The first round of the NBA playoffs is almost halfway over, and the only thing we have learned is that fans are in for an exciting postseason.
Only the Miami Heat took advantage of playing at home and won each of their first two games before changing cities. This is something even the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers could not accomplish.
The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets each find themselves down 2-0 and going on the road after pitiful performances at home. However, both squads will look to save the series with important matchups on Friday.
Additionally, the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors will continue their heated battle in what is appearing to be one of the best series of the playoffs.
Take a look at the results from each game from the first week of action, followed by a preview of the upcoming set of matchups.
|Game||Atlanta Hawks 2, Indiana Pacers 1||Home Team|
|1||Hawks 101, Pacers 93||Indiana|
|2||Pacers 101, 85||Indiana|
|3||Hawks 98, 85||Atlanta|
|Game||Miami Heat 2, Charlotte Bobcats 0||Home Team|
|1||Heat 99, Bobcats 88||Miami|
|2||Heat 101, Bobcats 97||Miami|
|Game||Brooklyn Nets 1, Toronto Raptors 1||Home Team|
|1||Nets 94, Raptors 87||Toronto|
|2||Raptors 100, Nets 95||Toronto|
|Game||Washington Wizards 2, Chicago Bulls 0||Home Team|
|1||Wizards 102, Bulls 93||Chicago|
|2||Wizards 101, Bulls 99||Chicago|
|Game||San Antonio Spurs 1, Dallas Mavericks 1||Home Team|
|1||Spurs 90, Mavericks 85||San Antonio|
|2||Mavericks 113, Spurs 92||San Antonio|
|Game||Memphis Grizzlies 2, Oklahoma City Thunder 1||Home Team|
|1||Thunder 100, Grizzlies 86||Oklahoma City|
|2||Grizzlies 111, Thunder 105||Oklahoma City|
|3||Grizzlies 98, Thunder 95||Memphis|
|Game||Los Angeles Clippers 2, Golden State Warriors 1||Home Team|
|1||Warriors 109, Clippers 105||Los Angeles|
|2||Clippers 138, Warriors 98||Los Angeles|
|3||Clippers 98, Warriors, 96||Golden State|
|Game||Portland Trail Blazers 2, Houston Rockets 0||Home Team|
|1||Trail Blazers 122, Rockets 120||Houston|
|2||Trail Blazers 112, Rockets 105||Houston|
Day 7 Preview
Toronto Raptors at Brooklyn Nets
This has been a much more heated series than many could have anticipated when it began. Both sides have been firing shots on and off the court, but the most notable might have come from Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri, who screamed an expletive directed at Brooklyn before Game 1.
While this might have gotten fans in Toronto pumped up, it will really bring out the best (or worst) from fans attending Game 3 in New York. Kevin Garnett explained that he is excited about playing in the upcoming environment, via Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated:
When you’re on the road, you try to get one [win] on the road, try to get homecourt advantage. That’s what we did. We’ve got to take care of home. It’s going to be a rowdy environment. Like it should be. I don’t know if you can say ‘F Brooklyn’ and then come into Brooklyn. So we’re about to see what it’s like.
This might end up being the difference in the game between two evenly matched teams. The Raptors have a big size advantage that helped them outrebound the Nets 52-30 in Game 2, but Brooklyn will shoot much better at home like it has all year.
At that point, expect veterans like Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson to close out better than the young, inexperienced and likely nervous DeMar DeRozan and company.
Prediction: Nets 101, Raptors 98
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards
The Bulls had the No. 1 defense in the NBA during the regular season, but that has faltered against the young, athletic Washington Wizards. Although one of the games went into overtime, this stat is alarming:
This is the first time in 3 months the Bulls have given up over 100 points in back to back games.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) April 23, 2014
Despite these struggles, the bigger problem is on the offensive side of the ball. Although there are players capable of scoring, like Joakim Noah, D.J. Augustin and others, none of them have been consistent. Most importantly, none of them can be trusted to make a shot with the game on the line.
While you do not need a superstar to win in the NBA, you need someone who can be a go-to scorer when it counts.
On the other hand, the Wizards have been playing exceptionally well and are now in an unfamiliar position:
Wizards take 2-0 postseason series lead for first time since 1982. That's 8 years before John Wall was born.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) April 23, 2014
Still, they will come home to an excited crowd and will have all the confidence in the world in Game 3. Considering John Wall is still not even playing at his best, the Bulls are in serious trouble.
Prediction: Wizards 95, Bulls 90
Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers
This series has been as exciting as advertised, with great individual performances and little defense from either side. The only thing that has surprised anyone is the fact that the Trail Blazers were able to pull out both wins.
The reason has clearly been the play of LaMarcus Aldridge, who has totaled 89 points, 26 rebounds and five blocks in an incredible pair of days. He put himself in rare territory with his scoring:
LaMarcus Aldridge joins Kobe Bryant (2001) and LeBron James (2009) as the only active players to score 40+ in consecutive playoff games.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) April 24, 2014
Aldridge has been knocking down virtually every mid-range jumper he has taken, and the Rockets simply do not have a way to defend it. On the other hand, these high-difficulty shots are likely to miss eventually.
On the other hand, Dwight Howard has been almost as impressive with 59 points and 29 rebounds in the two games while getting almost everything inside. It is hard to imagine Portland stopping this without much size inside.
Additionally, the outside shooting has been simply horrific, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:
Rockets 42.1 % shooting third-worst in playoffs. That's misleading. They've been worse than that, shooting 21.6 % on 3s, last in playoffs.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) April 24, 2014
This squad is much better than that, and you can expect these numbers to rise going forward. That is bad news for Portland, even while heading home for Game 3.
Prediction: Rockets 118, Trail Blazers 111
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