First and second rounds of NBA playoffs do not dissapoint

Matt Mariani, Editor-In-Chief

The NBA playoffs kicked off on April 15th and each game has been a thriller. As the first round has concluded, 8 teams have moved on to the second round. Firstly, the Philadelphia 76ers defeated the Brooklyn Nets, 4-0, with MVP Joel Emiid playing in only 3 of the games. The Phoenix Suns took down the Los Angeles Clippers, 4-1, in a series that featured some tightly contested games. The Denver Nuggets beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 4-1, led by Nikola Jokic. The New York Knicks won their first playoff series since 2013, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-1. The Miami Heat led by Jimmy Butler shocked everyone by beating Giannis Antetouknmpo and the Milwaukke Bucks, 4-1. The Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks in a hard fought series, 4-2. Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers took over the Memphis Grizzlies and Dillion Brooks, winning the 6th game by 40 points and the series 4-2. Lastly the Golden State Warriors overcame an early 2-0 series lead and beat the Sacramento Kings, 4-3 in the Kings first playoff appearance since the 2005-2006 season. 

The second round kicked off with Heat vs Knicks in Madison Square Garden. This round features a lot of renewed team and player rivalries. The Heat and Knicks rivalry go way back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. The 76ers and Celtics go back to 1949 and they have played each other over 570 times since. And of course, The Lakers vs Warriors, which isn’t quite a team rivalry, but a player. Lebron James and Steph Curry met in the NBA Finals from 2015-2018, with Curry winning 3 of the 4. As both players are getting older, this could be the last time we see a playoff series between two of the best players of the generation and of all time. Lastly, the Nuggets and Suns, while not a rivalry, feature many big time stars like Devin Booker, Kevin Durant, and Nikola Jokić. 

To start things off, the Nuggets and Suns series went to 6 games, where ultimately the Nuggets won. While the Suns did win games 3 and 4, the only 4 games won by the Nuggets were won by a point differential of over 10 in each game. Two-time MVP Nikola Jokic led the way for Denver averaging a triple double with 34.5 ppg, 13.2 rpg, and 10.3 apg. He also had 53 points and 11 assists in game 4, despite losing that one. 

Also in the Western Conference, the Warriors took on the Lakers in a series that also went to 6 games. The Lakers jumped out early to a 3-1 lead. Despite losing game 5 by 15 points and now with the risk of having to play a game 7, the Lakers dominated the Warriors, winning game 6 122-101. Lebron James scored 30 points with 9 rebounds and assists in the closing game, but it’s been the defense from Anthony Davis that has really helped the Lakers shock many in this year’s playoffs. Davis has 41 blocks in just 13 playoff games, so far. 

Now for the Eastern Conference, the Heat defeated the Knicks, 4-2. Miami won the first 3-4 games of the series, losing game 2 without Jimmy Butler. The game was very close down the stretch and with Butler Miami likely would’ve won the game and swept the Knicks. Later on in the series, facing elimination, the Knicks were able to win game 5 forcing another game. Miami would edge this one out, 96-92, in a very low scoring, defensive battle which summarizes the rivalry and this series. 

Lastly, the Celtics and 76ers had a series for the ages. The Sixers would jump out early, winning game 1 without MVP Joel Embiid, but then drop the next 2 games. The Sixers would then go up 3-2 and have a chance to close out the series in Philadelphia. They were not able to and Boston forced a game 7 with the Sixers not even breaking the 90 point mark in game 6. On Mother’s Day, the teams faced off in Boston and Jayson Tatum went off for 51 points in an absolute blowout victory, 112-88. 

For the Eastern Conference finals, the Miami Heat will take on the Boston Celtics. For the Western Conference finals, the Los Angeles Lakers will play the Denver Nuggets. Oddly enough, this is the same conference finals matchups as in the 2020 NBA bubble playoffs.