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NBA Playoffs: Boston Celtics surge into Round 1 while Los Angeles Clippers have title designs

The inaugural NBA Play-In tournament is underway, and the Los Angeles Lakers are fighting for their lives to secure a playoff berth. Some teams, however, have secured their invitation to the big dance. In this preview, we will analyse some first-round playoff games, which include Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat on Saturday, and Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Jayson Tatum goes into turbo mode as Boston Celtics set up date with Brooklyn Nets

Jayson Tatum turned it on once again for the Celtics earlier this week. Earlier this week, he went into turbo mode as he exploded for 50 points against the Washington Wizards. The Celtics ran out 118-100 winners, but Tatum was devastating as he reached the 50-point milestone for the third time in six weeks. Moreover, the victory guaranteed the Celtics seventh seed in the playoffs.

Tatum scored 23 of his 50 points in the third quarter as the Celtics opened the second half with a 20-4 run. In stark contrast, a subdued Russell Westbrook finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Wizards. Nevertheless, the Celtics — who finished the season with a 36-26 record — will be brimming with confidence.

Brooklyn Nets have little time to build team chemistry in the NBA playoffs

The Nets will relish facing the Celtics. However, getting through the postseason injury-free is their main concern. Added to that, they have little time to build team chemistry, as James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant have only played on the floor eight times together. If the Nets can stay healthy, they will be in the mix for the Championship.

Milwaukee Bucks ready to exact revenge over Miami Heat

The Bucks v Heat is a repeat of last year’s Eastern Conference semi-finals tie where the Heat stunned the Bucks before they lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. In two-time MVP (Most Valued Player) Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have a distinct advantage, and that wasn’t lost on Bucks guard Jrue Holiday. He said: “I feel talent-wise, we have a bit more of that.”

Jimmy Butler can hold up Miami Heat

There will be many interesting battles across the floor when the Heat takes on the Bucks, and naturally there will be some standout players. Jimmy Butler is one of those players that the Heat rely on, and he can help take the pressure off. Indeed, with Butler in the line-up, their record this term was 33-19, while without him, they were 7-13.

Tyler Herro can come alive in the playoffs

Although he has struggled for consistency, and he was beset by a foot injury for a large chunk of last month, the scene is set for Herro to weave his magic. During the regular season, he averaged just over 15 points per game, and he shot 36% from the three-point line.

In the playoffs, you would expect Herro to raise his level more, although it remains to be seen how far the Heat will go. Trying to stop Giannis going on a roll will be the main priority as he can tear teams apart. If they’re not careful, the Heat could face an early exit.

However, one major blow for the Heat is that they will be without former All-Star Guard Victor Oladipo, who is likely to miss the series after recently undergoing surgery on his quadriceps tendon. However, the Heat will have fond memories of their clash last year against the Bucks, while the Bucks will be eager for redemption.

LA Clippers hoping to go deeper in the NBA playoffs

Last year, the LA Clippers’ playoff adventure came to an end at the hands of the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semi-finals. This weekend, they face the Dallas Mavericks, from whom they claimed a 4-2 series win in the first round last year. However, the Clippers — who have been ravaged by injuries — will be eager to embark on a longer postseason run this time.

Tyronn Lue’s men dropped from third to fourth in the Western Conference playoff seeding, and there were question marks raised over his side’s performances. However, Lue insists all he cares about is having his strongest team on the floor. He said: “We finally got our team healthy, and that is what we focused on.”

 

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