The Craziest 1st Round In NBA History

The Craziest 1st Round In NBA History

The NBA playoffs are officially underway. In most years, the 1st round isn’t that entertaining and is just a warmup for the next more exciting rounds. There are very few or even no upsets in the 1st round in most years. But this year is different. Multiple upsets are happening. The biggest one right now is the 8th seed Miami Heat being up 3-1 against the 1st seed Milwaukee Bucks. The 8th seed has only beaten the 1st 5 times in NBA history, and the Heat look to become the 6th team to do that. And yes, Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo got injured in Game 1 and missed 2 games. But that doesn’t discount the Heat’s accomplishment at all. The Heat looked dead all season and even lost their first play-in game against the Hawks. But as usual with the Heat, they flipped a switch in the playoffs; no other Heat player represents that better than Jimmy Butler. Jimmy Butler is an All-Star and a great player. But he goes from just a star in the regular season to an absolute superstar in the playoffs. ‘Playoff Jimmy’ is quite real as he’s shown in the 2020 bubble playoffs when he dragged the Heat to the NBA finals and last year when he got the Heat to the Eastern Conference Finals. But in Game 4 against the Bucks this year he dropped an absurd 56 points and dragged his team to a 3-1 lead. That’s more points than Lebron James ever scored in the playoffs. No one on the Bucks could stop even with Giannis coming back. If the Heat close this series out they could reach the Eastern Conference Finals. When a team is this hot, no one can easily beat them.

As great of a Cinderella story this is for the Heat, this is an absolute disaster for the Bucks. The title favorites going out in the 1st round would be an awful look. But this isn’t the only crazy storyline in the playoffs. Out west, the 7th seed Los Angeles Lakers are up 3-1 against the 2nd seed Memphis Grizzlies. The Lakers have had a major comeback this season going from the 11th seed and looking dead in the water all the way to the 7th seed. Now they’re 1 win away from advancing to the 2nd round. Granted, Grizzlies star Ja Morant missed a game but they won that game. The Grizzlies play into this ‘villain’ persona and that has made them the most hated team in the league; if they lose this series, they will be for sure the laughingstock of the league.

Going back east, the 5th seed New York Knicks are up 3-1 against the 4th seed Cleveland Cavaliers. The Knicks have had a major resurgence led by their star guard Jalen Brunson. The guard from Villanova has improved mightily and has led the Knicks to their 3-1 lead. The Cavs acquired Donovan Mitchell, who funnily enough thought he was going to New York to have a great season. However, they crumbled in the 2 games at Madison Square Garden and look to be an early exit.

Finally, the best series of the 1st round is out west with a 2-2 series tie between the 3rd seed Sacramento Kings and the 6th seed Golden State Warriors. In the regular season, these 2 teams have had opposite trajectories. The Kings went from laughingstock to contender and the Warriors went from defending champions to barely getting into the playoffs. But in this series they’ve looked very even. Draymond Green of the Warriors got into controversy when he stepped on Domantas Sabonis and got suspended. But that’s just Draymond Green for you. Unfortunately, Kings star guard De’Aaron Fox fractured his finger and might not play the rest of the series. So a great series might end flat.

Fox’s injury highlights a very concerning trend in the playoffs recently and that is stars getting injured. This year Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Joel Embiid, Ja Morant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and now De’Aaron Fox have all gotten injured and missed games. The NBA is at its best when the stars are at their best and these injuries have robbed fans of great playoff series. The biggest example is the Phoenix Suns vs. the Los Angeles Clippers which looked to be an amazing series between 2 powerhouses. But the Clippers’ 2 best players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George got injured and now the series is pretty heavily in favor for Phoenix. In a likely 2nd round matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers, injuries will also play a huge factor. Sixers superstar and MVP favorite Joel Embiid injured his knee and might not be 100% for that series against Boston. It would be such a shame since these 2 teams facing off against each other at 100% would be one of the best matchups in the league. In any case, these 1st round games have been phenomenal. Hopefully no more injuries will occur and the playoffs will only get better as it progresses.