The 2017-18 NBA season had its dramatic wrap-up last night, so the first round playoff matchups are set.
It feels like the big NCAA tournament just finished, yet we are already on the precipice of another great bracket of basketball. This time, it is the NBA's turn. Familiar faces abound, but there are some notable newcomers as well. Let's see how the regular season shook out.
Much of the seeding was not decided until last night, with many close teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences. There was however one game that undeniably stood out as the most dramatic.
You know how every action movie has someone sliding under a huge door right before it closes? Well the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets had identical records, were the 8 and 9 seeds (top eight make it), and played each other last night. Minnesota made it in at the very last second, with the game going into overtime.
It was a fantastic game that served as a preview for the kind of basketball goodness that is in store this playoff season.
First round matchups
On both sides of the bracket, great matchups are ubiquitous and upset-potential abounds. That's fancy talk for: this should be fun. The Warriors are not favorites to defend their title, dropping 10 of their last 17 entering the preseason. Steph Curry is still on the shelf as well.
Houston (1) vs. Minnesota (8) - Here are your title favorites. The Timberwolves are rewarded for making it in with a matchup against the top team in the NBA through the regular season.
Oklahoma City (4) vs. Utah (5) - Russell Westbrook locked up a triple-double average last night and is the second player ever to do it twice. Yet, they are barely favorited despite no All-Stars for the Jazz.
Portland (3) vs. New Orleans (6) - The Trailblazers are one of the hottest teams in the league. Despite the injury to DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and the Pelicans should give them plenty of trouble.
Golden State (2) vs. San Antonio (7) - The Spurs are in for the 21st season in a row. They certainly aren't as strong as normal. The Warriors are down Steph Curry, leaving them only one MVP and two other All-Stars.
Toronto (1) vs. Washington (8) - With John Wall back, the Wizards are a scary 8 seed. The Raptors have had their best season in years and anything short of the Finals will be a letdown.
Cleveland (4) vs. Indiana (5) - The Pacers have been better than anyone might have expected. Unfortunately for them, LeBron James seems to find himself in the NBA Finals almost every single season.
Philadelphia (3) vs. Miami (6) - The 76ers won 50+ games for the first time since Iverson. It will be interesting to see how far their young stars can take them. An injured Joel Embiid could be trouble against the Heat's Hassan Whiteside.