by Ramoncito Tomas Palu-ay
The 2023 NBA Playoffs is shaping up to be one of the most exciting in years. There is no clear-cut favorite to win the Championship and the race to the Larry O’Brien trophy is wide open. The first round series just started and four of the Game 1 games were won by the lower-seeded teams. This is not surprising as most of matchups are even and could turn into competitive series.
The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the league but looks vulnerable against the Miami Heat now that Giannis Antetokounmpo has back issues. Also, the last time the Bucks were the Number 1 overall seed in 2020, they lost to this Heat team.
The New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers are evenly matched. The Cavs have homecourt edge but that was gone in Game 1.
Boston and Philadelphia look to have big advantage especially after their respective Game 1 wins, but Atlanta and Brooklyn have the enough talent and experience to make these series interesting. The Hawks still have their core that went on a surprising East Finals run two years ago and they know what it takes to complete an upset.
The Nets lineup had a major shakeup mid-season, but this is a veteran team and it’s getting star-quality production from Mikal Bridges. The NBA’s Ironman, who played 83 games this season, turned from a high-end role player into a star since being traded for Kevin Durant. “Brooklyn” Bridges is ready for a break-out postseason and should have extra motivation to play against the Sixers, who drafted and traded him on draft night.
The West is actually wilder.
The Los Angeles Lakers leads the Memphis Grizzles 1-0 and they might catch a break if Ja Morant’s injury could cause him to miss some games. Not too long ago, Lebron and Co were out of the play-in, now they have a clear path to the West Semis.
Without Paul George, the Los Angeles Clippers are underdogs against the Phoenix Suns. In Game 1 though, Kawhi Leonard showed that he’s one of the very few players capable of going toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant and is still capable of carrying a team.
Two-Time MVP Nikola Jokic finally has a healthy supporting cast heading into the playoffs and Denver looked good in the opener against Minnesota. The pressure is on for the Joker to lead his team to a deep playoff run. In terms of the talent alone, the Timberwolves can match up with the West’s best regular season team and there’s also a sense of urgency in them especially with the future assets that they traded for Rudy Gobert. A lot is in stake in this series.
The excitement level in Sacramento is off the charts as the Kings are back in the playoffs after 17 years. Just like the early 2000’s Kings Team, the 2023 version is an offensive juggernaut boasting the league’s #1 offense. It earned them a first-round date with the defending champions who has a huge experience advantage. With how Game 1 was played between these two teams, this could be the most exciting series of the first round.