The NBA Playoffs are heading into the second round with plenty of storylines building. Unfortunately, many of those storylines will be forgotten or never be fully written due to the nature of the playoffs. There are still two rounds to go until the NBA Finals begin.
With the Conference Semifinals set to tipoff April 27, here are five takeaways from the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.
Portland Trail Blazers love
Damian Lillard’s insane three-pointer at the buzz to beat Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 was crazy. But everyone celebrated the win as if the Portland Trail Blazers had won the NBA Finals. Had he missed the three, the game would have merely gone into overtime. At the very worst, Portland and OKC would have played a Game 6.
In the wake of Game 5, NBA revisionists are talking Lillard up as the greatest player in the playoffs right now. While he is an excellent NBA guard, his incredible shot will mean absolutely nothing if the Trail Blazers do not win the NBA Finals.
There is still a lot of basketball to play and unfortunately for fans, that shot may have no influence on the results of the rest of the postseason.
Russell Westbrook is a great Fantasy NBA player
Every season and playoffs, experts and fans claim Russell Westbrook to be an elite star capable of leading the Thunder to the Finals. Yet, he has failed every season post-Kevin Durant.
There is no way Portland’s starting five are any better than OKC’s lineup. Of course, it isn’t the individuals that win playoff series, it is the combination of those individuals that make up the team that bring home the trophy.
Westbrook had a triple double in Game 5, but couldn’t inspire his team to victory. Sure, OKC do not have the talent that the Golden State Warriors do; but did anyone think the Denver Nuggets would have had the season they have? OKC should be better than they are with Westbrook and Paul George.
Boston Celtics have new life
If the Boston Celtics win the NBA Finals, or just the Eastern Conference, it will be a major shame. The Celtics were inconsistent during the regular season, and for the most part, Boston was appalling. Yet their first-round win over the Indiana Pacers in four games sets them up nicely for a strong push to the title.
The Celtics gave up 100 points just once in their four-game series against the Pacers. The Milwaukee Bucks won’t roll over so easily, but the Celtics do have players who have been in big-time playoff games previously.
Does an NBA team need playoff experience to win the Conference title? Absolutely not, but Boston have suddenly come alive.
Remember the LA Clippers win in Game 2?
The Los Angeles Clippers shocked the world when they stormed back in the second half against the favoured Golden State Warriors. After the game, I wrote that their comeback would be meaningless following the first round.
Well, their exit is near at hand and the Clippers have been thumped by the Warriors in Games 3 and 4. The problem with the NBA Playoffs is everyone gets so excited over the littlest thing only for it to be forgotten due to the long postseason.
Since losing Game 2, Golden State has reasserted themselves as the best in the west.
A gulf in class
The NBA Playoff first round has shown a gulf in class between teams. The Eastern Conference saw two of the four series ended in just four games. Of course, one would expect the No.1 seed Milwaukee Bucks to push the No. 8 Detroit Pistons aside. But did anyone see Boston doing the same to Indiana?
The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers also eased into the second round winning their respective series 4-1. Currently, only one first round series is going to six games. That series is the one played by the Denver Nuggets and the San Antonio Spurs.
Would eliminating two teams per conference for the playoffs make the postseason more interesting to watch? Yes, but with so much money at stake, the NBA won’t allow it. So, this time of year, the Association will deal with complaints of the playoffs being boring with the hope that the excitement will pick up.