The NBA playoffs have kicked off unconventionally, with the play-in-game tournament leading to chaos and unpredictability. The Los Angeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves played a particularly close game, with neither team looking like they wanted to win at certain points during the game. A series of bad shots, turnovers, and poor decisions led to an intriguing matchup. Eventually, the Lakers won the game 108-102 in overtime, securing the seventh seed in the West and setting up a first-round playoff series against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The game revealed that this year’s playoffs would be anything but conventional. Even though no play-in team has won a first-round series in the past two seasons, the LeBron James-led Lakers pose a significant threat to the Grizzlies. Los Angeles won the season series against Memphis, and while James admitted that the team had a “brain-fart” moment against the Timberwolves, they are still a dangerous seventh seed.
At the top of the West, Denver may be an underwhelming No. 1 seed, but they are certainly not without talent. With players like two-time MVP Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., they have the potential to make some noise in the playoffs.
Phoenix, the atypical four seed, is another team to watch out for. They have become an offensive powerhouse since the trade deadline deal that brought Kevin Durant to the team. The Suns are 8-0 when Durant, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and Deandre Ayton play and generate an impressive 122.3 points per 100 possessions. They are currently favored to win the West, and if they meet Denver in the conference semifinals, Phoenix will likely be the favorite.
The Sacramento Kings, the third seed, are the upstart darlings of the postseason, having reached the playoffs for the first time since 2006. However, like Denver, they are a vulnerable team, and the sixth seed was more desirable. The Golden State Warriors, the defending champions, are the sixth seed and pose a significant threat to the Kings. Despite their poor road record during the regular season, the core of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and coach Steve Kerr has won four titles in the past eight seasons. Furthermore, Andrew Wiggins, a key player on last season’s championship team, is expected back for the playoffs.
If the Warriors and Lakers win their first-round series, they will meet in the conference semifinals, which could be a highly-anticipated matchup. Overall, this year’s NBA playoffs are shaping to be full of surprises and unexpected outcomes.