CultureThursday 04.28.22

NBA Playoffs: Who’s Left and Who’s Been Swept

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The first round of this year’s NBA postseason has been predictably full of amazing performances and clutch moments. It’s also held some surprising twists and turns, shocking failures, and enough star player injuries to muddle any bets about who will ultimately claim the championship: Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) wrenched his thumb, Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns) pulled a hamstring, Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) messed up his knee … the Golden State Warriors are finally healthy, but many of their players were hurt during the regular season.

Now, both conferences look up for grabs. The two top teams in the West, Phoenix and Memphis, are struggling against the two lowest seeds, New Orleans and Minnesota (notwithstanding Ja Morant’s comeback-fueling performance for the Grizzlies in Game 5). In the East, Boston, Milwaukee, Miami, and possibly Philadelphia are on a collision course that may be settled by which team is the healthiest.

It could all come down to a battle between old and young as well. Will veteran superstars like Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Jimmy Butler, James Harden, and Joel Embiid hold off younger, highly athletic foes from Minnesota, Memphis, New Orleans, and Boston? Last year, we saw a then 26-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo dominate the postseason. This year, we're already seeing that 30-plus legends Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving might be on the downsides of their incredible careers, after the Brooklyn Nets were swept by the Boston Celtics.

Will and LZ talk about how they’ve had to revise their Finals predictions as a result of all the chaos.

The Long Game