It’s play-in event time, and now that we all know all of the contributors, let’s have a look at Day One, which would be the seven vs. eight seed in every convention. We have now intriguing matchups right here and two groups that weren’t anticipated to be coping with the play-in when the season began again in October.
The play-in event has already produced some fond recollections in its brief historical past, like Lebron James vs. Steph Curry within the seven-eight recreation throughout final yr’s play-in. That was the sport the place James hit the game-winning three whereas seeing three rims. This yr’s event might additionally produce magic on the primary day.
Recreation 1: No. 8 Cleveland at No. 7 Brooklyn
This battle for the No. 7 seed within the east needs to be a detailed one all through. It appears like a very long time in the past now, however Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert had been Brooklyn Nets simply final season. Most gamers often get hyped for any alternative to beat the group that traded them, regardless of how lengthy it’s been. The truth that a victory over the Nets might play a component of their demise this season needs to be further motivation for Allen and LeVert.
All of the motivation on the planet in all probability gained’t be sufficient to get the Cavs previous the Nets on this present day. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will likely be an excessive amount of for this younger Cavs squad, who will struggle however finally gained’t have sufficient firepower to compete with Brooklyn on this state of affairs. I can see this being a recreation the place KD and Kyrie go off for over 35 factors every. Each gamers know they want huge performances and can’t lose this recreation.
Other than Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, it is a fairly younger and inexperienced group in Cleveland. Love and Rondo might want to dig deep into their bag of methods to assist the Cavs get previous the Nets on this recreation. I’m not saying it’s not possible, however a Nets loss can be shocking. One benefit the Cavs have over the Nets is within the frontcourt. And it’s a important benefit.
The Cavs frontcourt is near 7-feet throughout the board with Allen, Lauri Markkanen, and Evan Mobley. Mobley is ready that the majority high three draft picks aren’t often in throughout their rookie season. That’s enjoying significant video games in April. It could not go a lot additional, however this yr was a superb begin for this younger roster.
I’ve received the Nets successful this recreation and transferring on to face the Boston Celtics within the first spherical of the japanese convention playoffs. The firestorm of criticism that will befall Brooklyn ought to they lose this recreation is one thing Durant and Irving wish to keep away from.
Recreation 2: No. 8 L.A. Clippers at No. 7 Minnesota
Within the western convention, the Clippers, led by Paul George, are the group not one of the high seeds wish to face within the first spherical. George averaged 22.5ppg over his final 4 video games upon returning to the lineup from damage. And let’s be trustworthy, the Clippers aren’t your common decrease seed playoff seed.
Earlier than PG went down in December, the Clippers had been hanging round in fourth and fifth place for the primary couple of months of the season. Additionally they not too long ago received Norman Powell again, added to Reggie Jackson and the opposite position gamers. Now you’ve received a formidable group heading into the postseason.
Minnesota had a terrific season with Karl-Anthony Cities, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley as their core gamers. That’s three former excessive lottery draft picks and one other first-round expertise. It’s about time this group stepped up and improved their report. The Timberwolves have gained their most video games (46) since 2018. The excuse of Minnesota being “younger” gained’t fly an excessive amount of longer, so popping out and shocking this veteran Clippers group can be an effective way to get into the playoffs.
The massive weapons for Minnesota can’t get stage fright enjoying in a stand-alone recreation on nationwide tv with a shot on the postseason on the road. The Twolves will want 20 plus factors every from their three younger stars, Cities, Edwards, and Russell, with Beasley additionally chipping in his 12-15 factors. Minnesota wants most effort from all people who touches the ground on this recreation. Defeating the Clippers can be an unimaginable technique to let the league know they’re right here to remain.
There isn’t a ton of strain for the Clippers since no one anticipated a lot out of them anyway as soon as George received damage, and Kawhi Leonard was already out recovering from ACL surgical procedure. Regardless of the Clippers accomplish this postseason is gravy. I see the Clippers successful this recreation in opposition to the Twolves. Then I’ll take the Clippers in seven video games over the Grizzlies within the first spherical. Yep, I’m calling my shot.
Winner: L.A. Clippers