Justin Bullock, FISM News
The NBA Playoffs have delivered excellent games for basketball fans thus far. Only one first-round series has concluded with the Milwaukee Bucks sweeping the Miami Heat 4-0 out of the East. Every other series is still being contested and it looks like there could be some great matchups in subsequent rounds. Coming into the first round the favorites to win it all were the Brooklyn Nets or the Utah Jazz, with dark horses expected in the Phoenix Suns and defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the West, the number one seed, the Utah Jazz, are leading the Memphis Grizzlies 2-1. The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers are tied in a close and entertaining series, 2-2. The Denver Nuggets are tied with the Portland Trail Blazers 2-2. And the Dallas Mavericks are leading the Los Angeles Clippers 2-1. The West has been hotly contested and has seen a couple of injuries for star players including Chris Paul with the Suns and Anthony Davis with the Lakers. Other star players like Ja Morant of the Grizzlies and Luka Dončić of the Mavericks are producing fantastic and historic stats for their teams as well.
In the East the Brooklyn Nets are leading the Boston Celtics 3-1. The Celtics have had to face the powerhouse Nets, led by future hall of famers Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, without their key player Jaylen Brown due to injury. More recently, the Celtics suffered the loss of star player Kemba Walker as well to injury. Elsewhere, the Philadelphia 76ers are dominating the Washington Wizards 3-0 despite the efforts from the Wizard’s Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. And in a high strung, emotional series, the Atlanta Hawks are leading the New York Knicks 3-1. The Hawks-Knicks series began in New York at the famous Madison Square Garden where thousands of Knicks fans showed up to cheer their team on for the first playoff series the Garden has hosted since 2013.
Across the board, more and more fans are being allowed to attend the games as COVID-19 restrictions are slowly being pulled back. The result has been a renewed electricity in the stadiums and on the television. The impact on players is palpable and the magic of the NBA playoffs is being rediscovered.