By Jose Feliciano
The NBA playoffs are in full swing and so far, they have not disappointed as there has been some exciting series up to this point. Currently, the playoffs are in the middle of the second round but for each of those teams, they all won a series to get there. Those series wins for those teams had more exciting finishes than others, such as the down the wire Nuggets-Spurs series and the surprisingly tough 76ers-Nets series. Here, we will rank each first-round playoff series based on what was the most exciting series to watch.
- The Milwaukee Bucks Vs. The Detroit Pistons
The Bucks were the obvious favorite from the get-go, but the Pistons were not helped by having Blake Griffin miss half of the series. They needed all of the help they could get, and they were missing their best player in a series versus the top team in the East. When he did play, he was still heavily injured and was restricted. The Bucks were never in any real danger of losing the series and pretty much breezed through Detroit, who now own the longest playoff losing streak in NBA history. Nothing super noteworthy came from this series outside of a Bucks sweep.
- The Boston Celtics Vs. The Indiana Pacers
This series really did have the potential to be a very good one, but Indiana just did not come to play against Boston. The Pacers did lose their best player mid-season when Victor Olapido injured his knee, but Indiana remained a tough matchup for everyone thanks to their great depth. Instead, the Celtics went right through Indiana with their great depth. The games were not blowouts by any means but like the Bucks-Pistons series, this series was never in danger of being lost for the Celtics.
- The Toronto Raptors Vs. The Orlando Magic
Now that the sweeps are out of the way, we move onto a series that looked interesting after game one but then died out tragically for the Magic. A big game from D.J. Augustin of all people helped the Magic to a game one finish after Kyle Lowry dropped a goose egg in the score column. Outside of a five-point win in game three, the rest of the Raptor’s wins were blowouts. The Magic did not stand a chance after game one it seemed, and it was unexciting, to say the least.
- The Houston Rockets Vs. The Utah Jazz
Finally, a non-Eastern Conference game. Donavan Mitchell, despite being a sophomore in the league, showed the NBA world that he is the real deal if he had not already. While the Rockets had the series in their favor from the start, the fact that Mitchell led the Jazz to a win after being down 3-0. The first two games were not close but the final three were and the Jazz gave it all they had. In the end, it was James Harden who did his thing and led the Rockets out of Utah victorious. Having moments like Harden nailing a go-ahead three after missing his first 15 shots can make for a good series.
- The Philadelphia 76ers Vs. The Brooklyn Nets
Did you know who Jared Dudley was before this series? You probably know who he is now. He is barely a role player, but he sure knows how to rile up a team and its fanbase. The Nets outmatched the Sixers in game one, but it was all Philly after that. There certainly were some incidents on the court such as the scuffle in game four that led to Dudley and Jimmy Butler getting ejected or Joel Embiid constantly elbowing Jarrett Allen. There were a lot of emotions on the court and every game was exciting, outside of game five which was an absolute dud for the Nets. This rivalry had people buzzing on twitter at the time and probably will stay buzzing into next year.
- The Portland Trail Blazers Vs. The Oklahoma City Thunder
Dame time came to play and for the second time in his career, he silenced a team and sent them home in round one. Damien Lillard versus Russell Westbrook alone was entertaining to witness because you had two expressive guards at the top of their game butting heads and taking shots at each other. They are exciting guys to watch already, now you pit them against each other in a playoff matchup, it is even better. Lillard showed that his clutch factor was superior to Westbrook’s big numbers as while Russell filled the stat sheet, it was Lillard and the Blazers ending up victorious.
- The Denver Nuggets Vs. The San Antonio Spurs
The only series to go into a game seven, the Spurs put up a big fight against one of the top offenses in the NBA. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray carried the freight for Denver while Demar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge kept the Spurs afloat. This series was the closest to a back and forth affair in the first round and that is something that does not happen often enough in the first round in the NBA playoffs. These games were consistently good and while you can have back and forth series, sometimes teams just trade blowouts and this was not that.
1.The Golden State Warriors Vs. The Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were one of the best eight seeds in recent memory and it showed when they faced off against the Western Conference favorite. This series included a 31-point comeback, a furious matchup between the fiery Patrick Beverly and the dominant Kevin Durant. Seeing a gritty team like the Clippers, a team whose best scorer comes off of the bench, make a team full of superstars work the way they did will always make for a great series. Every single player meant something to this Clippers team and to see them fight the way that they did was very exciting to see. For reference, their leading rebounder for the series was Beverly, a defensive point guard. That was the absolute grit you saw from this Clippers team that almost slew the giant.