Rapid Playoff Reactions April 21st, 2019
an article by Angel Maldonado
Yesterday saw one series end, another disappointing night in Oklahoma, the Raptors reestablishing their dominance, and the Warriors winning a close one over in L.A. Let’s take a look at yesterday’s action and what we can learn from it.
The Celtics Are Back
It took them almost 7 months, but the Celtics are peaking at the right time. After winning 6/8 to close the season, the Celtics managed to sweep a feisty Pacers team riding a different player each game. Morris, Irving, Brown, and Hayward carried the team at specific points throughout the series while Tatum went into playoff mode and was arguably the most consistent offensive player this series. Add some stellar defense to the fold and this team suddenly becomes dangerous. If this is the version of the Celtics that we are going to see for the next month, the East may run through Boston for the first time since 2010.
The Warriors are Vulnerable
The Warriors are not invincible. Are they the best team in the league? Yes. Do they have the best player in the league? KD would certainly say so. But even still, the Warriors can be beaten. The Clippers have not gone quietly this series and the 10,000 Clippers fans in LA should be excited for their future. Their defensive intensity and scrappiness has turned what should have been a joke of a series into a fun one. The Warriors will likely close out this series in Game 5, but the Warriors look more vulnerable than years past. The Rockets have a real chance of dethroning them in the next round.
Oklahoma Is Broken
How does a team with an MVP candidate and a former MVP winner get bounced in the first round by a team led by one Superstar? Damian Lillard has been largely otherworldly this series, but even when he had an average game last night, the Thunder were still kicked out of their building. What is going wrong in Oklahoma? Part of it is simply that Westbrook is not the player he once was. His efficiency is down and, as his athletic prowess decreases, his game will be in serious trouble. But the Thunder lack shooters as a whole and may need a management change. 3 straight first round exits is unacceptable with the talent level on this team and it may be time to start looking elsewhere for management in 2019.
Pascal Siakam is the Raptors Wild Card
When you think of the Raptors, the first names that come to mind are Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry. Acquiring Marc Gasol was also a big splash that showed the Raptors were all in on this year. Still, besides Kawhi, none of those players are as important to the Raptors as the success of Pascal Siakam. One of the most underrated young players in the game, Siakam has elevated his play in the Postseason and has been the second best player for the Raptors. Yesterday he was the second leading scorer for the Raptors against the Magic. With Siakam playing well, the Raptors are as good as any team in the league.
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