Yada yada yada, here’s a look at the East:
Game 1 – 4/15 – 4/16:
This opening round matchup between the defending champion Cavaliers and the 7th seed Pacers is one that will surely excite. With the game on the line, C.J. Miles’ off balance 14-footer came up just short of stealing a W on the road from The Land. Paul George (29/7/5) and Lance Stephenson (16/3/7) did a lot of the legwork getting the Pacers within striking distance late in the game, especially with PG13’s game tying 3 with just 40 seconds to play, but the Pacers were unable to get the ball in George’s hands on the final play. This is something PG would take issue with in postgame talks, expressing frustration with the lack of a quality opportunity to give Indy the go ahead bucket. Something to note however is that in game deciding shots, Paul George is an abysmal 0 for 15 shooter. Not the most encouraging results there, but you still have to put that ball in his hands no matter what. Cleveland was able to do what it does best: Let Lebron orchestrate (32/13/6) and the rest follow suit. Cleveland did a great job early on of controlling the game, having not trailed at the end of the first 3 quarters due to fantastic play from the big 3. Yet in still, the Cavs were lucky to have won this game with as bad a night as they had from the charity stripe, shooting just 51.9%. Nevertheless, with Zero Dark Thirty – 23 locked, it’s gonna be tough for the Pacers to get an edge this series.
Series Prediction: Wake me up when its over, CLE wins 4 – 2
If only for a game, it looks like the playoff versions of Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan have reared their ugly heads, while their regular season warrior alter egos are out enjoying the views of the 6. Your two superstars can’t come out playing like dogshit when the lights get brighter, and that’s unfortunately becoming the case with these two over the past couple of postseasons. For Milwaukee, you gotta be happy with the dominance that Giannis Antetokuonmpo displayed Saturday night (28/3/8), leading the team to an easy game one W away from home. Kidd’s usage of Thon Maker and Giannis as a tandem during short stretches worked well, as the twin towers were blocking shots and running the floor all night. Also, shoutout to Greg Fucking Monroe for showing up hungry on the glass with a 14 point, 15 board outing off the bench. For years now, the Bucks have been on the verge of pushing themselves into that level of a team to watch out for. Now even with an injury to star player, Jabari Parker, this team shows no signs of falling short of this trajectory.
Series Prediction: Toronto remembers how to play when it matters most, 4 – 2
It’s great to see how far this Washington Wizards squad has progressed under the leadership of John Wall, and barring any injury, look poised to make a deep playoff push. Wall came out looking for blood with a playoff career high 32 points to go along with 14 assists on the night. His supporting cast came up big with all starters contributing at least 10 points each, while even Kelly Oubre Jr. got himself in the spirit to the tune of 11 points off the bench. The Hawks put up a good fight, but its going to more of a group effort to get them over the hump. Dwight did well controlling the glass, but 7 points off only six attempts isn’t gonna cut it. I’m also looking to see Atlanta’s late season addition, Ersan Ilyasova, have more of an impact on the floor, as its been an up and down stint for him since his departure from a productive run with the 76ers.
Series Prediction: Wizards cause hysteria in the capitol, 4 – 1
Now before y’all go back a couple of posts to say “Oh problematik is fair weather… this dude isn’t really about the Windy City Movement” I just want to take this opportunity to say when I last touched on the Bulls, we very much were a mess of a team on the verge of missing the playoffs. Any gripes of a subpar season are put on hold for what matters right here and now. THIS IS PLAYOFF BASKETBALL AND I FUCKING LOVE IT. First off, you gotta give a standing ovation to Isaiah Thomas, who just a day earlier had to learn of the unfortunate passing of his younger sister Chyna. To have the presence of mind to be able to compete, with cameras shoved in your face waiting for an emotional outburst for their precious views (I seriously hate media’s obsession with this), while dealing with such heartbreak is nothing short of heroic. That being said, as I rooted for Isaiah to score at will, I still was screaming FUCK THE CELTICS every trip down the floor. This was a close match from opening tip off, until the final buzzer sounded, but some key factors made the difference for Chicago down the wire. Rebounding was pivotal, as the Bulls outrebounded the Celtics 53 to 36, twenty of which came on the offensive glass. RoLo and Bobby P made the Celtics their bitches on the glass, constantly winning the ball over the Celtics bigs. This game came down to a you score, we score type of back and forth with very little separation. Gotta love the surprise showing out of a young guy like Portis, whose 19 points and efficient shooting from deep came in clutch. You gotta give credit, to Rondo, who’s journey back to Beantown was reminiscent of his days dawning the Green and White, with the presence as Chicago’s on court maestro up until his late game foul trouble. Last but not least, you gotta love having a guy like Jimmy Butler to go to when it matters most, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. It certainly was a tale of two halves, as Butler churned out an incredible 23 point second half performance after having just 7 throughout the first two quarters. The guys simply did it all, providing an efficient source of iso ball as well as exceptional defense in the closing minutes of the game on IT.
Series Prediction: Boston moves on, but their 1 seed is worthless, 4 – 3