Expectations for the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

By Nilesh Kumar, Staff Writer

As of August 17, the NBA Playoffs are officially underway and have been nothing short of eventful. Given the exciting transfer window this summer, the playoffs look very different compared to last season. Most notably, the Golden State Warriors, who won the Western Conference Championship, did not qualify for the playoffs this season. Also, the Lakers, who have not qualified for the playoffs the past six seasons, are favorites to win the competition. Due to the pandemic, the games will be played without a sit-in audience, affecting the home teams’ advantage.

Many people have their eyes set on an electrifying first-round matchup: the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Portland Trailblazers. Damian Lillard, the star point guard from the Portland Trailblazers, was named the MVP of the regular season games — he averaged 37.6 points in the team’s final eight games before the postseason. In the three games before the play-in tournament, Lillard scored 51, 61, and 42 points, making him a fierce rival for the Lakers. 

On the Lakers’ side, the deadly duo of Anthony Davis and Lebron James is out to make a statement. In the two games that have been played in the series thus far, Anthony Davis averaged 29.5 points and 11 rebounds, while Lebron James averaged 16.5 points and 11.5 assists — which is nothing short of incredible.

Basketball enthusiast and Quartz Hill High School sophomore Benjamin Hardani states, “The Lakers and Trailblazers series will be one to remember. Damian Lillard is arguably the ‘hottest’ man in the NBA right now. It is very intriguing to see how the possible MVP candidate will play against a duo like Anthony Davis and Lebron James.” Also, in an Instagram survey of 50 people, roughly 87% of people predicted the Lakers would reign victorious over the Trailblazers. With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum’s injuries in Game 2, the Lakers appear to have a clear advantage and should win the series, currently tied at 1-1.

Apart from the Lakers vs. Blazers, other exciting games include the Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets, led by star point guard James Harden, will have an intense matchup against former teammate Chris Paul — though it looks like it will be challenging for the Westbrook-less Thunder. The Clippers vs. The Mavericks game puts a lot of pressure on the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George duo, as Kawhi attempts to be the first player in NBA history to win three “Finals MVPs” in three different franchises. 

The NBA Playoffs are something we can look forward to in this time of uncertainty. Some say that this year’s playoffs will mark the start of a new era in basketball, depending on how it plays out. For more coverage about the NBA playoffs, make sure to stay tuned to the sports section of the QHHS Ubiquity!