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Duke In The NBA: Weekend Playoff Wrap Up

17 April 2018

Pacers fans, avert your eyes.

James averaged 27.5 points, his most since the last season of his first stint in Cleveland in 2009-10, a career-best 9.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game - the latter matching the benchmark he set last term.

This might be the most interesting matchup in the first round, as these two teams appear to be the most evenly matched.

James and the Cavs play IN in the first round this season. At 33, James has been as dominant as ever, and he has a way of flipping the switch to an even higher level in the playoffs.

Could this be the last postseason for LeBron James in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform? And if the Cavs make a deep run James could also catch Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) for most field goals.

There is on Golden State. For the San Antonio Spurs to have a chance, they will need to disrupt the Warriors offense with some typical well organized and hard-nosed defense inspired by head coach Gregg Popovich.

You have to feel for the Raptors. It was a spirited effort from the Spurs, who played much better than they did in Game 1. Mitchell played 35 minutes and could have played more had it not been for a foot injury he suffered in the game that kept him out for most of the fourth quarter. And both were right on the cusp of ending their droughts this year; Casspi was waived by Golden State because it needed a roster spot once he hurt his ankle, and Cousins tore his Achilles' to end his season with New Orleans.

He remains on the most athletic players in the league, but, perhaps with an eye cast on prolonging his stay in the National Basketball Association, he has enhanced the three-point threat he poses, attempting more shots from beyond the arc this season than he ever has.

The NBA playoffs feature several teams capable of winning it all.

A record 62 worldwide players, from a record 33 countries, are headed to the postseason. The eight top teams from each Western and Eastern conference will play each other in a series of seven games. Canada and Spain both have four.

Game 3 is Thursday as the series shifts to San Antonio.

"It's out of the way now", DeMar DeRozan said of the streak. The rest of the conference has been close all year long, but none of the teams are going to be any match for Houston or Golden State. But at 43-39 on the year, this team has the worst record among 2018 playoff teams.

Portland and Philadelphia have already won a little extra money.

Kevin McHale, a Hall of Famer who teamed with Larry Bird and Robert Parish on the Boston Celtics for three championship runs, thinks there is definitely merit to those discussions when trying to sort out the best of the best, but that the players in the thick of it would be wise to try to tune out the discussion. Toronto is assured $803,222 while Boston and Golden State are up to $704,169. These teams are more evenly matched than what it looks like on paper, and this series will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting to follow.

The NBA champion will claim at least $4,782,438; the runner-up, at least $3,587,489.

With Kyrie Irving out, Antetokounmpo is by far the best player in the series and as great as the Celtics are defensively, he should be able to take advantage of mismatches and advance the Bucks to the second round. That 80 percent clip is consistent with the league norm. And we can't wait to see what hoodie you wear for Game 1. - A.C.

The 76ers are finally making "The Process" pay off after winning just 19, 18, 10 and 28 games during the painful four-year rebuilding process with coach Brett Brown at the helm.

Despite winning last year's championship and the Finals MVP award, Durant still can't shrug his haters off his back.

The Sixers had a blue-out and gave away free T-shirts in preparation of their first playoff game since 2012. But that can't matter if Portland is going to win a playoff series.

The Timberwolves are in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. That being said, this year seems different.