It’s the first week of the first round of the National Basketball Association (NBA) playoffs, Palawan!
Status as of this writing are as follows
Milwaukee vs Detroit (Milwaukee leads 2-0)
Philadelphia vs Brooklyn (Series tied 1-1)
Boston vs Indiana (Boston lead 2-0)
Toronto vs Orlando (Series tied 1-1)
Golden State vs LA Clippers (Series tied 1-1)
Denver vs San Antonio (Series tied 1-1)
Houston vs Utah (Houston leads 2-0)
Oklahoma vs Portland (Portland leads 2-0)
All the matches are close except for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons where the latter has missed perennial All-Star Blake Griffin due to an injury in the first two games of the series. His status is currently day to day and the result of his absence was debilitating for the Pistons. Griffin is capable of 20+ points on any given night. I’m hoping he gets clearance to play so we can see how the Pistons can match up against the daunting frontline of the Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Kris Middleton. If Griffin is scratched from the first round, expect the Bucks to sweep Detroit in 4 games.
Outside of this matchup, even if some teams lead their series 2-0, it is still a wide-open race to the conference semifinal. A classic example is the LA Clippers miraculous come from behind victory in game 2 vs the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Clips clawed their way from 30+ points down to finish the game and tie the series vs the dubs. Lou Williams, the underrated NBA sixth man awardee, proved more than capable to match up head to head vs Steph Curry. Williams may not have the same flash as the splash brothers, but he gets the job done. He is the only sixth man that leads the team in scoring with a 20+ point average.
Another interesting series is the underrated Brooklyn Nets vs the Philadelphia 76ers. The Nets, composed primarily of cast outs from various teams, are giving the Sixers a good run for their money. D’Angelo Russell is proving his All Star nomination this year is no fluke. His game may also cause the Lakers to regret trading him away. DLo has been the steadying force for the Nets this season. Joel Embiids current injury is causing some uncertainty for the Sixers. It’s time for JJ Redick, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler and more importantly, point guard Ben Simmons to step up big time and fill in for The Process. The Sixers are still, man to man, deeper than the Nets. Let’s see how coach Brett Brown adjusts his rotation and game plan for the remainder of this series.
PBA All Filipino Semis
Not to be outdone, our very own Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) All Filipino conference is down to its final four teams. Current status as of this writing:
San Miguel Beermen vs Phoenix Pulse (Beermen leads series 2-0)
Rain or Shine (RoS) Elasto Painters vs Magnolia Hotshots (Series tied 1-1)
Looks like the Beermen, with their height and shooting advantage, is a lock to make it again to the finals this year, while the series between RoS and Magnolia looks primed to finish with a game 7.
Junemar Fajardo continues to dominate the post and free up space for the Beermen shooters while dominating the series against the Pulse. Phoenix is a solid team, but they simply couldn’t match against the taller and more experienced barman. Whatever happens to their matchup, the Pulse most certainly won more fans because of their improved and gallant stand this season.
In the other series match up, it seems like the Yeng Guiao touch continues its run with the Elasto Painters. Known to pick underrated players and rookies to beef up their roster (a Yeng Guiao strategy), relatively unknown Javee Mocon is proving to be a steal in this year’s draft. He is a prototypical undersized Filipino combo forward. At 63, this height would have made a big difference in the 80s and 90s, but in today’s PBA, they would not be considered a post threat, but Mocon, with his blue-collar work attitude, has proven that height doesn’t really matter if you have the heart and the ruggedness to get the job done.
Expect the games to be a lot tougher from here on, Palawan!
(The writer is a senior leader of the only Business Process Outsourcing Contact Center Company in Puerto Princesa)