Just weeks after March Madness gave us an NCAA Tournament that delivered multiple historic upsets over its opening weekend, it looks like the NBA pros he took that personally. Four of the eight meetings in Game One last weekend were won by the visiting team. And one of them was Miami Heatwho shot down the milwaukee dollars — a team that had the best record (58-24) in the league this season.
We knew these playoffs were going to be good, but no. this good.
In the West, the No. 7 Lakers Beat the No. 2 Grizzlies (128-112) at Memphis, while the Hair clipper No. 5 won a victory against No. 4 Suns (115-110) in Phoenix. And in the East, the No. 5 Knicks shot down the No. 4 Knights (101-97) in Cleveland, while the No. 8 Heat stunned the No. 1 Bucks (130-117) in Milwaukee.
Typically, the 4/5 matchup is the only series that can go either way, so the Knicks and Clippers wins weren’t all that surprising, unless you point out that it was the first time the historically overrated Knicks have won a road game since 1999. But, seeing a No. 1 and No. 2 seed drop early is not something to ignore.
Why Game 1 Matters
According nbc sports, the winner of Game 1 won the series 75.6 percent of the time (433-140) in best-of-seven series through 2021. This stat is something Heat, Lakers, Clippers and Knicks fans should remember as visitors. the teams that won the first game won the series 51.3 percent of the time (81-77). And if Miami, Los Angeles and New York can find a way to win Game 2, it means they historically have the series in the bag. Through 2021, teams with a 2-0 lead won the series 92.4 percent of the time (302-25).
Now, here comes the “but”.
If the playoffs go the way the numbers suggest, and the Lakers, Clippers, Heat and Knicks pull off “first-round upsets,” will they be remembered that way given what happened in Game One across the league? The injury bug popped up, and it seems like that may determine who wins it all more than anything else.
In the first two games of the day on Sunday, three potential playoff-changing injuries occurred. Ja Morant is recovering from a hand injury that could keep him out of a must-win Game 2 for the Grizzlies. “(It’s) hard, man, especially with everything I’ve been through this season.” he said, having already served an eight-game suspension last month for conduct detrimental to the league. “My main goal was to be there for my guys. It’s another incident where that’s pretty much in jeopardy.”
The Bucks are worried about Giannis Antetokounmpo, as they were without him for most of the first game due to a lower back injury suffered in the first quarter. “We have to wait and see what the doctors say,” Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer said.. “Most importantly, what Giannis says. We’ve certainly been blessed with him being incredibly resilient and quick to heal, but you just have to take him day by day and see how he does and see how he feels.”
And in that same game, Heat guard Tyler Herro broke his hand, since his status for this series and the rest of the season are up in the air. “You can’t completely make up what Tyler has been to our team all year, but the guys need to step up, including me, including Bam (Adebayo) and whoever Spo calls to do offensive duty, an defensive task, to bring in some energy, to dive on the floor, to get a loose ball or a rebound.” said jimmy butler. “It’s like all hands on deck at all times, now more than ever.”
This all happened in a 48-hour window even though there isn’t much buzz about how the Clippers beat the Suns without Paul George, who is out at least this series with a sprained right knee.
Outside of baseball, the NBA has a time when they are the best in sports, until the NFL Draft takes place later this month. And to a league that is struggling with ratings with an upcoming media rights dealthis is the perfect time for them to regain the interest of casual fans as games are being played every night.
In the NCAA Tournament, early upsets lead to a lackluster Final Four. But in the NBA, they could be exactly what the league needs to get more people watching ESPN and TNT every night.