Blogtable: Biggest surprise so far in these playoffs?
Each week, we ask our scribes to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
From NBA.com Staff
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Biggest surprise in these playoffs so far?
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Tas Melas: Damian Lillard’s growth. I did not expect him to carry a team the way he did. He enters an elite level of player who can drag his team to a series win: LeBron, Durant, Curry, Harden, Kawhi, Giannis (a little projection on my part with Antetokounmpo.)
Shaun Powell: With all due respect to the plucky Spurs and Gregg Popovich, the Clippers taking a pair from the Warriors gets the slight nod. Keep in mind the Warriors with Kevin Durant had lost two or more games in a series only once before, and the Warriors in the Steve Kerr era were 16-2 in first-round series. And of course, the Clippers lacked an All-Star and home court advantage.
John Schuhmann: With apologies to the Blazers’ ability to dispatch the Thunder so quickly, I think the biggest surprise is the Warriors losing two games at home in the first round. Over the last two postseasons, the champs were 19-1 at Oracle Arena. Maybe their stumbles against the Clippers (who deserve credit for not being overwhelmed by a 31-point deficit or a 3-1 deficit) will be a footnote on their third straight championship, and maybe it’s the first sign that we’re going to have a new champion this year. The Warriors didn’t need to win either of those games, but there was a clear penalty (playing an additional game while the Rockets rested) for losing Game 5 and they couldn’t get the stops they needed.
Sekou Smith: The Clippers shocked me. I knew they were a grinding, blue-collar crew that was easy to root for. But to see them push the Warriors the way they did, in particular at Oracle Arena, was a revelation. Could there be a better advertisement for free agency? Seeing the culture of this team and how they were locked in together for the challenge, it was something special. They have young guys to continue to develop and two of the best bench players in the league already in place. Toss in all that cap space, Los Angeles as a backdrop and a coach (Doc Rivers), front office (led by Lawrence Frank) and owner (Steve Ballmer) that any fan base would love to have, and what’s not to like about what’s going on in Clipper Land?
Steve Aschburner: The tenacity of the Los Angeles Clippers against Golden State has gotten so much attention, I’ve got to zag where others might zig. So I’m going with Portland’s manhandling of Oklahoma City. This required equal portions of Trail Blazers goodness and Thunder underachievement. It wasn’t just Damian Lillard kicking Russell Westbrook’s butt in their positional matchup in the series, it was Enes Kantner outproducing Steven Adams and C.J. McCollum keeping pace with Paul George. The Thunder didn’t keep Portland off the offensive glass, shot worse (per eFG%) and turned over the ball at a higher rate in suffering its third consecutive first-round ouster. I was surprised by OKC’s overall lack of pushback. Oh, and… next question?
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