By ZACHARY WOHLEKING
As the NBA playoffs are underway, we as NBA fans have been gifted with exciting series after exciting series in the first round. Basically, every series to this point has been competitive with multiple stories coinciding with each matchup. There is something to say about every team this year, and for the first time in a while, there’s no teams that are assumed to make it all the way. The playoffs have not been this up in the air in a very long time. What I will be looking at today is how the league has entertained us so far in these playoffs, the surprises, some predictions and my overall thoughts.
First off, I would like to address this Cleveland situation. LeBron and the four seeded Cavaliers are currently tied 2-2 against the five seed Indiana Pacers. The Cavaliers look to take the next game at home and take control of the series. This is the first time in LeBron’s long career where he has faced this much adversity in the first round of the playoffs. The King has a less than stellar supporting cast compared to years past and its really showing; he is currently averaging close to a triple double and averaging over 25 points per game over the series and they have barely won two games.
The Pacers on the other hand have great depth and have a line where any one of their players can have a big night. For instance, they have had a different leading scorer in every game this series from Victor Oladipo to Bojan Bodganovic. The Pacers are a sort of mixed bag, they can give you many different looks throughout the game and keep the defense from getting too comfortable. The same cannot be said for Cleveland; they are as one dimensional as it comes, they run everything through LeBron, and who could really blame them?
The Pacers are clearly the better all-around team in this series but the Cavs have LeBron, so it can really go either way. If the Cavs lose this will be the first time in LeBron’s career where he does not make it past he first round, so part of his legacy is at stake here, and only time will tell what happens. Since it is fun to predict these kinds of things though, I will say this: the Pacers are a much better team than the Cavs, better coaching, depth, personnel, and play style. I believe the Pacers win this series.
What we are seeing in the Cleveland series and in many other series is a change in the NBA. We are now moving away from seeing teams as one individual player and his supporting cast, to seeing these organizations as teams, with multiple threats, no one true leader, but a collective of amazing and talented players. You see it in teams like Boston, San Antonio, Golden State, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and so on. These teams have all taken the idea that no one is bigger than the team or the system they have in place. They play team basketball, plugging players into roles and attacking mismatches, focusing on these mismatches, any player has the potential to score tons of points and have a big game.
Even Boston who has lost their two most talented players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are still playing very well and finding success in the playoffs. This style of play has been growing rapidly in the NBA ever since the Warriors won their first championship, but this year is the first year where we see most of the teams in the playoffs copying this playing style, and in turn we also see teams like Cleveland, who play the opposite way, struggling to find success. Time will tell if this is just a trend or the new wave of the future in the NBA. Either way we as fans should enjoy it, because in my opinion it’s the most exciting and most efficient basketball the world has ever see to this date, seriously, and the statistics back that up.