After one weekend of the NBA playoffs, there have been precious few surprises. The Warriors and Spurs still look like the cream of the crop, the Raptors once again lost the first game of a playoff series, and the band plays on. With every series having one game in the books, some matchups already look decided, while some (looking at you, Celtics-Hawks) look primed to be classics.
After a series of Game 1 blowouts, which teams have the most to fear from their lopsided defeats?
Charlotte Hornets: Relax
A 32-point beatdown is enough to put a scare into any team, and when that comes against playoff veterans like Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson, the situation is indeed very serious. But it’s also no great surprise that such a veteran team was more ready to play than the mostly young and light-on-playoff-experience Hornets, and Charlotte simply came out flat defensively. Beyond that, Luol Deng had one of his best games of the season, and he won’t shoot 11-13 every night. The Hornets need to step up, to be sure (especially Marvin Williams on Deng), but once they settle in this should still be a hard-fought series
Portland Trail Blazers: Don’t Panic, But…
It appears the Los Angeles Clippers are once again fully operational, with Blake Griffin looking ready to go after months sitting on the sideline. That being said, the Blazers got awful games out of C.J. McCollum (3-11) and Al-Farouq Aminu (3-12), and the Clippers’ bench shot just under 50 percent, a great number from a not-so-great bench in Game 1. It won’t take more than a few different bounces to create a much tighter result going forward, but a Portland team that was supposed to be lottery bound is essentially playing with house money anyway. No one following the Blazers will feel bad for not being able to make it past L.A., but you simply can’t count out Damian Lillard and a surely raucous Moda Center once this series moves up north.
Dallas Mavericks: Uh-Oh
It turns out the Thunder, not the Spurs or Warriors, had the biggest margin of victory of all Game 1s. Dallas’ defense was characteristically generous, but its offense was simply nonexistent. Only Dirk Nowitzki scored more than seven points for the Mavericks, who need better performances from every single man on the roster to get back in this series. But when the Thunder get a combined 80 points from Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Enes Kanter, they’re tough for anybody to beat. The Mavs don’t look like they have the horses.
Houston Rockets: Oh No
The only reason the Rockets don’t occupy the most “oh sh*t” spot on this list is because Steph Curry might miss Game 2 with an ankle injury. Even without the reigning — and presumed repeat — MVP, the Warriors are simply on another level compared to their Western Conference Finals opponent from a year ago. With Curry looking unlikely to miss Game 3, the Rockets’ best hope to take a game is Monday night — but it’ll still be at Oracle Arena, so Houston shouldn’t get its hopes up.
Memphis Grizzlies: Welp
Listen, if Lance Stephenson is the Grizzlies’ most dynamic remaining offensive player, and the Defensive Player of the Year can do this to him, it’s gonna be a long series:
Well, not literally a long series. It’s just going to be rough, is what we’re saying.