In the first weekend of the NBA playoffs, it was good to be young.
The league’s postseason neophytes showed that they were immediately ready for the biggest stage in Game 1s around the NBA, upending what was presumed to be the natural order in the league hierarchy. The Clippers got a taste of it with 22-year-old Luka Dončić, but this is his second season in the playoffs. The other young stars got it done in their debuts.
Let’s start in Phoenix, where 24-year-old Devin Booker scored 34 points to lead the Suns past the defending champions. Even on a day when his veteran backcourt Chris Paul was hobbled by a shoulder injury, Booker was more than capable of running the show. His partner in crime Deandre Ayton, also just 22, managed to be the best big man on a floor with Anthony Davis in his postseason debut.
Over in New York, the 22-year-old Trae Young added his name to the list of great playoff antagonists in Madison Square Garden by rallying the Hawks in the fourth quarter and dropping the game-winner with 0.9 seconds left. Young had 32 points in the win, and Atlanta also got some timely buckets from old friend Lou Williams.
Then in Utah, the youngest team in the postseason, and the second-youngest in the league overall, upset the Jazz, owners of the best record and best point differential during the regular season. Led by 25-year-old Dillon Brooks and 21-year-old Ja Morant, the Grizzlies took the fight to the favorites to finish off the fourth upset of the weekend.
I mean, just look at these guys.
The playoffs are all about adjustments. Now let’s see how the old guard responds.
Today’s Playoff Games
|4:30 p.m.||Miami||Milwaukee||TNT||MIL 1-0|
|7:00 p.m.||Portland||Denver||TNT||POR 1-0|
More news for Monday:
- We may not be at Marcus Morris Sr. vs. Luka Dončić levels yet, but Maxi Kleber wasn’t terribly pleased with the way the Clippers celebrated Kawhi Leonard’s dunk Saturday.
- Dan Devine went deeper on the Dončić problem.
- Vincent Goodwill on the Clippers’ failure to control the narrative.
- Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball on how the Mavericks role players made L.A. pay.
- Andrew Greif looks at Kristaps Porzingis from the perspective of a children’s book. It’s good.
- What lessons can the NBA take away from the pandemic-shortened season? ESPN investigates. As you might imagine, I was particularly interested in the dress code aspect.
- Patrick Patterson has a lot of insight on this year’s team in an interview with the Basketball News, including thoughts on the growth of the Kawhi Leonard/Paul George partnership.