Just to remind you all, there is still a Curry playing in the ongoing NBA playoffs with a team that is expected to go to the next phase, maybe even to the finals, and he is definitely contributing to his team’s cause with his offensive game.
Unfortunately for me, it is not my favorite NBA cager (Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors) I am referring to, but his younger brother Seth, now finding his place in the sun with the 76ers, who won Game 1 against the Washington Wizards in their series. The Warriors failed in two tries to move to the playoffs, with back-to-back losses to the Lakers and the Grizzlies in the play-ins.
As I mentioned earlier, without rookie James Wiseman and Kelly Oubre Jr., not to mention Klay Thompson, the Warriors were a depleted team in the play-ins. But then wait for next year’s season when they come back complete as they will be a playoff team, definitely.
However, that is for the future and I need to deal with the current realities in the NBA. And after the first two playing days, I would like to share some first impressions on what I have seen.
Denver, which was the favored team, lost to a Damian Lillard-led Portland, a team that can beat any other team on a good night. But then the Nuggets were missing key player in Jamal Murray, who is out of the season due to a torn ACL.
Then there is top-ranked Utah, which was shocked by the last team to qualify in the playoffs, the Grizzlies of Ja Morant. The Jazz missed Donovan Mitchell in Game 1 of the playoffs due to an ankle injury, but the All-Star guard is reportedly seeing action in Game 2.
We can also include Boston in the list of teams with missing a key player in Jaylen Brown, the Celtics’ No. 2 after Jayson Tatum, more so that they are up against super team Brooklyn Nets, now with the trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden playing together at last. These three on any given night can give their team more than half of the total score for the Nets, making them the top seed team.
As of this writing, I am not sure on the prognosis of two other key players in the other teams, LeBron James of the Lakers and Chris Paul of the Suns after suffering injuries in the first game, which was another shocker as the Suns upended the Lakers behind the duo of All-Star player Devin Booker and Paul.
For me, Booker is certainly the franchise player of the Suns, but it is also true that the guy holding the team together with his leadership and offense is Paul. On the Lakers’ side, everyone knows that without LeBron, they are a different team altogether with more losses than wins without their number one player. I just hope both of them can still play their remaining games,
Outside the basketball court, when you are given a blowout, it is a happy occasion meaning you get treated for lunch, dinner or what have you. But then on the court, the worst thing that can happen to a team is to suffer from a blowout, where their opponents simply blow them out of the court.
Well, this is what happened to the Miami Cold, oops, I mean the Miami Heat in their second game against the Milwaukee Bucks. This was after a close OT win by the Bucks over them in the first game. It was like seeing a team play at its worst, while the opposing team plays at its best,
In fact, I believe that any team that the Bucks would have played that night, and that includes the mighty Nets, they would have beaten due to their efficiency on both ends of the court. Twenty-two three-point shots in the game is ample proof of their offense, but what really impressed me was their defense against the Heat, a supposedly tough defensive team.
The Bucks simply outplayed the Heat all throughout the game, dominating the first quarter with a 26-point lead, and continued steamrolling the Heat in the next three quarters to end up with a 34-point victory, certainly the most impressive win so far in the play offs.
Another supposedly favored team, the Los Angeles Clippers starring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George at the helm, were surprised by the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 with Luka Doncic running wild on the offensive side, while the Atlanta Hawks silenced the big crowd at the Madison Square Garden cheering for their team, the Knicks. I can understand this fervor on the part of New York basketball fans as their team has not entered the playoffs for a long long time.
It was another young player in Trae Young, who carried the Hawks on his shoulders just as he has done for the entire season, same way that Morant led the Grizzlies to that victory over the Jazz. What I am seeing is the future of the NBA, these three young players, Doncic, Young and Morant will be at the top of the heap in the near future, together with other relatively newcomers in the league.
It is very noticeable that today’s young players in the NBA show no awe at all against the established superstars and play with a chip on their shoulders and I am not just talking about this trio but a lot of other young players as well.
Might be too early to predict, but I believe the teams that will not survive the series are the Celtics, the Wizards, and even the Grizzlies despite their 1-0 lead over the Nuggets. I did not include the Heat in this list as I still believe they can come back, but they need to put their act together in Game 3, otherwise, it is goodbye time for them, too.
The other match-ups are too close and will depend now on who wants to win more and who can play more consistently. Your guess is as good as mine at this point.
By the way, our Ayuda Sa Atleta campaign to help our national athletes has gained a little momentum, with individuals and companies pledging or have given their support. As of this writing, we are approaching the 400K mark, including the 250K seed fund from Jean Henri Lhuillier.
Alaska and Nestle Phils., plus pharmaceutical companies Britton Pharmaceuticals and Biocare Lifesciences have pledged vitamins, Tom Carrasco’s Asian Centre for Insulation Philippines and Alex Wang, a member of our trustee groups, has pledged both cash and in-kind from his Philippine Couriers, while the rest of us trustees also put in a little personal money for the cause.
The Athletes’ Commission, headed by Nikko Huelgas, has also turned over Gatorade items even as we have written to Pepsico Phils., the mother company for Gatorade here. We plan to continue the fundraising until the end of July, but the distribution of items to the first batch of recipients of differently-abled athletes will happen by June. My personal thanks to all those who have responded.