NBA playoffs 2017 First Round

NBA Playoffs 2017

First Round Preview

The NBA Playoffs starts Saturday. FanPicks will offer fantasy basketball post-season draft for every matchup. We’ve got you covered with the key storylines for the first-round hoop action. Get ready and reserve your spot for the upcoming contests now (Play now).

 Memphis Grizzlies (43-39) vs San Antonio Spurs (61-21) 

Season matchups (2-2 Tie)

The San Antonio Spurs weren’t very sharp while ending the regular season with three straight losses and four in the past five games. However, second-seeded San Antonio is known for being sharp in the postseason. The Spurs topped 60 victories for the seventh time in franchise history despite the late-season decline and know the series with the seventh-seeded Grizzlies will be a battle after splitting the four regular-season meetings. Memphis, which lost its last two regular-season games, will be counting on Mike Conley to lead the way after the point guard averaged a career-high 20.5 points.

 Indiana Pacers (42-40) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) 

Season matchups (3-1 CLE)

The defending champion Cavs were flat-out beatable down the stretch, under .500 and 17th in the NBA in win percentage (12-15) after the all-star break. It seems there are more questions surrounding this team than ever, but they still employ LeBron James, who is still the best player on Earth. He had his best season since returning to Cleveland in 2014 and “quietly” averaged 26.4/8.6/8.7 while shooting 55 per cent from the floor and 36.3 per cent from deep.

The Pacers, meanwhile, were unimpressive throughout much of the season and at one point appeared on the brink of blowing it all up when GM Larry Bird reportedly engaged in trade talks for star Paul George. Until last week they hadn’t won consecutive games for nearly two months but reeled off five straight wins heading into the post-season.

 Utah Jazz (51-31) vs Los Angeles Clippers (51-31) 

Season matchups (3-1 LAC)

The fourth-seeded Clippers enter the postseason with an NBA-high seven straight wins, which helped them stave off the Jazz for home-court advantage in the first round, and have won 11 of 13 overall. However, the talented bunch must overcome a recent history of playoff failures that have prevented a perennial contender from getting no further than the second round in five straight appearances. Injuries to power forward Blake Griffin and point guard Chris Paul hurt Los Angeles in a first-round exit against Portland last season and the Jazz – who won seven of their final nine in the regular season – are hoping to do the same as they enter the playoffs as healthy as they’ve been all season.

 Milwaukee Bucks (42-40) vs Toronto Raptors (51-31) 

Season matchups (3-1 TOR)

With Kyle Lowry healthy and DeMar DeRozan continuing his scoring assault, the Raptors are rolling heading into the playoffs. A pair of mid-season trades for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker bolstered a roster that seems tailor-made for playoff basketball as the Raps look to continue to build on their trip to the East Finals last season. Their opponent boasts a younger core and is thinking longer-term. Thanks to a breakout season from Giannis Antetokounmpo – who became the only player in NBA history to finish in the top-20 in points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks – and a surprise campaign from rookie Malcom Brogdon and others, the Bucks were the East’s second-best team after the all-star break and enter the series wholly un-intimidated.

 Portland Trail Blazers (41-41) vs Golden State Warriors (67-15) 

Season matchups (4-0 GSW)

After suffering a knee injury in the first round of the 2016 playoffs, Steph Curry returned against Portland in game four of the following round. Golden State had managed to win their first two games at home, but Portland had taken advantage of the reigning MVP’s absence by taking game three and looked to even the series. Curry had 23 points in regulation, but was obviously laboring and didn’t seem to be 100%. Portland forced overtime and were threatening to take a second game, but instead, Curry sprung back to life. In the midst of a record-setting 17-point overtime, Curry yelled those iconic words at the silenced Portland crowd. “I’m here! I’m back!” And back he was. The Warriors won the game and finished the series in five.

In the 2017 NBA Playoffs, Golden State and Portland will meet once again, and that moment won’t be forgotten by either side. Golden State will remember fondly when they reasserted their dominance, and Portland will undoubtedly have revenge on their mind. Golden State is heavily favored, but does Portland have a chance to overthrow the Western Conference kings in the 2017 NBA Playoffs?

  Atlanta Hawks (43-39) vs Washington Wizards (49-33) 

Season matchups (3-1 WAS)

The Wizards were on a tear earlier in 2017 and seemed like a lock to make the conference finals before falling back to earth slightly down the stretch. John Wall has played like an MVP candidate while backcourt mate Bradley Beal has emerged as a legitimate go-to scorer, but the Wiz will have to deal with a Hawks team that is playing out of their minds at the moment, going 4-1 in their last five including wins over the Celtics and Cavs (twice).

 Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35) vs Houston Rockets (55-27) 

Season matchups (3-1 HOU)

Russell Westbrook vs. James Harden. Friend vs. Friend. The Beard vs. The Brodie. Their 2017 NBA Playoffs series, which kicks off on Sunday, is the night cap. This series will surely be one of the more must-see and entertaining playoff matchups as it will feature two MVP candidates.

 Chicago Bulls (41-41) vs Boston Celtics (53-29) 

Season matchups (2-2 Tie)

The Celtics are the improbable No. 1 seed with an improbable superstar in point guard Isaiah Thomas, whose 28.9 points per game (third in NBA) and fourth quarter prowess helped propel Boston to first place. But the Celts have struggled against other East playoff teams down the stretch with losses to the Bucks, Cavaliers, and Hawks. They’re the top seed, but only have the third-best odds to advance to the Finals, behind the Cavaliers and Raptors.

The Bulls’ season has almost been the opposite, with a late-season surge lifting them to the post-season. Amidst rumours of issues between the locker room and front office, Chicago traded two assets for a prospect and appeared to be ready to forget the 2016-17 season ever happened. They ended up going 7-3 over their last 10, climbing into the final playoff spot.

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