The past weekend brought us a tremendous display of action as the first round came to a close this past Sunday. The second round started as well as Golden State took care of Anthony Davis and the Pelicans and Houston beat the Jazz on Sunday. The last weekend of the first round brought great storylines and are left wondering what the future holds for teams in disarray like the Thunder or Bucks, and also for teams with mysterious but bright futures like the Pacers.
Raptors beat Wizards in Six
The Raptors might have established themselves as a respectable NBA franchise these last few year. The series was a hard fought series as the Raptors were able to prevail and beat the Wizards 102-92 on Friday night. The series was tied 2-2 until the Raptors won a huge game 5 that caused a game 6 do or die game. Kyle Lowry scored 24 points and the improved Raptors bench would lead a comeback against the Wizards during the start of the fourth. The Wizards end their season not living up to the expectations they wanted to accomplish but the team showed they have the potential to compete with anyone. The Raptors will next face the Cavaliers in a rematch of the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals and 2017 Eastern Conference semifinals.
Jazz end the Thunder’s disappointing season
In the beginning of the year, no one would’ve thought the Thunder would’ve lost in the first round, especially to a Jazz team led by a rookie who came out of nowhere in Donovan Mitchell. The game itself was one of the best of the playoffs as the Thunder season and future was on the line. Utah’s Ricky Rubio actually got injured in the first quarter, which would cause offensive problems for the Jazz in the first half. Still as the Thunder did do a solid job throughout the first half, the Jazz would take the lead in the end of the second. The second half would see the Jazz continue to build momentum as performances from Mitchell, Robert, and Role players like Alex Burke and Royle O’ Neal would control the game. Westbrook would lead a comeback in the fourth and during the last five minutes of the fourth it was a very intense close game.
In the end, Paul George, who only scored five points the whole game, failed to draw a three point foul with around 24 second left in the game and the Jazz would win 96-91. The Thunder will end their year having many questions about the future as they wait to hear about Paul George’s decision in free agency and how they can build a formidable team with Westbrook in the near future. The Jazz lost game 1 against the Rockets following their first round series win, but the future is looking bright as Donovan Mitchell is looking like a future star in the league.
The depleted Celtics beat the Bucks to win in Seven
Even if you have talent, having chemistry and coaching is just as equal as having elite talent. Another great story as the Celtics continue to overcome the circumstances, as they beat the Milwaukee Bucks 112-96 on Saturday night. The Bucks forced a game seven as Giannis dominated with 31 points and 14 rebounds and beat Boston on Thursday night. Still, the theme and deciding factor of this series was coaching and the Celtics won in that department. Brad Stevens coaching and ability to adjust to the Bucks was the deciding factor especially the games they dropped against the Bucks. On the contrary, Internim coach Joe Prunty was just outclassed and never could adjust to stop the Celtic’s dominance on the glass or how Terry Rozier was able blow by Eric Bledsoe each game. Game seven was a perfect example of the disparity from the two teams. The Bucks just did not come with energy, couldn’t move the ball and ahd to rely on performances from Giannis and Middleton to try to get back into the game. Celtics dominated most of the game and while the Bucks tried to keep the game within reach throughout, the Celtics just were more disciplined and were a step ahead. Al Horford came up with 26 points, and Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier combined for 46 points. The Bucks are surely one of the biggest disappointments of the year and have failed again to advance to the second round since 2001. The Celtics will next face the Sixers which is a long awaited matchup that will relive the old rivalries of the 1980s. Celtics most likely will be doubted again, but from Hayward’s early season injury and the loss of Kyrie at the end of the year, the Celtics keep proving why they are such a respected franchise.
Cavaliers edge out the Pacers on Sunday
Lebron’s future free agency talk will be on hold for now as the Cavaliers beat the Pacers 105-101. The last first round game took place on Sunday afternoon where Lebron avoided a first round exit since 2006. The series was probably the best of the entire playoffs with almost every game having intense drama and close action. The Cavs took control most of the first half until the Pacers made a run in the third which even made them take the lead. The turning point was when James had to leave for a brief moment from the end of the third to eight minute mark of the fourth. Amazingly, the Cavs bench made a huge run that had the Cavs lead by ten and gave Lebron a good amount of rest. The Pacers, like the did for the whole series, put up a valiant effort but just couldn’t do enough to pull of a huge upset on Lebron and the Cavs. Victor Oladipo played like the hero for the Pacers for the whole year as he recorded 30 points but Lebron’s 45 points was the difference as well as Tristan Thompson’s surprise performance, grabbing 10 boards and 15 points. The Pacers have nothing to feel bad about and have a bright future with Victor Oladipo as he showed in game seven that he could lead the team in huge games. The Cavs will face the number one seeded Raptors, and as much as their game seven win was great, their issues on defense and overreliance on Lebron might not be enough to avoid with a more disciplined and better Raptor squad.