What NBA Playoff Series should fans not want?
The NBA playoffs will begin this weekend, and yet most playoff matchups remain undecided. We know that the Milwaukee Bucks will play the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors will play the Brooklyn Nets in what should be two uneventful series, but that still leaves six more series to be determined, especially in the Western Conference.
So, what playoff battles should we really hope does not happen for the first-round next week? Here are just a few less than exciting opportunities.
Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz
The one caveat with this choice is that Rockets fans might like this choice as it gives them yet another chance to beat up on their ancient rival. But given how the Rockets blatantly tanked their Wednesday game against the San Antonio Spurs, it appears that they do not even want that series – or more accurately, do not want the 3rd seed and a second-round matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Meanwhile from Utah’s end, it is clear that the Jazz consider the Rockets and their small-ball style an awful matchup which would lead to a quick first-round exit, and their<a href="https://www.sltrib.com/sports/jazz/2020/08/10/triple-team-jazz-pull/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow"> was a clear example of this desire. And neutral fans should be bored at the thought of yet another Rockets-Jazz series for the third straight year.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Grizzlies fans have got to feel more than annoyed at this point. They had a Cinderella season to start things off and surpassed all preseason expectations. But now they are the ugly stepchild as fans pray for them to go away for that Portland vs. Phoenix play-in game. Even the Spurs have their legendary playoff streak at stake.
But the sad reality is that the Grizzlies are beaten up and a shell of their earlier season glory, despite Ja Morant’s brilliance. I do not know whether Portland could upset the Lakers even though that has become<a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/columnist/mark-medina/2020/08/07/blazers-lakers-upset-potential-first-round-playoff-series/3316431001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow">. But it will certainly be more competitive than the 4-0 shellacking that would be a Lakers-Grizzlies series.
The Entire Eastern Conference
Perhaps things would be different if Ben Simmons was not injured, but the Eastern Conference first-round playoff matchups are all disappointing. Milwaukee-Orlando and Toronto-Brooklyn will be blow outs, even though the Nets have been surprisingly frisky in the bubble. Boston-Philadelphia will see Embiid play well, but the 76ers simply do not have enough firepower now to compete with the Celtics.
Maybe the Miami-Indiana matchup can be competitive, though Miami’s victory over the Pacers<a href="https://www.espn.com/nba/recap?gameId=401224770" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer nofollow"> with Jimmy Butler shutting down the red-hot T.J. Warren is not a good indicator at all. The Pacers will certainly bounce back and make adjustments, but it looks like the real fight in the Eastern Conference will begin in the second round.
Despite these negative forecasts, we should remember that there were plenty of concerns about the bubble, and yet the quality of the games has continued to surprise and surpass all expectations. With the right matchups and the competitiveness, perhaps the first round will be similar.