The first round of the playoffs seems to be nearly over, as one series is already over, while six other series are one game away from ending. However, there’s still been plenty of fun to be had in individual games, as well as some breakout performances from young guys (the Clippers’ own rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander included). Here’s a quick update of the other NBA playoff series and some NBA news from the past few days.
Sadly, neither of these series has been particularly compelling. The Pistons are just severely outmatched by the Bucks, especially with an ailing Blake Griffin. While the Pistons could force a “gentleman’s sweep” tonight, it seems likely that the Bucks will move on to the next round in a few hours. Rockets-Jazz has been somewhat more entertaining, especially Game 3, yet the Jazz have been unable to hit their outside shots, which is death against an offense as good as the Rockets’. It would not be surprising if the Jazz rallied tonight to win at home, but the Rockets know the Warriors are lurking in the next round, so they will probably want to end the series as soon as possible to get some rest. Hopefully it will be a competitive game, at the least.
Nets at Sixers, 5:00 PM PT on TNT (Sixers lead 3-1)
Thunder at Blazers, 7:30 PM PT on TNT (Blazers lead 3-1)
Tomorrow’s slate features three games where the team with homecourt advantage can close the series at their own arena. The Magic and Nets, who both won their Game 1s on the road, have been unable to repeat with any kind of upset, and neither have any momentum going into Game 5. The Magic’s lack of offense has been ugly to watch, especially against the Raptors’ locked in defense and their perimeter trio of Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, and Pascal Siakam. The Nets have been able to score, but have not slowed down Joel Embiid or the Sixers’ offense, though they nearly pulled off the win in Game 4. If Embiid plays Game 5 (he’s been bothered by tendinitis), the Sixers should close the Nets out. The Thunder, too, have struggled offensively, though most of their games have been close. The sheer starpower of Paul George and Russell Westbrook allows the Thunder a better chance at staving eliminating than the other teams, but they haven’t played well in months. Finally, the only truly close series is Nuggets-Spurs, as both teams have alternated between looking great and very vulnerable. The Nuggets’ young guards have been particularly uneven, and they have to hope Jamal Murray and Gary Harris show up for Game 5, or the Spurs could steal another road game.
- Pacers gone fishing: The one series which is already over is Pacers-Celtics, as Boston swept Indiana off the court yesterday. The Pacers just could not muster enough offense without Victor Oladipo, allowing Boston to move on and await the fearsome Bucks.
- Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon making progress: Speaking of the Bucks and Celtics, two of their key players, who have missed the 1st round, are slowly closing in on a return to action. Malcolm Brogdon is one of the Bucks’ better ball-handlers and shooters, while Smart is one of the best defensive guards in the NBA and a guy who makes all the little plays for the Celtics. Hopefully they can both return for the second round, as the Bucks-Celtics series would not be nearly as good without them.
- Draft season approaching: Yesterday was the deadline for early-entry eligibility for the NBA draft, so any non-senior who didn’t declare by midnight yesterday is returning to college. Next up is the draft lottery on May 14, which won’t be important for the Clippers, but which could shake up the NBA significantly depending on who lands the coveted 1st pick — and Zion Williamson. From the 14th to the 19th is the draft combine, which is when things really get underway. The Clippers do have two second-round picks, and could always trade into the 1st or make other moves in the draft, so we will keep you posted on big draft-related news.
Comment on the other NBA playoff games below! Who are you rooting for in the non-Clippers series? Personally, I’d like the Sixers to do well, considering the abundance of recent Clippers’ players on their roster.