After the first two games of the NBA playoffs, the results are lining up (almost) exactly as they should. Apparently, your team has earned their record over an 82 game regular season and the 2-0 leads and 1-1 splits are right where they should be – except for you Portland.
Raptors (59-23) 2-0 vs Wizards (43-39)
The 59 win Toronto Raptors were a dominant at home this season and were 23-3 against the rest of the East in their own building. The inconsistent Wizards backed into the final playoff spot and were under .500 on the road. The only people that were surprised by Toronto winning the first two games at home were the ones insisting Washington was better than their record. They’re not.
Celtics (55-27) 2-0 vs Bucks (44-38)
Just toss out all those “problems” the Celtics were supposedly facing this season. Boston was who the were regardless of the players coach Brad Stevens put on the court and are full value for their 55 wins. The Bucks have a star and have under-performed expectations all season. Why would anyone think things were going to change in the playoffs?
76ers (52-30) 1-1 vs Heat (44-38)
The 76ers raced up the standings at the end of the season with a 16-0 streak that has masked some of the growing pains that should be expected from a young team in their first playoff appearance in half a decade. Add in the loss of All-Star Joel Embiid to a fractured orbital bone and the more talented 76ers will have to overcome some adversity. The Heat won the Southeast Division and have veteran players and a playoff tested head coach that makes them better than the sum of their parts.
Cavaliers (50-32) 1-1 vs Pacers (48-34)
The four-five match-up is supposed to be this tight. It is not an upset for the five seed to advance. On February 6th the Cavs lead the Pacers by two games in the standings and LeBron James had to average a near triple-double of 29.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 10 assists over his team’s final 30 games just to maintain that lead and hold onto fourth place in the East. There isn’t the width of a piece of paper difference between these two teams unless James puts up monster numbers and even then it’s tight.
Rockets (65-17) 2-0 vs Timberwolves (47-35)
The Rockets were the class of the NBA this season and were tied with Toronto for the best home record in the NBA. The T-wolves snuck into the postseason for the first time since 2004 (not a typo) and are a poor road team. It’s good experience for the young stars in Minnesota and that’s about it.
Warriors (58-24) 2-0 vs Spurs (47-35)
The defending NBA Champions seemed disinterested in the regular season as they coped with untimely injuries while racking up the third most wins in the Association. Even down a recent MVP in Stephen Curry, they still got one in Kevin Durant. The Spurs didn’t win 50 games for the first time this century and look ready for a rebuild. No disrespect, but without Kawhi Leonard (right quadriceps) for most of this season, they just don’t have enough scoring to be competitive with the Warriors.
Trail Blazers (49-33) 0-2 vs Pelicans (48-34)
The regular season records of these two teams says it all. This is a three seed vs a six seed, but they were only one game apart. This should be a toss up, but the stars having been saying differently. As Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said, “You can’t win if good players play bad.”
In Portland, Anthony Davis (28.5 ppg) and Jrue Holiday (27 ppg) are playing great while Damian Lillard (17.5 ppg) and C.J. McCollum (20.5 ppg) are shooting terribly, so the Pelicans left town up two games. This situation shouldn’t last, but it’s probably too late for the Blazers to pull this series out of the fire.
Thunder (48-34) 1-1 vs Jazz (48-34)
It doesn’t matter if your team has Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, they still only won 48 games and only got the four seed on a tie-breaker. The Jazz aren’t scared of those “big names” and they shouldn’t be. They have their own up-and-coming bright star in rookie Donovan Mitchell and so far OKC can’t stop him.
East: Raptors, Celtics, 76ers, Pacers
West: Rockets, Warriors, Pelicans, Jazz
But I wouldn’t be counting on any series currently tied at 1-1.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
Featured image courtesy of Paul Saini
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