Damian Lillard highlights a game winner for the Portland Trail Blazers
As the first round of the 2019 NBA playoffs conclude, the sports world is left in shock after Damian Lillard hit an insane clutch shot to send the Oklahoma City Thunder home Tuesday night.
After Tuesday’s full slate of games, the East second round matchups are set with the West only having one clincher in the Portland Trail Blazers.
The top four teams in the east have been the same for most of the season, especially after Victor Oladipo went down with a season ending leg injury for the Indiana Pacers. The Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors and Milwaukee Bucks have all been the crème of the crop in the East. Toronto and Philadelphia both closed out their series Sunday and will meet in the Second Round, which is a toss-up series.
The Celtics and Bucks respectfully swept their first round series and will take part in a rematch from last season. Eric Bledsoe had a very famous quote last season regarding the Celtics guard Terry Rozier.
Bledsoe was asked a question regarding the play of Rozier and said, “I don’t even know who that is.” Boston won the series in seven games last season, but the two teams are different from that time.
Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward were not present in the series and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game was not at the level it is today. The Bucks added a new coach and important integral parts to their rotation. The two teams went to a seven-game series last year and anything less shouldn’t be expected.
The Trail Blazers won their series against the Thunder after Lillard pulled up a shot from well beyond the three-point arc in Paul George’s face to clinch the series.
Lillard put up an absolute show in the win Tuesday night. He scored 50 points and was the best player in the series, carrying his team to victory. The Blazers were swept by the New Orleans Pelicans last season and wanted to redeem themselves.
Lillard had comments after the game for extra incentives that led to their mentality in this series.
He said “Dennis Schroder was yelling you know what time it is” on the bench sideline during Oklahoma City’s game three win.
Lillard silenced them as they await the winner of the San Antonio Spurs/Denver Nuggets matchup, in which the Nuggets are up 3-2. The Blazers are now seen by many as a strong contender to make a deep playoff run.
The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets both have a chance to close out their series Wednesday night and could end up colliding for a second straight season. The Rockets gave the Warriors their most competitive series since adding Kevin Durant to the roster. The Rockets believe they should have won, if starting point guard Chris Paul was healthy. The series went seven games last season and the Rockets most likely will get their chance to prove that argument true.
The first round of the playoffs featured a lot of intriguing storylines but not much competitive play. The semifinals will almost surely feature great storylines and down to wire game play.
Header photo courtesy of the Associated Press.