Which NBA First Round Series Are Worth Watching?

It’s finally here: the best two months in sports. The highest level of basketball with the highest stakes, nearly every night for eight straight weeks. It is possible that the first round games are still a bit lopsided, that the action doesn’t start for some teams until the next round. If you have any doubts, I’m here to help. I’ll let you know which first round series you should watch or skip.


Cavaliers (1) vs. Pistons (8)

Detroit was probably the only team in that 7-12 range that could give Cleveland fits. We got lucky. They’ll stretch out the Cavs defense and tire them out, a problem for a team without much backcourt depth. The Pistons are also good at limiting threes by their opponents. Can they slow down the barrage from Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Kevin Love and Co.? Andre Drummond will gladly bang around with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson on both ends and be a problem on the pick and roll. This is going to be more interesting than most people think.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Raptors (2) vs. Pacers (7)

Will Toronto break their first round curse? They’ve only advanced once is franchise history and have been bounced unexpectedly the last two seasons. They really, really need this one. Indiana has fought this year to get to contending level, but there’s not enough consistency. Apart from Paul George, they’re not sure what the team needs to be. Big? Small? Fast? Slow? Rookie Myles Turner will be a nice surprise for those who only tune in to the NBA for the playoffs. Plus, home playoff games in Toronto are fully turnt up, and include Drake cameos. What’s not to like?

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Heat (3) vs. Hornets (6)

These two finished with the same record, so the series should be pretty evenly matched. Miami still doesn’t have Chris Bosh, but you’ll be happy to know they’ve adjusted just fine. Goran Dragic’s herky jerky game has settled in and Hassan Whiteside’s arms are eight feet long. Charlotte somehow added an efficient offense to the strong defense they had last year, becoming complete out of nowhere. They have less star power than Miami, but you should know by now to never count out Kemba Walker in the postseason. Same for Dwyane Wade, who you will never be able to get rid of.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Hawks (4) vs. Celtics (5)

Oh yeah, these guys had the same record too. Two scrappy-as-hell teams that have been coached to a level they probably shouldn’t be at. This series will be like a two-week chess match between Brad Stevens and Mike Budenholzer. Will Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart be able to stop Jeff Teague and Dennis Schroeder? Can Al Horford and Paul Millsap overpower Boston’s bigs? Will Isaiah Thomas just put the team on his 5’7” back and run away with this thing? It’s all possible. With how hard these teams play, every game should be a banger.

Should you watch this series? Yes.


Warriors (1) vs. Rockets (8)

It’s the Golden State Warriors. In a playoff series. Against a mediocre defense. They get to attack James Harden and exploit Dwight Howard defending pick and rolls. Yet Harden may just snap and drop 55 in one of these games, too. It’s worth it to find out.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Spurs (2) vs. Grizzlies (7)

I feel so bad for Memphis. They’re playing so few real NBA players due to injuries they’re lucky to have even made the postseason. Now they get to face San Antonio. It’s like fighting through a den a wolves to arrive bloodied and beaten for a cage match with a bear. But the Grizz will grit and grind as much as possible and Gregg Popovich may never play anyone more than 25 minutes per game. It may not be classically pretty, but these two will find a way to make it interesting.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Thunder (3) vs. Mavericks (6)

Oklahoma City’s big three are all healthy (for now, knock on wood) so it’s time to see if they’re for real or not. Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas have done the most admirable job to remain a playoff team in the east with little talent around them. For the past few years it hasn’t done them much good in the playoffs, but remember they nearly knocked off the Spurs the season San Antonio won the title. Based on talent the Thunder should be able to finish this quickly, but you get cursed if you count out the Mavericks too early. Don’t let this happen to you.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

Clippers (4) vs. Blazers (5)

Portland is probably the most unexpected success story this season, losing four starters and not losing a step. LA is one of the biggest question marks, with season-long sloppy play and the recent Blake Griffin horror show. Damian Lillard is a noted killer, and the Clippers are desperate not to be the next victim. Lillard and C.J. McCollum cannot defend, but still get to attack the likes of Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, and (to a lesser degree) J.J. Redick at will. Throw in a few funky matchups and some Hack-A-Jordan and you come up with an upset. It’s most likely now or never for the Clippers, but Chris Paul, Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan are as formidable as ever. Game on.

Should you watch this series? Yes.

In Conclusion

It’s the NBA Playoffs. Just watch.

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