So the playoffs started yesterday…
And things are going to start to get interesting!
Pacers 100 Raptors 90
ESPN Headline: George, Pacers nab Game 1 road win vs. Raptors
Before the playoffs started I would have picked Charlotte-Miami as the most likely upset… But after the very first elimination game I remembered that the Raptors are playing.
A few weeks ago the Cavs were stumbling a bit and the Raptors were within spitting range of #1 in the East… But… The Raptors. It wouldn’t have mattered if the Cavs fell to second because if past performance is any indicator Toronto would have managed to drop the one-eight. The Raptors have had home court advantage each of the last two years and failed to clear the quarterfinals in either.
ESPN had it right this time; Paul George was the best player in the game.
The Raptors guards were absolutely atrocious. Lowry was eleven-on-thirteen with six (6!!!) turnovers. DeRozan had fourteen-on-nineteen; they combined for one trey in ten tries.
Rockets 78 Warriors 104
ESPN Headline: Curry shines in 1st half as Warriors rout Rockets
So this guy Steph Curry…
The league’s best player scored “only” 24 points but went five-for-seven from three and had the second-best game of the playoffs so far in only twenty minutes.
No surprise that Draymond Green had the second-best game [of the game], a solid double-double.
The 2016 Warriors might be the best team of all time, but I still think the Rockets have the power to make a game or three interesting. Dwight Howard and James Harden have both been the best at their relative positions… And Shooting Guard and Center are two positions where Golden State doesn’t have a stranglehold on matchup advantage.
But… blowout in Game One.
Celtics 101 Hawks 102
ESPN Headline: Hawks hold off Celtics’ rally to take Game 1
This was a weird game. The Celtics were sooooo bad in the first half… Then the Hawks were so bad in the second half?
All of one Hawk bench player put the ball into the hoop, which might help explain how close the game went.
The superior team is really not entirely clear here. The Celtics probably have the best coach in the East, and were the second-best team in the conference for most of the regular season. However the Hawks have the best three players in the head-to-head.
Same record and (basically) the same point differential, though. Smells like seven.
Mavericks 70 Thunder 108
ESPN Headline: OKC routs cold-shooting Mavs by 38 in Game 1
Wow what a roflstomp!
The major media chatter has been all about the Warriors and to a lesser degree the Spurs this year, but there are actually four teams in the West who have a legitimate shot at winning the title. All of the Clippers, Spurs, Warriors, and of course the Thunder have won over fifty games and own an elite big.
Serge Ibaka played the best game in eight teams on 4/16, going seven-for-eight with nine rebounds and no turnovers in only twenty-eight minutes. Also three blocks; because, you know, I-block-a.
On balance, Deron Williams managed to out-underperform both of Toronto’s starting guards. Minus-thirty-two in only twenty-two minutes? One-for-nine? Twice as many PFs as points? Not the coach killer’s best game.
Saturday’s Best: Steph Curry was great, Serge Ibaka better
Saturday’s Worst: Deron Williams ignominiously saves the Toronto backcourt
The Top 8 is produced via Simple Models of Player Performance + Box Score data from ESPN.com