Unlike the NHL playoffs, which has produced some wild results and do-or-die Game 7 thrillers, the first round of the NBA playoffs has mostly gone true to form.
The opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, in particular, served more as a tune-up than a challenge for the top four seeds. Milwaukee clobbered Detroit four straight times and Boston swept away Victor Oladipo-less Indiana. Following first-game stumbles, Philadelphia and Toronto also took care of business.
It’s been a lot more entertaining in the Western Conference. The pesky Los Angeles Clippers have made two-time defending champion Golden State work harder than anticipated. Utah showed more resistance in the final three games of its series with Houston but ultimately didn’t have enough offensive answers to keep up with the Rockets.
Oklahoma City underachieved once again, as Portland overcame a devastating late-season injury to center Jusuf Nurkic to advance to the conference semis. Damian Lillard‘s 37-foot series-ending shot will be a defining moment in his career.
In terms of sheer drama, nothing gets the pulse racing more than a Game 7. We’ll have at least one in the first round (pending the result of tonight’s Clippers-Warriors game), as San Antonio and Denver will feel the pressure of a win-or-go-home game.
Not surprisingly, DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have led the way for the Spurs in the series, supplemented by Derrick White‘s 36-point outburst in Game 3. Nikola Jokic has shown why the Nuggets gave him a max extension last summer, leading his team in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Denver will have the home court advantage but San Antonio possesses the experience edge and coach Gregg Popovich, who has prepared teams for games like this for two decades.
That leads us to our question of the day: Who will win Saturday’s Game 7 between San Antonio and Denver and what will be the deciding factor?
Please take to the comments section to weigh in on this topic. We look forward to your input.