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Celtics Advance, Top Seeds Fall: First Round Recap

For only the sixth time in NBA history, the first round of the NBA Playoffs featured the biggest possible upset in basketball: an 8-seed beating a 1-seed. The Miami Heat beat the Milwaukee Bucks, a team many picked to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy for the second time in three years.

Thanks to Jimmy Butler, aka “Playoff Jimmy,” the Heat were able to take advantage of Giannis Antetokounmpo's absence in games two and three and shock the league. Regardless of his play in the regular season, Butler always turns it up to a whole other level come playoff time. He averaged an incredible 35.5 points per game!

While that surely stings for Bucks fans who had extremely high hopes entering the postseason, it delights Celtics fans. After beating the Atlanta Hawks in six games, the Boston Celtics secured home court for the rest of the playoffs, should they continue to advance.

The Celtics were led by their two stars who have balled out for them all season. Jayson Tatum led the way, averaging 27.2 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, while Jaylen Brown averaged 26.7 points per game on an efficient 54.1% shooting. The C’s also received key performances from role players. Derrick White gave them an efficient 17.3 points per game and last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, added 16.7 a game.

Despite these strong offensive performances, the Celtics struggled on the defensive end, despite finishing the regular season ranked fourth in team defense. Although the Celtics effort was lacking at times, the Hawks deserve a ton of credit. Trae Young was everything he was expected to be. He had the game winner in Game Five, with his team on the brink of elimination, and was constantly putting pressure on the Celtics’ bigs in the pick and roll.

However, the Celtics still managed to get the job done and shift their focus to the Second Round where they will battle the presumptive MVP, Joel Embiid, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Elsewhere in the league, the reigning champion Golden State Warriors were able to squeak by a young and hungry Sacramento Kings team making their first playoff appearance since 2006. Thanks to an iconic 50 point performance from Stephen Curry (the most ever in a Game Seven), they were able to silence a raucous Sac-Town crowd and keep their title defense alive.

They move on to play yet another team that beat a higher seed, the Los Angeles Lakers. Although the Lakers are a 7-seed, many people still believed they would probably win the series. Nonetheless, they handled business against a scrappy Memphis Grizzlies team. LeBron James was obviously LeBron James, and Anthony Davis, although not scoring as much as many expect, was still a big threat on both ends of the floor. The Lakers also got a surprising performance from Austin Reaves, who has really emerged as a key piece for them as of late.

Lastly, the New York Knicks beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games, a series many expected to go seven. The Knicks shut the door defensively and were just too tough inside for the young bigs of the Cavs. Jalen Brunson also averaged 24.2 points per game and continued to impress in his first year in the Big Apple.

It’s nice to see some parity in a postseason that is usually so predictable. But will that continue? Only time will tell.  

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