NBA Second Round Playoff Picture

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As the first round of the playoffs came and went, the action in the west and east is starting to turn up. In the second round, each of the eight remaining teams are giving everything they have to make it to the conference semifinals. No series will be easy and no team is safe. It’s either show out for your city or go home. Here are the matchups:

WEST

Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers

This evenly matched series is currently tied at 2-2. Although this series is not as publicized as the Warriors and Rockets matchup, the high paced play and stars that are going off for their teams has made this series nothing to sleep on. For the Nuggets, standout players such as Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic have been doing the most. Jokic does his thing each night, consistently putting up triple-doubles and playing efficient on both sides of the court. Murray is a leader on the offensive side, averaging 21.7 points in the postseason while shooting 44.9% from the field. Other smaller contributions to the postseason that have not gotten as much credit are, Will Barton, Paul Millsap, and Gary Harris. They are a hardworking team with good ball movement, and have come up with success from their young core. Swinging over to the Trail Blazers, it’s no secret that Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are carrying the biggest weight on the team. This deadly duo has produced an insane 55.7 points in the postseason combined for their careers. It seems like there’s nothing that can be done to stop these two from scoring anywhere from 20 to 30 points a night. Although Seth Curry, Enes Kanter, and Al-Farouq Aminu, may not get the spotlight like Lillard and McCollum, they are consistent contributions to the team’s success. However this series ends, there is no doubt that it is going to be high-scoring, entertaining, and will have some big moments. If you watched Lillard in the first round against the Thunder, you know how cold he ended their season.

Warriors vs. Rockets

This series that has gotten all the publicity and spotlight in the west. The Rockets have recently capitalized on the recent downfall of the reigning champs, bringing the series to 2-1. Taking a closer look at the Warriors; Curry, Durant, and Thompson have been scoring at a high level per usual. Curry is averaging 23.3 points in this postseason while Durant is averaging 35.4, and Thompson 21.5 respectively. The loss of Demarcus Cousins has been felt, but it has not affected them too much since he has been injured most of the season. The production from the Warriors has slowed down, and the team they once were does not seem to be apparent in this years playoffs, raising concerns. Looking at the Rockets, the first thing that comes to mind is James Harden. From the drama of Draymond Green poking Harden in the eyes, creating vision problems and his scleras to turn blood red. To going off offensively and having a big game three, with 41 in their win at home to make the series 2-1, Harden’s name has been everywhere. Harden is still competing against Giannis Antetokounmpo for this years MVP, and based on how he’s playing, he’s proving just why he should take the award. Harden has gotten help from Chris Paul, his left hand man, who averages 9 assists and 19 points, along with Clint Capela and Eric Gordon. Although the Warriors may be the most feared team in the NBA, don’t count out James Harden and the Rockets this year, they are coming off a big win with a lot of energy, and are now coming for the throats of the Warriors.

EAST

Bucks vs. Celtics

Similar to the Warriors and Rockets series, the Bucks and Celtics series is getting all the buzz in the east. The Celtics came out strong in the first game, coming out with a 20-point lead win in Milwaukee, shocking the basketball world, as everyone had thought the Bucks had had the series in the bag. Next game, the Bucks came back strong, and countered with a 20-point lead win of their own at home. The series now stands at 2-1, with the Bucks holding the momentum. For the Bucks, Giannis has continued to be unstoppable in the paint against anyone, as well as creating a few shots for himself behind the 3-point arc. Giannis like Harden, is proving just why his season and performance in the playoffs deserves the MVP recognition. Giannis is averaging 31 points in this series, along with 1.7 blocks, 10. 7 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. The success of the Bucks has not only flowed through Giannis, but with the help of Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and even Nikola Mirotic. For the Celtics, Horford has tried his best to guard Giannis, blocking him three times in the first game, but there has only been so much he could do. Semi Ojeleye has been another option for guarding Giannis with his big size and bulk. Tatum has been very quiet, not scoring nearly enough as the Celtics need with an average of 16.3, while Jaylen Brown has actually perked up and given a strong contribution with 18 points. Kyrie Irving has tried his best to lead the team with 21.7 points in the series. The Celtics have all the fight and heart to get back in this series, and need to make a statement in game four at home. If the Celtics can not capitalize on this opportunity, the Bucks just might run away with the series.

Raptors vs. 76ers

The Raptors and 76ers series is currently locked at 2-2. When looking at the Raptors, Kawhi Leonard is doing it all almost single handedly for them. Leonard is averaging 38 points, 4 steals, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Leonard has been improving each game, and the 76ers have not been able to figure him out. The Raptors success has also come from the likes of Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Danny Green, and Kyle Lowry. The Raptors are very strong defensively and equally as strong on offensive. For the 76ers, the story has been how star center, Joel Embiid has not played up to potential due to struggling through illness. Jimmy Butler has gone off offensively for the 76ers, averaging 22.8 points. The rest of the starting lineup has tried to makeup for Embiid lacking, including JJ Redick, Tobias Harris, and Ben Simmons. This series could really go either way, just based on how each team is battling.

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