So we’ve got a game or two out of each series, with more coming up soon. So with the first part of the series already in the books, what teams that were favorites in the playoffs are already in early trouble? Let’s take a look.
Yeah, let’s start at the top. The Celtics are vastly more talented than the Bulls, but there’s some serious holes that got uncovered in their opening game loss to Chicago. From a basketball standpoint, almost all of the Celtics holes were exposed in game one. Al Horford got bullied on the glass, and no one else was able to offset that. Avery Bradley got run around the court trying to guard Wade and Butler at different times, and the defense just ran out of gas with all the different sets.
We knew that this would sort of happen to Boston, with their depth that they’ve had all season mattering less and less as the playoffs got deeper and benches started to shrink. Not only that, but we knew Isaiah Thomas was a liability on defense, and that got exposed down the stretch of game one as he kept coming off the court, and that can’t keep happening for transition to happen. Not only that, but it’s very hard to win when the best player is on the other roster. We’ve talked about this at length, but the Celtics don’t really have a true superstar, and Jimmy Butler can control this series.
The 14-point loss in game two has put the Celtics right under the pump, with the Bulls now firming to cause a boilover as the series heads to Chicago.
On a way more personal level, the mental strength of Isaiah Thomas has to be taken into account, with the death of his sister having to linger in his mind. The fact that he’s even playing is remarkable.
Chicago takes a 2-0 lead over Boston.
The Celtics’ 14-point loss was the 4th-largest home loss by a 1-seed to an 8-seed in playoff history. pic.twitter.com/7fJ3HeWDX4
— ESPN (@espn) April 19, 2017
Curse me for believing this was something that could be avoided. The Raptors were the team that was on the biggest upset alert before the postseason because of the strength of Milwaukee, so it’s not entirely fair to call them out after one game.
However, the way in which the Bucks beat them in game one is more than demoralizing. The Bucks smacked the Raptors in almost every way, with both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry looking abysmal from the floor. We all know what the ‘Playoff Raptors’ are, and this was the greatest example of it.
The 106-100 game two win was more on pace for what we were looking for, but the matchups are still incredibly shaky going down to Milwaukee. Lowry had a much better outing in game two, but we’ve seen in history that doesn’t stick. DeRozan can play better too, but strictly matchup wise, this could be a very bad sign for the Raptors going forward.
Series tied up!
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 19, 2017
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder weren’t exactly a favorite in this series, but they were picked by many on the basis of Russell Westbrook. After game one, this may need some adjustment. Sure, the rest of the roster didn’t play great, and they didn’t get much out of Kanter-Adams. But Roberson had a solid game, and they got more than they normally can count on from their support staff outside of Oladipo and Westbrook.
But Oladipo’s first playoff bout did not go at all like the Thunder needed it to. He hit just one shot, and sat for the entirety of the fourth quarter’s waning minutes. It was a bad look, and the Eric Gordon-Lou Williams combination thoroughly held him down, something that was pointed out as a strength for the Thunder. If he’s going to keep averaging 10 or less PPG, this series is already over.
But the biggest smack was the play of Russell Westbrook. He forced a ton of threes to try and play with James Harden, and let Patrick Beverley roast him more often than not. Westbrook’s defense was awful, not really playing much of it when the Rockets went on their heavy run in the second half. And those bad shots will be the death of a team in the post season – they can’t afford Russ to take 25 shots to get 25 points again.
James Harden is a better player than Russell Westbrook
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) April 17, 2017
Yes, the Jazz won the first game. But they have some big issues going forward. The Jazz’s best player during the season was Rudy Gobert, who transformed their defense and had them playing high-level basketball.
Now, he’s out for possibly the entire series. And while they were able to play without him in game one, I wouldn’t bank on it going forward. Their season-long +/- without him on the court is abysmal, and if he’s out for the series, the Clippers may have dodged a big bullet – as evidenced by their bounce-back win in game two.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 19, 2017