I was eight-years-old when LeBron James last missed the NBA playoffs. I am now 21, and LeBron James will miss the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.
While LeBron enjoys some wine in a tropical destination, 16 teams will battle it out for the NBA Championship. There are some really intriguing first round series already unfolding, along with some teams handling business and advancing to the next round.
The Milwaukee Bucks wasted no time as they won their first playoff series since 2001 in a four-game sweep of the Detroit Pistons. Giannis Antetokounmpo and crew wasted no time in the first round and continued to be what they have been all season; the best team in the Eastern Conference
The Boston Celtics also completed a sweep of the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers, proving to the basketball world that when they are healthy and playing well together, they are tough to beat. Gordon Hayward was key to the Boston offense, along with a healthy Kyrie Irving. Boston will face the Bucks in the second round.
Both the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers both advanced to the second round by winning their series’ in four games. The Raptors handled business against the Magic after losing game one, and it is the first time in franchise history that the team won a playoff series in five games. The Sixers also suffered a game one loss but cruised through the rest of their series against the Nets. They will face each other in round two, which looks to be one of the most interesting second round matchups.
Out west, the Utah Jazz avoided being swept by James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Houston still holds three games to one lead over the Jazz, and unless Donovan Mitchell and crew lead a historical comeback, the Rockets should be able to end the series in game five. If (when, really) the Rockets advance, they will most likely matchup once again with the Golden State Warriors.
The reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors allowed the biggest comeback in playoff history to the Los Angeles Clippers in game two, but they have once again looked like the best team in all of the league. The Clippers have shown a lot of soul in the series, but it is going to be nearly impossible to beat a team that has the caliber of players that the Warriors have. The Warriors hold a three games to one lead, and look to avoid anymore drama.
One of the surprises of the playoffs has been the San Antonio Spurs and how they have made it an interesting series against the Denver Nuggets. Not much was expected from the Spurs at the beginning of the season, yet here they are, in a tough series where they are now down three games to two. The winner of this series will face the Portland Trail Blazers.
Last but not least, the Portland Trail Blazers knocked the Oklahoma City Thunder out with an amazing ending to game five, where Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard hit a three from just inside the half court line to eliminate the Thunder. This series had it all, from the action on the floor to the media quotes after the game. Lillard may want to take a page out of Russell Westbrook’s media playbook and respond with “Next Round” to every question he is asked.