Best First Round Matchups In The 2019 NBA Playoffs
This weekend begins another madness as the NBA heads to the postseason. The seeds are locked and Nitrogen Sports Blog highlights the best matchups during the first round of the NBA 2019 playoffs.
Denver Nuggets vs San Antonio Spurs
The Nuggets just had an amazing regular season and entering the postseason as the number 2 seed in the Western Conference, right behind the defending champions the Golden State Warriors. The Nuggets roster are pretty much the same and everybody knows they can score inside and out, but what changed is how they approached defense.
The Nuggets are usually at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to defense in the league for years, but this year, they are the 6th best defensive team in the league, allowing only 106.6 points per game. This is why they are so dangerous right now, and the Spurs will need to utilize all of their playoff experience to really pull off a win against the Nuggets.
Homecourt advantage will be a deciding factor in this series as the Nuggets have never won a game in San Antonio since 2012. On the other hand, the Nuggets are just as good at home too, with less than 10 losses this season, even pulling off a 12-game winning streak at home.
The Spurs are a different team now with the “Big Three” no longer sporting a Spurs jersey. We even have DeMar DeRozan now the star scorer, replacing Kawhi Leonard, and still we see them at the playoffs. It’s really hard to count the Spurs out despite recent changes and we’ll see what Gregg Popovich and his coaching staff have planned to deal with their first round matchup in the NBA playoffs.
Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets
Two great teams but this matchup will all depend on how the Utah Jazz will deal with the Houston Rocket’s James Harden paired with Chris Paul. Combined, Harden and Paul average 52 points and 16 assists a game, and Harden has the tendancy to score past the 50 mark if left unchecked.
The Rockets swept the Utah Jazz in their last playoff meeting. The Jazz also lost all their games against the Rockets last season. But this is a different story as this is a more experienced Jazz team with a strong bench and an improved Donovan Mitchell to match the Rockets offense. This season, the Jazz was able to win 2 out of their 4 regular games against the Rockets.
The Rockets Head Coach, Mike D’Antoni, isn’t in the best shape, as he was hopsitalized due to an illness during their last game. Reports say he won’t miss the first round of the NBA playoffs, but it’s something to consider when gauging this series.
Boston Celtics vs Indiana Pacers
The Celtics vs Pacers rivaly continues and it will all depend on wether the Pacers -the top defensive team in the league – can cripple the Celtic’s strong offense in this series.
The Celtics have a great team right now and fans were hoping to see a heathly team to enter the playoffs, but it’s sadly not the case this season. Marcus Smart could miss the first two rounds of the playoffs, and is a key element in the Boston’s defense. Will the Pacers take advantage of this? Absolutely. As the Pacers are entering the postseason without Victor Oladipo.
But the Pacers have adjusted well since losing Oladipo, coming out just as strong on both ends of the floor. The Pacers maximize all of their players depending on the situation. They can play big with Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, and even run a solid offense with Tyreke Evans off the bench.
Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers
It’s going to be a steep climb for this LA team as their 1st round NBA playoff matchup is against argueably the best team in the league today. But not all is lost as they did beat the Warriors during their first regular season meet.
That’s likely going to be Doc Rivers’ blueprint on how they will tackle this steep climb as the Warriors did win their next 3 games against them in the regular season.
And it will be tough to replicate what happened last November. There’s no more Tobias Harris, Mike Scoot, and Boban Marjanovic. They now have Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, and Ivica Zubac. But they were able to pull off important wins after the change, which is why we see them clinching the 8th seed. Lou Williams will have to step it up and all they need is one win in the series to rally on and build from there.
For the Warriors, it’s going to be business as usual. The real question is what DeMarcus Cousins will bring to the table during the playoffs. His contributions in defense during this series will give us a clear indicator of how effective he will be assuming they go to the next round.
Toronto Raptors vs Orlando Magic
In our top 10 NBA team favorites, The Raptors are up there to win the title this season. They had an impressive regular season with 58-24, showing that their new star Kawhi Leonard had adjusted well to his new home.
The Orlando Magic will be facing them in the first round and it’s going to be quite a test for the Raptors since the Orlando team was able to snag a couple of wins from them during the regular season. A sign that this won’t be an easy series and that the Raptors will need to show their postseason experience to advance to the next round.
Watch out for Marc Gasol, another boost for the Raptors mid-way through the season. How he performs in the first round will be an indicator how versatile this Raptors team can be in the postseason.
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For more tips and details during the NBA playoffs, be sure to check out Nitrogen Sports Blog’s sports betting guide.