The 2017 NBA Round 1 Playoffs end this week. By Sunday, we’ll know which teams are moving on to the NBA Conference Semifinals. Some teams, like West 1-seed Golden State, have already baked their first-round opponent. Other teams, like Milwaukee and Toronto, find themselves in a knockdown, drag out, fight.
Check out a recap of what’s happened so far in Round 1. Then, make sure to read my blog about what’s going to happen this week in the NBA Playoffs.
2017 NBA Round 1 Playoffs Update
NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
** Records and stats from as of April 23 and April 24
1 Boston Celtics (2-2) vs 8 Chicago Bulls (2-2)
This is turning into one of the best Round 1 series of the entire NBA Playoffs. What’s interesting is that all 4 games haven’t been close. Chicago came out and blitzed Boston, at the TD Garden, 106 to 102 and 111 to 97.
Then, Boston made an incredible comeback in Game 3 and Game 4 by pummeling the Bulls, at the United Center, 104 to 87 and 104 to 95. If any series appears destined for 7 games, it’s this series. Then again, Boston looks to be on the uptrend while the Bulls appear to have fallen apart.
2 Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0) vs 7 Indiana Pacers (0-4)
Indiana didn’t make it easy. Perhaps, that’s a good thing for the Cavaliers. Cleveland won Game 1 by a single point, 109 to 108. Then, they beat Indiana by 6 points, 117 to 111, in Game 2. Game 3 back in Indiana saw the Cavaliers fight to a 119 to 114 win while Indiana was only good for 102 points in the Cavaliers 106 to 102 Game 4 win.
Immediately after the Game 4 win, Henry Abbott, a terrific writer with ESPN discussed how LeBron playing so many minutes could hurt the Cavs. Abbott’s got a point. The King played 42:44 minutes in Game 1, and 42:16 minutes in Game 2. In Game 3 and Game 4, LeBron clocked 45:13 minutes and 44:44 minutes.
Although I agree with Abbott, I’m not ready to go against The King just yet. Sure, LeBron clocked a lot of minutes, but the NBA Eastern Conference Semifinals don’t start until next week. LeBron, and Kyrie, and K-Love, and Tristan, and everybody else with the defending champions, have a lot of time to rest.
I think the Cavs looked great beating a solid Indiana team in Round 1.
3 Toronto Raptors (3-2) vs 6 Milwaukee Bucks (2-3)
Toronto has taken a 3 to 2 lead with Game 6 scheduled for this Thursday and Game 7 scheduled for this Saturday. The Raptors put it all together in Game 5. They shot 57.7% from the field when making 41 of 71 shots. They hit on 12 of 27 three-pointers. That’s 44.4% from behind the arc.
All 5 of Toronto’s starters, including Norman Powell, scored in double-figures. In fact, Powell was the high-scorer in Game 5 with 25. Serge Ibaka had 19. DeMarre Carroll scored 12. Kyle Lowry scored 16, and DeMar DeRozan scored 18. The Raptors dominated the Bucks on the boards, 40 rebounds to 23. That, more than anything, is why Toronto beat Milwaukee by such a big differential.
4 Washington Wizards (2-2) vs 5 Atlanta Hawks (2-2)
This has turned into a classic 4 versus 5 match up where the 4 seed wins their 2 home games and the 5 seed wins their 2 home games. Because the NBA Playoffs Round 1 format has team’s switching venues in Game 5, Game 6, and Game 7, this series between the Wizards and Hawks could go the full 7.
Both teams have shown up on their own court. Washington beat Atlanta 114 to 107 and 109 to 108 in D.C. The Hawks came storming back 116 to 98 and 111 to 101 in Elton John’s adopted city.
Washington gets the slight edge to win the series. That’s because if it goes to a Game 7, the Game 7 must be played at the Verizon Center in D.C. where John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Marcin Gortat are most comfortable.
NBA Western Conference Playoffs
** Records and stats as of April 23 and April 24
1 Golden State Warriors (4-0) vs 8 Portland Trailblazers (0-4)
I loved how Portland point-guard Damian Lillard described what the Trailblazers must do to move forward in the Western Conference. Here’s the direct quote from ESPN:
“You have to be obsessed with that (beating the Warriors) because you know that they’re so good that they’re going to be there,” Lillard said after a 128-103 loss in Game 4. “That’s who you’re going to have to get through to get to where you want to get to. That’s what it is.”
So instead of crying about it, Lillard’s going to become obsessed about it. That’s a winner’s attitude. Sure, after watching Golden State decimate the Trailblazers in 4 games: 121 to 109, 110 to 81, 119 to 113, and 128 to 103, being obsessed about the situation may not matter.
Then again, the Blazers played the entire series without center Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic is the only reason Portland made it to the Western Conference Playoffs.
Maybe, Lillard’s got a point. Obsession alone won’t lead to an upset over the Warriors next season. But, obsession and a healthy Nurkic? Maybe.
2 San Antonio Spurs (2-2) vs 7 Memphis Grizzlies (2-2)
After Game 1 and Game 2, where San Antonio beat Memphis 111 to 82 and 96 to 82, it sure appeared as if the Spurs would garner a sweep. Then, the unexpected happened. Memphis stormed back big time at the FedEx Forum.
The Grizzlies, playing in Memphis, dominated San Antonio 105 to 94 in Game 3. It was a classic bounce back win for a talented NBA Team. Although the Spurs played hard in Game 4, taking Memphis into overtime, the Grizzlies prevailed 110 to 108.
Both teams are playing at a high-level in this series. San Antonio is playing like a 2-seed. Memphis is playing much better than a 7-seed.
3 Houston Rockets (3-1) vs 6 Oklahoma City Thunder (1-3)
The Oklahoma City Thunder are losing this series because of the coaching mistakes made by Billy Donovan. It’s like that old joke. A patient goes to the doctor and says, “Every time I raise my left arm, it hurts.” The doctor says, “Don’t raise your left arm.”
The fact that OKC has lost leads during the series whenever Donovan puts Westbrook on the bench means one thing: Donovan can’t keep resting Westbrook. Sorry. That’s life. LeBron plays crazy minutes. Westbrook must as well.
Oklahoma City lost Game 4 113 to 109. The Thunder had a 74 to 68 lead before Donovan sent Westbrook to the bench. That’s only a 6-point lead. By the time Westbrook got back onto the floor, Houston had turned their 6-point deficit into an 81 to 79, 2-point lead.
Oklahoma City’s in trouble because Billy Donovan is being outcoached by Mike Dantoni. Don’t rest Westbrook, Billy. Be like Melly Mel…just don’t it.
4 L.A. Clippers (2-2) vs 5 Utah Jazz (2-2)
Before this series started, I believed the Clippers might be in tough against the Utah Jazz. The Jazz play excellent defense while having the ability to score points when they must. Utah, like they were back in the 1990’s with Karl “The Mailman” Malone and point-guard John Stockton, are an old-school NBA hoops team.
The Clippers must play old school now that they’re without Blake Griffin for the rest of the NBA Playoffs. Will it work? It might. Clipper point-guard Chris Paul is one of the best in the game. Center DeAndre Jordan matches up well with Utah center Rudy Gobert.
The Clippers’ 98 to 105 loss to Utah in Salt Lake City wasn’t necessarily a sign of how Game 6 and possibly Game 7 are going to play out. Don’t put it past Doc Rivers to make the necessary adjustments in this series. Even without Blake, the Clippers are still the more talented team.