By DaVince “Dino” Wright
This has been one of the oddest starts to the NBA playoffs in recent years. Three things comes to mind this season. First, the bubble actually work. Second, the ratings for basketball are high. Finally, TNT, ESPN and ABC networks scheduling departments are right on the mark for building revenue between the three channels.
Lets take a look at both conferences scores and news from this past week. I’m surprised with the outcome of a couple of these series. The week in review:
#1 Milwaukee Bucks vs #8 Orlando Magic Series tied 2-1
Giannis Antetokounmpo looked as if he saw a ghost in Game 1. The Magic took Game 1 dominating the 4th quarter. Game 2, the Bucks started off hot and never cooled off. The Magic need a second and third option on the offensive end to keep up during the latter parts of games. Defense is key for both teams. Game 3 Giannis scored 35 and had 11 boards to take a 2-1 series lead over the Magic.
#2 Toronto Raptors vs #7 Brooklyn Nets – Raptors Lead the Series 3-0
The defending NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors are showing just how good they are. In their games this series, the Raptors have shut down Nets leading scorers 10 points by average. Defense wins champions, but the team that scores the most points wins! 100% of the time. Look for the Raptors to win the next game, wrap up the the series and get rest while waiting for their next series opponent.
#3 Boston Celtics vs #6 Philadelphia 76ers – Boston Leads the Series 3-0
“Trust The Process!” is the war cry for the 76ers. Lets face it, Philadelphia will get swept this series. They look as if they have no bond on both ends of the floor. The Boston Celtics are poised to run past the 76ers with small ball. They are playing Jaylen Brown who is 6′ 4″ at the power forward position which has become a match up problem on offense. This series is pretty much over.
#4 Indiana Pacers vs #5 Miami Heat – Heat Leads the Series 3-0
In a nutshell, this was the series everyone was waiting on. Both teams are evenly matched and the drama between T.J. Warren and Jimmy Butler would be epic. Well, the Heat own Indiana and Jimmy Butler has out played T.J. Warren. Indiana Guard Victor Oladipo is back to being the only bright spot for his team. I’m still predicting a Miami sweep in four. Game 3 was action packed. I thought Indiana found their way, but Jimmy Butler’s 27 points dimmed the lights for a Pacers win.
#1 Los Angeles Lakers vs #8 Portland Trail Blazers – Lakers Lead the Series 2-1
Game 1 was Dame Time! Damian Lillard hit the Western Conference regular season leaders in the mouth and LA couldn’t fight back. I was shocked that the Lakers dropped the first game to an 8 seed. Game 2, the Lakers came out strong taking a 15 point lead in the first and never let off the gas. Damien Lillard, broke his index finger on his non shooting hand, so that will be a concern for the Trailblazers. Game 3, the Lakers looked like they didn’t want to be there. The game was back and fourth, but the Lakers pulled it off behind LeBron James’ 35 points and Anthony Davis’ 29. Final score LA 116 – Portland 108.
#2 LA Clippers vs #7 Dallas Mavericks – Clippers Lead the Series 2-1
This will be an intriguing series. Dallas looked like the “Walking Dead” in Game 1. Everyone expected the Clippers to win the West and they showed why. Game 2, Dallas proved that anything can happen when you play inspired. Dallas won Game 2 by playing tough hard nosed defense. In Game 3, Kahwi Leonard and the Clippers came to play and Luka got hurt. This series can go 6-7 games easy if Luka. Doncic returns!
#3 Denver Nuggets vs #6 Utah Jazz – Jazz Lead the Series 2-1
This series is going 7 games. In Game 1, Denver flexed its muscles on both ends of the floor! Denver has the tallest roster averaging 6’6 in height as a team. Utah struggled to get to the basket. Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored 51 points in the loss. Game 2, The Jazz played hard and smart in the 4th quarter, pulling off the win. Both teams rely on their bench to keep them in the game. Utah took it to Denver in Game 3 with a 124-87 victory and momentum on their side.
#4 Houston Rockets vs #5 Oklahoma City Thunder – Houston Leads Series 2-1
With the absence of Guard Russell Westbrook, Houston rolled past OKC easily in the first pair of games. The only bright spot for OKC is veteran guard Chris Paul. I don’t see OKC winning two games, not even State Farm can protect the Thunder in this series. I see Houston winning the next two games and eliminating the Thunder. Game 3 totally caught me off guard. I thought, like a few million other gym rats thought that the Rockets would beat OKC and was shocked. OKC lead by PG Chris Paul took it in overtime by 12. Final score from Saturday night OKC 119 – Houston 107.