NBA Playoff Takeaways from Week 1
The NBA Playoffs are only one week in but it's been a surprising postseason so far. The battle to the Finals is wide open with reining champions, Miami Heat, and Western Conference favorites San Antonio under performing, bad blood between the officials and players, and the Dallas Mavericks making some noise. So here are some takeaways from week one.
The Dallas Mavericks are not supposed to outplay the San Antonio Spurs in the first round. A team that many predicted to steal a game or two in the series looks like they are on their way to steal the first round from the Spurs. The Mavericks are known to out duel their opponents on the offensive end; however, they have played with a different mindset in the first round.
The Mavs have held the Spurs to a mere 96 points per game to go along with 16 turnovers through three games. Their defensive activity has given them a 2-1 lead in the series and momentum is what they hope to carry on to game four.
“They’re a great team and they make you make mistakes, so it’s just important that we do things within our system as much as possible. But we’ve got to keep our level at a very high level, especially coming back home. We cannot allow there to be any kind of letup here.” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said as they move forward into game four.
If the Mavs continue to out play the Western Conference favorites, there will be no surprise that they can make a run to the Finals.
Once entering the playoffs a new brand of basketball is played. The physicality between teams hit a new high, adjustment and executions dictate the outcome of a game and, most importantly, rivalries bring out the bad blood of one another. However, all three of these components are missing when watching basketball in late April. Instead, it seems as if the referees have dictated the outcome of the games.
Multiple games have had officiating problems. The Clippers and Warriors had their fair share of calls as both Blake Griffin and Andre Igoudala did not see much of the floor, playing less than 20 minutes. To make matters worse, down two points the Clippers guard, Chris Paul was fouled on a reach in by Draymond Green that should have sent Paul to the line for two free throws which could have tied the game. Instead it leads to a turnover and two shots at the line for the Warriors to cap the game.
During another instance, the Houston Rockets were going toe to toe with the Portland Trailblazers. In overtime, the game was tied. Forwards Dwight Howard and Joel Freeland battled for a rebound. Howard was called for an offensive foul that sent Freeland for two shots and the victory.
In both instances the league officials admit to the referee’s making incorrect calls which have done nothing but aggravated the players and one of those players is Houston Rockets wingman, Chandler Parsons, who said, “It almost makes me more mad that they announced it, knowing that it was wrong.”
The acknowledgement by the NBA on the missed calls does not make a difference in the series. The teams cannot go back and replay the final minute of the game. One thing for sure is, the referees need to get rid of the whistle from their mouth and let playoff basketball be played as it is supposed to be, with physicality.
What we have learned:
The Eastern Conference is still up for grabs. The Heat sacrificed the number one seed for an easy route to the Finals and so far it has been anything but that. Even though it has only been two games, the Bobcats have done nothing but assured the Heat that this series is not going to be a walk in the park. Giving up 20 point leads and struggling to execute on both ends is not a recipe for a championship team. The Heat may be up 2-0 against the Bobcats but they are far from being the dominant team that we have seen in recent years.
As for the Pacers, there is lots of instability, from their lackluster performance on the court to players butting heads in the locker room. These issues should not be carried into the playoffs. That is why there are 82 games in a season, to get all the kinks out and prepare the team to perform at their best.
The East is wide open, now we just wait and see who seizes the opportunity.