NBA first round recap, and second round predictions


Braylon Obleman, Staff Writer

With the NBA playoffs getting tight, the first round has come to an end eliminating 8 of the 16 playoff teams. The Pelicans, Hawks, Nets, Timberwolves, Bulls, Nuggets, Jazz, and Raptors all saw their season come to an end following a first-round defeat.

The New Orleans Pelicans fell to the Suns 4-2 in the best of seven series. Considering the seeding gap of the Suns being the one seed, while the Pelicans where the eight seed, it was quite a successful round for the up-and-coming Pelicans. New Orleans went into the series as heavy underdogs but saw offensive explosions night in and night out from small forward Brandon Ingram. The team was also helped a lot defensively by Herb Jones and Jose Alvarado. At the end of the day, the star power of the Suns led by Devin Booker and Chris Paul proved to be too much for the Pelicans, but nothing to hang their head over.

The Atlanta Hawks failed to meet expectations following the Eastern Conference Finals run they made just last season. Being just the 8 seed this season surprised fans everywhere as a lot of people saw them as championship contenders coming into this season. The Miami Heat played just how you would expect a one seed to perform. The Heat were led by star player Jimmy Butler during their 4-1 series victory over the Hawks.

The Brooklyn Nets went into this season as not only a team who was looked at as a contender, but the favorite to win it all. The team dealt with chemistry issues all season, trading former MVP James Harden at the trade deadline. The Nets also had to deal with off the court issues, all-star point guard Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get the vaccination cost him playing in any home games for most of the season. While this issue was resolved with New York lifting the mandate, the Nets where still unable to even win one game against their opponent, the Boston Celtics. Four dominant performances from Jayson Tatum was all the Celtics needed to win the series 4-0.

The Timberwolves, similarly to the Pelicans, went into the first round as major underdogs being a seven seed against a two seed. They did manage to steal two games. This was in large part to the emergence of a possible future superstar in 20-year-old Anthony Edwards. The main concern from the Timberwolves was not only the poor performance from star center Karl Anthony-Towns, but the lack of aggression in the games where he struggled. The Grizzlies where able to come back from two 20-point deficits to win the series. The Grizzlies got a huge boost from star point guard Ja Morant.

The Milwaukee Bucks went into the series against the Bulls as heavy favorites, and they did not disappoint. The Bucks handled the Bulls rather easily in just five games. Superstar player Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks on both sides of the ball. One major hit the Bucks took was forward Khris Middleton going down with an injury. Being the teams second leading scorer, losing Middleton could be a major blow to the Bucks success.

The Denver Nuggets fell to the Warriors in just five games. Not much else was excepted from the Nuggets who were being led now two-time back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic. Denver struggled a lot with injuries, most notably from Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Murray, who is widely regarded as the second-best player on the Nuggets, should be returning next season following a torn ACL over a year ago. The Warriors took care of business in a gentlemen sweep of the Nuggets. They were led by familiar faces Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, but also got major contributions from the up-and-coming Jordan Poole.

The Utah Jazz fell to the Mavericks in seven games. While the series did wind up to appear respectable, the Utah Jazz where far outplayed. The Mavericks were missing their star player Luka Doncic for the first two games of the series. After Luka returned, the Jazz looked almost hopeless guarding him on the perimeter. Following yet another first round exit, the Jazz has the media wondering if they are even going to return with the same core they have the last few seasons.

The Toronto Raptors lost a six-game series to the Philadelphia 76ers. Philly came out hot winning three in a row to start the series. The Raptors where able to fight back into the series winning two in a row. The series did end the next game but the Raptors made the series a lot closer than people expected after the first three games.

At the time this is being written, the second round is 6 games into each series. My predictions are the Boston Celtics falling to the Bucks, the 76ers making the 3-2 comeback versus Miami to win the series, Golden State holding on to defeat the Grizzlies, and the Suns getting the job done and beating the Mavericks.