The first round of the NBA playoffs is finally over and what a round it was. There were plenty of entertaining games for the world to enjoy and a few unexpected subplots that played out in front of our eyes. Some teams are considering their futures after exits, other teams earned the respect of the league, and eight teams are heading into the second round with a chance at a NBA championship.
There were teams and players that were really impressive and then there were others who really left me wondering what direction the franchise is heading in. Here are my NBA Playoffs Recap: First Round Awards.
Best Series in the Eastern Conference: Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
Finally wrapping up on Sunday, I think many Cleveland Lebron fans would have told you that they expected to win this series, at most, in five games. But from the very beginning, Indiana had no intentions on making this an easy series. Lance Stephenson was at his Lance-iest, poking and prodding Lebron at every turn. The Pacers came out in Game 1 and throttled the Cavaliers and gave the Cavs an early scare. Cleveland would rebound, winning Game 2 but would fall behind 2-1 after a stellar shooting performance from Bojan Bogdanovic. Lebron destroyed the Pacers in Game 4 & 5 and it looked like he was out of the clear. But Victor Oladipo’s triple double in the Game 6 blowout had the world wondering: Would the NBA Playoffs really be without Lebron James after the first round?
OF COURSE NOT!!!
All games aside, the Pacers put up a hell of a fight but finally succumbed to the Cavaliers in Game 7 after a great performance from Lebron James. It was such a grueling series that benefitted both teams. Indiana earned the respect of the league and Cleveland went through a tough series that may prove pivotal in their success in the playoffs.
Honorable Mention: Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks
Most Impressive Team: Philadelphia 76ers
I don’t know about you but the 76ers look like a legit problem in the East. The Heat were the perfect team to play in the first round; they are scrappy and play a brand of basketball that is meant to grind you down. Not only did the Sixers take the challenge but they brought the fight to the Heat and beat them at their own game. Ben Simmons looks like he’s going to be the second coming of Lebron (as I’ve stated before) and Joel Embiid is such a matchup problem. The surrounding cast have provided great shooting and great energy. They look like a team that legitimately has a chance to go to the NBA Finals.
Honorable Mention: Indiana Pacers
Most Disappointing Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
This doesn’t have anything to do with Lebron James. He did exactly what he was supposed to do. But if your name was not Lebron James, you disappointed in this series. Kevin Love needs to find his shooting stroke soon or the Cavaliers could be in trouble next round. Shooting was way down from the regular season, even though most of the shots taken were wide open ones. Lebron can’t make every shot; the Cavs are going to need to get consistent production from players 2-15.
Honorable Mention: Washington Wizards
Most impressive Player: Lebron James
I don’t really think I need to explain this one too much. With the way that his team played, The Cavaliers would have been swept with ease by the Pacers. I don’t have to even talk about the numbers but there is one stat I do want to talk about. Lebron James won a series without ever having a teammate scoring 20 points in any game. There’s no way he can continue to do that but for a first round series, we would have to call it impressive.
Honorable Mention: Ben Simmons
Most Disappointing Player: Hassan Whiteside
As a guy who played center for most of his life, watching Hassan Whiteside was frustrating. When he played, he was lethargic, complained about nearly every call and was passive. Embiid was giving him the business and I didn’t see the pride in Whiteside to try and go back at him. But what really made it worse was his pouting on the bench. He got mad at coaches because he wasn’t playing but he gave them no reason to even be in the game. He’s a player who is getting paid way too much money to be a spectator but unfortunately, that was his role in this series.
Honorable Mention: Kevin Love