Five big stories from the early portion of the NBA playoffs

Did LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers angle to play the Boston Celtics in the playoffs?
Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

By Bart Doan 

As with anything, like searching for Bigfoot, summonsing the undead, walking through Walmart at 11 p.m. on a Saturday, or post season sports, you never really know what you’re going to get until you get in there and start to see it form. That said, while the NBA for the most part lets you buy the goods they’re selling on television and there are few upsets, stories emerge annually that start to reshape how we think the playoffs may go.

Here is a list of them, in some order of importance.

5. Chandler Parsons and his knee: Reports have surfaced that he may miss the series with knee swelling which is worrying Dallas. It’d be a tough way to go out in Year 1 for him in that town. To this point, he hasn’t lived up to the potential and the Mavs are on borrowed time with Dirk Nowitzki, whose willingness to not command what he probably could get allowed the team to make a pass at Parsons. The Mavs are that one low seeded team that had a shot to make a run it felt like, but it’s hard to figure they’ll do it unless Parsons is healthy and playing like he did … as a Rocket.

4. Game 1 and 5 seeds: Both 5 seeds won their first games, and though the exact numbers waver, for the most part teams that win Game 1 win around 80 percent of the series. That’s a damning number, which suggests just how much of a mental blow it is to lose that first game. Washington and Memphis should feel mighty good about themselves. Portland and Toronto a bit of the opposite.

3. Cleveland clearly wanted Boston: No one will ever say it and they turn the mics off in the locker room when this type of stuff is said, but you know who you want to check and who can give you trouble. The Cavs laid down twice in three days against the C’s late in the season when Boston was mired in a playoff chase with Brooklyn and Indiana, among others on the fringe. Two games in, even when Boston plays better basketball, they can’t keep up for any sustained period of time.

2. The Clippers clearly are an issue for the Spurs: The prevailing theory with teams like the Spurs pay no mind to where they’re seeded, where they have to go, or how they have to do it to win a title. And in spite of being a 6 seed, they’ve built up the collateral to be a favorite no matter what. But the Clippers, albeit with lights-out shooting that won’t probably be replicated, are a serious issue for San Antonio’s repeat hopes. The key to the Spurs is always and forever Tony Parker getting in the lane. They trust one another so much, any movement of help defense means the other team is screwed, and you have to help when Parker gets in there. In game 1, he was wildly out played by Chris Paul, and that can’t be lopsided if the Spurs want to have a chance, let alone win.

1. Derrick Rose looks healthy, which means recalibrate your Bulls expectations: Through two games, albeit against the glassy eyed and over-matched Milwaukee Bucks, the biggest development has been the play of Derrick Rose. Rose is a top 5-7 player in the NBA when he’s healthy, but it feels like “The Corrs” were still cutting music the last time that happened. Through two games, Rose’s explosiveness to the hoop is noticeable, and that changes everything. Rose isn’t at his best when he’s merely healthy but tentative. He’s lethal if he has that burst to the rim, which he’s shown, plus is apparently in good health after heavy minutes. A healthy, spry Rose means the Bulls might be the best team in the East.

 

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