Playoffs are Underway!

The NBA regular season ended on April 10th. The playoffs began a few days later on the 13th. The regular season is always full of ups and downs for every team. Obviously, there are plenty of teams that are rebuilding and had no shot but one team that did not make the playoffs was the Lakers. Why is this significant? This is his first time since 2005 that LeBron’s team is not in the playoffs. Has it hurt the tv ratings? Of course it has, they are down 14%. Even though LeBron is not in the playoffs the show must go on. I wanted to take a look at the first round match ups that have completed and the current second round series. I also want to take a look at what teams are actual contenders. Can anyone knock off the defending champs?

In the Eastern Conference, the number one seed Bucks took on the Pistons and swept the series. The two seed Raptors played the Magic and lost the opening game but got back on track and won the next 4 to advance. The three seed Sixers took on the Nets and won in 5 games. The final first round series in the East was the Pacers vs. the Celtics. The Celtics did not live up to expectations in the regular season but they showed up and swept the Pacers. In the Western Conference, the Warriors had a little trouble with the Clippers winning in six games. The Nuggets beat the Spurs in a seven game series. The Trailblazers knocked out the Thunder in 5 games. In the final series the Rockets beat the Jazz in 5 games setting the stage for a rematch with the Warriors.

Usually the second round brings much better competition. Only 8 teams remain and all 8 are quality teams. In the West, the Warriors have their hands full with the Rockets, but they are up 2-0 in the series, yet it is far from over. Hopefully the series outshines all of the complaining the players have done about the referees. The other series features the Trailblazers and Nuggets. The series is tied at 1 game a piece. Both of these teams are very good and will be able to showcase their skills in primetime. The Eastern Conference features the Bucks and Celtics with the series tied at 1 game a piece. The other series is a match-up of the Sixers and Raptors. The Sixers hold the slight lead at two games to one.

Picking a winner out of the remaining teams is very difficult. I actually believe that all 8 teams could make a run and contend for the championship. However, betting against the defending champs is always a bad idea in my book. Until the Warriors are beaten, I can’t pick against them. Good luck to all of the fans that have a team still in the fight. Watching meaningful playoff games sure beats sitting around waiting for the Zion Sweepstakes!

—Victor Mandalawi