The first round of the playoffs wraps up tonight, and if we’ve learned anything about the teams involved it’s that, in the famous words of former NFL coach Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were.” The Warriors and Spurs still look like teams that tore through the regular season at a record pace. The Cavaliers seem like the only dominant group in the East. The Raptors are still good in the regular season, but shaky in the playoffs. The Heat have the talent to raise their game when they need to. The Celtics have many good players, but not enough stars. And the Clippers remain as snakebit as ever.
There were few surprises in the opening round, but things figure to become more competitive as we move on. The Western Conference has already started second-round play, with Golden State and San Antonio holding 1-0 leads over Portland and Oklahoma City. In the East, Cleveland and Atlanta will tip off their series Monday night, while Miami, which prevailed in a seven-game tussle today, awaits the winner of Game 7 between Toronto and Indiana.
The East feels set up the same way it has been for the past five seasons, with LeBron James‘ team as a heavy favorite. Shooting for his sixth straight trip to the NBA Finals, James and the Cavaliers looked sharp in a first-round sweep of the plucky Pistons. LeBron could be headed for an intense Eastern Conference finals showdown with his former team in Miami if the Cavs and Heat survive the second round.
Out West, Golden State and San Antonio seem destined to collide in the conference finals. The Spurs opened their series with the Thunder with a 32-point pasting Saturday night, and the Warriors followed with a 12-point victory over the Trail Blazers this afternoon despite missing probable league MVP Stephen Curry. Either series will need a dramatic turnaround to prevent a clash of the two superpowers.
That brings us to tonight’s question: Now that we’ve seen the first round of the playoffs, who are your picks to meet in the NBA Finals? Will LeBron make his annual trip to the league’s biggest showcase, or will the Hawks, Heat, Raptors or Pacers find a way to stop him? And are the Warriors and Spurs the NBA’s version of an irresistible force, or will the Thunder or Blazers be able to turn those series around?
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.