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8 Takeaways From The Opening Games Of The 2017-18 NBA Playoffs

A higher seed is one bad matchup away from an upset
by John Paulo Aguilera | Apr 16, 2018
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Finally, the 2017-18 NBA playoffs are upon us, and the opening matches of the respective matchups didn't disappoint.

A couple of lower-seeded teams were able to snatch Game 1 from their higher-ranked counterparts, while most squads from the top tier secured a homecourt advantage, even if it was through slim margins. Overall, the first meetings gave us a rough idea of how each rivalry will pan out and whose faces we'll be seeing more of in the next rounds.

Here, FHM lists its biggest takeaways from what turned out to be a thrilling postseason kickoff:


No Steph? No problem (for now)

GS 113-92 SA

The champs are all right at least in the first round. Having JaVale McGee as your fourth-best player (15 pts 2 blk 16 min) may have worked against an uncharacterically underwhelming Spurs, but the same cannot be said versus conference semifinalists. The Dubs have to be at their 100% to even get out of the wild, wild West. On the other hand, no Kawhi Leonard (expected to miss playoffs) means no chance for San Antonio, no matter how snarky Pop is during postgame interviews.

The Wiz isn't much of an acid test

TOR 114-106 WSH

As impressive as the Raps are in making history by winning their first playoff opener since 2001, such feat should be a given when the best team in the East is facing a collective that is as erratic as eighth-seeded Washington. If Toronto manages to sustain its balance attack (eight players had at least nine points), this might be the year Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan break the LeBron curse. As for the Wizards, the title of the new Raptors (only good during the regular season) awaits them.

Philly's supporting cast is important as its superstars

PHI 130-103 MIA

Casual fans easily associated the 76ers' glaring advantage over the Heat to the ridiculous postseason debuts of Ben Simmons (17 pts 14 ast 9 reb) and Dario Saric (20 pts 6 reb 3 ast 4-6 3pt), not to mention Joel Embiid's absence. But what spelled the difference in the initially close game was Philadelphia's grizzled and sweet-shooting veterans: JJ Redick (28 pts 4-6 3pt), Marco Bellineli (25 pts 4-7 3pt), and Ersan Ilyasova (17 pts 14 reb 3-4 3pt).

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Will the real No. 3 MVP candidate please stand up?

NO 97-95 POR

This series will be determined by how each franchise cornerstone plays. Basically, Damian Lillard wasn't beastin' (18 pts 6-23 fg), while Anthony Davis was feastin' (35 pts 14 reb 4 blk 2 stl). The fact that the game was decided by a single possession, after the Pels led by 19, says a lot about how even this matchup is. New Orleans had everything going for them (Jrue Holiday 21 pts 7 reb 2 blk, Rajon Rondo 17 ast, Nikola Mirotic 16 pts 11 reb 4 blk) so they had to steal homecourt.

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Give us a Game 7

BOS 113-107 MIL

The Celtics would've been clear favorites against any group from the East, if they didn't lose Gordon Hayward (ankle), and eventually Kyrie Irving (knee). But Brad Stevens continues to prove that he's one of the best modern-day coaching minds by overcoming an actual (Greek) Freak in Giannis Antetokounmpo (35 pts 13 reb 7 ast 3 stl) with a super rookie (Jayson Tatum 19 pts 10 reb 3 stl) and overachieving sophomore (Jaylen Brown 20 pts). We want more nail-biting finishes!

One game doesn't define the Cavs, but signals tough road ahead

IND 98-80 CLE

This might be the heaviest team that LeBron James (24 pts 12 ast 10 reb) had to carry since being swept by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals and losing to the Warriors, 4-2, in 2015. Don't get us wrong: Cleveland is still favored against Victor Oladipo (32 pts 6 reb 4 ast 4 stl 6-9 3pt) and the Indiana Pacers, but The King being blown out in Game 1 of the playoffs for the first time in his career is a sign of bad things to come in the next stages. Also, Lance Stephenson!

OKC's star power may be too much for Utah

OKC 116-108 UTAH

You know Quin Snyder is on to something when even Kobe Bryant is vouching for him to win Coach of the Year. Falling from the Pop coaching tree, he has turned the Jazz into this season's biggest underdog story. Although it looks like Utah's system don't have enough firepower to keep up with the beautiful mess that is Paul George (36 pts 8-11 3pt), Russell Westbrook (29 pts 13 reb 8 ast), and the Thunder. At least Donovan Mitchell (27 pts 10 reb) didn't wilt under the bright lights.

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A higher seed is one bad matchup away from an upset

HOU 104-101 MIN

The Rockets almost found out the hard way, after a close one against the Timberwolves. Houston won due to monster performances from James Harden (44 pts 8 reb 2 stl 7-12 3pt) and Clint Capela (24 pts 12 reb 3 blk), even more so with subpar outings from Karl-Anthony Towns (8 pts 3-9 fg) and Jimmy Butler (13 pts 4-11 fg). Chris Paul and co. can do better versus a squad that only made the playoffs in the last regular season game and has Derrick Rose (16 pts 4 ast) as its best player.

 

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