The first round of the playoffs have officially begun, and it’s time to break down the action.
We’re all familiar with the top two teams from each round, and the first round really is just about the bottom of the barrel.
Let’s get to the meat of the first half of the season and see which teams are really taking the first steps toward the championship.
Boston Celtics (5-1) – No. 1 Boston Celtics fans will be happy to know that the team is not quite as bad as some of its peers.
The Celtics won the first two games of the series against the Philadelphia 76ers, but it didn’t matter much after that as the Celtics won Game 5 and Game 6 to take a 3-1 series lead.
After Game 7, the Celtics were up two with less than two minutes to play and still needed one more victory to move to 3-0.
The victory over the 76ers was a step in the right direction for the Celtics, and they will continue to build toward the playoffs, which means that they have the opportunity to take the top spot in the East and potentially the East crown.
Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2) – LeBron James has not missed a game this season, and Cleveland has lost to the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the second round.
This series is tied 2-2 and the Cavs are 1-2 in the series, which is a great sign for their playoff chances.
LeBron is averaging 35.4 points per game in the postseason, which makes him one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, and his ability to score at will in the paint and in the pick and roll is a huge asset for this Cavaliers team.
The Cavs also have the chance to improve upon their 0-3 start in the playoffs.
The Raptors are going to be a tough team to beat, but they’ve struggled mightily all season long and are currently on a nine-game losing streak.
Golden State Warriors (3-2)- After losing Game 4 to the Houston Rockets, Golden State is now 1-1 in the first three rounds of the postseason.
After losing Games 2 and 3, the Warriors lost Game 6 of their second round series to the Memphis Grizzlies, which meant that Golden State needed to win Game 6 for the series to tie up the series 2-1.
The Grizzlies are still a talented team that is capable of winning any game in this series, and Golden State’s inability to win games has caused a lot of problems for them.
If they can get back on track in the second half of this series to avoid dropping the series for good, they could easily win the NBA championship.
San Antonio Spurs (3.5-2)*- San Antonio has played five games in the conference semifinals and the last two games have been played in the Western Conference semifinals.
The Spurs have been in a close series since the opening game of the conference finals, and if they can come up with a win against the Warriors in the fourth round, the Spurs would be guaranteed a trip to the NBA Finals.
If San Antonio doesn’t make it to the Finals, they would have to win two of the remaining three games to make it into the conference championship.
Miami Heat (3.-2)- The Heat have had their struggles this season and were a long way from the Finals when they lost Game 1 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Now that they are in a better position to win in the West, it will be interesting to see how the Heat bounce back from Game 2.
This is a team that has had issues on the defensive end of the floor in the regular season, but is playing extremely well defensively now and could easily make up ground in the upcoming playoffs.
Houston Rockets (2.5-) Houston has won four of the last five meetings against the Clippers, but the Clippers have lost three straight against Houston, including Game 4 of their first round series.
This could be a battle of two teams that both have a lot to prove.
This would be the first time since Game 1 that the Clippers would face Houston, so it will give the Rockets an opportunity to really show their playoff potential, which could be the difference between them winning their first championship in 20 years and finishing with a losing record in the final five games of this postseason.
*= Not eligible for postseason award