Has there ever been a playoffs in recent years where the underdogs are dominating? After last night, 8th seeded Atlanta is up 2-1 on 1st seed Indiana, 7th seeded Memphis is up by the same margin over 2nd seed Oklahoma City, and if not for a hard-fought victory, the Clippers would be without homecourt advantage as well.
In tonight’s contest, we see the shocking Washington Wizards, who are up 2-0 on a Bulls team who most thought could compete with the Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy. The Rockets have had a ticket to one of the best one-man shows we’ve seen in years as LaMarcus Aldridge has torched them and led his Blazers to their own 2-0 lead. But the precursor to the night will be the Nets and Raptors, who engaged in two exciting games, the first in which Brooklyn won and stole home court advantage.
Toronto at Brooklyn, Series Tied 1-1
As Lakers fans, it certainly wouldn’t be right cheering for Brooklyn. Nearly all of the Celtics-Lakers rivalries of the late 2000s have Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett squarely in the middle of them. Most of Lakers Nation certainly was rooting for the Nets to flame out this season when they went for broke by trading for Pierce and Garnett. Early on it looked like they would, but since Brooke Lopez went down, the team has embraced the small ball style and have succeeded.
The Raptors mirror some of the early 2000 Raptors squads. Their young, exciting, and feature a rising star, Vince Carter in the 2000s, DeMar Derozan now. Their youthfulness has been a blessing and a curse, too naive to know, but too naive to care. Tonight, they’ll get their first true test of the playoffs, traveling to Brooklyn in a hostile atmosphere against a veteran team, they’ll certainly have their work cut out for them.
In the end, experience wins in the playoffs, and the Nets will win going away.
Bulls at Wizards, Washington leads 2-0
Realistically, no one saw this coming. A team so often in the lottery in recent memory, the Wizards finally put all the pieces together and have become a fierce team. Despite John Wall’s subpar shooting so far, the supporting cast has picked him up, most notably Nene, who put up 24 points in Game 1 and 17 points in Game 2. Bradley Beal’s Game 2 performance where he poured in 26 points was vital in their overtime win.
Chicago clearly lacks the go-to scorer, a problem that has hindered them for years. While their defense anchors them, their offense lets them down too often and their left without a true scorer to carry them at times. While Joakim Noah has been playing out of his mind, he can’t do it all for this team. However, this is a veteran core who I anticipate will put up a fight. Don’t be surprised if they take back one of the game tonight.
Rockets at Blazers, Blazers lead series 2-0
The performance LaMarcus Aldridge put up in Games 1 and 2 was nothing short of historic. Back-to-back 40-point games, on the road, in the playoffs is things players dream about. Now, the Blazers are back home in one of the best stadiums with a huge homecourt advantage. It’s unlikely that Aldridge can keep up his amazing pace, but it’s already been an unbelievable duo of performances.
Lakers fans can secretly revel in the fact that Dwight Howard appears to be flaming out of the playoffs this season. In his defense, he’s done everything he could to lead Houston, putting 27 and 15 in Game 1 and 32 and 14 in Game 2. However, his team has let him down, most notably James Harden. Through both games, he’s shooting 14-47 from the field and 5 of 19 from three.
At this point, Houston is in too deep. They’re traveling to a stadium that rarely sees their home team lose, and they’ve done nothing to slow down Aldridge. Even if they can slow him down, Damian Lillard has played well. In the end, Portland is too hot and Houston has fallen too far. Blazers win tonight, and Lakers fans can laugh at Dwight once more.