NBA News: Play-In Tournament, Playoffs, and Predictions
The NBA playoffs always seem to take forever to get here, and then BOOM… they’re on you in a flash and suddenly you’re trying to watch 8,000 games all at once. But NBA fans wouldn’t have it any other way, because it’s hoops or nothing.
A lot has happened in the play-in tournament (boo or yay to the idea depending on if your team reached the playoffs via this method), and we’ve had all 16 teams play Game 1, so let’s sum it all up faster than a Luka Doncic technical foul.
What happened in the play-in tournament?
Do people still like the play-in idea? It seems commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t care, because he loves it and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. It certainly brings a lot of attention to the end of the regular season at any rate, and perhaps helps fringe playoff teams get a decent shot at the post-season.
In the first East game, the Nets didn’t have such an easy time over the Cavs, but still got the 115-108 victory to advance to the 7th seed. Both teams’ point guards went bonkers, with Nets’ Kyrie Irving scoring 34 from 12-15 shooting and 7-7 from the free-throw line, and Cavs’ Darius Garland also adding 34 points.
Out in the West, the humble Timberwolves surprised everyone by crushing the Clippers 109-104, particularly in the last quarter, where Minnesota outscored Los Angeles 31-20. Even with Paul George chipping in with 34 points (34 seems to be the magic number here), it wasn’t quite enough to beat the surging Wolves. Ex-Clipper Patrick Beverley was fined $30,000 for “egregious use of profanity” after the win… that’s still money well spent.
The second bunch of play-in games weren’t quite as interesting, safe to say that the Hawks cruised past the Hornets and the Pelicans had a bit of trouble against the Spurs, but ultimately picked up the well-earned win.
This meant the final play-in tournament games occurred on Friday 15th, and things got as wild as you would have hoped. First off, the Clippers joined their LA brothers, the Lakers, on the sidelines to watch the playoffs unfurl, as it was the Pelicans defeating the red-and-white 105-101. It was a huge shame that Clips superstar, Paul George, tested positive for the coronavirus right before the game and was unfortunately ruled out.
The last East game had the Hawks slip past the Cavs, 107-101, from a monster scoring night from Trae Young with 38 points. There was bad news for Atlanta, though, as center Clint Capela injured his knee and will be re-evaluated in a week. This means all the final spots were taken and it’s NBA playoffs time! Tick-tock!
The lowdown on every Game 1 in the 2022 NBA playoffs
- Irving booed like crazy in Boston, as Celtics defeat Nets after wild Tatum buzzer-beater to seal the game
- Jazz make the most of Doncic’s absence from Mavs lineup and take first game
- Timberwolves continue to shock the league with statement win over the Grizz
- Sixers shout out to the haters with convincing victory over Raptors
- Heat absolutely scorch the Hawks in home win
- Steph back for the Warriors as Golden State makes big impact by demolishing Nuggets
- Suns surprise no one by defeating Pelicans from CP3’s 30 points
- Odd low scoring fourth quarter in Bucks’ 93-86 win over Bulls
Tatum makes greatest buzzer-beater in the history of basketball*
The Boston crowd simply loves reminding Kyrie Irving of how much they hate him. The star point guard was only a Celtic for two seasons from 2017-2019, but left under such a storm that no Boston fan would ever forgive him.
Well, booing Irving might be fun, but it didn’t seem to work that well, as he still scored 39 points from 12-20 shooting (9-9 from the line) and added four steals, six assists, and five rebounds. Durant was iffy, scoring just 23 points from a woeful 9-24 shooting and turning the ball over six times.
Of course, if it wasn’t for a mind-blowing Jayson Tatum buzzer-beater to give the Celtics a huge 115-114 victory, then we might be talking about something else entirely. With the clock running down in the fourth quarter, the Celtics moved the ball brilliantly around the court, and found a cutting Tatum who performed an exquisite spin move/lay-up as the buzzer sounded.
While Tatum was solid with 31 points, the Celtics showed that they can win by committee, too, as Horford (20), Smart (20), and Brown (23) all chipped in valiantly for the massive victory over the Nets. Tatum, in particular, was a machine, playing 45 minutes and becoming the unequivocal leader that the Boston faithful have always wanted him to be.
This was easily the most exciting Game 1 of the 2022 NBA playoffs, and had all the drama of an Irving reunion, stunning buzzer-beater, and great team play from the Celtics. Irving knows full well what type of reception he would receive in the Boston arena, and actually loves being the villain with a middle finger to the crowd.
“It’s nothing new when I come into this building what it’s going to be like — but it’s the same energy they have for me, I’m going to have the same energy for them,” said Irving after the game. “Where I’m from I’ve dealt with so much, so coming in here you relish it as a competitor. This isn’t my first time at TD Garden so what you guys saw, what you guys think is entertainment, or the fans think is entertainment, all is fair in competition.”.
Main takeaways from Game 1 of Celtics vs. Nets
- Boston plays fantastic team basketball that works effectively
- Taking out Durant from his usual offense really helps
- Irving is one of the best scorers in the NBA
- Way too many fouls in this game… slow and boring at times. Over 50 fouls in the entire matchup (but no one fouled out)
- Brooklyn’s Claxton and Boston’s Horford were the unsung heroes needed for the stars to perform their magic
Playoff predictions for Game 2
Here’s what we think will happen in every matchup for Game 2.
Suns vs. Pelicans – We all know that the Pels are as scrappy a team as they come, but the Suns are firing on all cylinders now and look unbeatable. There’s a chance that New Orleans could take Game 4 and catch the Suns napping, but Game 2 belongs to Phoenix.
Heat vs. Hawks – Having John Collins back is huge for the hawks, as they badly miss Capela’s interior defense and lob threats. The Hawks can surprise teams, so as good as Miami looks right now, Atlanta will sneak a Game 2 win on the back of a big scoring night from Trae Young.
Jazz vs. Mavs – Still no Doncic for the Mavs while he rehabs from a calf injury means one thing… it’s go time for the Jazz. Utah will never get a better chance than this, so the team must capitalize on it while they can. Doncic might return at some point in the series, but for now, Mitchell and the Jazz will win Game 2.
Celtics vs. Nets – Irving, Durant, and the rest of Brooklyn gave everything they had in Game 1 and it still wasn’t enough. It will be hard to motivate themselves after a tough loss, and winning in Boston is no easy feat, so we think the Celts take care of business in the second game. The Nets will win at some point this series, of course, but not right now.
Warriors vs. Nuggets – The Nuggets have played well under Jokic’s MVP-caliber form, but they will have a horrible time chasing around all the Warriors’ shooters. Poole, Thompson, and Curry are all a major threat, so expect another Golden State victory at the Chase Center.
Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies – The Grizzlies were shocked at the Timberwolves jumping right out of the gate and getting a win in Memphis, but it’s hard to think it will happen twice in a row. The Grizz will recover and tie things up in Game 2, with Morant likely going for 40 or more on a scoring frenzy (with plenty of highlight dunks along the way).
Bucks vs. Bulls – The last quarter of Game 1 was a weird, messy time where it looked like no one could make a bucket, but expect Milwaukee to tighten things up and look formidable in Game 2. The Bulls looked a bit shaky, but it still feels like it will take until Game 3 or 4 to get a victory for Chicago.
76ers vs. Raptors – Star Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes has been ruled out of Game 2 after spraining his ankle in the Game 1 loss to Phili, which really hurts Toronto’s chances. The Raps can certainly get a win or two at home, but Phili looks great on the back of Embiid and Harden’s solid play, so Game 2 goes to the 76ers.
Author: Joe Garland