The National Basketball Association is still in the first round, but some great first round series are headlining the league news.
The NBA playoffs began this week and have not disappointed thus far. Positioning, even qualifying for the post-season, went down to the final game of the year so it is not much of a surprise to see the high quality play continue. And with three or four games being played each night, there is plenty to see. Here are how a few of the matchups are playing out so far and what to watch for this week.
In one of the more evenly matched series, we have Utah (5) and OKC (4) tied up at one game apiece after two in Oklahoma City. The Thunder won Game 1 and covered easily behind Paul George refusing to miss anything. However, Game 2 was a different story. The “Big 3” went cold and couldn’t keep up with Donovan Mitchell et al. Look for the lines to tighten up the rest of the way. Four points is probably the most you’ll get either way. This series should go at least six games and OKC will win one in Salt Lake City so taking the dogs and the points may be a good play the rest of the way.
The T’Wolves (8) made the first game interesting but couldn’t pull off the upset against Houston (1). That may have been their best shot too since they lost by 20 in Game 2. To make it worse, that loss was with James Harden having one of his worst games of the season. And this doesn’t bode well for Minnesota even though they are headed back home for Game 3.
With All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns having a rough start to his playoff career (13 total points in two games on 5-18 shooting) look for this trend to continue. The lines will be lower than they were in Houston and that’ll only help because the smart money is on the Rockets to complete the sweep.
Toronto (1) has continued being great at home. Just as Washington (8) continues being worse off with John Wall in the line-up. With a push in Game 1 and a cover in Game 2, the Raps have a good chance at the sweep here as well. The series switches to Washington but just as with the Hou/Minn series, it should only make it easier for Toronto to cover and finish the series.
This Celtics (2) and Bucks (7) series is one of my favorite so far. Not from a competitive standpoint, of course. Boston should continue to run away with it and cover as they have the first two games. I just love how these teams make no sense. The Celtics lose two All-NBA players and don’t miss a beat.
The Bucks have seven of the most talented players in the East and sneak into the playoffs. Outside of a crazy shot by Khris Middleton at the end of regulation to tie Game 1, what have the Bucks done? And what haven’t the Celtics done? Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Terry Rozier are all playing great and should continue to do so when the series switches over to Wisconsin.
In the most talked about opening series, Lebron and his Cavs (4) have had their hands full with the Pacers(5). This was to be expected though. The Pacers covered both games and split the series heading back to Indy. Lebron seems to will the Cavs to victories as he did in Game 2 so this series is far from over. Does Victor Oladipo and the Pacers have enough to win the series? I’m still not sure. However, I’m very sure to be taking whichever team is getting the points though.