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NBA playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks take to the floor

The NBA playoffs are well underway, and there could be a big scalp or two claimed. There are some crunch first-round matches to look forward to. We will preview the big games this weekend, which include Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns, and Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets. We will also take a quick glance at the match odds.

LeBron James struggles as he tries to fight through the pain barrier for the Lakers

After spending a significant amount of time on the sidelines, nothing was going to stop LeBron James from suiting up for the Lakers in the playoffs. However, unlike the James of yesteryear that single-handedly won games with the Miami Heat or Cleveland Cavaliers, James has looked ring rusty. The Lakers were rather lacklustre against the Suns in Game 1, slumping to a 99-90 defeat.

James was anonymous against a Suns side who are riding the crest of a wave after making their first appearance in the playoffs in 10 years. What was perhaps more telling, was Lakers coach Frank Vogel’s update on James’ injury. He said: “In an ideal situation he has another few weeks to put it behind him.” The reigning NBA champions have to respond quickly.

Anthony Davis raises more questions after the subdued display for the Lakers

While James will routinely capture the spotlight, the decline of Anthony Davis has been a real cause for concern. Against the Suns, Davis scored a mere 13 points, and he shot just 31% from the field (5-for-16). Although Davis has recovered from poor playoff performances in the past, self-doubt has crept in and he’s got to pull himself together.

With this series tied at 1-1, the Lakers need to keep improving if they hope to advance further in the playoffs.

Milwaukee Bucks crush Miami Heat in blowout Game 2 victory

The Bucks were irresistible in Game 2 against the Heat. While it was thought the Heat would put up more resistance, the Bucks raced to a 132-98 blowout victory earlier this week. Giannis Antetokounmpo produced a virtuous display, with the top score of 31 points. The Bucks converted 22 of their 53 three-point efforts. The onus is now on the Bucks to stay dialled in.

Tyler Herro among the Miami Heat stars who face scrutiny

There will probably be a lot of head-scratching going on in the Heat camp. While the Bucks eked out a 109-107 win in Game 1, Game 2 felt like a prolonged assault for the Heat. It was a collective struggle on the floor, and perhaps the most alarming performance was that of Tyler Herro.

After making a name for himself in the playoffs last year, where he drained 37 points in one game, Herro has only spent 37 minutes on the floor in total this year. Against the Bucks, he was 3-of-15 with his field-goal attempts, and although opportunities have been scarce for him, he’s hardly setting things alight.

The pressure has begun to show in the first couple of games for the Heat. So far, the Bucks haven’t deviated from their strategy of taking some big 3-pointers. But the Heat have so far fallen woefully short. Currently, at 2-0 down, it feels like a mountain for the Heat to climb, and the contest could be over by Game 4.

 

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