Will he or won't he? Nurkic's return still uncertain

  • Will he or won't he? Nurkic's return still uncertain

Will he or won't he? Nurkic's return still uncertain

The East is full of teams who are good enough to get to the second round of the playoffs and sniff the conference finals, but none of them are good enough, top to bottom, to beat a Cavaliers team that is both healthy and focused, and if anything will be the downfall of this team, it is the latter. The Clippers are 5.5-point favorites in Game 1 of their series against the Utah Jazz, while the Bucks are 7-point underdogs in Game 1 against the Toronto Raptors. "But it starts with baby steps first and we understand that".

"So we have to be very determined but we have to be very smart about our game plan and how we execute". The Warriors could face many different teams in the Western Conference finals and NBA Finals, should they make it that far, and their odds would vary depending on the opposition. And while no one doubts James' enduring talent, this year's edition of the Cavs have left many wondering if LeBron's Finals streak will snap.

When the Warriors and Trail Blazers tip off Game 1 of their first round playoff series on Sunday, we'll see two of the most potent offensive teams the National Basketball Association has to offer in action.

In the two blowout wins, Golden State shot a combined 57.4 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from the 3-point line.

But, boy, have they been bad lately.

Not only did the team have a month where they won 90% of their games (February), but they also had two months where they finished below.500 for the month, and in March they lost 10 games, which, as you'll remember, is one more game than the Warriors lost all of last season. Injuries to J.R. Smith, Kevin Love and Kyle Korver during that stretch hurt, there's no question. Big guards who can score taking on small guards is a good matchup, and the Wizards' regular-season defensive numbers don't reflect how good they can be. But the Cavs have work to do.

But if there's anything James has taught us over the years is that he knows how to get to NBA Finals. The Cavs won last year's title in an epic rally from three games down against Golden State, which had put Cleveland away in six games in 2015.

He isn't a mainstream star yet because he plays in Milwaukee, but Antetokounmpo is the NBA's next big thing. Playoff James needs to activate his swarming defense to contain Paul George.

The data seems to suggest hot teams are taxed by oddsmakers to the point that it becomes hard to back them in the opening round. IN has a new coach in Nate McMillan and Pacer mainstays George Hill and Roy Hibbert are gone from those teams, but Paul George remains.

Another landmark for James comes Saturday in Game 1 against in, when he makes his 200th playoff appearance. Then again, we're talking about the top media market in the United States. "It's going to be tough".

The pesky Indiana Pacers will hang around for some fiercely competitive games, but they'll fall in five contests. This matchup should be fun. Are you going under screens and letting them shoot jumpshots?

Combined, they have zero playoff appearances.

"We've been here before", Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. Up until recently, there were 19 teams still alive for a potential playoff spot.

Which gets us to today's quiz of the day. Cleveland went just 23-23 after January 10 and the Cavs have been ranked in the bottom third statistically on defense all season.

The Cavs are facing the Indiana Pacers, who were on the outside looking in on the playoff picture after losing at Cleveland 135-130 in double overtime on April 2. On Westbrook he said, "Russell is such a force".

"We're ready for this", George said. Everybody has a clear understanding of what needs to be done and individually what they need to do. Let me tell you a team that I really like.