The Warriors, winners of two of the past three NBA Finals, weren't their usual dominant selves this season with "only" 58 wins and second in the Western Conference, but they were hit by injuries. The Toronto Raptors snapped a 10-game losing streak in Game 1s.
We don't foresee any sweeps here, but we don't see any upsets, either. All of those naysayers Green alluded to - real or not - can't come back Monday morning with the same hot take, because on Saturday, the Warriors left perhaps the greatest coach in National Basketball Association history gobsmacked and, save for a small stretch in the second quarter, did whatever they wanted to the Spurs at Oracle Arena.
You have to feel for Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins. And in true speculative fashion, we'll postulate how and what would need to happen for them to get there, starting in the East. We'll be seeing MVP candidates James Harden and Jimmy Butler going at it in the first round, as the Houston Rockets have championship aspirations.
Jonas Knox explains why creating a sense of urgency in the NBA Playoffs could help create a better product for the league going forward. The Sixers could end this one early with Embiid back in the lineup. Against an offensive juggernaut with a much-improved defense in Toronto, they do not have much of a chance. I think this actually bodes well for Boston considering what the matchup could've been. The Thunder could be the surprise team that emerges from the loaded West.
The Warriors could not even reach 60 wins with their loaded roster and the fourth-seeded Cavs have the lowest seed of a Lebron-led team in 10 years.
The question is whether Curry can return for the second round, which would mean a matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers or New Orleans Pelicans.
Embiid won't be back for Game 2 on Monday night, as he'll continue to sit with his facial fracture.
This year, it makes sense to tune in right from the start. Both of those teams are arguably tougher draws than the Spurs, so if Curry can't suit up, the Warriors might have a tricky time progressing.
The Warriors took 'er easy all the way to the finish line this campaign, stalling and then coasting through the final month. "Process" backers will rejoice and likely demand a statue of Sam Hinkie outside of the Wells Fargo Center, pronto. The Sixers will have Joel Embiid at full strength here (hopefully) and will be able to give James all he can handle. But the fun ends here.
He had the first double-double in the postseason by a rookie in his debut since 1986 (Terry Catledge) and it was also Philadelphia's highest-scoring playoff game since 1986. Toronto, maybe, can knock off Cleveland in the semis.
From the top seeds in Houston and Toronto, to the old stalwarts in Golden State and Cleveland, to the brash up-and-comers in Philadelphia and Minnesota, there are potential storylines galore and no real way to predict how it all may shake out. To start in the East, everyone knew seed five and below don't hold a chance. The first two were great fun, and the third was a good rubber match, even if it was an uneven pairing.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver likes making changes. So, here we are.
"Like in most professions you're given what you can handle at the time well, you're not given it, you've earned this opportunity that we want you to experience", McCutchen said. He will, again, post some incredible numbers. Game 1 in Philadelphia was even more one-sided, as the 76ers closed the game on a 74-40 run in what ended up as a 130-103 rout - the most points that any Heat team has allowed in any postseason game.