NBA playoffs first-round preview


Erik Drosts | Wikicommons

Aman Dharani

It’s the best time of the year — the NBA playoffs are here. It’s a time for stars to shine, however that may only be a handful of players if you listened to Draymond Green.

After four games into the first-round of the playoffs, there are many surprises.

Perhaps the biggest storyline is Suns superstar Devin Booker sustaining a hamstring strain that may sideline him for two to three weeks. While this may not derail the Suns for this particular series, it will be a sticking point moving forwardsince hamstring strains can be one of the most nagging injuries.

Nonetheless, at least we got to see him high-five a baby.

In the Eastern Conference, the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks have lost Khris Middleton for at least 2 weeks. While they are steamrolling their first-round opponent, the Chicago Bulls, this will be a concern for them if the dauntingBoston Celtics are waiting for them in the next round.

The Celtics have been the East’s best team since their midseason turnaround. Their starting lineup are all premier defenders, headlined by just-crowned Defensive Player Of the Year Marcus Smart.

In fact, due to their commitment to their defensive efforts they have made Brooklyn Nets’ superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving look pedestrian, with both of them racking up turnovers and shooting abhorrently. Bet on the Celtics making the finals out of the Eastern Conference.

The Memphis Grizzlies were built up all season as a juggernaut led by young guns to claim the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. However, after four games against the gritty Timberwolves, they haven’t looked like one.

The series is tied 2-2, largely in part due to the poor play by Memphis superstar Ja Morant. He is not scoring at the rate he did in the regular season.

After missing the end of the regular season due to a knee injury, it is fair to question if the immediate increased intensity is playing a factor in his poor play. Regardless, the Grizzlies will pull it together to advance.

Elsewhere, the Utah Jazz have been defined by having core players who stayed together too long despite not achieving much. The team looks like they’re laboring at times and are tied with the Mavericks at 2 games apiece, despite Luka Doncic only playing one game so far.

In his first year, head coach Jason Kidd convinced all his players to buy in on defense, an area the Mavericks have been lackluster in in the past. Add in one of the greatest young players,  Luka Doncic, and they’ve really got something.

The Mavericks will advance solely based on the return of Doncic. They’re going to fall in love with the 5-out offense and  take advantage of Rudy Gobert’s lackluster perimeter defense, as most teams have in the playoffs.

Regarding the finals, the Warriors will beat the Celtics in seven games. The Warriors are playing like the juggernaut we are used to them being at this time of the year. Only now they have Jordan Poole averaging 28 points a game.

The Warriors simply have too much chemistry on the court. Their core group of Klay, Steph and Draymond have played in a combined 367 playoff games.

They are playing seamlessly against the Denver Nuggets right now, and will not slow down anytime soon. Pairing that with  Booker’s and Morant’s injuries, the Warriors are well equipped to raise the Larry O’Brien trophy yet again.