Posted on April 15, 2018, by Travis Pulver
The NBA’s ‘second season’ is finally here! As of Saturday afternoon, the 2018 NBA Playoffs have begun! It is finally time to see if the Cleveland Cavaliers will get it together when it matters most. Time to see if the Golden State Warriors can do it again. Will the Houston Rockets take them all down?
Maybe someone else will emerge. The Philadelphia 76ers perhaps? Whatever is going to happen will play out in the weeks to come. But it all has to start somewhere.
Game One: San Antonio Spurs 92 Golden State Warriors 113
Spurs fans were probably hoping head coach Gregg Popovich could work some of his Jedi magic and make this one competitive. But even the strongest Jedi couldn’t have helped this Spurs team. Popovich described how the team came out perfectly after the game (ESPN):
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“The first quarter we looked like deer in the headlights,” Popovich said.
As expected, Steph Curry did not play, but it didn’t really matter. The Warriors had more than enough offense to take care of the Spurs in Kevin Durant (24 points) and Klay Thompson (27 points). They held LaMarcus Aldridge to just 14 points and Rudy Gay only had 15.
Without Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have no room for error. Even with him, they would be hard-pressed to give Golden State a decent game this year. The rest of the roster is either too old or too inconsistent.
Game Two will be Monday night in Oakland. Golden State is favored to win by ten points but will likely win by a lot more.
Game One: New Orleans Pelicans 97 Portland Trail Blazers 95
Out of the four opening games, this one had the biggest chance of being the most competitive of the bunch. Portland earned home court advantage by winning just one more game in the regular season than New Orleans. So, theoretically, this one should be close—and it was.
Well, or at least it became close.
New Orleans held Portland to just 36 points in the first half as they got out to a 45-36 lead. The Pelicans extended the lead to 75-63 heading into the fourth—which is when the Trail Blazers finally started to play.
Portland began to chip away at the lead throughout the quarter. But the Pelicans were able to hold them off and maintain a lead. But when C.J. McCollum hit a 23-foot three-pointer with 59.9 seconds to play, the Pelicans lead was down to one, 93-92.
Four free throws by Anthony Davis later, the Pelicans lead was out to five points, but C.J. McCollum hit a late three to make the final score look a little better.
Davis led the way for New Orleans with a double-double (35 points and 14 rebounds) followed by Jrue Holliday with 21 points. C.J. McCollum led the way for Portland with 19 points followed by Damian Lillard with 18.
Game Two will be Tuesday night in Portland. It will likely be another close game that could be decided by who has the ball last. If Portland is going to win, they will need Lillard to have a better night from the floor (6-23).
Game One: Washington Wizards 106 Toronto Raptors 114
Of all the games, this is the only one that had a real shot at being an upset. Not that the Wizards are a better team than the Raptors (because they are not). The Wizards are a better team than their record would indicate with John Wall back in the lineup.
Oh—and the Raptors don’t win playoff openers. But this time was different.
Toronto didn’t get great games out of its dynamic duo (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan), but they had other guys step up. Serge Ibaka led the way with a double-double (23 points and 12 rebounds) followed by Delon Wright (18 points).
Lowry was a disappointing 4-9 from the floor and scored just 11 points. DeRozan wasn’t much better hitting just six of his 17 shots for 17 points.
John Wall led the way for the Wizards with 23 points and 15 assists, but he had a terrible day from the floor hitting just six of 20 shots. Markieff Morris chipped in a double-double with 22 points, and 11 rebounds and Bradley Beal added 19.
Toronto led by five after the first, but then the Wizards dominated the second quarter and took a 59-55 lead into halftime. But the Raptors took control in the second half and never looked back. By the time the third quarter came to an end, they held a one-point lead, 86-85.
The two teams traded the lead back and forth to start the fourth before Toronto finally pulled away.
Game Two will be Tuesday night in Toronto. The Raptors are favored to win by seven. But it is hard to have faith that they’ll cover the spread. Lowry and DeRozan have a history in the playoffs. If John Wall had found his shot in this game, the Raptors would have lost.
He’ll find it Tuesday. But expect Toronto to win (but not cover the spread).
Game One: Miami Heat 103 Philadelphia 76ers 130
The Heat had their hands full in Game One against the hottest team in the NBA. Philadelphia entered the playoffs on a 16-game winning streak, a new record for winning streaks entering the playoffs. It hasn’t mattered that Joel Embiid had been out; they’ve steamrolled everyone despite his absence from the lineup.
However, the Heat were not about to let the 76ers win this one. They shocked the fans in Philly by taking a 35-29 lead after the first. The 76ers woke up a little and closed the gap to four points by halftime, 56-60.
But when the second half started, it was all 76ers. They dominated the Heat on both sides of the court outscoring them 74-43 en route to a blow out win.
Kelly Olynyk led the way for the Heat with 26 points off the bench. Miami’s starters were outscored by their bench, 43-60.
J.J. Reddick led the way for the 76ers with 28 points followed by Marco Belinelli with 25 off the bench. Ben Simmons finished the game one rebound shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds.
Game Two will be Monday night in Philadelphia. The 76ers are favored by seven and will likely win by double-digits.