NBA Playoffs injury-ridden, still watchable to this fan

Vincent Perez

Sports Editor

These NBA playoffs will be a test of fortitude for two big name teams.The defending NBA Champions, Golden State Warriors, will be without their star, Steph Curry. He suffered a MCL sprain back on March 23 and will miss at least the first round of playoffs.

Kyrie Irving will also be out due to a season-ending surgery to his right knee, not allowing him to compete for the rest of the season. Irving and the Celtics were the favorite to win the east and most likely dethrone LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Marcus Smart, Celtics’ point guard, is also out as of this publication. He has a right thumb injury until at least April 27, according to nesn.com.

In round 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Cavs got smoldered by the Pacers 98-80. Other than James, who recorded a triple-double (7-for-17, with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds), the rest of the Cavs appeared sloppy from the beginning. Jeff Green missed all seven of his shots and Kevin Love had only nine points.

Indiana put James’ old foe, Lance Stephenson on James and that paid dividends for the Pacers. Stephenson had four defensive rebounds.

The Cavs are still a heavy favorite to advance and I see them getting to the NBA Finals. With no other team at full capacity, James could bounce back from this loss and could win his fourth NBA Championship if his inexperienced teammates help him along the way.

Also in the East, the Toronto Raptors are up one game on the Washington Wizards. The electrifying John Wall gave the Raptors a tough time, with 23 points, 15 assists, four steals and two blocks. The Raptors won 114-106 on Saturday, April 14.

In the West, the Warriors have a strong opponent in the San Antonio Spurs. The Warriors’ Kevin Durant, with 32 points and eight rebounds in the first game, helped Golden State win 113-98 on April 14.

In other scores on April 14, the Philadelphia 76ers took game 1 against the Miami Heat 130-10 and the New Orleans Pelicans bested the Portland Trailblazers 97-95.

If Miami can bounce back, I see them advancing at least to the next round behind stellar efforts from 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade and center Hassan Whiteside.

On Sunday, April 15, NBA playoff action continued. The Boston Celtics, without star Irving and Smart, defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 113-107 in overtime. I was impressed with their grit to win. Al Horford, led Boston with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

The Oklahoma City Thunder, a preseason favorite to go deep in the playoffs added Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, beat the Utah Jazz, 116-108 on Sunday, April 15.
Impressive efforts by George (36) and last year’s MVP Russell Westbrook (29), but the team is still too new to each other to truly succeed.

Also in action was the Minnesota Timberwolves and Houston Rockets. The Rockets outlasted the T’wolves 104-101 in game 1.

I predict the Cavs will propel themselves under James to meet Houston in the NBA Finals. Winner: Cleveland in 7.