NBA

4 Best Potential First Round Playoff Matchups

Jan 31, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (4) attempts to steal the ball from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in the final seconds in the fourth quarter at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA playoffs are shaping up to be one of the most fun ever. Additionally, several teams have what it takes to win it all, and there will be many great matchups. Right off the bat, the first round also can be incredibly eventful and exciting. So today, we’ll examine four of the best potential first-round playoff matchups in the 2021 playoffs.

Wizards vs. Nets

Mar 21, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Washington Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook (4) chases a loose ball against Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the fourth quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A Wizards-Nets first-round playoff matchup is one that many fans most definitely would like to see. The Durant & Harden versus their former teammate Westbrook storyline will make for an incredible one. Additionally, the offensive sequences from both teams will be interesting to watch. Beal, Westbrook, Irving, Harden, and Durant on the floor at the same time will make for some entertaining basketball.

Also, Washington will likely put up a good fight against Brooklyn in a playoff series. Not only are they 2-1 against Brooklyn this season, but Westbrook and Beal have put up some incredible numbers in their wins. In their two wins against the Nets, Beal has averaged 32/8/4.5, and Westbrook has averaged 32.5/9/7.5/2.

One of the best games of the season was also the Wizards-Nets matchup on January 31st. Washington was down 146-141 with 12.3 seconds left. Beal would hit a three, and Garrison Matthews would then get a steal off the inbound. This lead to another Washington three, this time from Westbrook. Washington ended up winning 149-146 in what would be an extremely entertaining outing. The Wizards became only the ninth team in the last 25 years to come back when down five in the final 10 seconds.

Washington is currently tenth in the East. They are in the play-in tournament and are only 2.5 games back from the eighth seed. Additionally, Brooklyn is sitting with the first spot in the East. A first versus eighth seed Wizards-Nets matchup is possible and one that many NBA fans would love to see.

Suns vs. Warriors

Mar 4, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Golden State Warriors center James Wiseman (33) against Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A Suns-Warriors first-round playoff matchup would be yet another crowd-pleasing one. Seeing two electric scorers in Steph Curry and Devin Booker go head-to-head would be must-see basketball. Additionally, we can see two of the best point guards of all time, Chris Paul and Steph Curry, duel once again.

There is also potential for an upset with this playoff series. Aside from Chris Paul, Phoenix’s core doesn’t have much playoff experience. Golden State could easily give them a run for their money. It will be fascinating to see how this playoff series would play out, and it is a must-watch.

Right now, Golden State is half a game back from the eighth seed. Additionally, Phoenix is half a game back from the first seed. This playoff matchup can be either a second-seventh series or a first-eighth series. Golden State can either move to the eighth seed and beat Portland in the play-in tournament or stay a ninth or tenth seed and win their way to the eighth seed in the play-in tournament.

No matter what the seeding is for this playoff matchup, it will be a fantastic one. Any NBA fan would be thrilled to see these two teams go head-to-head in a seven-game series.

Nets vs. Heat

Apr 18, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (13) looks to pass the ball as Brooklyn Nets forward Jeff Green (8) and forward Bruce Brown (1) and guard Kyrie Irving (11) close in on the play during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing the Nets and Heat play in the first round is another strong possibility. Miami has struggled with injuries quite a bit this year but will likely return to full strength by the playoffs. With Victor Oladipo returning for the playoffs, Miami will put up a good fight against Brooklyn.

Additionally, Miami matches up very well defensively against Brooklyn. A defensive core of Oladipo, Butler, Adebayo, Ariza, and Iguodala can counter Durant, Harden, and Irving well. The Nets’ big three are averaging 21.3, 19.7, and 16.0 points per game respectively against Miami this season. If any team can give Brooklyn a tough time in the first round, it’s the Heat.

Brooklyn has also shown that they have a tough time stopping Bam Adebayo. Earlier this year, he posted a career-high 41 points on 78.36 TS% versus Brooklyn. Last month, he hit a game-winner on Brooklyn to give Miami the win over them. In their three matchups this season, Adebayo has averaged 29.3/10/6.3 on 66.74 TS%. If Adebayo continues this stellar play against Brooklyn into the playoffs, it will make it even harder for them.

Brooklyn is currently first in the East, and Miami is now seventh. This matchup could either be a first-eighth seed or a second-seventh seed one.

The fact that we could potentially see two contender-worthy teams play in the first round is incredible. This would undoubtedly be an electrifying series if we could see it.

Lakers vs. Clippers

Apr 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker (5) moves to the basket against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the most exciting first-round playoff matchup of them all: the battle of LA. Lakers versus Clippers was hyped up to be the Western Conference Finals matchup of last year. However, things didn’t go as planned for the Clippers when they forfeited a 3-1 lead to Denver in the semifinals. Incredibly, we could see this matchup in the first round, which would be just remarkable to watch.

The apparent headliner for this matchup is the LeBron-Kawhi dual. Two all-time greats have the potential to battle it out in the first round of the playoffs. Both LA teams are strong contenders this season, and this playoff matchup would genuinely be one for the ages.

The Lakers’ injury struggles have caused them to slip in the West as of late, making a Lakers-Clippers first-round matchup possible. The Clippers are currently fourth in the West, while the Lakers are sixth. This playoff series could either be a third-sixth matchup or a fourth-fifth matchup.

No matter the circumstances, a Lakers-Clippers first-round series would be very entertaining. Hopefully, James and Davis can return to full strength if we do get this series. Having these two able to play to the best of their ability will make the playoff matchup as fun as it can be.

Several other first-round playoff matchups would be crowd-pleasers. Among them are Mavericks-Nuggets, Jazz-Warriors, and some rematches like Bucks-Heat and Clippers-Nuggets. In conclusion, this postseason has the potential to be very eventful. The playoffs will be entertaining to watch for all NBA fans.

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