Brutally Honest First-Round 2019 NBA Playoff Storylines

Sometimes the truth hurts.

The 2019 NBA playoff’s first-round matchups have the intrigue of a Shannade Clermont criminal trial. The Spurs could easily upset the Nuggets. Houston and Golden State could meet in the second round. Injuries to key players could upset the apple cart and the future of certain superstar free agents could be determined based on their team’s success in these playoffs.

With that being said, there are some underlying narratives that we’d love to see come to fruition.

 

Dwane Casey Navigates Huge Playoff Upset 

Despite Black America’s love for the Greek Freak, we’d also love to see Dwane Casey’s Detroit Pistons upset the Milwaukee Bucks. Casey was given a raw deal when he was fired by Toronto after leading them to a franchise-record win total.  It’s unfortunate that Casey, who changed the Raptors culture and built them into Eastern Conference division winners, was scapegoated after losing to LeBron James again in the 2018 playoffs.

With Bron struggling in LA and the addition of Kawhi Leonard, this would have been Casey’s best chance to advance to the NBA Finals. He didn’t get to finish the job.

 

Joel Embiid’s Knee Holds Up

I’m a New York guy and it’s definitely lit to have playoff basketball back at the Barclays. Sixers star Joel Embiid has missed five of the last seven games and he might miss Game 1 of the series with a bum knee. That’s terrible news for No. 3 seed Philly moving forward, even if they get past the Nets which shouldn’t be that difficult.

ESPN’s Jalen Rose still thinks the Sixers have too much star power for the Brooklyn Nets.  

“The Nets outplayed expectations and they’ve been a great feel-good story for the season,” Rose said. “D’Angelo Russell emerged as an All-Star… but this matchup caters to the Philadelphia Sixers in particular 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons. I think he’s going to flourish in this series.”

Let’s hope Embiid is recovered and can carry the playoff load. Philly has waited a long time to be in this position and it would be a tragedy if a game changer like Embiid wasn’t healthy. They got no shot to win an NBA title without him. 

 

Quick Playoff Exit For Kyrie

Any Knicks fan would love to see the Indiana Pacers upset the Boston Celtics. If Boston exited in the first round it would lead to some wholesale changes for next season, including Kyrie’s Irving’s departure.

https://youtu.be/Z21mQcPpFOA

With Marcus Smart — the Celtics’ emotional leader and best defender — out 4-6 weeks with a torn left oblique, Kyrie won’t have the same luxury of concentrating on offense while Smart handles the dirty work. The faster and more embarrassing the Celtics’ playoff exit is, the quicker NY fans can immerse themselves in the free agent possibilities this summer.

 

James Harden Averages A Clutch 40 For Entire Playoffs

The basketball world was captivated with James Harden’s historical scoring prowess during the 2019 regular season. Harden helped dig the Rockets out of an early-season slump to rise to the fourth seed in the playoffs. Now, the world is waiting to see if he can be the same consistent scoring force (36.8 ppg) that he was during a regular season campaign that will probably earn him back-to-back NBA League MVPs.

Houston set an NBA record for most made threes in a game with 27 on Sunday against Phoenix. Harden had 30 of Houston’s 149 points, tied for fourth-most in franchise history. Can they continue this offensive mastery in the playoffs?

The Beard has never consistently played like an MVP in the playoffs. His legacy would completely change if he could lead Houston past Utah and then shoot them past Golden State in the second round. The basketball world is split on whether or not Harden will deliver the goods.

 

Portland Finally Gets To A Conference Finals 

Portland is a perennial first-round playoff loser. It would be awesome to see Dame D.O.L.L.A’s Trailblazers advance to a Western Conference Finals for the first time in two decades.  The last time they went to a Conference Finals was in the 1998-99 and 99-00 seasons. Since then, Portland has made the playoffs 11 times and been eliminated in the first round nine of those years.

Portland’s postseason existence is torturous. Portland is always on the outside of the ring of championship greatness. Therefore, no one takes them seriously come playoff time. They have enough talent to beat most of the teams in the league on any given night. They are constantly seeded among serious NBA playoff contenders but don’t have the firepower to challenge the crème de la crème of the NBA in a series. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.