This past weekend was the official start of the NBA Playoffs, and it did not disappoint. The atmosphere was more intense, as everyone was trying to start their playoff Journey with a W. While there were many winners and losers this past weekend it is obvious that we should not overreact to any of these games because they are simply the first game in the series. Anything can change, and adjustments will be made. With that being said, there is still a lot of we can analyze from this past weekend with the major concerns and the major strengths heading into Game 2. Here are top take ways from Eastern Conference match-ups from this past weekend.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat Game 1: A tale of two halves.
Do not let the box score fool you, going into half time the game was extremely competitive. Miami was actually up 60-56 at halftime. This was due to the fact that Miami was playing exceptional team basketball recording 16 assists in the first half. Yet two major things happened after halftime, the Heat started playing more isolation basketball only recording assists in the second half, and Ben Simmons started to dominate the game. Peaking of Ben Simmons, this was an impressive first game in the playoffs. Not only did he almost notch a triple double (17pts, 14ast, and 9rbs) the man simply could not be stopped on the offensive end. He was able to wreak havoc on the floor with his ability to get to cup, finding open shooters, and playing great defense on Miami’s Guards. And the most impressive feat is that Simmons was able to lead this offense without their best player Joel Embid. Looking ahead there are two things that Miami has to do to keep this series interesting. They first need to continue to play team basketball, and swinging the ball until they find the best matchup. Secondly, Hassan Whiteside needs to be utilized for more than 12 minutes. He is one of their best players and is their only rim protector. Without him, Ben Simmons is going to have another field day. For Philadelphia, my only concern is that they need to be more aggressive early on, there were many times when in the first half that they did not seem fully locked-in. If they keep playing the way they did in the second half, they could potentially sit Embid for the First round.
Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers Game 1: Issues with the Royal Guard
This game was actually a very Dominant Performance by the Victor Oladipo led Pacers. Oladipo lead his team with 32 pts, but it was a good collective effort with Myles Turner adding 16 pts and 8 rbs, Bogdanovic with 15 pts, and Stephenson with 12. The Pacers were essentially leading the entire game and despite some effort by the Cavs to comeback, they maintained their lead throughout the entire matchup. Speaking of Cavs, it appeared that LeBron was the only one ready to play on Sunday. Despite notching a triple double (24pts, 12ast, and 10rbs) the rest of the starting line-up gave him no support. None of the other starter even scored in the double digits in this game. While a lot of it can be placed on the Pacers defense, a lot of the responsibility has to come on the inability of the players to knock down easy Jump Shots. For Indiana, the biggest take away is that they are playing great team Basketball and if Oladipo continue to score it could mean trouble for Cleveland. Should Cavs Fans be worried? Simply put no, it was one game and whenever you have LeBron James you have a chance to win. But, if the rest of the starting Line-up does not start stepping up, and they continue to play like this for the rest of the series, let’s just say Indiana has a good chance on making it to the second round.
Toronto Raptors vs Washington Wizard Game 1: The Curse has been Broken
Overall this was an incredibly exciting game from start to finish with 15 lead changes and 7 ties throughout the entire game. It ultimately ended up with a raptors victory, but I am sure this series is going to be one of the more interesting First round series. In the battle of the two Backcourts. It was clear that today the Wizards Backcourt was simply more offensively dominant than the Raptors Back court. By all accounts Lowry and DeRozan only combined for 28 pts while Beal and Wall combined for 42pts. The real hero of this match up was actually serge Ibaka who scored 23 pts (leading the raptors) and scored very important late game lay-up to put the raptors up by double digits. For now my main take away is that if Toronto’s Star studded Back Court continues to struggle it could mean disaster for the raptors offense. Furthermore, for they would rather have one of the role players have a great night then having either Lowry or DeRozan scoring. If Washington’s Backcourt duo can continue to play well and force the Raptors to rely on the role players it could cause a lot of troubles for this Toronto team.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 1: Lucks got nothing to with it
This was probably one of the best if not the best game in the Eastern Conference. For the Celtics missing both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, it was time to see if the young members had the ability to win without their two superstars. For the Bucks, it was time to see what the Greek Freak was made of and if he would be able to lead his team to a first Game stunner in the infamous TD Garden. While Antetokounmpo was amazing (35 pts, 13rbs, 7asts) and with a miraculous Game tying 3 pointer by Kris Middleton to Force OT a Bucks Victory seemed assured. Yet, it was the young core of Tatum, Brown and Rozier that helped propel the Celtics to victory. All three players played crucial roles in securing the win, From Rozier knocking down free throws, to Tatum game saving Block, these young stars did not shy away when the moment came. Give a lot of Credit to Celtics Head Coach Brad Stevens as well for slowing down this high octane Milwaukee offense. The main take away that I saw in this game is that for Boston its going to be on the shoulders of those three Players (Brown, Tatum, Rozier) if they want to make it past the first round. For Milwaukee, they need to get more production from Bledsoe (9pts, 4asts) and they will need they will need Antetokounmpo to continue to dominate if they want to win this series. One things for sure though, this is going to be one of the most exciting series in the playoffs.
Thanks again for reading and tuning into The Wrightway Network for all your Sport news. Stay tuned on Wednesday as I breakdown the match-ups in the Western Conference. For all things NBA Playoffs keep it locked in at The Wrightway Network.