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NBA Playoffs: Round One Initial Reactions

Which Round Two matchups are you looking forward to the most?

With Round One in the books, up next is the conference semifinals. This year’s playoffs have been one of those years where the higher seed is winning. Everyone expected a Warriors win, same with the Suns and Milwaukee taking care of Chicago and Miami shutting down the Hawks. The teams that have advanced so far are the better teams overall. That being said, let’s break down each first-round series before we begin Round Two.

Miami Heat Vs. Atlanta Hawks (Heat Win 4-1)

If defense wins championships, then the Miami Heat are title bound. The Heat dominated the Hawks the entire series. Holding Trae Young to only 15 points per game is a win regardless of the score. This version of the Miami Heat looks primed for another NBA Finals run. Jimmy Butler was the driving force in the series, putting up 30 points, eight rebounds, and five assists per game.

Atlanta truly only competed in game three, which they won, and game five. But the Miami defense proved to be too much, and now the Heat take on the Sixers in Round Two. If Miami can keep everyone healthy and Jimmy Butler keeps playing like this, the Heat are a dangerous team. It does not surprise me that the one seed dominated this much, though.

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Philadelphia 76ers Vs. Toronto Raptors (Sixers Win 4-2)

I expected this series to go seven games, but six is close enough. Despite the ligament injury to Joel Embiid, the Sixers got it done. The Sixers jumped out to a 3-0 series lead but dropped the next two games and let Toronto back into the series. But thanks to a bounce-back game six from James Harden, the Sixers closed out the series and moved on.

Joel Embiid was his usual self despite injuring his thumb. The big man led the way for Philly with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and two assists per game. James Harden finished with 22 points and 16 assists in the final game of the series. Philly has the intangibles and pieces to go far this year, but it is all about execution. The Sixers will need to be perfect with the scorching hot Miami Heat up next.

Milwaukee Bucks Vs. Chicago Bulls (Bucks Win 4-1)

A few months ago, the Bulls looked like a force to be reckoned with in the East. But after losing Lonzo Ball to injury, the Bulls fell quite a bit. They entered this series as the sixth seed, and they got beat up by Milwaukee. The Bucks lost Khris Middleton to injury, but they are hard to beat when Giannis is on the floor.

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The closest game in the series was game one, where the Bucks won 93-86. Chicago took game two 114-110, but after that, we saw the Bucks win by 30, 24, and 16 in the series’ final three games. Giannis dominated, scoring 28 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists per game in the series. Milwaukee will likely be without Middleton in Round Two, which will be a challenge. Up next, they have the red hot Celtics, and without Middleton, the defending champs will need to play their best basketball.

Boston Celtics Vs. Brooklyn Nets (Celtics Win 4-0)

The thought of a team featuring Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Blake Griffin getting swept sounds impossible unless you’re the Boston Celtics. This was the only series sweep in the first round this year. Boston used stifling defense to all but eliminate Kevin Durant from being a problem, sort of. Durant still put up 26 points, five rebounds, and six assists a night. Boston is on a warpath after falling short in the playoffs for a few years now.

While the Celtics swept the Nets, it was a hard-fought sweep. The Celtics’ largest win was by only seven points. The game-changer was Jayson Tatum, scoring basically 30 per game and dishing seven assists. Boston looked better in the late-game situations and guarded Durant and Kyrie well. Boston has a date with the Bucks next, and guarding Giannis will be their next task. As I mentioned before, Khris Middleton is out, so that will help Boston write up better defensive schemes.

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Phoenix Suns Vs. New Orleans Pelicans (Suns Win 4-2)

The Pelicans surprised everyone with their surge into the playoffs. Unfortunately, they ran into the number team in the NBA in Round One. The Pelicans still played pretty well against a solid defensive team in Phoenix. New Orleans outrebounded Phoenix, which helped them in their two wins in the series. Brandon Ingram showed off his skills, considering he put up 27 points, six rebounds, and six assists a night.

Phoenix nearly lost Devin Booker long-term, but luckily he avoided a serious injury. Veteran point guard Chris Paul played well in Round One putting up 22 points and 11 assists per game. Despite the push from New Orleans, Phoenix showed why they are the number one team. Phoenix played well down the stretch, and they are everything as advertised. Up next is the Dallas Mavericks, who are just as stingy on the boards and defensively as the Pelicans. Phoenix cannot surrender games late to Dallas; they will find themselves behind in the series.

Dallas Mavericks Vs. Utah Jazz (Mavs Win 4-2)

The Utah Jazz was another team that looked to be a legitimate threat in the West early in the regular season. The Jazz slid a bit down the back half of the regular season and earned the fifth seed. This first-round series was an even matchup through the first four games. The Jazz won the opening game before dropping games two and three. After that, the Mavs began to find their groove and eventually closed out the series.

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I think the Mavericks could be a sleeper team in the playoffs. Luka and company are finally clicking as a unit, and the emergence of Jalen Brunson is a huge help. Brunson averaged 27 points, four rebounds, and four assists per game. I think Brunson asserting his abilities and taking stress off of Luka will help in the long run. The Jazz has some stuff to fix this offseason, and losing in this fashion was more evidence to support that reality. The Mavs are now set to clash with the number one overall team in the playoffs, the Phoenix Suns, so they will need to be perfect in all areas to compete.

Golden State Warriors Vs. Denver Nuggets (Warriors Win 4-1)

The Golden State Warriors are a force to be reckoned with yet again. The trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Jordan Poole are at the top of their game right now. Besides the one Nuggets win in game four, the Warriors dominated. The Nuggets were a much weaker team without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. A weak Nuggets team against the once again elite Warriors was no match.

Nikola Jokic carried the Nuggets, scoring 31 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists per night, but it wasn’t enough. I think the biggest struggle for Denver besides lack of help was the Warriors stifling defense, forcing so many turnovers. Denver was turning the ball over 16 times per game, giving Golden State far too many chances to close the door on them. Denver only needs to worry about re-signing Jokic to his super-max deal now. In Round Two, Golden State will match up with the fiery Grizzlies, which will be a tougher series overall.

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Memphis Grizzlies Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (Grizzlies Win 4-2)

The Grizzlies continue to surprise everyone with their winning ways. The Grizzlies have found a young core group that is leading this team to good places. The Grizzlies faced fourth-quarter double-digit deficits a few too many times. However, the Grizzlies buckled down and won those games, proving this young group is the real deal.

The Timberwolves, who have also lacked playoff experience lately, showed they are on the rise as well. However, the Grizzlies showed it is still too early to say the Timberwolves are fully set to compete in the playoffs. Led by Ja Morant’s 21 points and ten assists a night, the Grizzlies advance in the playoffs for the first time in seven years. With the Warriors up next, if the Grizzlies start slow as they did against Minnesota, Golden State will bury them. Memphis has to figure it out before game one.

Which Round Two matchups are you looking forward to the most? Comment below and join the discussion! Want more NBA news? Go check out our website here!

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Written By

25 years old, 2020 Bachelors Degree in Sports Media from Northwest Missouri State. Sports nut who enjoys bringing information and entertainment to the public!

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