The NBA playoffs are still in their very early stages, but the projected championship favorites are looking a tad vulnerable. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers were given pretty stern tests from their underdog opponents, and the Atlanta Hawks have dipped from their regular season form.
With their struggles against supposedly inferior opposition, it begs the question: as the playoffs go deeper and the competition gets stronger, are those favorites in danger of falling prey to a big upset? It’s certainly possible, especially if they’re matched up with these three upstart teams, who have also looked impressive in their first round series.
Pretty much every sports betting site (including this one) favors the Warriors to come away with the championship this year. But the Dubs haven’t quite shown the type of form that saw them simply dominate teams during the regular season. They were even down 20 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3 to the No. 8-seed Pelicans, and needed a near-miraculous comeback to grab the victory.
The Grizzlies and their grizzled vets could be a tough test for the Warriors in the next round. With Tony Allen back, the Grizz can play defense just as well as the Warriors, while the bruising frontcourt duo of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will be a tough, physical matchup for Draymond Green.
Derrick Rose went all 2011 MVP-mode with 34 points and eight assists in the Bulls’ Game 3 double-overtime win over Milwaukee. It’s highly unlikely that Rose maintains those numbers throughout the playoffs, but sprinkle a couple of those games along with decent production from Pau Gasol and young stud Jimmy Butler, and the Bulls have a Big Three to give the Cavs’ superstar trio a run for their money.
After struggling through the final few weeks of the regular season, the Wizards have turned the switch back on in the postseason. Meanwhile, the Hawks have seemingly gone the other direction, with their offense off to a rough start. The Wiz have the size, the defensive skill, and the star power with the John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt to clip the scuffling Hawks’ wings.
Of course, major playoff upsets are few and far between in the NBA, so don’t get your hopes up too much. But still, it should be fun seeing those three teams push the traditional narrative.
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