The NBA playoffs tipped off this weekend in full force with all sixteen teams playing. KU has six former players trying to win the title, four as players and two as coaches. Three of the players are NBA playoff veterans, 1 with a title (Andrew Wiggins), and two (Marcus Morris and Joel Embiid) on teams with better-than-average chances of winning it all. The newcomer to the NBA playoffs (Christian Braun) won the NCAA title a year ago. The former players looking for an NBA title as coaches are Jacque Vaughn, the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, and Aaron Miles an assistant for the Boston Celtics. So if you are looking for a team to cheer for, you have six teams to choose from.
Here is a quick look at how each did over the opening weekend.
Nets v 76ers: The opening game of the weekend matched Jacque Vaughn’s Brooklyn Nets with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. It was not a great game. Vaughn has been at the helm of a team that is a shell of what it was to start the season. Without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Erving, both moved just before the trade deadline, there is not a lot of firepower left. As for the game Saturday, the 76ers won 121-101. Joel Embiid, potential league MVP, scored 26 points to lead his team and added 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Celtics v Hawks: The second game on Saturday saw Boston, with Aaron Miles on the bench, take down Atlanta when they held off the Hawks’ late rally, 112-99.
Warriors v Kings: The Warriors took on the Kings in the final game on Saturday. The defending champs could only manage to get the sixth seed and just avoided the play-in tournament. As a result, they made the short trip to Sacramento to start their title defense. Game one saw the return of Andrew Wiggins to the team after taking about two months off to deal with family matters. Andrew did not start but came off the bench as he works his way back. Despite Wiggins looking pretty good, he scored 17 points, Golden State fell to the Kings, 126-123.
Clippers v Suns: LA traveled to Phoenix on Sunday evening to take on the Suns. Marcus Morris missed the last seven games of the regular season with back spasms, and despite taking part in practices last week, did not play in this game. Without Morris, the Clippers were still able to hand Kevin Durant his first loss as a member of the Suns, 115-110.
Timberwolves v Nuggets: The late game on Sunday ended the weekend as the first game opened it, in blowout fashion. Minnesota looked like the tired team they are. Having played two games earlier in the week just to get here, they were no match for the Nuggets. With the rout on, there was plenty of playing time to be had by everyone on Denver’s roster, including Christian Braun. Braun played 19 minutes, scored 3 points, pulled down 3 rebounds, had 1 assist, and one block. The Nuggets won, 109-80.