NBA Play-in and Playoff Tournaments
Jordan Stephenson – South Bureau Chief
The NBA play-in tournament began April 12 and finished April 15. The No.7 through No.10 seeds in both conferences, will face off against their conference opponents, to eventually get the last two 7th and 8th seed playoff spots. The 1st game was the Nets vs the Cavs. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving carried the Nets with double-doubles, to a 115-108 win to secure the 7th seed.
The 2nd game was the Timberwolves vs Clippers. Even though Paul George had 34 points, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russel carried the Timberwolves to a 109-104 win, to secure the 7th seed. The Hawks defeated the Cavs and Hornets, to secure an 8th seed berth. Lastly, the Pelicans defeated the Spurs and Clippers, to secure an 8th seed berth. The playoffs officially began April 15.
Many analysts have said that these playoffs are the most anticipated playoffs in the past decade. I totally agree with them because there are a lot of storylines and matchups that will be answered in depth. The top storylines from the Eastern Conference team are “can the Heat get back to the NBA final with their key acquisitions in free agency,” “will the Bucks repeat as champions,” “can the Celtics top rated defense propel that past the ECF,” ”will James Harden be clutch in close out games,” and “can Kevin Durant and Kyrie carry the Nets until Ben Simmons makes his imminent return.”
The top story lines for the Eastern Conference teams are “will Chris Paul and the Suns redeem themselves by finally winning a championship,” “can Ja Morant lead the young Grizzlies team further in the playoffs,” “can the Warriors veteran nucleus lead them back to their usual playoff glory,” “will Luka finally get a playoff series win,” and “can Donavan Mitchell and the Jazz finally reach their playoff potential rather than folding. All these storylines and matchup comes with extensive pressure to win. If these great players like Harden or teams like the Jazz fold under the expectation and pressure, there will definitely be consequences. In the 76ers and Harden’s situation, they could possibly not offer Harden his $223 million extension in the offseason, and they could fire Doc Rivers and sign Mike D’Antoni. If the Jazz fold or lose in the playoffs, they could dismantle their team, and possibly trade Rudy Gobert.
Four games took place on ESPN and ABC. The 1st game was the Mavs, without Luka Doncic because of a calf injury, vs the Jazz. The Jazz barely beat the Mavs 99-93, Donovan shot 10-29 from the field while scoring 30 of his 32 points in the 2nd half, and Rudy shot 0-1. The next game was Grizzlies vs Timberwolves. The Timberwolves surprisingly beat the Grizzlies 130-117 on the road, behind Edwards 36 points.
The next game was 76ers vs Raptors. The 76ers handily beat the Raptors 131-111, behind Tyrese Maxey’s 38 points. The last game on Saturday was Warriors vs Nuggets. The Warriors defeated the Nuggets 123-107, behind Jordan Poole’s 30 points in his playoff debut, starting over Stephen Curry. There were also four games, one on ABC and the rest on TNT.
The 1st game was the Heat vs Hawks. The Heat handily defeated the Hawks 115-91, behind Duncan Robinson’s 27 points and 8-9 3-point shot off the bench; also, by their stifling defense holding Trae Young to eight points on 1-12 shooting. The next game was Nets vs Celtics. The Celtics beat the Nets 115-114, behind Jayson Tatum’s 31 points and game winning layup. The next game was the Bucks vs Bulls. The Bucks beat the Bulls 93-86, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 27-point double-double. The last game was the Suns vs Pelicans. The Suns defeated the Pelicans 110-99, behind Paul’s 30-point double-double.