NBA Playoffs 2018: Major takeaways from opening week

It's hard to believe that the playoffs have only been going on for just one week given the amount of incredible displays witnessed.

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

  1. 1 Cavs' season will end soon if they're over-reliance on LeBron doesn't

    The Cleveland Cavaliers have been far from impressive after four games in their series against the Indiana Pacers. Although they have just won their fourth encounter, the Cavaliers have been less than convincing in their wins, proving that they are not a lock for the Finals as many predicted before the playoffs. 

    With LeBron providing the bulk of the scoring, the King has single-handedly kept this series alive. Concerningly for Tyronn Lue and Co. there has been little contribution from their recent additions in Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr., the Cavaliers are most certainly going to struggle getting through the Eastern Conference.

    Unless they start getting more production from their other stars, it is unlikely that they'll progress beyond the Eastern Conference finals, something many would have thought would be nonsense at the start of the season. If improvement doesn't come quickly, they may even exit in the first round.

  2. 2 'Dame-time' is only a regular season occurrence

    The Portland Trail Blazers were expected to defeat the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round in what many anticipated to be a very close series. The series proved to be a disappointment as the Pelicans, without DeMarcus Cousins, produced a stunning display to sweep the Blazers.

    But what was of particular interest was Damian Lillard's disappointing series, as he was completely shut down by the Pelicans and, more notably, Jrue Holiday. 

    Throughout the 2017/18 regular season, Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 6.6 assists and only 2.8 turnovers. For the four-game playoff series, however, Lillard’s numbers dropped significantly as he averaged 18.5 points, 4.75 assists, whilst his turnovers rose to an average of 4.0. The highest amount of points he scored was 20 in Game 3, and that was the game where he also had his most turnovers of the series, with an astonishing eight. 

    There’s been so much talk about ‘Dame-time’ and about Lillard always being extremely unlucky to not feature in the All-Star series. Well, if there’s anything to take by from his series, it is that he most certainly goes missing when it matters most.

    To be swept by a team without one of their major stars is astounding, especially when your own ‘star’ player cannot contribute to the cause. Lillard got exposed in this series, and how he responds from this will be critical in terms of his legacy and how he is remembered. 

  3. 3 76ers aren't just here to make up the numbers

    After Game 1 in their series against the Miami Heat, many believed that the 76ers were well and truly ready for the playoffs as they dominated the Heat in every facet of the game to win 130-103.

    The next game, however, was when the Heat struck back to level the series at 1-1, and that's when people quickly jumped off the Sixers bandwagon and questioned their readiness for competing in their first playoffs since 2012.But two impressive wins in games three and four in Miami, prompted by the return of Joel Embiid, has seen those doubters silenced as this young Philly team continue to exceed expectations. 

    With a star-in-waiting in Ben Simmons playing like a seasoned veteran, the Sixers have been able to play some of the most exciting fast-paced basketball in the league, a trademark which saw them snare the third seed in the Eastern Conference. 

    Their shooters have also been on the money this series, with JJ Reddick and Marco Belinelli coming into their own, while Ersan Illaysova has also been a big contributor. As has Embiid, who despite only scoring 23 and 14 points in his two games of the series, has been a huge influence and presence for the team.

    The Sixers are going places, and if their form continues through the playoffs, do not be surprised to see them contend for a Finals spot in the Eastern Conference. 

    What were your major takeaways from the opening week of playoffs? Comment below!

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