NBA Playoffs update and preview

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For the past three weeks the NBA playoffs have been well underway with 16 teams battling it out for eight spots in the conference semi-finals round. Now officially in the second round of the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder are the eight teams that remain.

After beating the Houston Rockets in five games, the Golden State Warriors look to turn their historic regular season success into another run to the championship. Though they arguably have the deepest roster in the league, their chances to repeat in the finals seemed to plummet when all-star point guard Stephen Curry went down in game four of the opening round series with an MCL sprain. Fortunately for Golden State, Curry only has a grade one MCL sprain, and there is a chance that he returns to action within one week. Golden State now looks to advance past the Portland Trail Blazers led by standout backcourt tandem Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Victory might not come so easily for the depleted Warriors, but with season-long contributions from Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala, the Curry-less Warriors will certainly be nothing to scoff at. Already one game into the series, Golden State managed to beat the Blazers in a high scoring game by a score of 118-106.

In the first round of post-season play, the Cleveland Cavaliers put together one of the most impressive series, only second to the San Antonio Spurs. The Cavs were able to complete a sweep of the Detroit Pistons despite the incessant trash talk from Pistons rookie Stanley Johnson. Perhaps Johnson provided Lebron James with a boost of motivation after having said to the media, “I’m definitely in his head.” Cleveland has had plenty of downtime between rounds and is now facing the Atlanta Hawks. The two will square off on May 2.

Behind the dominant play of defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard, the San Antonio Spurs also beat the Memphis Grizzlies in just four games. In game one of semi-conference final play, the Spurs continued their surge, beating perhaps the most athletic team in the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 124-92. Last year’s top offseason acquisition Lamarcus Aldridge scored a team-high 38 points in the blowout victory. This emphatic display of offense serves as a reminder that the Spurs very well might have the best chance at winning the finals or at the very least being the Western conference champs.
In the Eastern conference, the Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat are both fresh off of tightly contested seven game series in the first round of play. The Raptors earned themselves a ticket to the conference-semifinals with a 89-84 victory on Sunday. The Miami Heat, on the other hand, slid past the Charlotte Hornets in their game 7 with ease, winning by a score of 106-73. Both teams have the necessary talent to progress to the Eastern conference finals, but the Raptors are backed by a fan base hungry for post-season success, as the team has not advanced in the playoffs since 2001.

Regardless of who emerges victorious in this year’s NBA playoffs, there’s sure to be plenty of excitement along the way.

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