The NBA Playoffs are finally here after the great showing teams in the play-in tournament gave viewers. In the play-in tournament, the Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks cemented their spot for the playoffs. Here are matchups that viewers should watch.
One matchup to view is the second seed Memphis Grizzlies against the seventh seed Timberwolves. This series has two of the most popular teams in the NBA, with both having talented young players that have taken the league by storm. With the Timberwolves, who have Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell alongside a formidable roster led by trash talker Patrick Beverley. On the other side of the court, the Grizzlies have a young and gritty team led by All-Star point guard Ja Morant who has made a jump to become one of the best players in the NBA.
Another must-watch matchup is the second seed Boston Celtics against the seventh seed Brooklyn Nets. This series has a lot of traction; the Nets’ star point guard Kyrie Irving makes his return to face his former team. Boston fans and Irving have a heated relationship with Irving leaving the Celtics and even stepping on their logo in front of fans. Expect nothing but boos from the Celtics crowd once Irving touches the floor and the ball. This Celtics team flipped the switch going on an unstoppable run from being the tenth seed to having homecourt as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. With their star players in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the team relies on the production of these two and defense. While the Nets’s Irving and superstar forward, Kevin Durant, can produce numbers, Patty Mills, Seth Curry, Bruce Brown Jr. and Andre Drummond will need to help their stars to win this series.
Other than matchups, both players and teams have an enormous amount of pressure on them. The Philadelphia 76ers’ recently acquired star shooting guard James Harden has the biggest target on his back. With his constant struggles throughout this season, drama from being traded from his previous team (the Nets), his antics off the court with partying before crucial games and disappearing, Harden’s role in the playoffs is unpredictable. If his performance is not spectacular and the 76ers don’t make it far in the playoffs, expect Harden’s reputation to take even more of a hit.
One team to look at are the Utah Jazz, as they are close to losing their star guard Donovan Mitchell if the team doesn’t help him make it far in the playoffs. Since his early years, Mitchell has found success with the team; while having success, the team has failed in their last two playoff appearances. The Jazz has a deep roster known for their defense and three-point shooting; however, the team lacks another scorer who can create their shot to help Mitchell. Losing a 3–1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 Playoffs during the NBA Bubble and losing in six games against an injured Los Angeles Clippers team in 2021, Mitchell might find himself walking away from the franchise, as analysts have speculated.
With the 2022 NBA Playoffs underway, be sure to check out the schedule on ESPN and keep up with the latest news around other series.