April 21, 2019

National Basketball Association players that must step up in playoffs

14 April 2019, 07:29 | Henrietta Morgan

Kevin Durant on joining the Dubs: “I wanted to be a part of this so bad”

LeBron James looking distressed during a game

"Not to take it for granted what we've been able to do in the past and what we're doing now". Simmons' shooting, or lack of - he had just six 3-point attempts in the regular season, making none - is something the Warriors do not have to worry about, allowing them to focus elsewhere, potentially Embiid (who has injury issues to deal with at the start of the playoffs).

That is what happened last year with Harden and the Rockets - and that is what should happen this year with Giannis and the Bucks. And if you add in field goal percentage, Giannis's 57.8% puts him in a league of his own. How I build myself up in this National Basketball Association life, it doesn't mean anything to me.

Naturally, the other 1/8 slots in as the second-least exciting matchup. That'll change this weekend when he and Golden State play host to the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 1 of a Western Conference first-round series.

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The Warriors are looking forward to snatching four of the last five season championships. OKC swept the series - winning twice by nine points, once by two and the other in overtime. That's what sets Durant apart and made him such an elite addition to Golden State. His version of the Bucks have averaged more points and more attempts from beyond the arc than any other team - and that includes the shot-happy Warriors.

"Defensively, we have been getting after it", Harden said. That means each 100 possessions with Kawhi on the court, the Raptors average 119 points for and 105 against, a net rating of 14. It's going to be rare to see dope highlights full of alley-oops and crossovers, but this matchup is anything but short of excitement. They just have too much depth for IN to handle, and I believe that the Celtics will win the series IN six games.

Man, I love this Pacers team so much. The Toronto Raptors are 11/1 while despite the Houston Rockets finishing 4th in the West they are 12/1 to take the title from Golden State. "I'll never forget that whole 48 hours". Coach Nate McMillan deserves a lot of credit, too. The Celtics didn't have the season they were hoping for, but I think they'll turn it on during the playoffs. I was trying to come up with reasons to pick IN in this series, but Kyrie Irving vs. Darren Collison really isn't much of a contest. I've been a Thunder fan for the last four years, as Russell Westbrook has emerged as my favorite player because of his tenacity and non-stop motor that you just don't see in the league anymore.

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My game was talking to me.

Cousins has played in 565 regular-season games and zero postseason games. If they'd held on to the No seed, they would have avoided the defending National Basketball Association champions until the Western Conference Finals. Hats off to Nikola Jokic, Michael Malone, and the Nuggets on a magnificent regular season...

While the Sixers' current roster is not exactly teeming with playoff experience, it surely has the young Nets beat in that department. They also struggled to keep Blake Griffin on the court. So I was ready to pick against Denver in the first round.

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With no regrets, Durant will be preparing for his third straight playoffs with the team. Their post-centered offense doesn't really take advantage of Jokic's weaknesses. The series might be decided by which side can defend the rim better. It'll also be fun to watch DeMar DeRozan in the playoffs again, but without LeBron in his path. That night, he paired his scoring output with 7 rebounds, 10 assists and 4 steals as he helped lead the Rockets back from a 12-point deficit that loomed over them as they entered the fourth quarter. Let's break this down. We know D'Angelo's story very well.

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