This week in the NBA: Warriors game one win embroiled in controversy
Odds and review of the NBA action
In the week that we waved goodbye to eight challengers to the Golden State Warriors throne, including the great Gregg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, the conference semi-finals have tipped-off.
Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets and Warriors have all started with a win, but the Philadelphia 76ers have pegged back the Toronto Raptors in their matchup to level the series.
The second round of the playoffs is a different beast with experience the key, a fact which Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks side found out in game one against the Celtics.
It’s still all to play for to make it through to the conference finals. And with that said, we take a look at the week that was in the NBA…
Golden State Warriors
In Conference semi-finals, it’s crucial to get off to a good start on your own patch. Fortunately for Steve Kerr’s Warriors, they just about managed to do just that.
With the Rockets widely considered to be the Warriors’ closest Western conference challengers, a win in game one has set the ball rolling for Golden State to prolong their season. Their win didn’t come without an element of fortune though. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green all benefitted from incorrect non-calls.
Curry forced James Harden to step on the baseline and should have been called a foul, Thompson moved his pivoting foot on his way to the basket which should have been given as a travel, and Green clipped Harden on a 3-point attempt with the ruling on court that Harden initiated contact.
Coach Kerr ended the night saying “The reality is you get some, you lose some. The refs do the best job they can, and then you move on to the next game. So I’m disappointed this has become the whole narrative.”
In a matchup against Eastern conference favourites Milwaukee Bucks, the Celtics came into game one in the rare position as underdogs.
But Coach Brad Stevens and his Celtics side had other ideas. Filled with a wealth of playoff experience that shone through, Boston thrashed the Bucks 112-90 at the Fiserv Forum to take a road win and gain the upper hand.
Led by Kyrie Irving’s 26 points, there was a real team effort and spirit which guided the Celtics to their commanding position, with five of their roster notching double figures on the score sheet in contrast to three Bucks players.
After playing a major role in downing the Spurs in round one, the 24-year-old Serb is thriving in his first year of playoff action.
Through eight games, he’s averaging just shy of 25 points a game, almost 12 boards a night and 9 assists too, and his impressive performances include a 37-point showing in game one of the Western conference semi against Portland.
The Nuggets finished as second-best in the West for a reason, and Jokic is key to their chances of going all the way. The centre’s maturity and decision-making shines though when picking the best play for his team’s chances, not just his stat sheet.
A future MVP.
He’s likely to pick up the regular season MVP award for this campaign, but Giannis had a rare off-night in game one against the Celtics, despite still putting up some impressive numbers.
The Greek Freak finished with 22 points and eight rebounds, but the 24-year-old only converted 33% from the field, and heavily contributed to his team’s demise in game one through trying to force layups and shots that were virtually impossible.
His impatient approach hampered his team’s chances in the congested paint, and he only managed to convert five of his 10 free throw attempts, proving his hot head was causing havoc with his usual composed approach.
He could look to build on his outside shooting, where he made three of five from beyond the arc.
Losing any playoff game feels bad for sides competing for the championship, but when defeat is out of your hands, it feels even worse.
The refereeing mistakes that contributed to the Rockets defeat were made worse by NBA Officials admitting to making the mistakes, but for Harden and co, it’s all about keeping their heads and how they recover from the disappointment of the game one defeat.
Chris Paul’s temperament has come to head again too, with the veteran point guard picking up another technical foul through his protests to the non-calls.
Looking on the bright side for the Texan side, they only narrowly lost out in game one with the Warriors holding on to a 104-100 win, so there’s still all to play for in the series.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks – Under +219.5 points – 10/11
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors – Warriors to win on the money line – 10/23
Portland Trail Blazers @ Denver Nuggets – Blazers to win on the spread +3.5 – 20/21
Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers – Sixers to win – Evens
View the latest NBA Playoff odds at Coral.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.