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Apr 22, 2016
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Imagine the look on VP Binay's face if he learns he just won the presidential elections.

That's how giddy hoop junkies from around the world were when the 2016 NBA Playoffs commenced.

It's been six days since playoff tip-off and there have been an unexpected number of blowout games, brilliant basketball played, a couple of unfortunate injuries, a pre-game dance routine scuffle and a lot more that only the postseason can provide.

To thoroughly digest this playoff opening week, here is a recap of all the important developments—from the straight-up nice, down to the straight-up G.


It's clobbering time

The San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat have given their respective first round opponents a helluva beating in Games 1 and 2. Check out how, MIA, LAC and SAS have gone 2-0 in dominant fashion:

Heat swats timid Hornets
Aware of its advantage when it comes to playoff experience, Miami's strategy was to crush Charlotte while the latter was still in awe of making it past the regular season. In Game 1, the Heat pounced on the Hornets right out of the gates, outscoring them 41-22 by the end of the opening quarter. Led by a rejuvenated Luol Deng's 31 points, the home team never took its foot off the gas and prompted Crying Jordan memes with a 32-point drubbing, 123-91.

In Game 2, Coach Spo and his veteran squad once again overwhelmed Charlotte, winning comfortably, 115-103, behind 28 from Dwayne Wade. At his point, the grizzled Heat crew simply looked like they were two steps ahead of the Hornets. Despite the series heading to Charlotte for the next two games, we'd be surprised if Kemba Walker and Co. can still turn the tide in their favor.

CP3 sons Dame Dolla
Blake Griffin may have announced that he is officially back with this merciless slam over the Portland Trail Blazers' Mason Plumlee, but the real savagery in this series has been coming from the Clippers' floor general, Chris Paul. Scoring 26.5 ppg and dishing out 8 apg, CP3 has been the primary reason why his team is killing the Blazers by an average scoring margin of 20.5 points.

If Rip City hopes to get back in the thick of things, Damian Lillard needs to shoot better. He's currently hitting a forgettable 33 percent from the field aside from getting outplayed by Paul. If the trend continues, then it's over for Portland. But with Lillard having a big heart, we expect a huge Game 3 from him. Solving LA's pick-and-roll defense and a dramatic improvement on their unforgivable 19 percent three-point shooting in Game 2, would definitely help the Blazers' cause.

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The Perfect Spurs
If you think the Clippers have been amazing, well they still have quite a ways to go before they can be considered "Spurs amazing." San Antonio hammered Memphis by staggering scoring margins of 32 and 26 points in Games 1 and 2, respectively—without even one Spur putting up more than 20 points. Coach Pop had his boys playing like androids, executing plays flawlessly, assisting and draining shots with scary sharp precision.

Of course, they're benefiting from the Grizzlies' depleted roster. Man, the Grizz are so shorthanded, it had Reggie Miller cracking that the TNT crew (made up of aging former NBA players and legends) can actually give Memphis a run.

At least the Spurs' brilliant play had introduced us to this cool little fellow, the Dab Kid:

 
'The Klaw' wins 2nd straight DPOY award

Before San Antonio's dismantling of Memphis in Game 2, the NBA named the Spurs' Kawhi Leonard Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. It's hard to imagine anyone having any problem with the 24-year-old forward bagging the plum.

Aside from the soft-spoken star's stellar 1.8 spg and 1 bpg, Pop's best player at the moment has solidified his reputation as one of the most feared lockdown defenders in the sport. Just ask Paul George. With The Klaw covering him, George went a forgettable 1 of 14 in a game last December.

Leonard has also made a name for himself by becoming a stoic assassin on the court who has no time for silly things like smiling (Tim Duncan must be proud). But as the DPOY trophy was being handed to him, he broke his vow of not showing any emotion before a game, even just for a quarter of a second:


LeBron's new nemesis?

The Detroit Pistons looked like they were in good shape against the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers until the former's head coach, Stan Van Gundy and rookie forward Stanley Johnson opened their mouths. After a losing by just five points in Game 1, Van Gundy criticized the refs for allegedly not calling fouls on LeBron James, while Johnson sort of challenged the King to a physical duel.

"They've got to understand, LeBron's LeBron. They're not going to call offensive fouls on him. He gets to do whatever he wants. They've got to understand that," lamented Van Gundy.

"I've never had a person grab my jersey and try to throw me to the floor and I come up on the wrong...from that point on, it was like 'It's on.' If you want to foul, we both can go to the floor next time. That's how I took that," Johnson added.

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The consequence of all the yapping? Well, a fired-up James backed by an all-business Cavs squad that silenced the Pistons in Game 2, 107-90. If there's anything you shouldn't do when playing against an all-time great, it's getting him riled up enough to give you a serious ass-kicking.

However, young Stanley has yet to shut up even after going down 0-2. "I'm definitely in his [LeBron's] head, that's for sure," according to the rookie.

He and the Pistons better know what they're doing with all these trash talk.


ATL goes up 2-0

The Atlanta Hawks' experience from last year's Conference Finals was on display as they outlasted the Boston Celtics in their Game 1 thriller, 102-101. But as entertaining as the battle was, it was marred by a hamstring injury that would sideline one of the Celtics' backcourt stalwarts, Avery Bradley, for their next meeting and, at least, for a couple more outings.

Without Bradley's defensive prowess and formidable spot-up shooting in Game 2, Kyle "Hawkeye" Korver tallied 17 markers, 15 of them from beyond the arc. The Hawks also felt free to collapse on Isaiah Thomas whenever he drove to the hole, and forced a 4-out-of-15 shooting clip out of the All-Star. Atlanta won again, but this time by 17 points, 89-72. With Thomas' partner still out, Boston's chances are looking bleak.

Restoring the natural order

Dallas Mavericks forward Charlie Villanueva messed up Russell Westbrook's pregame dance routine before Game 2, and it may have also ruined the Oklahoma City Thunder's rhythm, enabling the Mavs to tie the series at 1 apiece.

In Game 3, Wild Wild Westbrook made sure nothing would get in his way as he took apart Dallas with an all-out assault, en route to a statement of a stat line—26 pts, 15 asts, 2 stls, 1 blk (zero rebs?)—and more importantly, a booming Thunder win, 131-102.

The Thunder point guard's magnificent performance also propelled Kevin Durant to absolve himself from that horrific 21 percent shooting night in the second game with a 34-point outburst. Oklahoma City just returned things to where they're should be. Looks like the dream matchup versus the Spurs in the next round for a colossal collision is going to materialize...


Toronto finally showed up

The Raptors hasn't gone beyond the first round of the playoffs since 2001. And after the Indiana Pacers stole Game 1 from the No. 2 seed, it felt like the city's in for another disappointing postseason. Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan and the rest of the ballin' dinosaurs, however, thought otherwise.

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Combining for 42 points (21 a piece), Lowry and DeRozan—with the help of Jonas Valanciunas who's been putting up a steady 17 per contest in the series—steered Toronto into salvaging home court advantage with an impressive 101-85 Game 3 victory. The Raps' big road win could be an indication that they are ready to run away with this one. But if Indy's Paul George can borrow Superman's cape one more time like when he uttered these words, Toronto is in for a dogfight.


The Warriors are human, after all

You know what sucks in the '16 postseason? Stephen Curry has practically played only one half of basketball because of an ankle sprain, and we're already missing those video game threes. (We're pretty sure Golden State is missing the reigning MVP even more.) Yes, they did manage to win the series' first two games against the Houston Rockets despite losing Steph, but in Game 3, on the road, they were hit hard with a dose of reality.

With a chance to go up 3-0, the Warriors just needed one huge shot down the stretch to seal the deal. Had Curry played, he would've most likely delivered. But the winning basket would come from the other end of the floor, courtesy of James Harden.

Consequently, Houston gutted out a 97-96 win behind The Beard's workhorse 35 pts, 9 asts, and 8 rbs. Props to the Dubs, though, for showing why they made history (73-9) as they went toe to toe with the Rockets till the last second. Sophomore guard Ian Clark hit some big shots for Golden State, but in the dying seconds, the defending champs let the game slip away as Draymond Green committed a hasty turnover that secured Houston's win. Houston is now behind by just a game in the series, and with Curry's physical status still up in the air, the picture of the champs advancing into the second round is no longer 1080p.

 

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