Welcome to the Truda Report everybody. Today I want to talk about a couple huge games in the NBA First Round in the upcoming days, as well as the conclusion to the Pelicans-Trail Blazers series. If there's any topics that you would like me to touch on next time comment below and I'll make sure to discuss it. Also, make sure to share this article as it helps TTR grow.
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks:
Tonight's match up between these two teams could very well decide the series. It's all tied up at two games a piece, so if the Bucks were to win in Boston tonight, they would be winners of three straight and take the ball back home with a chance to close out the series. On Boston's end of things, a win tonight gives them the leeway the rest of the series, because even if the Bucks were to tie things back up after Game 6, Game 7 would be in TD Garden. This game clearly has major implications for both teams, and that's why the news of Marcus Smart's return is huge. Smart is an incredible defender, and in my opinion his offensive game is underrated. An already thin Celtics team will really appreciate having Smart's services back, and I think that the biggest benefactor from this will be Terry Rozier. He has been more than anyone could have asked for while filling in as the Celtics point guard in the absence of Kyrie Irving. Now that Smart can alleviate some of those minutes, Rozier will be fresher on the offensive end. For Milwaukee, Smart's return just means a more difficult game offensively, but if I'm being honest, in this series specifically I wouldn't be too concerned if I'm a Bucks fan. Milwaukee's best players in this series are all forwards (Giannis, Middleton), and I think their other scariest player is Jabari Parker. Marcus Smart is 6'4, 220 pounds; Giannis Antetokounmpo is 6'11, 225 pounds; Middleton and Parker are both 6'8. Marcus Smart is not singlehandedly stopping any of those three. If I'm picking tonight's game though, I still have to take the Celtics. This has been a very close series all the way through, and I think that Smart's return helps Boston enough on both ends of the floor to lead to another win. Also, home court advantage helps a lot. Boston wins a very important game.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Miami Heat:
I'm going to cry if tonight is Dwayne Wades final game in the NBA. Down 3-1, the Heat's season is on the line tonight, and all I want if for Wade to end his career on Miami's home floor--not in Philly. I have a hunch that Father Prime also wants the same thing, so I'd expect him to play a solid amount of minutes tonight, and to take a lot of shots. I hope that this turns into a vintage D-Wade night, and that he can then lose happily back in Miami to fulfill my prediction of a six game series win for the Sixers. Also, I kind of hope that Wade, out of character, pulls a page out of Kobe's book and goes off for no apparent reason, taking and making shots with two people all over him while Kelly Olynyk is chillin' wide open in the corner for three...and also a couple of sweet blocks since that's a Wade signature...and maybe a couple of lobs to Hassan Whiteside for old times sake...and maybe Wade can drink a potion and be 25 again so I can watch him play for another decade. I don't know, I don't think I'm asking for too much.
P.S. this isn't really a key game, it's just that Dwayne Wade's career could be over in the next couple of days which is what makes this series still interesting to follow. Philly is going to win in six at most.
Toronto Raptors vs. Washington Wizards:
This series is really interesting because I called sweep, and yet I sit here writing this while it's tied up 2-2. I've known all along the potential of this Wizards team, but I hadn't seen them put things together enough this year to trust it in the Playoffs. Well, now their putting things together, and it's the Playoffs. John Wall has been out of this world, and honestly this series could go either way right now. I actually think that Drake could be the biggest X-Factor here. I love the man, but he could be pulling a Spike Lee move here (if you don't know what I'm talking about, you have to watch Winning Time: Miller vs. The Knicks. It is my favorite 30 for 30 of all time and a classic). If Drake keeps trash talking John Wall, Wall might just continue elevating his game until he wills the Wizards to win this series. Part of why this Game 5 is so critical though, is that neither team has won a game off of their home court yet. The Wizards are going to have to show up on the road to win this series, and tonight will be a huge test of their ability to do that. If Washington wins, it'll be the same situation as the Bucks--they'll have control of the series. If not, Toronto will be in the drivers seat the rest of the way, and I think the Raptors are too good to collapse up 3-2 with game seven at home. If Washington wants to win the series, I think they have to win. With all of that said, I picked the Raptors to win this series, so I'm taking them to come out on top. The Wizards have looked incredible the last two games though, so if they leave Canadian Customs with a smile on their face, I wouldn't be too surprised.
Pelicans Sweep Trail Blazers:
I feel so stupid. I watched the first game of this series, and immediately knew that New Orleans was going to sweep Portland. I, of course, boldly stated that the "Trail Blazers are winning in five, but really I want to say sweep." I was very wrong. And I feel stupid. I forgot about one person, who I love dearly, and praised greatly last Playoffs: Rajon Rondo. Playoff Rondo is possibly the greatest point guard in all of history--him and Hoodie Melo would rule the world. In all seriousness though, Playoff Rondo changes everything. I don't know what changes, but this man has been able to flip a switch and turn into a dominant force. In four games he has 45 points (11.25 ppg), 53 assists (13.25 apg), and 30 rebounds (7.5 rpg). The man is ridiculous as a distributor, and the amount of offense he creates is incredible. His affect on an above average team can turn them into what we just saw in this First Round.
Another person who deserves a huge amount of credit is Jrue Holiday. This man absolutely locked up Damian Lillard, and basically ended any discussion of Lillard being a top three (some were arguing the best) point guard in the NBA. After seeing him embarrass himself and his city this series, I'd take Kyrie Irving, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook (I wouldn't deal with Westbrooks stat padding though, I'd trade him as soon as he started those shenanigans), Chris Paul, James Harden, and maybe John Wall over Lillard. Just like how James Harden's reputation took a shot for his performance in last year's Playoffs, Damian Lillard's image will falter a little bit until he can prove to everyone that he's better than how he played. For now though, everyone needs to appreciate Jrue Holiday showing up on both ends of the court, including his three games scoring over 20 this series, which includes a 41 point gashing of the Trail Blazers to close out the series.
All of this leads to a larger question though, of how Demarcus Cousins fits back onto this team when he returns from injury next year. Anthony Davis has been playing at an MVP level and is arguably next in line for the crown of best player in the world. I've seen a lot of opinions on this topic in the last two days, but I'll withhold my opinion until we all see how the Pelicans fair in Round Two. Until then, I'll hold onto my initial reaction and gather as much information on the situation as I can. Trust me though, this situation holds a lot of weight in the NBA, because if moving "Boogie" is the best move for New Orleans, Cousin's impact elsewhere could create another title contender.
High School Senior from Connecticut obsessed with sports stats, facts, and management.