NBA Playoffs: The First Round

While the world has come to what may seem like a standstill, the NBA has been moving right along. With the playoffs taking place in the so called “bubble”, teams being separate from everyone in order to avoid potential Covid-19 spread, a lot has happened. This year there was a lot of speculation of who would win the championship, even after all of the craziness of the world took place. While this won’t go that far, it’ll cover the current playoff standings of the East and West, along with standout performances by players and injury updates for the remaining teams. 

Starting with the standings in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Orlando Magic in Five games, moving them on to play the Miami Heat, who swept the Indiana Pacers. The Heat, who are a somewhat unexpected success, is going to have to work extra hard to defeat the Bucks, who are one of the three teams in the NBA with high championship expectations.

Moving to the other side of the Eastern bracket, the Boston Celtics swept the Philadelphia 76ers to move on to play the defending champs, the Toronto Raptors. Toronto also swept the first round match-up the Brooklyn Nets. While the Raptors have gotten further than expected after the loss of star Kawhi Leonard, they are still underdogs in this series and as of writing this, are down 1-0 in the series.

Moving to the West, Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers have beaten Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers, moving them to the second round of the playoffs to face the Houston Rockets after the Rockets defeated the Thunder in Game Seven. While the other Los Angeles team, the LA Clippers, have defeated the Dallas Mavericks 4-2 to lead them to the second round. They will face the Denver Nuggets in the second round. While the expectation is for both L.A teams to make it to the conference finals, this has been a wild playoffs, so expect the unexpected.

Moving from the standings to some standouts, while most games during these playoffs went as expected, there were some amazing performances. Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray and star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz, both dropped 50 points in Game  of the series. Mitchell, scoring 51, led the team to a victory over Jamal Murray’s 50 points. Murray also dropped another 50 in Game 6 to tie the series and force a Game 7. While the Mavericks may have lost, that doesn’t mean they weren’t entertaining while playing. On top of an historic triple double performance, scoring 43 points, adding 17 rebounds and 13 assists, star player Luka Doncic scored the game winning 3-pointer to end Game 4. 

While these series have been entertaining, there are, as always, at least a few injuries. In the East, The Celtics’ Javonte Green has been ruled out along with Tremont Waters, who has been listed day-to-day. Their opponents, the Toronto Raptors, have listed backups small forwards Oshae Brissett and Patrick McCaw as out. The other side of the playoff bracket holds fewer injuries, with the Miami Heat listing power forward Chris Silva out. Their opponents, the Milwaukee Bucks, have listed starting point guard Eric Bledsoe day-to-day.

The two best teams in the West hold few injuries. While the Clippers’ Patrick Beverly did not play in Game 6 against Dallas, it is unclear of his status for the remainder of the playoffs. The Lakers’ Rajon Rondo also did not play in the final game of the Blazers series, but like Beverly, it is unclear of his status from this point on. Surprisingly, all four teams playing currently, The Nuggets, Jazz, Rockets, and Thunder, have no current injuries or anyone ruled out for the last game(s) of their respective series’.

While the first round of the playoffs was fun, and for the West not over as round 1 has not ended yet, more excitement is to come as teams battle for the championship. The Clippers, Lakers, and Bucks are the three favorites to win, as they have the big superstars of the NBA on their team. While all of this is going on, most of the NBA awards have yet to be given out. That, however, isn’t nearly as important.

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