Five surprises from week one of the NBA playoffs
We look into five surprising storylines from the first week of the NBA playoffs.
The first week of the 2018 NBA playoffs is in the books and there has been plenty to talk about. Some series such as the Warriors-Spurs showdown have gone exactly as expected but the majority of the other matchups have thrown up some surprises.
Here are five of the biggest surprises from week one of the playoffs.
Cleveland’s terrible offense
If you’d told Cleveland coach Ty Lue that his team would hold the Indiana Pacers to 98, 97 and 92 points in the first three games of their first-round series he would probably have been pretty satisfied.
Cleveland’s offense had been electric during the regular season, averaging 110.9 points per game the fifth best mark in the league. However, during this series the have been unusually sluggish on the offensive end. Outside of LeBron the Cavs have struggled to get anything going as they have shot ice cold from deep.
If the Cavs are to salute in this series, currently tied at 2-2, they will have to rediscover their offensive magic otherwise they could find themselves trying to fill a very large hole in their roster next season.
Jrue Holiday’s explosion
Jrue Holiday has long been an underrated NBA player but I don’t think anyone thought he was quite this good. His New Orleans Pelicans have already pulled up the first upset of the playoffs as they swept the third-seeded Trail Blazers to advance.
Holiday has been absolutely incredible throughout the series, averaging 27.8 points per game to go with 6.5 assists. His insane performances were punctuated by his dominant 41-point showing in game four as the Pelicans closed out the series.
Not only has Holiday been dishing it out on the offensive end, he has also played strong defense on the Trail Blazers’ star backcourt paring of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Considering the personal turmoil Holiday has gone through recently, his performances in the playoffs have been one of the most feel good stories of the season,
Derrick Rose is back
Can someone tell Derrick Rose it’s not 2011? For moments in the Timberwolves’ Game 3 win over the Rockets it really seemed as if we were in some kind of time warp. Rose had his old explosiveness back as he blew past Houston defenders and finished athletically at the rim.
For much of the season, Tom Thibodeau has apparently been trying to recreate his best Bulls rosters and it must have made Thibs very happy indeed to see D Rose wheeling and dealing on his way to 17 points in an upset victory for the Wolves.
Raptors win Game 1!!
It’s been a long time coming, nine straight Game 1 losses to be exact, but the Raptors finally broke their hoodoo against the Wizards on the opening night of the playoffs. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise as the Raptors are the top seed and yet they have managed to blow previous series openers in all kids of inventive ways.
In breaking their loosing streak, the Raptors have gone a long way to throwing off the troubles that have plagued their previous runs at an NBA title. Both DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry seem more at ease and if the Pacers can take care of LeBron, the Raptors’ ultimate bogeyman, then just maybe Toronto can finally make it to the NBA Finals.
Rookies finding their feet
Rookies have traditionally struggled in the postseason. This has not been the case for Donovan Mitchell and Ben Simmons, who have taken to playoff basketball like ducks to water.
Mitchell’s 55-point total from his first two playoff games set a new record, surpassing the previous mark set by Michael Jordan – we all know that guy could play a little bit. It has been so impressive to watch Mitchell attack fearlessly throughout his playoff debut. He has not lost confidence or been shaken by misses, and it seems the Jazz have a very special young player on their hands.
Meanwhile, Simmons has been leading the Sixers on their own playoff adventure. Simmons registered his first playoff triple double in Game 3 against the Miami Heat, becoming the first rookie to post a playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson in 1980.
The two Rookie of the Year candidates have thrived in the spotlight and look set to tear up the playoffs for years to come.
What stood out most for you in the opening week of the NBA playoffs?