Review and summary of first round of the NBA playoffs

Nikola Jokic

Wikimedia Commons

Nikola Jokic at the free throw line

The first NBA playoff game of the 2022-2023 season was played on April 29th, and mayhem ensued in the time following. With drastic upsets, intense overtime victories, and devastating losses, the 22-23 playoffs have been highly entertaining and surprising. 

In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks secured the number 1 seed, with a record of 58-24. This meant that they would play the number 8 Miami Heat. The Heat took a commanding win in the first game of the series, with a score of 130-117. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the heart and soul of the Bucks was still unable to play due to an injury he sustained in early April. The Heat capitalized on the injury problem of the Bucks, especially Jimmy Butler. Butler made 15 field goals and 2 free throws for 32 total points. Bam Adebayo also had a strong game, with 22 total points. This game most likely would have had a different outcome had the Bucks still had Giannis active.

In this series, the Bucks took the second game, but after that, they weren’t able to fend off the heat without Giannis in the 3rd game. The scores of the remaining games were 121-99, 119-114, and 128-126, all for the Heat. Giannis was back for these last two games, but it was too late and all the momentum was for the Heat.

So the 8 seed in the East managed to beat the 1 seed 4 games to 1, which is an extremely rare occurrence in the NBA. The playoffs were already off to a wild start, but it was only going to get more intense.

The series between the Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavs) and the New York Knicks resulted in another upset, with the Knicks winning 4 games to 1. The Cavs were the number 4 seed, and the Knicks are the number 5 seed. The Knicks started off with a win, with a close score of 101-97. The Cavs took the second game, but after that it was all Knicks. The Knicks won the last three games of the series to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jalen Brunson and RJ Barrett were both great in the final game, with 23 and 21 points. They each had 4 rebounds and assists in that game. Julius Randle didn’t do as well as he normally does in this game, with only 13 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. 

The Knicks then had to play the Miami Heat.

Even with little help from the star Julius Randle, other players on the Cavs were able to step up and take the team to victory. Teams with players that can step up in big moments are the ones that go far in the playoffs. The Knicks looked very strong in this series, and if they play like this for the entirety of the playoffs, they’re going to be a legitimate contender. 

The Knicks then had to play the Miami Heat. Jimmy Butler and the Heat are up 3 games to 1 as of May 8th. The Heat have been putting up a great team effort, with 5 of their players over 10 points in game 4 of this series. The Heat are firing on all cylinders and have a commanding series lead over the Knicks. 

The next matchup was the Philadelphia 76ers against the Brooklyn Nets. The 76ers took control of this series from the very beginning of it, winning the first game by 20 points. They went up 1-0 with ease, and never let the Nets win a game after that. The 76ers even had some injury problems, with Joel Embiid suffering a sprained knee. In the games that Joel Embiid played against the Nets, he put up 33, 37, and 38 points. Joel Embiid is a force to be reckoned with on the court, and he makes a huge impact on every game he plays in. If he can stay healthy throughout these playoffs, the 76ers are bound for success. 

So the 76ers swept the Nets, but what about the last matchup in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals? The Celtics and the Hawks began their series on April 15th. In game 1, the Celtics put on a show. They had three players with 24 points or more, and Jaylen Brown had 29 points. It was certainly a team effort from the Celtics, and the Hawks just couldn’t stop the offensive weapons of the Celtics. Combine that with an underwhelming performance from the star Trae Young, and you get a strong Celtics victory. The rest of the series followed in the footsteps of the first game, and the Celtics won the series while only allowing the number 7 Hawks to win 2 games.

The 1 seed Nuggets faced off with the number 8 Timberwolves in the Western Conference, and the Timberwolves never really stood a chance. The Nuggets had been great all season, and the Timberwolves barely snuck into the playoffs with a record of 42-40. They had the same record as the Pelicans, but since the Timberwolves won 2 out of 3 regular season games against the Pelicans, they got in. 

The Nuggets have a great team in the 22-23 season. Nikola Jokic is leading the pack, having had 4 triple-doubles (meaning double-digits in 3 different statistic categories) in his past 8 games as of 5-10-23. Jokic always turns it on even more than usual in the playoffs, and he even went off for 53 points on May 7th against the Suns. 

Though Jokic is the star of the team, their roster is deeper than just him. Jamal Murray averages 16.9 points per game in his NBA career, and Michael Porter and Aaron Gordon are both very capable of making big plays in crucial moments. Also, Jamal Murray has been playing very well in the 2023 playoffs. He has had 28 points or more for 5 out of his last 9 games, as of 5-10.

The playoffs so far have been very exciting with many headlines and quite a few upsets. The conference finals and the NBA finals will be very memorable, and it will be interesting to see what happens.