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Five things we learnt from the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs

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16th September, 2020
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The NBA playoffs have been electric this year, featuring multiple series going down to seven games, tight finishes, historic plays and numerous upsets.

Here are five things we have learnt.

1. The future is in safe hands
We have witnessed numerous teams and players creating history, with many memorable performances coming from players such as Luka Doncic, Jamal Murray, Donovan Mitchell, Nikola Jokic and Bam Adebayo, who have showcased that the future of the league is bright.

From the multiple 50-point performances from both Murray and Mitchell in the Jazz vs Nuggets series, to Doncic breaking first-time playoff series records, the young stars of the league have what it takes playing under the spotlight.

2. Teams win games, not individuals
As showcased by the Nuggets and Heat defeating championship favourites in the Clippers and Bucks through great team play, there is no substitute for a solid all-around team.

The Heat went an impressive 8-1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs through playing great team basketball where every player knew their role. They may have had standout players in certain games, however everyone got a chance to shine. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic may not necessarily be superstars, however they each knew their roles and played to their strengths in order to help take down a Milwaukee team considered a championship favourite.

The Nuggets had standout performers who are not yet considered superstars such as Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. The team has played as a deadly and cohesive unit, leading to come backs from two consecutive 3-1 deficits.

Meanwhile, both the Clippers and Bucks relied heavily on their stars, which was evidently their downfall. Giannis Antetokounmpo was nearly ten points below his season average during the series, as the Heat defence clamped down on him.

Meanwhile, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard scored just 24 points as a duo in Game 7 as the Clippers were sent home.

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The link between these championship favourites losing and their stars playing below average is unquestionable, and showcases that an over reliance on star power can lead to a team’s downfall.

Paul George

Paul George has plenty to prove. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

3. The 76ers need major changes
The Celtics brought out the brooms against Philadelphia, sending the Sixers home in a convincing fashion and it did not take long for the team to part ways with long-time coach Brett Brown.

More changes are needed for the 76ers to be considered major contenders, as the front office has made some risky moves that have not paid off.

Al Horford and Tobias Harris were offered big contracts but were inconsistent all season long, instead of offering a major contract to Jimmy Butler. The lack of a solid point guard has also seen Ben Simmons play the position, when he is a much better fit as the side’s power forward.

The Sixers need to start thinking about moving some of their big contracts and picking up a solid individual, such as Chris Paul, to fill out that point guard role.

4. Giannis needs help
While Giannis is likely to become a back-to-back MVP winner, no one player can win a championship alone.

While the Heat played terrific defence on Giannis and limited his scoring output, the Bucks need more firepower to help the Greek Freak when he is having an off night.

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Kris Middleton is a solid player and a former All Star, however Eric Bledsoe has been wildly inconsistent for Milwaukee and could be sent away for either another point guard or a shooting guard to help ease scoring pressure.

The Bucks have reportedly promised Giannis they are willing to cut into their luxury tax to surround him with talent, according to ESPN, now will they honour this or risk losing their star?

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5. LeBron is still the best in the world
All the LeBron James doubters have been proven wrong this season, as he led the Lakers to their first playoff since 2013, while leading the league in assists per game.

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His play through the playoffs has also elevated, nearly averaging a triple-double throughout the postseason, showcasing that his game has not dropped in his 17th season while seeing the Lakers firm as championship favourite.

James has continued to climb the ranks as one of the best playoffs players of all time and if there were any doubters about James’ status as the best player in the league, those doubts have been put to rest.