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The Good, Bad and Ugly of the First Weekend of the NBA Playoffs

Basketball, NBA, NCAAB, CBB, College Hoops article at Knup Sports

The first weekend of the NBA Playoffs is in the books. Let’s review the most notable games.

The 2023 NBA Playoffs are finally underway, and the NBA opening weekend was something to behold. While some NBA teams took care of business, such as the Boston Celtics in a 112-99 win over the 7-seeded Atlanta Hawks, Philadelphia getting the edge over Brooklyn, and the Nuggets’ domination vs. the Timberwolves.

But elsewhere, there was plenty of NBA drama. With upsets and injuries aplenty, we’re going to review the most significant games of the first weekend of the NBA Playoffs and how they might affect things going forward.

Knicks vs. Cavaliers

In one of the most fascinating matchups of the first round, the 5-seeded New York Knicks traveled to Cleveland to take on the 4-seeded Cavaliers. Many see this series going 6 or 7 games, and game 1 only bolstered those predictions.

The Knicks edged this one out 101-97. The game consisted of what everyone expected: great rim protection, solid defense, and big scoring from the typical contributors. There’s not much to say about this series other than “watch it.” It’s likely each game comes down to the wire, and the winner could make a Cinderella run to the conference finals.

Warriors vs. Kings

The 6-seeded Warriors are heading just down the road to face the Sacramento Kings in a high-octane first-round matchup. Many expect Golden State to make a run to the NBA Finals, considering they’re the reigning champs, despite their rough season and lower seed. Sacramento, on the other hand, has had a terrific season, but many doubt their ability to win big games.

Game 1 was a back-and-forth affair that is likely an omen for the rest of the series. It featured prolific offense and a lightning-fast pace, driven primarily by the Kings’ quick and versatile playmakers. The Kings also have one of the most avid fanbases in the NBA behind their backs, making for an intense playoff atmosphere. However, despite Sacramento going up 2-0 in the series Monday night, I still expect this one to go at least six or seven games.

Lakers vs. Grizzlies

Here’s where we get to the ugly. In one of the biggest upsets of the opening weekend of the playoffs, the 7-seeded Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers were able to pull away late, in part thanks to Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant injuring his hand. Though the x-rays came back negative, Morant was in severe pain and had to leave the game. The Lakers took advantage and closed the game out.

This was already an interesting series, but if Morant misses significant time or isn’t 100% when on the floor, things could get ugly quickly for Memphis. Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in the NBA after making an impressive run to get back in playoff contention and now has a legitimate chance to upset the 2-seeded Grizzlies.

Heat vs. Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks entered the playoffs with high hopes for an NBA championship. Those hopes took a hit as they saw their leader and superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo go down with a back injury in the first quarter of game 1 against Miami. The Bucks proceeded to drop the game and go down in the series 1-0.

Milwaukee is in a similar situation to Memphis. If Giannis misses time or isn’t his normal self, they risk being upset by the Heat and having their championship hopes snuffed. However, Giannis’ x-rays also came back negative, meaning he avoided significant injury, though that doesn’t mean he’ll feel 100% any time soon.

Despite the similar circumstances, the Bucks are in a better position than Memphis. They have a much deeper, more experienced team, meaning they may be able to scratch and claw their way to a series win even without Giannis. However, against Cleveland, New York, Boston or Philadelphia down the road, Milwaukee will need their leader.

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