NBA Playoffs 2019 Live : The 2019 NBA playoffs is the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association’s 2018–19 season. The playoffs began on April 13 and will end with the NBA Finals, which are expected to start on May 30. NBA Playoffs 2019 are here, so we are just weeks away from seeing which team which hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy after winning the 2019 NBA Finals.
The NBA playoffs continued Sunday with four more first-round series. To kick off the day, the fourth-seeded Boston Celtics used a phenomenal defensive performance in the second half to crush the visiting Indiana Pacers. During the third quarter, the Boston held Indiana to just 2-of-19 shooting from the field, and outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the frame.
Things then swung over to the Western Conference for the second contest of the day between the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers and sixth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Using a 39-point opening quarter to jump ahead, the Blazers held control against the Thunder, leading them for all but 23 seconds of Game 1.
In the evening slate, the East’s top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks embarrassed the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons, beating them by a score of 121-86. The Pistons were without Blake Griffin, who continues to be out on a day-to-day basis due to a knee injury. Giannis Antetokounmpo only had to play 23 minutes in the blowout, posting 24 points and 16 rebounds in limited action.
Lastly, reigning MVP James Harden and the Houston Rockets jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter over the Utah Jazz, and never trailed again. Harden finished with 29 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in the 32-point win.
Looking back, this should’ve been a bit more predictable than it felt. The Sixers don’t defend the pick and roll well, and the Nets are a top-10 great pick-and-roll team. Joel Embiid was not 100 percent and not himself. Ben Simmons has shown us that his inability to shoot is a much bigger problem in the playoffs than it tends to be in the regular season, and indeed he spent most of Game 1 getting in the way by doing pretty much nothing to the tune of nine points — most of which were at the end and pretty insignificant — on nine shots for a team-worst minus-21.
Finally, for as solid a defensive team as the Sixers are from a metrics standpoint, they don’t have a plethora of one-on-one lockdown defenders outside of Jimmy Butler. Bottom line: The Sixers just couldn’t stay in front of the Nets, executed their five-wide thing to perfection, spreading the Sixers to their breaking point then just breaking them down with their multiple playmakers for finishes at the rim and drive-and-kick threes. Brooklyn had six guys score in double digits, led by D’Angelo Russell’s 26, Caris LaVert’s 23 and Spencer Dinwiddie’s 18. They hit 11 3-pointers to Philly’s three. The Nets only had 15 assists because, again, they were beating the Sixers one on one.
None of this seems unsustainable for Brooklyn. The Sixers dropped their bigs on pick and rolls, and just in general, to invite mid-range shots, and Russell is not just going to stop making those. It’s his bread and butter. Dinwiddie isn’t going to stop getting to the rim. The Sixers can’t stay in front of him and he’s seriously one of the best drivers in the league. The Sixers don’t have the depth to chase around all of Brooklyn’s shooters. If Embiid can’t come back and dominate inside (which he should be able to do if he is healthy-ish) and perhaps get the Nets into some foul trouble, the Nets can beat Philly.
Embiid shot way too many threes in Game 1, but again, a lot of this is the presence of Simmons, who doesn’t command a defender on the perimeter, so they put him down low which pushes Embiid out to the 3-point line. Everything Philly does is as much about getting around what Simmons can’t do as it is what anyone else can do. Jimmy Butler was terrific, and as Simmons becomes more and more of an anchor, Butler will have to carry more and more of the offensive load, not just from a scoring standpoint but also from a playmaking standpoint. I don’t want to jump on the Game 1 panic boat, but this was not a fluke. Brooklyn can beat Philly three more times. Whether they will, who knows. But they certainly can.