Welcome to the excitement and glitz of the NBA Playoffs. We are now down to the last eight teams in the NBA. The top sixteen teams moved up to the coveted playoffs, only to have 8 mowed down instantly in the first round. In the eastern conference, our 4 worthy challengers are locked in mortal combat. It is do or die. It is kill or be killed. It is now or never.
For tomorrow, the fields of battle shall change abruptly. New alignments, new heroes, new weaponries, new strategies. The NBA landscape will go through a major facelift, what with a star-studded free agent line-up and the mouth-watering array of talents coming from the NBA draft. So enjoy the season’s ending now, while your favorite stars still wear their usual colors. Perhaps some of them will be wearing those colors for the last time.
For the first time, we see a Lebron-less Atlantic side. We are assured of a first-ever eastern ruler with a line-up minus the exalted one named King James. And an eager crowds awaits as the town crier announces: “The King is dead! Long live the king!!!”. Who will step forward to take the coveted crown as King of the East?
It is the league’s newest sensation, Giannis Antetokounmpo – the Greek Freak is what they fondly call him – and the Milwaukee Bucks pitted against the unpredictable, yet star-bedecked Boston Celtics. The Celtics are led by King James’ most beloved knight, Kyrie Irving. And he is eager to show the world that he is Batman’s Robin no more.
And over in the freezing frontiers of the north, a Kawhi Leonard-led Toronto Raptors horde is doing mortal combat against another starry-starry-team-of-a-process named the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are led by that man-mountain, Joel Embiid, and they have arguably the second most dangerous first five in the face of the basketball world, next only to the Golden State Warriors.
As of this writing, it is the Bucks leading the Celtics 3-1, while the Raptors have forged ahead of the Sixers 3-2. Both ongoing duels have numerous great storylines.
The Bucks and the Celts had met in the same stage a year ago, with the Celts barely coming out victorious. At that time, the Celtics were a woefully outmanned squad, with their chief gunners Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward both on the injury list. But the Celts refused to die. With their visionary coach Brad Stevens, and an over-achieving group of young turks, the Celtics simply dug in and survived, catching the imagination of rabidly loyal Celtic fans. This brought about the highest expectations for a bigger Celtic bash this year, especially with the absence of that king named Lebron.
For a clearer view, just click on the pic.
The Bucks, on the other hand, are out to avenge that sorry loss. And it seems they have matured enough, with both Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton giving Giannis more than ample firepower support, and a stronger-than-strong defensive end. That advantage would have been even more pronounced if Malcolm Brogdon had not been injured recently.
A Bucks victory will be a big affront on Boston’s chief star, Kyrie. And it will most certainly lead to Kyrie’s exit for another team in the season ahead. It may look like the end for the Celts, who had started the season as overwhelming favorites to clinch the eastern crown. If only they were able to solve their cohesion issues…
The Raptors made a strong move to upgrade their weapons at the start of the season by acquiring Kawhi Leonard. Coupled with the improving Pascal Siakam and the steady Kyle Lowry, the Raptors had entered the eastern playoff race with a view of making it past the second round.
For a clearer view, just click on the pics.
Except that the retooled 76ers had also made some stunning moves of their own. Previously considered a mere Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons combo, Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris now lent more star-bedazzling power to the squad.
The seesaw battle between these two excellent teams will be a test of wills. Will Kawhi’s championship pedigree prevail over the youthful belligerence of Joel? The Raptors are looking to seal that coveted seat to the eastern conference finals. The Sixers will have to solve the Raptors’ new-found swagger and loose confidence.
When King James packed his bags for the glitz and glamor of LA, everyone’s eyes were trained on these 4 warriors: Giannis, Kawhi, Kyrie and Joel. Who will be left to carry Lebron’s torch? Who will be crowned the new king of the east? At this point, it seems that it will be the Bucks’ Giannis and the Raptors’ Kawhi who will gut it out for the eastern crown.
Who you got?