NBA Playoff Update: April 17

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The Cleveland Cavaliers survived their opening playoff game Saturday. Even though the Indiana Pacers closed a double-digit gap in the fourth quarter, there were still Miles between the two teams. As in, C.J. Miles. And his last-second shot clanged off the rim, giving the Cavaliers a 1-0 series lead.

There was excitement around the league, with upsets and drama and Drake all making appearances. Let’s catch up:

Last Second Guessing

Paul George was none-too-pleased that he wasn’t taking that last-second shot with a chance to beat the Cavaliers. George passed the ball to Miles who pumped faked and then launched a long jumper rather than passing it back to George. George later said:

“I’m confident in all my guys taking shots, that’s not the issue,” George said. “But in that situation like that, I’ve gotta get that.”

ESPN instantly pulled George’s stats in last-second opportunities, and they aren’t great. That being said, Paul George could be 0 for his last 500 last-second attempts and I’m still hoping Miles is taking that shot. And that’s with Miles being a known Cavs killer (42 percent career field goal percentage; 48 percent versus the Cavaliers).

And, because the Cavaliers can’t help but always get involved, J.R. Smith liked this Instagram post:

Drake It Or Leave It

The Cavaliers continued their break-neck pace of weird stories, reportedly editing out references to the Golden State Warriors in Drake songs. Some people are asking if the Cavaliers are too petty, when the real answer is they are exactly petty enough.

Eastern Conference Upsets

On Saturday I mentioned the Celtics and Raptors as potential upset candidates. Well, call me Nomstradamus, because both lost. The Raptors are facing a terrifying Milwaukee Bucks team, but can somewhat blame their loss on rough shooting. The Raptors shot just 36 percent overall and 22 percent from behind the three-point line. It’s unlikely they’ll continue at those numbers, and while the Bucks are a formidable opponent, at least there are reasons for optimism in Toronto.

In Boston, things were a bit scarier. Boston didn’t play exceptionally poorly. The Bulls didn’t play particularly well. There was no obvious hot shooting night or fluky sequence that can explain away the Celtics’ loss. They just got beat.

One of the most glaring stats in the rebound disparity; Chicago grabbed 53 rebounds to Boston’s 36. Chicago had 20 offensive rebounds, and in the fourth quarter their continued wiping of the offensive glass helped them put the game away. The Celtics ranked as one of the worst rebounding teams in the regular season, and it looks to be a glaring weakness in the playoffs. It was only one game, of course, but there were certainly warning signs for Boston. That being said, Chicago is a team that Boston should be able to beat even if they have to work a bit harder than any of us expected. If not, well, this kid sums up how all Boston fans would feel (warning – very vulgar lip reading included in link).

Gobert or Go Home

Defensive maestro Rudy Gobert was injured just 17 seconds into the Utah Jazz’s victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. While an MRI revealed no structural damage, his availability for the rest of the series and/or playoffs is in the air. Gobert had put together a monster season and was a major cog in the success of the Jazz, just look at how good he was at all these acronyms!

Phil Jackson Has No Chill

New York Knicks Team President Phil Jackson is practically begging Carmelo Anthony to waive his no trade clause, saying over the weekend:

“We’ve not been able to win with [Anthony] on the court at this time,” Jackson said Friday. “I think the direction with our team is that he’s a player that would be better off somewhere else and using his talent somewhere where he can win or chase that championship.”

In a not-so-shocking twist, it turns out the player’s union doesn’t like a team executive openly lobbying for a player to be traded or to waive their no trade clause.

It’s no wonder star player and only-good-thing-going-for-them big-man Kristaps Porzingis is frustrated.

Isaiah Thomas Pays Tribute

The story that shocked the sports world this weekend was the tragic death of Boston Celtics’ star Isaiah Thomas’ sister. Thomas chose to play in Sunday’s game, and paid tribute with this message on his shoes.

It’s an impossibly sad situation, and at this point we’ve likely all seen pictures of Thomas struggling with the weight of his emotions during the game. As LeBron James put best on Monday morning, “the game doesn’t even matter.”

The Cavaliers and Pacers face off again tonight in Cleveland, with Memphis and San Antonio facing off in the second game of their series in the late game. Let’s hope the Cavaliers bring home another victory.