Sport NBA playoffs 2018: One important takeaway from Game 1 of each series

00:11  17 april  2018
00:11  17 april  2018 Source:   sportingnews.com

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There's nothing quite like the opening weekend of the NBA playoffs. This year, basketball fans were gifted with eight games of high-level hoops in under 36 hours. With each game comes new storylines to follow over the next 10 weeks of the postseason.

Here are a few that stand out from this past weekend's games...

Warriors 113, Spurs 92

Golden State flipped the switch. The defending champs lost 10 of their last 17 games to end the regular season, causing many to question whether they were ready to make another postseason run. Game 1 should have answered some of those questions.

Behind 27 points from Klay Thompson (11-of-13 shooting), the Warriors earned a convincing win to open the postseason. Both Draymond Green (12 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds) and Kevin Durant (24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) nearly recorded triple-doubles, and Golden State fired on all cylinders. San Antonio will need All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge to improve after a rough outing (14 points, two rebounds) in order to have any chance to compete in the series.

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Aldridge is good enough to will the Spurs to one win in the series, but Game 1 served as a reminder that the absence of Kawhi Leonard is too much for San Antonio to overcome against the Warriors.

Raptors 114, Wizards 106

Historically, Toronto has had its fair share of playoff woes, and its All-Star duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar Derozan have taken much of the blame.

In Game 1, neither star reached his scoring average for the regular season, but both impacted the game positively in a number of ways. Serge Ibaka (23 points), Delon Wright (18 points) and CJ Miles (12 points) were among the Raptors that stepped up offensively. Washington, a team that entered the playoffs playing poor basketball, managed to look solid throughout the series opener.

Saturday's outcome should give Toronto the confidence it needs as a No. 1 seed to leave its troublesome playoff history in the past and take care of business in the first round.

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76ers 130, Heat 103

The 76ers are the real deal. It comes as no surprise that the Sixers' two leading scorers in Game 1 (Marco Belinelli and J.J. Redick) are two veterans with NBA Finals experience.

Ben Simmons is no slouch, either. As the rookie flirted with a triple-double, he appeared unfazed by the change of pace and physicality of playoff basketball. The Sixers' 27-point win without All-Star center Joel Embiid reaffirmed the obvious: the team has the opportunity to be very special.

If Erik Spoelstra's Game 2 adjustments fail to slow Philly down, this series might be over quickly for the Heat.

Pelicans 97, Trail Blazers 95

It should not come as that big of a surprise that New Orleans was able to steal Game 1 from the Trail Blazers on the road. The Pelicans finished the regular season one game behind Portland in the standings and have the fifth-best road record (24-17) among playoff teams.

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Anthony Davis (34 points, 14 rebounds, four blocks) was the best player on the floor, and it was not even close. New Orleans' backcourt duo of Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo got it done on both ends, holding Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to 37 points on 31.7 percent shooting. The Pelicans have the best player in the series and are keyed in as a team defensively. Those two things bode well for the pursuit of an "upset" of a No. 3 seed.

Celtics 113, Bucks 107 (OT)

With two huge shots in the final seconds of regulation and big performances all around, Game 1 of this first-round series was an instant classic.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (34 points), Khris Middleton (31 points) and Malcolm Brogdon (16 points) were excellent for the Bucks, but the rest of the team shot 11-of-29 from the field. Boston was the opposite, as its balanced attack resulted in four 20-point scorers (Al Horford, Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown). Rookie Jayson Tatum also chipped in 19 points.

Despite the loss, the Bucks are in good shape; Giannis will continue to perform at an elite level, and the rest of the supporting cast should bring more as the series progresses. If Game 1 is any indicator, this series could be one for the ages.

NBA playoffs 2018: Cavs G George Hill questionable for Game 4 with back spasms

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Pacers 98, Cavs 80

Victor Oladipo led the way with 32 points as the Pacers struck first in Game 1, marking the first time a LeBron James-led team lost a first-round game in nearly six years.

Oladipo said it best postgame: "We're fully aware of LeBron... and we realize it's not going to be easy, but that doesn't mean we're going to come in here and just fold."

Indiana struck first and and struck often, getting out to a 19-point first quarter lead. Cleveland had no rhythm offensively and finished shooting 38.5 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from beyond the arc in Game 1.

It's hard to see Cleveland struggling that much on the offensive end again, but the Pacers are very capable of performing at a similar level. The Cavs should be able to bounce back, but it won't be easy.

Thunder 116, Jazz 108

Playoff P(aul George) is very real.

George's 36 points on 8-of-11 3-point shooting set the tone for OKC in Game 1, and the Thunder made a big statement with the win. Utah relied heavily on rookie Donovan Mitchell (27 points, 10 rebounds) but still came up short.

The Jazz were prepared for the moment, but OKC proved to have too much firepower. Though Utah is one of the league's top defensive teams, containing George and Russell Westbrook while taking Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams into account is quite the task. The Jazz will need two of the aforementioned four to struggle in order to have a shot in this series.

NHL playoffs 2018: Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom ready for 'fun' series against Penguins

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Rockets 104, Timberwolves 101

James Harden put together a spectacular performance with 44 points and eight assists, and Clint Capela's 24 points and 12 rebounds were nothing short of impressive. Aside from those two, Houston did not look like its normal self.

The rest of the Rockets shot 14-of-42 from the field; Harden connected on seven of 12 3-point attempts, while the rest of the team shot 3-of-25, yet they still won.

If there was a perfect opportunity for Minnesota to steal a game at the Toyota Center, it was Sunday night; Houston won't play that bad again this series. Much has been made of the lack of usage of Karl-Anthony Towns in Game 1, and rightly so. The Wolves' 22-year-old All-Star scored eight points on nine shots, the fifth-most attempts on the team.

Minnesota will make adjustments as the series progresses, but the gap between the two teams should continue to grow.

NBA playoff bracket

a screenshot of a cell phone: nba-playoff-bracket-ftr-041418.jpg© Provided by Sporting News nba-playoff-bracket-ftr-041418.jpg a man holding a basketball: Pacers guard Victor Oladipo© (Getty Images) Pacers guard Victor Oladipo

NBA playoffs 2018: John Wall, Wizards 'very confident' they'll force Game 7 vs. Raptors .
John Wall said he and the Wizards "are very confident" they will win Game 6 in Washington and force a Game 7."We love our chances," Wall said about beating the Raptors at home for Game 6 (via ESPN). "We're very confident.

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