The opening weekend of the 2016 NBA Playoffs wasn’t a great one for a handful of teams. Five of the eight games Saturday and Sunday were blowouts of 20+ points.
None of the one-sided matchups were overly surprising. The Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs, and Los Angeles Clippers all came out in playoff form—bad news, of course, for the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Portland Trail Blazers, respectively.
Call me an optimist, but I think we’re in for a damn good year despite the lopsided start. Sure, The Rockets most likely won’t win a game, and the Grizzlies will have a tough time even back in Memphis, but the Mavs, Blazers, and Hornets just may be able to provide us with a few good games in the first round.
Personally, I think the blowouts are a sign of things to come. If the Clippers, Thunder, and Heat can keep up this high level of play as the playoffs advance, it bodes well for the league as a whole. The entire season has been nothing but the Warriors, Spurs, and Cleveland Cavaliers. If a few of these “tier-two” teams can keep things close with the top three, we may be in for a big surprise this season.
There were also a few games too close for comfort in Round One. For the Toronto Raptors, losing the opening game to the Indiana Pacers doesn’t exactly get fans pumped for a run at the Eastern Conference Title after one of the best regular seasons in the franchise’s history. The Atlanta Hawks also came dangerously close to dropping Game 1 to the Boston Celtics in what should prove to be a fantastic series.
The biggest shock of the first round, however, was a mere five-point victory by the Cavs over the Detroit Pistons. Cleveland has received a lot of criticism this season about their status as a championship contender despite breezing to the top seed in the East. I don’t think the Pistons will shock the world here, but if LeBron James and company don’t get it together, the whole championship to Cleveland thing will need to wait another year.