NBA Playoffs: Round One


Bella Davis-Smith, Staff Writer

The 2018 NBA playoffs are underway, and so far sixteen teams have battled for a chance to advance to the their conference semifinals. It is an exciting year for NBA fans who are expecting teams other than the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers to be in the finals since more teams are proving to be big competition.

The Houston Rockets, seeded first in the West, were matched up with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are eighth. In game one, James Harden of the Rockets led the game with 44 points and 8 assists. This marked his fifth 40-point game in the postseason. Following Harden, 6 foot 8 inch center Clint Capela had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks. These two stand-out players assisted the Rockets to win games one, two, four, and five while the Timberwolves took game three. The series ended with the Rockets having 4 wins to the Timberwolves having 1 .The Rockets are advancing to round two of the Western Conference Playoffs against the Utah Jazz.

There was only one team this year to win four consecutive games and advance to round two—the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pelicans were matched up with the Toronto Raptors, creating a matchup that most thought would make for an interesting series. The Pelicans managed to come up with a winning strategy despite the loss of their 6 foot 11 inch center, DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged 25 points a game. In round 2, the Pelicans will be playing the Golden State Warriors.

The Golden State Warriors went up against the San Antonio Spurs in series that lasted five games. The Warriors took games one, three, and five as the Spurs took game four. Both teams suffered the loss of multiple key players to the bench due to injuries. Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors missed the entire series due to a grade two MCL sprain in his left knee, but is expected to return for the second round. Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs sat the bench due to a quadricep injury from his right leg and was expected to be out for the rest of the season, had the Spurs advanced to the next round.

“Despite the efforts of San Antonio the Golden State Warriors, even missing their best player Steph Curry, still came out on top proving that they are the better team because they were able to adapt and change their game plan,” freshman basketball fan Bryler Digman says.

The Utah Jazz, ranked number 5, competed against the Oklahoma Thunder, ranked number 4, in a series that lasted 6 games. The Jazz won games 2-4 and 6 and the Thunder won games 1 and 5. The leading player from the Jazz, 6’3 Donovan Mitchell, averages 40 points in each game of the series. Last year Utah made it to the Western Conference Semifinals where they lost all four games to the Golden State Warriors. The Utah Jazz now advance to round 2 and will be competing against James Harden and his Houston Rockets.

The Philadelphia 76ers made a name for themselves once again this year as they defeated the Miami Heat in a five-game series where they took games one, three, four, and five. The 76ers came into the playoffs with a 16-game win streak, the most in the NBA, and were a favorite for fans around the world. Theys have not made it to the playoffs since 2012 where they lost to the Boston Celtics, but now they have a chance to redeem themselves against Boston in round 2.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the second team that will be advancing to the semifinals after defeating the Indiana Pacers in an intense series that lasted 7 games. The series  3-3 when the Cavaliers won game four with a final score of 105-101. Key player Lebron James averaged 34 points in the series and played for about 40 minutes in each game. The Cavaliers have gone to the finals the past four seasons and are determined to make their fifth appearance. They will be playing the Toronto Raptors in round 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals in an effort to achieve this goal.

“The Cavs are definitely a strong team and have some of the best players to ever play the game,” freshman basketball player Donovan Davis said “They are one of the best teams the NBA has seen in a long time along with Golden State. Especially with Lebron on their side, I’m confident that they will return to the finals.”

The Boston Celtics have made their way back to the playoffs for the fourth season in a row after they defeated the young Milwaukee Bucks in a seven-game series. The Celtics have a couple key players to thank for their wins such as Al Horford and rookie Jayson Tatum. They had to make adjustments to their team when it was reported that point guard Kyrie Irving was to miss all of the NBA Playoffs due to his knee injury that requires surgery. Despite the loss of their leading scorer and point guard, the Celtics were able to pull out a win and will be playing the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Toronto Raptors, ranked number one in the east, faced the Washington Wizards, ranked number eight, in a series that lasted six games. The Raptors averaged 109 points per game while the Wizards averaged 107. Toronto has gone to the playoffs the past four seasons and have only gotten past the first round two times. DeMar DeRozan lead the Raptors with an average of 26 points each game. Following DeRozan was Kyle Lowry with 17 points. The Raptors advance to the next round and will be facing the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The NBA finals will begin on May 31st on ABC.