NBA playoffs kickoff over the weekend

Basketball fans can expect an intense bracket

DaQuan Samuel, Staff Writer

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The NBA regular season came to an end last Wednesday, which means the playoffs are officially underway.

The east playoff bracket was pretty much set heading into Wednesday but the west was decided by the 24 teams playing on the night. Teams jumped between seeds as the night went on and the playoffs were finally set after a thrilling overtime win for the Minnesota Timberwolves over the Denver Nuggets, which helped them secure the eighth seed.

The matchups for the playoffs should all make for very good series and will provide some interesting outcomes. In the Eastern Conference the (1) Toronto Raptors take on the (8) Washington Wizards, the (2) Boston Celtics face the (7) Milwaukee Bucks, the (3) Philadelphia 76ers battle the (6) Miami Heat and the (4) Cleveland Cavaliers play the (5) Indiana Pacers.

In the Western Conference the (1) Houston Rockets take on the (8) Minnesota Timberwolves, the (2) Golden State Warriors face the (7) San Antonio Spurs, the (3) Portland Trailblazers battle the (6) New Orleans Pelicans and the (4) Oklahoma City Thunder play the (5) Utah Jazz.

The playoffs began Saturday with the Warriors and the Spurs playing game number one as Golden State dominated, winning 113-92. Klay Thompson led for the Warriors, shooting 11/13 from the field. Kevin Durant poured on 24 points with eight rebounds and seven assists. The Raptors edged the Wizards 114-106 with Serge Ibaka leading the way for Toronto with 23 points and 12 rebounds. The 76ers rolled past the Heat 130-103, Ben Simmons went for 17 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds in his playoff debut for Philadelphia. The night ended with the Pelicans hanging on to shock the Blazers 97-95. Anthony Davis dominated with 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks as he notched his first career playoff victory.

On Sunday the action continued, starting with the Celtics defeating the Bucks in a thrilling overtime finish 113-107. Al Horford threw in 24 points and 12 rebounds to put Boston over the top. The Pacers stunned the Cavaliers to hand LeBron James his first opening game loss in the playoffs in his career. Cleveland had no answer for Victor Oladipo who went off for 32 points. The Thunder beat the Jazz 116-108. Russell Westbrook averaged a triple double per game for the second year in a row, but it was Paul George who scored 36 points on 13 of 20 shooting to secure the win for the Thunder. The Rockets defeated the Timberwolves 104-101 behind a 44-point effort from Houston’s star guard James Harden.

Monday started with Heat tying up the series 1-1 as they secured a 113-103 win over the 76ers. Dwyane Wade turned back the clock for a vintage 28 point performance to lead Miami in ending Philadelphia’s 17-game win streak. The night ended with the Warriors rallying in the second half to take a 2-0 lead on the Spurs. Kevin Durant caught fire in the third-quarter spark a run on his way to 32 points and Klay Thompson added in 31 points, scoring 16 in the fourth quarter.

The playoffs continue tonight with Pacers and Cavaliers playing game 2 starting at 6 p.m. on TNT, The Jazz and Thunder battling at 7 p.m. on NBATV and the Timberwolves and Rockets tipping off at 8:30 p.m. on TNT.

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