2018 NBA Playoffs: Round 2
So, we get underway in the second round of the NBA playoffs and there are plenty of storylines to talk about. Round 1 saw the teams expected to make it out, well, make it out. Now, we see who is really gonna make some noise as we close in on the Conference Finals ahead.
On Saturday, we got Game 1 between Golden State and New Orleans. The Pelicans came into this series after putting a beat down of a sweep on the Trail Blazers of Portland. The series, of course, was never a contest.
Now come the real games, the defending champion Warriors and they turned out to be no match for them. Golden State had a lead of 31 at one point while putting up 76 first-half points. All of this without their star guard, Steph Curry, who may play in Game 2.
Draymond Green (16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists) and Kevin Durant (26 points and 13 rebounds) were everything an everywhere for the Warriors. They pushed tempo all game and held Pelicans big man, Anthony Davis to 9-20 shotting and just 11 points in the last three quarters. This is not going to get any easier for New Orleans folks.
On Sunday, the Utah Jazz ran into the probable MVP in James Harden. What they got from him was 41 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. And this was against the second-best defense in the NBA this year. He got help from Chris Paul’s 17 points, four rebounds, seven assists, and four steals.
The blueprint in this one was easy as the Jazz had just come off of their series win over OKC and they looked sluggish and tired. Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell, who has been spectacular, managed just 21 points and the Jazz were also with their star point guard, Ricky Rubio.
Without Rubio and no real way of containing Harden and Paul, look for this series to end pretty quick as the Rockets make their way to an appointment in the NBA Finals.
In Boston, it is the Celtics against the upstart and young Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics are playing without their star point guard, Kyrie Irving and the Sixers are playing with their budding star, Ben Simmons. This series will come down to seeing if the young 76ers are ready for playoff primetime.
In this one, Al Horford (26 points and seven rebounds), Terry Rozier (29 points eight rebounds and six assists), and Jayson Tatum (28 points) were just too much for Philadelphia. The Celtics shot 17-35 from three-point range and were 18-19 from the free throw line to boot.
For the Sixers, Joel Embid did all he could do with a double-double (31 points and 13 rebounds), but the game saw Simmons take just 11 shots for 18 points. He also got seven rebounds and six assists but turned the ball over seven times too.
On Tuesday, LeBron James and the Cavs, coming off a huge series win against the Indiana Pacers, go up against the top-seeded Toronto Raptors. In this series, DeMar Rozan, Kyle Lowry, and the Raptors will not only have to contain James, but they will have to overcome the obstacle of trying to finally get deep into the postseason.
The Cavs have eliminated Toronto the past two years and that will be one huge hump to get over. Toronto is the more rested team to open this series and James is coming off averaging 41 minutes a game in the Indiana series.
The Cavs have shown they have a kink in their armor. That they are more vulnerable than they have been in recent memory. Still, they have James and after getting 45 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in Game 7, he is still the best of the best