2022 NBA Playoffs off to a Hot Start

Ishraaq Ahmed, Contributing Writer

The NBA playoffs are upon us, and only eight teams remain to compete for the title of world champions. The first round, on its own, gave us a number of iconic plays and performances. Here in Boston, Jayson Tatum recorded the first game-winning buzzer beater in his career to steal game one against a hyped up Nets, and lead the Celtics to take the series in four games over Brooklyn. The Boston crowd brought unforgettable reactions out of Kyrie Irving, costing him a total of $50,000 in fines, and showing that both sides still share the same mutual distaste for each other since Irving’s departure from the C’s in 2019.

Soon to be back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic gave his all in the Denver Nuggets battle against the star-studded Golden State Warriors. After narrowly dodging a sweep but falling in five games, fans all across the league are yearning for Jokic—who averaged 31.0/13.2/5.8/1.6/1.0—to have more help surrounding him next season. The 8-seeded Pelicans, who barely squeezed into the post-season, gave the 64-win, title favorite Phoenix Suns problems in their round one matchup.

These final few teams all look more or less capable of taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The brief absence of Devin Booker opened a hole for the Pels, which they took full advantage of. Brandon Ingram, especially, let Phoenix know they weren’t going down without a fight. Ultimately, the top-seeded Suns, led by All-Star floor general Chris Paul, pushed through and won it in six games. As the Suns advance, fans can look forward to their second attempt at winning it all, but also at the potential of the New Orleans team. Already in the second round, we have seen an all-time great performance from young star Ja Morant, who put up 47 points in game two against Golden State.

After struggling a bit in the first round, and getting called out by his own father, Ja has been putting on a clinic along with the rest of the youthful Grizzlies roster. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been proving to everybody that he’s the best player in the world by showing his evolved skill set—even better than his championship season last year. He has clearly enhanced his ball handling and playmaking abilities. Averaging 27.9/12.7/7.1 this postseason, he’s proved that he can do anything and everything on the floor. In his second round matchup against the Celtics, he played great, but was limited from playing as well as we all know he can by Boston’s Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Al Horford, and Robert Williams.

As we’ve seen, some very competitive series has brewed in the East and West, with contenders on both sides. These final few teams all look more or less capable of taking home the Larry O’Brien Trophy, and though we’re two games into the second round, we have a great rest of the post season ahead of us. Stay tuned.

This piece also appears in our May 2022 paper edition.