Second Round Storylines
Could this be the worst second round of the playoffs that we have seen in a long time?? So far, every game has been decided by 10 points or more. We have a few series that we thought to be good that has disappointed to an extent to make the games slightly unwatchable. The interesting thing to get into is mainly on the future of the expected losing teams (Raptors) and what we will see going forward.
Can Washington even up the series at home: After the destruction of the Celtics in Game 3 the Wizards are looking to even up the series on Sunday. Despite shooting only 8-25 from three, balanced scoring and urgency not to put themselves down 3-0 fueled this furious blowout on Thursday. For Washington to win this series they need Bradley Beal to get hot and play like he did in game one. Beal has struggled in games two and three from the field and can’t fully depend on John Wall to bail him out every game. For Boston, they need to regain their shooting touch from deep and give Gerald Green more minutes over Marcus Smart. Boston needs to put as much shooting and space the floor to steal a game on the road in game four. Benching Amir Johnson unless Al Horford and Kelly Olynyk are in foul trouble will be optimal. Head Coach Brad Stevens needs to play Horford and Olynyk together for the outside shooting threat they provide. Drawing out Marcin Gortat from the paint and making him limited as a re bounder will be something to watch for. If Boston can execute this expect to see a victory in game 4 and take control of this series that should end this series in five games.
Stick a fork in the Drakes: Heading into the fourth quarter of game three on Friday Toronto was down one and a fantastic last period of play was ahead. In comes Kyle Korver off the bench who turned in a fantastic performance by repeatedly hitting from the three and with each dagger turned a close game into a blowout. Toronto went ice cold with bad shot selection and no outside shooting to speak of. Without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry this Raptors team doesn’t stand a chance despite DeMarr Derozen having a great game. Going into this series, Toronto had a chance with the acquisitions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. Neither has made a significant difference and in turn this series is out of hand and zero chance for the Raptors to comeback and even make it look competitive. This roster will be significantly different in the offseason with Ibaka, Tucker and Lowry who are free agents. Add dumping the albatross contract of DeMarre Carroll on a team that thinks they will be getting the Atlanta version of Carroll will be a tall task.
Golden State will sweep Utah: This is not a knock on the Jazz by any means, but when you’re facing one of the greatest teams ever assembled it’s too much to handle. In a battle of the best offense vs the best defense the Warriors elite shooting and shot selection has reigned supreme. The Jazz are no match and that is nothing to hang their hat over. Just too much firepower for a team who has lost their best perimeter defender in George Hill and Rudy Gobert AKA the Stifle Tower isn’t 100% from the Clippers series. Any way you slice it, this season has been a success for Utah weather it’s Joe Johnson contributing all season long despite injuries to key players and the emergence of Joe Ingles who buried the Clippers in the first round. Head Coach Quinn Snyder has a lot to look forward to next season especially if Gordon Hayward re-signs in free agency.
How Houston is down 2-1: After getting shellacked in game one San Antonio has bounced back in a big way. This is the work not all about MVP candidate Kawai Leonard, but Patty Mills replacing Tony Parker after his injury in game two giving the Spurs a distinctive look on offense. Also, LaMarcus Aldridge has bounced back in a big way capping it off with a Steller game three that the Spurs needed in a big way. After looking overmatched after game one the Spurs somehow can take control of this series on Sunday with a win vs the Rockets. For Houston James Harden needs to get back on track and fuel this offense who has been held in check these last two games. In the two losses Houston attempted 34 threes (game two) and 39 threes (Game three). The threshold for this team needs to be 40 three point attempts per game or more to give them the best chance to win. Why does a team need to attempt so many threes in a game?? This is how Houston is built trading for Lou Williams from the Lakers provides additional proof that this is how they think to combat Golden State if they were to face them in the next round. For this to happen the offense needs to kick into high gear and not play a slow grind it out pace where Kawai Leonard will shine and take over on both ends of the floor. This series can go seven games and should be a classic. Houston must tie this series up which is no easy task vs a Gregg Popovich coached team
In honor of Toronto and Utah about to be kicked out of the playoffs in sweep fashion here is 1990’s Undertaker music for your listening pleasure.