Danny’s can’t-miss games of the week: NBA Playoffs

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Brooklyn Nets’ Caris LeVert, left, drives to the basket against Philadelphia 76ers’ Jonah Boldens, of Australia, during the second half in Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Monday, April 15, 2019, in Philadelphia. 76ers won 145-123. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The NBA playoffs are in full swing. By the time you are reading this, every series will be two games deep, and there are some good battles heating up. As I promised last week, I will be breaking down which series I believe will be the best in each conference.

NBA Eastern Conference: Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

I’ll be honest, this series wasn’t on my radar until it started. In Game 1, the Nets straight up outplayed the Sixers, which was surprising but also opened my eyes to how good the Nets can be. The Nets are hungry to bring some respect back to a franchise that has not made the playoffs in four years and has not won a playoff series in five.

This year’s team, led by D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, is looking to change that, and they started on the right foot, winning Game 1 111-102. Russell led the team with 26 points and Caris LeVert added 23.

However, just in case any of us forgot how good the Sixers are, they reminded us with an explosive 145-123 win in Game 2, which included a 51-point third quarter. Everybody was contributing for Philadelphia in that game, as six players scored at least 15 points. Joel Embiid led the team with 23 points, and Ben Simmons recorded a triple-double with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

This series is going back to Brooklyn tied at one, and I think this will be the most entertaining series to watch on this side of the bracket. The Sixers are undoubtedly more talented, but if the Nets can play with the same fire as they did in Game 1, they can definitely push this series to a Game 7, where anything can happen.

NBA Western Conference: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors

This is another series that I don’t think anybody really expected to be super competitive. After all, the Clippers are the eighth seed and the Warriors are… well, the Warriors. However, two games into this series, it is the Clippers who have all the momentum coming home after staging the largest comeback in NBA playoff history in Game 2.

The Warriors were ahead by 31 points at one point in that game, but the Clippers fought back and won 135-131 to even up the series at one. Lou Williams led the way with an incredible 36-point performance. Montrezl Harrell added 25 points and Danilo Gallinari scored 24 in the comeback win.

Now, this game could have been a fluke, especially given that the Warriors won Game 1 without a problem. But the largest comeback in playoff history at least warrants the Clippers some respect. They showed that they are not going to roll over and be afraid of the big, bad Warriors.

I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say the Clippers are going to win the series, because all it takes is for Steph Curry, Kevin Durant or Klay Thompson to get hot and have some 40-plus point games and Golden State wins in five. I don’t see that happening, though. I believe the Clippers can win one of the next two games at home, and then it will be an all-out battle for the final two or three games.

I have this series going at least six games, which is something not a lot of people, including myself, would have predicted before the series started. If the Clippers are able to ride the momentum of the historic comeback and beat the Warriors in this series, it will be one of the craziest first round upsets in recent memory.


Danny Barletta is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.barletta@uconn.edu.

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