The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the internet
Sunday saw another playoff game for the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors, and another impressive win. The Warriors had their way with the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals, leading by double digits for the overwhelming majority of the game after taking a 37-17 lead after the first quarter. Golden State put together an incredible effort on the defensive side of the ball, led by Draymond Green, who also recorded a 23-point, 13-rebound, 11-assist (and three blocks) triple-double. Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver writes on how Green has showcased himself as the NBA’s best all-around player during the playoffs.
Speaking of the Curry-less Warriors, they may not be Curry-less for much longer. During Sunday’s Game 1, the reigning MVP told ESPN’s Lisa Salters that he feels there’s a pretty good chance he could be back in time for the third game of the series. While the Warriors sure looked like they’d be just fine without Curry in this series, it’s great news that Curry feels he’s making progress, and it has to be encouraging that he’s feeling so optimistic just a week after being told he’d be sidelined for at least two weeks. This is definitely a situation worth monitoring.
The Warriors weren’t the only Western Conference powerhouse that took care of business in impressive fashion this past weekend. If anything, the San Antonio Spurs may have been more impressive in their dismantling of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Saturday night’s Game 1. Not only did the Spurs manage to shoot 60 percent from both the field and from three, but they completely frustrated both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. SB Nation’s Tom Ziller writes about how Durant needs to take his game to the next level to give the Thunder a shot at winning.
The Toronto Raptors finally did it! Despite every effort to blow a game that they were in control of for a good portion, the Raptors are moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2001. Usually when a team wins its first round matchup it isn’t assumed that the road will only get easier, but the Indiana Pacers were a defensive nightmare for the Raptors, and even though it feels narrative driven, there has to be slightly less pressure on the Raptors now that they finally got past the first round.
The Miami Heat embarrassed the Charlotte Hornets in Sunday’s Game 7, moving on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals majestically. It seemed as if each Heat win came on the backs of one player having a tremendous performance, as Luol Deng went nuts in Game 1, Dwyane Wade was stellar in Games 2 and 6, and Goran Dragic broke his slump on Sunday to lead his team into the next round of the playoffs. The Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps looks at what Miami did differently to get Dragic more involved, and how “The Dragon” capitalized on his opportunity when his team needed him the most.