The first games of the NBA playoffs have wrapped up. Here’s a look back at what happened over the weekend of basketball.
Game one to open the playoffs was a heated contest between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Indiana Pacers that resulted in a 109-108 victory for the Cavaliers. LeBron James showed off his versatility once again, finishing the game with 32 points, 13 assists, and 6 rebounds. Indiana’s forward Paul George finished the game with 29 points and hit six of his eight shots from the three-point line, but it wasn’t enough to lift Indiana past Cleveland.
In the second game of the Eastern Conference playoffs Saturday, the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks upset the third seed in the East, the Toronto Raptors, in a 97-83 blowout. At the helm of the Bucks’ victory was the ‘Greek Freak,’ Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 6’11” small forward ended the game with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists, shooting 13-18 from the field.
Over in the West, things went mostly as expected. In Saturday’s first Western Conference game, the San Antonio Spurs took on the Memphis Grizzlies. In the 111-82 clobbering by the Spurs, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Kawhi Leonard dominated the game with 32 points on 11-14 shooting and went 5-5 in the first quarter. Leonard also finished with 5 assists and 3 rebounds, leading the way for the Spurs’ victory. San Antonio’s defense shut down the Grizzlies offense, keeping them under 40 percent shooting from the field.
Saturday’s last game of the night gave us the first Western Conference upset with the fifth seeded Utah Jazz beating the fourth-seeded Los Angeles Clippers 97-95. The Jazz won the game with a buzzer-beater by Utah’s Joe Johnson who finished with 21 points, going 9-14 from the field and 3-4 from behind the arch.
Sunday’s games opened up with a matchup between the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks. In the matchup between the fourth and fifth-seeded teams in the East, the Wizards took game one of the series with a 114-107 victory over the Hawks. Washington’s John Wall was sensational in their win, dropping 32 points and 14 assists leading the way for the Wizards. Wall got his teammates involved as well with three players, including Wall scoring 20 points or more in the Wizards’ victory.
Game two of Sunday’s contests were between the Golden State Warriors and the Portland Trail Blazers. Even though the game ended with a double-digit win by the Warriors 121-109, the Trail Blazers made it a much closer game than it shows. The game was tied 48-48 after the first half with Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum combining for 48 points in the half. Lillard ended the game with 34 points while McCollum finished with 41; but the backcourt duo’s effort wasn’t enough to lift them past Golden State.
The next game saw the second upset in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls defeating the No. 1 seeded Boston Celtics 106-102. The Bulls were led by their star forward Jimmy Butler, who tallied 30 points and 9 rebounds on 9-19 shooting. Boston’s Isaiah Thomas was equally impressive in Sunday’s effort. The 5’9” point guard dropped 33 points, shooting 10-18 from the field and ending the game with 6 assists and 5 rebounds to match his scoring total, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the eighth-seeded Bulls.
The last game on Sunday was a showdown between the top-two candidates for MVP. Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder and James Harden of the Houston Rockets faced off in an intense matchup that ended with the Rockets walking all over the Thunder, 118-87. Harden only helped his MVP candidacy with his performance. In 34 minutes, Harden logged 37 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, while Westbrook was only able to muster up 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists in their game one loss to the Rockets.
With the first games of the NBA playoffs all wrapped up, the intensity will only increase. The next games on the docket will be between Milwaukee and Toronto at 6 p.m. After that, the Bulls face the Celtics starting at 7 p.m. and the last game of the night will be the Jazz versus the Clippers at 9:30 p.m. Stay tuned for more action and NBA playoff basketball.