Now that you’ve read the lowdown on the NBA Playoffs for the Eastern Conference’s first round, now it’s time to take a peek at their Western Conference counterparts. As of 12pm on April 27th, two teams have a ticket to the next round, and two other teams have been hit with injuries to their star players (including one of my teams #ClipperNation).
Let’s see what’s happening in the first round of the Western Conference.
The San Antonio Spurs swept the Memphis Grizzlies.
For many NBA fans, the winner of this series was a no-brainer, of course it was going to be the dominant Spurs. While the Grizzles did snatch the seventh seed, they’ve hit some problems with injuries; just this season alone, 28 players played for the Grizzlies. Ridiculous.
Regardless of the outcome of the series, coach Dave Joerger was proud of his team, and he communicated that in his press conference.
While the series did have its competitive moments, the Spurs told everyone that they’re still dominant, even though their center, Tim Duncan, turned 40 on April 26th. Their big three of Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker, and Timmy got lots of rest this series – they all averaged about 30 minutes of playing time each – pretty good since LaMarcus Aldridge thinks 40 is the new 100.
Now their task is to take care of business against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Round 2.
Despite fines and the trash talk from Mark Cuban, the Oklahoma City Thunder end the Dallas Mavericks’ season.
Things got a little chippy in this series. Charlie Villanueva interrupted Russell Westbrook & Cameron Payne’s pre-game dance battle, Kevin Durant got ejected for the second time in his career, Russell Westbrook had some choice words with a fan (and was subsequently fined for it), and Mark Cuban said the Thunder only had one superstar. Ouch. Don’t worry Russ, you’re a superstar in my eyes.
During the season, the Thunder were criticized for blowing the leads in the fourth quarter, but they took care of business in this series. Although the Mavs edged the Thunder out in Game 2, KD & crew proved to be the better team and will face the Spurs in Round 2. Oh, and everyone kept asking Mavs superstar Dirk Nowitzki if he was retiring. His response, “Nope.”
See you next season, Dirk.
The Golden State Warriors lead the Houston Rockets in this series 3-1, but they lost their MVP.
The BIG story of Game 4 was that reigning MVP Steph Curry slipped on a wet spot on the court and suffered a Grade 1 MCL sprain. Steph’s ruled out for the next two weeks and will be reevaluated then, but that puts a huge question mark for the Warriors.
If you haven’t heard, the Warriors broke the ’96 Bulls record for the most wins in NBA history this season with a record of 73-9. While beating a record set by Michael Jordan & crew is pretty cool, lots of people are saying that the record won’t mean anything without that championship bling on their finger at the end of the season. Steph’s been clutch and is a threat to all teams, so the Warriors will miss him on the court, but he’s not too concerned about it. Oh, and the Dubs broke the record for the most three’s made in a playoff game in Game 4 by nailing 21 from deep. These Dubs, breaking records everywhere.
Even though the Rockets are still alive, most people don’t see them advancing. Why? Because James Harden doesn’t really play defense, that’s why. There’s a rift between teammates; apparently, Harden rolls up to the stadium solo and not on the team bus. Yikes. Oh, and NBA legend Charles Barkley thinks that they don’t hustle. Cue a Twitter war with the front office of the Rockets. In a now-deleted tweet, Rockets CEO Tad Brown said, “Charles would know, his entire Rockets career was fake hustle.”
The Portland Trail Blazers rally and tie up the series with the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clippers (who happen to be my West Coast team) took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and seemed to be the favorite to win the series. They got their star player and recent Broad City guest star Blake Griffin back from his injuries and their bench got some confidence at the end of the season. Things looked up for them, especially after they blew out the Blazers in Game 1.
However, when the Clippers touched down in Portland, the momentum shifted. The 2016 Most Improved Player CJ McCollum and his buddy, Damian Lillard put on a show and won the next two games. So now, the series is tied and they’re heading back to the Clip’s town.
In Game 4, the Clippers suffered some key injuries – Chris Paul fractured his third metacarpal on his right hand and Blake Griffin aggravated his quad injury, and both guys left the game and headed to the locker room. CP3 didn’t come back to the game and Blake played through the pain, but Tuesday morning the Clippers announced the latest updates on 2/3rds of their big three: Blake Griffin was out for the playoffs with that quad injury and Chris Paul had surgery and is out indefinitely.
That’s a huge blow. I mean, they don’t call Chris Paul the #PointGod for nothing, and many will argue that he carried the team on his back when Blake was out for 40+ games this season. Even though BG came back just in time for the playoffs, he puts up stellar numbers – rebounds, points, assists, you name it. These two players not only create offense for themselves, but for their team, so who’s gonna do that for them when they’re gone?
With two of their main guys out, the Clippers season is up in the air especially since the Blazers gained momentum from their last two wins. We’ll see what happens with the Clips in the future, but as of right now, it’s anybody’s series. Who knows, Dame might just make it rain all over the Clippers.
That wraps the lowdown on the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs!
Tweets courtesy of TNT, ESPN, the Dallas Mavericks, and Bleacher Report.