Wednesday's final night of the regular season was well beyond dramatic - an overtime game between Minnesota and Denver to decide the last berth, another overtime game between Miami and Toronto to determine some East fates, a 46-point first quarter by Philadelphia, an absurd 20-rebound, 19-assist night from Russell Westbrook. The Rockets were the NBA's best team basically from start to finish this year, and have the almost-lock for Most Valuable Player in James Harden.
The Pacers completely outplayed the three-time defending conference champions, whose turbulent regular season has carried over into the playoffs.
But it's hard to see Toronto actually coming through with the win over the Cavs, and it's hard to see how the Rockets can match up with the Warriors. JJ Redick led all players with 28 points on 8-of-13 shooting and hit four of the six three-point shots he attempted. Now, everyone is ready to go, which is bad news for the rest of the league. However, the same can't be said for the other teams.
James' teams have won 21 consecutive opening-round contests, a streak that started in Game 5 of the Miami-New York series in 2012. For a team with outstanding top-end talent and not as deep a bench as Toronto, it's a great opportunity to ride their starters as much as possible and not need to go more than eight deep. "That's all you can ask for". Heck, the Sixers could break through and continue some of that Philadelphia magic we've seen in sports all year. Lillard will win a game by himself, but Davis could very well win 2 or 3 if he came put up some of the stellar performances he has down the stretch. However, the Pelicans and Trail Blazers are so equally talented, the series could easily go to seven games. The 76ers' best players have never been in the playoffs before (they've barely been in the NBA) and history has taught us that inexperience rarely succeeds in the post-season. Chicago tanked the year away, and will hope they can get lucky in the upcoming draft lottery.
The 2018 NBA Playoffs kicked off on Saturday and as ratings showed, it was a spectacular weekend of hoops. What we'll be left with is, hopefully, an entertaining and unpredictable conference, featuring superstar players, breakout youngsters, and a couple of old men still with tricks up their sleeves.
Home-court "advantage" really didn't exist in the 2017 playoffs.
What we are looking at here are the teams that have the best chance to make a conference finals without being a top half seed, meaning they have to have seeded lower than fourth. They will be going up against playoff LeBron James though, which nearly certainly spells defeat.
The Warriors are -1250 on the National Basketball Association playoff series prices, a number that would be much different if San Antonio had its superstar, Kawhi Leonard. They traded their best player Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in a move that signalled a rebuild, but instead, in improved to win 48 games and finish 5th! User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Houston can overwhelm Golden State with its offense.
The Spurs played without star forward Kawhi Leonard who has been sidelined for most of the season, while Golden State were without Steph Curry who is troubled by his knee injury. Popovich has said that Nick Kerr is the subject of additional security screenings at work, just to ensure he's not a spy for the Warriors.