bradley gets it going. Will it happen? Nope. I like Chicago to win the series in 4 or 5 games.
2 Cleveland Cavaliers (2-0) vs 7 Indiana Pacers (0-2)
Game 2: Monday, April 17 at 7:00 pm ET
Cleveland 117, Indiana 111
Game 3: Thursday, April 20 at 7:00 pm ET
Game 4: Sunday, April 23 at 1:00 pm ET
Ah, that’s the Cleveland Cavaliers team that we expect to see! One of the reasons I didn’t want to write this blog until Tuesday, April 18, is because I wanted to see how the Cavs were going to perform in Game 2 versus the tough Indiana Pacers.
I had my doubts. LeBron, K-Love, and Kyrie, proved me wrong. Love scored 27 points, dished 3 assists, and grabbed 11 boards. Kyrie’s stat line was 37, 2, and 2. LeBron played over 42 minutes. He scored 25, grabbed 10, and dished 7.
The Big 3 in Cleveland took over. It was nice to see. It’s not difficult to know what happens next. Although Indiana only lost by 6 points, the Cavs didn’t seem in any danger during any point of Game 2. I think Cleveland bounces Indiana in 4 games.
3 Toronto Raptors (0-1) vs 6 Milwaukee Bucks (1-0)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 18 at 7:00 pm ET
Game 3: Thursday, April 20 at 8:00 pm ET
Game 4: Saturday, April 22 at 3:00 pm ET
Counting Game 1, Toronto hasn’t scored 100 points in their last 2 versus the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks’ defense has stepped it up big time in those last 2 match ups. More importantly, trading for Serge Ibaka, although important for Toronto’s defense, has led to the Raptors playing a different style of basketball than they used to.
Toronto must pick it up on the offensive end in this series. What it means is that PG Kyle Lowry must look for his shot. Lowry only scored 4 points in the 83 to 97 Game 1 loss. That’s not going to cut it versus a team like Milwaukee that plays great defense and has one of the Top 5 players in the NBA on their team in Giannis Antetenkounmpo.
If Lowry doesn’t get it going, the Bucks can win this series. Actually, it’s tougher than that. Lowry must get it going while Serge and Demar DeRozan continue scoring. Then, and only then, will Toronto climb back into this series.
Can the Raptors do it? I believe they can. Lowry’s a veteran who knows that he must do. Ibaka can guard The Greek Freak as well as anybody in the NBA. I’m not writing off the Raptors just yet.
4 Washington Wizards (1-0) vs 5 Atlanta Hawks (0-1)
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at 7:00 pm ET
Game 3: Saturday, April 22 at 5:30 pm ET
Game 4: Monday, April 24 at 8:00 pm ET
The Washington Wizards dominated Atlanta 38 to 28 in the third quarter of their fantastic 114 to 107 Game 1 win. But, other than that strange Q3, the Hawks played well. Atlanta outscored Washington 29 to 25 in Q1. In Q2, the Wizards only outscored the Hawks by a single point, 20 to 19. Q4 saw an even quarter, 31 to 31.
What that tells me is that Atlanta made the adjustments after Q3. The problem is that the adjustments weren’t enough to get over the 10-point difference in quarter 3. My gut says that Atlanta has a great shot of winning Game 2 on Wednesday night.
From there, I believe Atlanta does enough to win the series outright. For the Hawks to do that, two players must step it up on the offensive end: center Dwight Howard and guard Tim Hardaway Jr. Howard allowed Washington center Marcin Gortat to outplay him in Game 1. 7 points from Dwight isn’t enough.
Hardaway Jr. also only scored 7 points. He averages 14.5. If Dwight and Hardaway Jr. score more, Atlanta can pull off the 7-game series upset.
NBA Western Conference Playoffs
** Records and stats as of April 16
1 Golden State Warriors vs 8 Portland Trailblazers
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at 10:30 pm ET
Game 3: Saturday, April 22 at 10:30 pm ET
Game 4: Monday, April 24 at 10:30 pm ET
The Warriors won Game 1 over the Portland Trailblazers 121 to 109 via attrition. What’s attrition? Per a Google search, it’s the “the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure”.
Portland’s Big 2, guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, were brilliant in Game 1. Lillard scored 34 points, grabbed 5 boards, and dished 3 assists. McCollum scored 41 points, grabbed 8 boards, and dished an assist.
But, Golden State’s defense ran those 2 guys ragged. By the fourth quarter, McCollum and Lillard were spent. Neither had enough energy to maintain their brilliant play. Up until Q4, where Golden State outscored Portland 33 to 21, the Blazers had held their own.
Portland outscored Golden State 29 to 25 in Q2. They played the Warriors to an even Q3, 32 to 32. It was that Q4, after Lillard and McCollum had gone nuts, when the Warriors stepped it up.
I think the Trailblazers can make the necessary adjustments. If they do, they could push Golden State to at least 6 games in this series.
2 San Antonio Spurs (2-0) vs 7 Memphis Grizzlies (0-2)
Game 2: Monday, April 17 at 9:30 pm ET
San Antonio 96, Memphis 82
Game 3: Thursday, April 20 at 9:30 pm ET
Game 4: Saturday, April 22 at 8:00 pm ET
The Grizzlies have tried to beat San Antonio in 2 games this season via their slow down, let’s play some defense, style. What a shame. It’s not going to happen.
The problem that Memphis has is that by playing that style, it becomes a one-on-one match up with Memphis defenders versus San Antonio’s best player, Kawhi Leonard.
Nobody on Memphis’s team can guard Leonard. The Grizzlies must think like a boxer to beat San Antonio. What it means is that Memphis must get to the spot before San Antonio does. San Antonio’s defense is too good. If the Grizz allow the Spurs to set up on defense, pull it out, and run their offense, they’ll never beat San Antonio.
They must set up their offense before San Antonio sets up their defense. Memphis must turn into the Houston Rockets to beat the Spurs.
Obviously, without Tony Allen, the Grizzlies’ best shooting guard, that’s not going to happen.
3 Houston Rockets (1-0) vs 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1)
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19 at 8:00 pm ET
Game 3: Friday, April 21 at 9:30 pm ET
Game 4: Sunday, April 23 at 3:30 pm ET
If Game 1 is any indication, the Oklahoma City Thunder are in trouble. Houston beat OKC 118 to 87 in Game 1. I never believed in Houston coach Mike Dantoni. I remember that all his past teams had trouble playing defense.
Not so versus Oklahoma City. Do the Thunder have any shot of picking it up versus Houston in this series? Maybe. OKC must do two things. First, Mr. Triple Double, that’s Russell Westbrook, must get triple-doubles. Russell was only good for 22 points, 11 boards, and 7 assists in Game 1. He must go for his averages: over 31 points, over 10 boards, and over 10 assists. Russell must also cut his turnovers. He had a ridiculous 9 against the Rockets in Game 1.
Second, Oklahoma City’s bigs must step it up. Center Steve Adams scored 6 points. Enes Kanter scored 8 points. Taj Gibson scored 5 points. Really, guys? A combined 19 points among the three of you? That’s it?
I think Oklahoma City can bounce back on Wednesday night. If they do, look out. OKC can turn around this series.
4 L.A. Clippers (0-1) vs 5 Utah Jazz (1-0)
Game 2: Tuesday, April 18 at 10:30 pm ET
Game 3: Friday, April 21 at 10:00 pm ET
Game 4: Sunday, April 23 at 9:00 pm ET
Without Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have no shot against the L.A. Clippers the rest of this Round 1 Series, right? I mean, Gobert is one of the top centers in the NBA. The Clippers have a top center of their own in the NBA in DeAndre Jordan.
The Jazz are toast, right? Right? Maybe, not. Gobert went down after 17 seconds in Game 1. The Jazz pulled off the 97 to 95 upset. Even if L.A. comes back and pummels the Jazz in Game 2 on Tuesday night, Utah could make the necessary adjustments to make this a long, drawn out, 7-game series.
I just don’t see the Clippers beating the Jazz in 5 games. I think that LAC has a match up issue even with Gobert out. If the Clippers decide to run and gun, the Jazz can run and gun with them. Utah beat LAC 114 to 108 on March 13. Gobert only had 11 points.
Maybe, the Clippers just don’t match up well with the best defensive team in the NBA. I think the Jazz make this interesting.