The first round of the NBA playoffs this year will feature the league’s first all-Brooklyn matchup, a Philadelphia-Indiana series that could repeat last year’s shocker. There could also be a first-round upset of an Atlantic Division team as the Bucks, 76ers and Hawks all look to improve on their respective playoff records this year.
This is the first year the NBA playoff system will be changing, but what could have changed? In short, we only have three teams in the Eastern Conference that have been to the playoffs in at least four straight seasons: the Boston Celtics, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New York Knicks. The Nets and Bucks have been to the playoffs no more than two straight years and the Hawks and Nuggets have never made it.
NBA postseason series are almost always entertaining and historically unpredictable. But the next few years could be a doozy. The NBA playoffs can be divided into two categories: “build-up” and “payoff”. In the first stage, teams have to build their rosters and get their players to play well together. It is the time when the coaches choose their starting lineups and the players are preparing for the playoffs. For the payoff stage, it is essentially a three-game series between the two teams, so you need one key game to determine the series winner. The first part is about having a good team. The second part is about having a good strategy. And the third part is about managing the emotions of the players. ~~. Read more about when nba playoffs start 2021 and let us know what you think.With no Eastern Conference first round game lasting more than five games, here we are in the second round with two important games. Can Giannis Antitokounmpo, two-time MVP, and the Milwaukee Bucks overcome the Brooklyn Nets’ top three of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden? How much can the Philadelphia 76ers get out of NBA great Joel Embiid, who is day-to-day with a knee injury? What can Tre Young do for an encore after the Atlanta Hawks’ victory over the New York Knicks? In the Western Conference, the Phoenix Suns bumped the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers to secure a second round appointment with the Denver Nuggets, who took the lead thanks to another performance from Damian Lillard. In anticipation of Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks (3:30 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC) – the winner takes on the first-seeded Utah Jazz in the second round – our experts provide an overview of what’s important in the Nets-Bucks, 76ers-Hawks and Suns-Nuggets series, including the keys to each series. MORE: Complete NBA playoff schedule, results and news.
How did the Nets end up here? The Nets were the big favorites in their first round game against the Boston Celtics. And despite a sloppy performance in Game 3, Brooklyn didn’t feel like they were in danger of losing the series for a moment, allowing them to record five wins in a row.
Brooklyn Nets (BPI/MIL ratio: 70%)
More importantly, after a normal season in which Durant, Harden and Irving played only eight games together, Durant has been practicing and playing the past few weeks, even in a hostile environment in Boston. That time is invaluable and can only help Brooklyn leading up to their titanic battle with Milwaukee, a series that could very well become this year’s de facto NBA Finals. Jeff Green’s health needs to be monitored. Though he’s at the end of his career, Green’s versatility on both fronts makes him a key role player for Brooklyn, and it’s unclear if he’ll be available against the Bucks with the plantar fascia sprain he suffered for much of the first round. But the Nets would be led by Durant, Harden and Irving. And if they come through the first round with flying colors, they could go all the way to the championship. How did Bucks end up here? When the Bucs decided to play the final weekend of the regular season and secure a first-round matchup with the Miami Heat, they were criticized in many circles for preparing their toughest opponent.
Milwaukee Bucks (BPI vs BCN ratio: 30%)
How did Bucks react? Achieve the most shocking result in the first round by beating the Heat – the team many thought would knock off Milwaukee for the second year in a row – and dominating the final three games of the series. Point guard Jrue Holiday has shown exactly what Milwaukee was hoping for when the Bucks acquired him in the offseason. He averaged 15.3 points and 9.8 assists during the sweep. Milwaukee faced a very successful Nets team as a reward, a game made more difficult by the loss of Donte DiVincenzo, the third-year player who was pulled from the playoffs in Game 3 with a foot injury. That leaves coach Mike Budenholzer with an interesting decision about who will replace him in the starting lineup against Brooklyn. In Game 4 against Miami, Pat Connaughton was the answer. But after the disappointments of the past two years, the Bucks exorcised some demons with the win over the Heat. If they can beat the Nets, Milwaukee can finally do well this year. The key to the series: Can Brooklyn handle the size advantage of Milwaukee? In a series with so many stars, you’d think the most important game would be a combination of the best six players – Durant, Harden and Irving for Brooklyn and Antitokounmpo, Chris Middleton and Holiday for Milwaukee – against each other. To be fair, how Brooklyn’s weak defense will parlay the size and strength of Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez in Milwaukee could change the course of this series. The Nets have relegated DeAndre Jordan to the end of the bench in recent weeks and played exclusively in a small lineup against the Celtics. Giannis vs KD is a matchup worthy of the NBA Finals. We’ll see in the second round. Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images Boston’s Tristan Thompson can do damage on the inside and on the boards, but he’s far less impressive than Lopez, let alone Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee made a subtle change to have Lopez play like he did at the beginning of his Nets career, when he was a master of the low post and not the stretch-5 he has become. The Nets also don’t have a clear lineup against Antitokounmpo, as Durant isn’t strong enough to defend him and Green is injured. Blake Griffin may be loaded, but he’s unlikely to last the entire series. Meanwhile, on the other hand, the Bucks have their own intractable problem to solve: How do you keep all those nets? Most of this equation depends on who Milwaukee decides to pair Holiday with Harden and Irving. Harden is largely the engine of Brooklyn’s offense, while Irving will attack alone. Few players are better suited to his defense than Holiday, one of the best defenders in the league. The problem is that the Bucks only have one. This is where the loss of DiVincenzo will have an impact, as he is a solid defender who could play big minutes with Irving or Harden. In the end, we can say that this series has the potential to become a classic. The seven exciting games that will hopefully take place follow all kinds of chess moves. — Tim Bontemps How the 76ers got there: A new man (Daryl Morey), a new head coach (Doc Rivers) and several new players (sharpshooters Seth Curry and Danny Green), along with existing questions about the Sixers’ upcoming departure for the 2019-20 season, have led to a variety of opinions about where Philadelphia will go once the season begins. The Sixers only have the best record in the Eastern Conference and Joel Embiid had an MVP-worthy season.
Philadelphia 76ers (BPI/ATL ratio: 87%)
The biggest hurdle for the Sixers right now is Embiid’s health. Embiid was diagnosed with a small meniscus tear and his condition is described as day-to-day. Because of an injury, Embiid did not play in the final Game 5 against the Washington Wizards. Nevertheless, Philadelphia has risen to the top of the East thanks to its excellent defense – it ranks second in the league in defensive rating. But without Embiid’s permanent status, this series will be more difficult. How the Hawks got here: Perhaps the biggest test for the Hawks was the 1. in March before they parted ways with coach Lloyd Pierce. At the time, the Hawks were ranked 14-20 and had a 14 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
Atlanta Hawks (BPI vs. PHI: 13%)
But after the arrival of Nate McMillan, the Hawks finished the regular season 27-11 and had the best winning percentage (.711) in the East during that span, one point better than the 76ers (.703). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McMillan became just the fifth coach in the last 20 seasons to lead a team to a midseason title and win a playoff series this year. The Hawks have also struggled with health issues for most of the season. According to Spotrac’s injury data, Atlanta players have missed 278 games this season, the fourth-most in the league and the most of any team in the 2021 playoffs. Cam Reddish and Brandon Goodwin are still missing, but the rest of the rotation is in place and playing important roles. DeAndre Hunter’s defense against the New York Knicks was a major reason they were able to contain All-Star and 2020-21 MVP Julius Randle. The keys to the series: Who will score for Philly, and can we stop Trey? Against Washington, Tobias Harris was the driving force behind Philadelphia’s offense, averaging 25 points and 10 rebounds in five games. Ben Simmons nearly had a triple-double (16.8 points, 10.2 rebounds, 9.2 assists), but did not score at the line (10-of-28). Even if Philadelphia plays as conservatively as possible because of Embiid’s injury, they will need more from Harris, who averaged 19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds in the regular season. To beat Atlanta, Philadelphia needs Simmons at the free throw line. How the 76ers tie Trey Young could determine the outcome of the series. Mitchell Leff/Getty Images With Embiid out for the regular season and Simmons, Harris, Curry and Green on the court, Philadelphia’s defensive rating has risen to 114.8. The Sixers played 10-11 games in the regular season, which Embiid missed. Atlanta can pressure defensively, as they did in the first round against the Knicks, but Philadelphia will be well prepared to put size on the defensive side against Young. If Philadelphia puts Matthysse Tibullet in the starting lineup, it would allow the Sixers to start someone over Young, who spends most of his energy defending. It’s hard to look at any of the three regular season games between these teams as an indicator of what to expect in the playoffs. In two games with two players in late April, the Hawks were without Bogdan Bogdanovic and Hunter in one game and those two plus Young in the other. But as they proved in the game against the Knicks, the Hawks have no intention of giving up. McMillan has changed his rotation so that one of Young or Bogdanovic is always on the field, allowing the offense to move forward when Young is back. Bogdanovic can play point guard in the second unit with Lou Williams and provide the game-changing punch that Atlanta has sometimes lacked. — Andrew Lopez
How did the Suns get here? It’s been 11 years since the Suns won a playoff series, but they broke that streak in the most impressive way possible: by beating the defending champions, who happened to be the Los Angeles Lakers with LeBron James. As the No. 2 seed, the Suns were not the favorites in the series, and that seemed doubtful after a dominant win in Game 1, in which Chris Paul injured his right shoulder.
Phoenix Suns (BPI to DEN ratio: 60%)
Paul did not perform well in the second game, but he gradually improved as the Suns relied more on their impressive youth. Devin Booker is on his way to the upper echelons of superstardom, but Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and the Phoenix youngsters are all at the top of their game. But it was Booker and his epic 47-point performance in Game 6 that gave the Suns the win and made it clear that Phoenix should be taken very seriously. How did the nuggets get here? The Nuggets were already struggling before the playoffs began, with their first backcourt injured and relying more than ever on likely MVP Nikola Jokic. They put together a group of defenders that included 30-year-old rookie Facundo Campazzo and a guy who was out of the league for almost two months, Austin Rivers. Monte Morris has become a reliable point guard, and sophomore forward Michael Porter Jr. is starting to realize his incredible potential.
Denver Nuggets (BPI to PHX ratio: 40%)
They had to overcome Damian Lillard and his tireless clutch skills to put on one of the best performances in the history of the playoffs, beating the Portland Trail Blazers in game 5 in double overtime. In the absence of Jamal Murray and Will Burton, the Nuggets relied on their identity as tough, resilient playoff warriors, but more importantly, they simply pounced on Jokic. As head coach Michael Malone said after Game 6, the Nuggets coaching staff could use Jokic, and he would find a way to make them all good enough to have a chance. The key to the series: Star Wars. Both teams have unprotected players in their lineups. Clearly, there are no players who can protect Booker at this point. The Nuggets will try to use some wings and forwards and surprise him with traps, blitzes and double teams. And on the other hand, single coverage doesn’t work against Jokic either. As good as Eaton was in the first round, despite the Lakers’ frontcourt fatigue, he now faces a serious test. Foul trouble was a crucial element for the Blazers in their defensive scheme against Jokic, and it will be an important factor for the Suns as well. Ayton needs to be on the field because the defensive options behind Jokic don’t look good. The Blazers tried to adjust to a small lineup when Robert Covington guarded Jokic, and the Suns might try a similar approach with Jay Crowder. Smart double passes with the defense moving the ball is Suns head coach Monty Williams’ curveball. The Nuggets defeated Damian Lillard in the first round. Around. Your reward? Devin Booker. Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images Outside of Jokic, the Nuggets need to improve their role players against Phoenix against Portland. Besides Booker and Bridges, the Suns have a lot of talented wings and defenders, so the battle on the bench will be exciting. Denver’s Morris was the surprising X-factor in the first series; Phoenix’s Cameron Payne played a similar role against the Lakers. The heart of this series, however, is the star. Will Jokic again be able to carry the load, lift his teammates and still score brilliantly and efficiently? And can Booker continue to improve after his stellar performance against the Lakers? And where is the God of points, not to mention his health, taking control late in the game by going around the backboards and making a mid-range slash move? — Royce Young.The NBA playoff picture is finally starting to solidify after a record-setting regular season. The playoff format has changed once again, and the league’s best teams are already set. But the playoffs are about more than which teams make it. They’re also about what happens to those that get knocked out. So, what will the NBA look like in 2021?. Read more about nba standings playoffs 2021 and let us know what you think.
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