The postseason brings more in-depth analysis, match-up breakdowns that never seem to end, and a myriad of statistics referenced in almost every NBA playoffs preview. Without a doubt, narrative threads are developing during each NBA playoffs series.
Because of this, we concluded that NBA fans should be aware of one particular item.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Brooklyn Nets: Mikal Bridges Earns his ‘Revenge.’
The potential of this as a storyline has been exaggerated. Before being traded to the Phoenix Suns on draft night, Bridges had spent very little time with the Philadelphia 76ers. Hence, there is little logic behind him taking his vengeance out on Philly. The success of the Nets in the NBA playoffs will be directly correlated to Bridges’ performance versus his “old” team.
Bridges are, without a doubt, the most talented player on the Nets. Since the Suns had no other healthy starters, he was the only one who could take the court for them for significant portions of this season. He has already provided a taste of what he is capable of doing. After moving to Brooklyn, he reached his full potential as a player. As a member of the Nets, he averages 26.1 points per game, which is nearly 10 points higher than his previous scoring average. Even more impressive is that he could keep up his high level of productivity despite the increasing amount of work.
Bridges have demonstrated that he can single-handedly lead his side to victories over the league’s best clubs. He led the team to win over the Boston Celtics with 38 points scored. Moreover, he scored 45 points against the Miami Heat and 42 points against the Atlanta Hawks. If Brooklyn wants to pull off an upset over Philadelphia, Bridges will need to have more scoring binges like that one more frequently.
The Golden State Warriors take on the Sacramento Kings in “The Road Warriors.”
This season, it is common knowledge that the Warriors have struggled on the road. In games played away from the Chase Center, they have a record of 11-30. This record features a streak of 11 consecutive road defeats spanning the months of February and March. When the Warriors play away games, their offensive statistics don’t suffer as much as they would otherwise. Their defense is a complete mess when they are not playing in San Francisco. They often allow their opponents to score more than 120 points each game when they play against them away from home.
Because the Kings boast the top offense in the league this season, this poses a significant challenge for the team’s chances of winning this series. If the Warriors cannot protect the rims at the Golden 1 Center, then the Kings will blow them out of the water and win the game. To stop the Kings from generating an unhealthy amount of self-assurance and momentum early on in the series, the Warriors must take the lead on their home court as soon as possible. Even if they successfully force the series to go the full seven games, they will still need to find a way to prevail in the deciding game in Sacramento.
And in addition, the Warriors will be playing in front of an audience that hasn’t seen postseason action in the past 17 years. That crowd in Sacramento will be electric, and they will make the Warriors feel like they are playing as far away from home as they possibly can.
The ‘availability’ of Julius Randle for the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the New York Knicks
Near the end of March, Julius Randle sustained an ankle injury that has prevented him from participating in any of the Knicks’ remaining five games of the regular season. Unsurprisingly, New York will rely heavily on him in this series. The 25 points, ten rebounds, and four assists he averages every game are challenging to find a replacement for.
Yet, he must be locked in mentally once Randle can finally put his foot down on the floor. It has recently become a concern because Randle will throw temper tantrums when he does not get the calls he desires. One of his major flare-ups occurred in March when the Los Angeles Clippers’ physical defense was problematic for him. Randle vented his frustrations by attacking his coaches, teammates, and officials. Because of that, we ended up losing by a significant margin.
He can’t make the same mistake he did during the loss to the Clippers and let the tough defense get to him, especially when playing against the Cavaliers, who currently boast the greatest defense in the NBA Playoffs. If a few of Cleveland’s forwards can aggravate him and cause him to lose focus, then the Cavaliers have removed the Knicks’ most effective offensive tool. It is up to Randle to demonstrate that he is prepared to steer the Knicks through the postseason this year. This begins with him mastering his feelings and allowing his performance to do the talking.
The Atlanta Hawks had been dominating the Boston Celtics in their game
How the Hawks defeated the Miami Heat in their play-in game wasn’t particularly pretty, but it effectively achieved the desired result. The strategy for the game was straightforward: repeatedly and again and repeatedly crash the boards. The Hawks regained possession of the ball 63 times, including 22 times on the attack. They scored 26 second-chance points, which was 20 more than the Heat managed.
That play-in game wasn’t an outlier for them regarding their ability to rebound offensively. The Hawks have been making a deliberate effort to try to establish board dominance throughout the game. This season, the Hawks have recorded an average of 10.4 offensive rebounds per game from October through January. Since February, the Hawks have recorded an average of 12.5 offensive rebounds per contest.
This is the one area where Atlanta has a glaring advantage over Boston. The Hawks have a bevy of guys on their front court who are athletic and high-energy. John Collins and Clint Capela are in the lead, but up-and-coming players like Onyeka Okongwu and Jalen Johnson follow closely behind them. The only reliable big men for the Celtics in the front court are Al Horford, Robert Williams, and an undersized version of Grant Williams. This leaves the Celtics vulnerable. If Atlanta’s frontline can be intimidated like it was against Miami, then the Hawks will have a good chance of pulling off an upset.