No surprises in NBA playoffs

By Henry Liao April 22,2019
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No surprises in NBA playoffs

By Henry Liao April 22,2019
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THE 2019 National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs are in progress with not much off-chart series results as every team that started its first-round best-of-seven duels with the homecourt advantage has either maintained or regained “home serve” — an incentive that rewards a team the right to play Game 7, if need be, on its home arena.

Four lower-seeded teams registered victories on the road in their respective series openers – (6) Brooklyn Nets over (3) Philadelphia 76ers and (7) Orlando Magic against (2) Toronto Raptors in their East series openers and (7) San Antonio Spurs over (2) Denver Nuggets in their playoff debut and (8) Los Angeles Clippers over (1) Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of their series (135-131, having trailed by 31 points, 94-63, with 7:31 left in the third quarter before staging the largest comeback in NBA postseason history) out in the West.

However, all four losing clubs above have since bounced back and regained homecourt advantage either with a sweep or a split in their next two games on enemy territory.

In the East, the fourth-seeded Boston Celtics whitewashed the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers in four straight games for their first 4-0 series victory in eight years.

The Celtics, owners of the most number of NBA championships in league annals at 17 (the most recent in 2008), will face the winner of the (1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Detroit Pistons series in the second round of the four-tier playoffs.

The Bucks, who own the homecourt advantage throughout the postseason by virtue of their NBA-best 60-22 record during the regular wars, seek to score a 4-0 sweep against the Pistons today (PH time) at the Little Caesars Arena in midtown Detroit.

Milwaukee, which has won the first three games by an average of 24 points, is headed for its first playoff series victory since 2001.

One more win against Detroit and the Bucks will clash with the Boston Celtics (49-33) in the second round in what could turn out to be an explosive series to decide the East representative in the NBA Finals in June. A year ago, the two teams met in the first-round playoffs with the Celtics winning in seven games.

In another playoff contest scheduled Tuesday (April 23), the fifth-seeded Utah Jazz hope to stave off early elimination when they take on the fourth-seeded Houston Rockets in Game 4 of their West first-round series at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Down 0-3, the Jazz are in a must-win situation. No team in NBA playoff history has ever come back from a 0-3 hole to capture a best-of-7 series.

In the past, only on two occasions has a team down 0-3 rallied to deadlock a best-of-seven duel at
3-all — once in the NBA Finals (1951, champion Rochester Royals over New York Knicks) and another in an early playoff round (1994 West semifinals, winner Utah over Denver).

The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors, the top seeds in the West segment with a 57-25 regular mark, are ahead of the No. 8 seeded Los Angeles Clippers, 3-1, after taking a pair of games at the Staples Center. The Dubs look to close out the series when they host Game 5 on Thursday (April 25) at the soon-to-be-vacated Oracle Arena.

Golden State and Houston will face each other in the second round in a rematch of last year’s West finals wherein the Rockets wasted a 3-2 series lead to lose in seven games. Advanced thinking: The winner of this series will likely be the West representative in this year’s NBA Finals.

In other West matchups, the No. 2 seed Denver Nuggets and No. 7 seed San Antonio Spurs square off in a crucial Game 5 on Wednesday (April 24) at the Pepsi Center with the series deadlocked at 2-2; and the No. 3-seeded Portland Trail Blazers and No. 6-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder slug it out at the Moda Center in Game 5 with the series at 3-1 in favor of the Trail Blazers.

In the East, the No. 2 seed Toronto Raptors, owning a 3-1 lead (following twin victories at the hostile Amway Center), look to finish off the No. 7 seed Orlando Magic on Wednesday (April 24) in Game 5 at the Scotiabank Arena (formerly Air Canada Centre); and the No. 3-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, leading by a 3-1 count (following twin successes at the Barclays Center), seek to close out the series when they host Game 5 also on April 24 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Toronto (58-24) and Philadelphia (51-31) will be clashing in the second round with the Raptors enjoying homecourt advantage because of a better regular ledger.

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