Playoff Reset: Recapping the Top Storylines In Each Round 1 Series

Playoff Reset: Recapping the Top Storylines In Each Round 1 Series

Welcome to the first playoff edition of Around the Association. The first round is well away and is full of game-winning shots, posterizing dunks and shocking upsets – and we are only getting started.

Here is an in-depth fantasy look at each of the first-round series:

Eastern Conference 

Miami Heat vs. Atlanta Hawks

Heat lead 3-1

  • This has been a thrilling series so far, but Miami's big showing in Atlanta on Sunday has the team firmly in the driving seat moving forward. Jimmy Butler has been incredible to start the playoffs, averaging 30.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.3 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game over the series so far. The veteran forward only averaged 21.4 points per game over the regular season, but Butler seems to have kicked his game into another gear with the stakes higher. Butler is a rock-solid DFS option each night the Heat take the court.  
    • Tyler Herro has had a bit of a disappointing start to the postseason, topping 15 points just once while averaging 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game thus far. However, the Sixth Man of the Year favorite's usage is fairly similar to his regular-season figure (27.8 percent in the regular season vs 25.2 in the postseason). Herro emerges as a player I will be targeting in props if his points lines start to decrease with his slow start to the series. It's only a matter of time before the third-year pro finds his scoring stroke again. 
    • Kyle Lowry (hamstring) declared himself a wolverine but was ultimately forced to sit out of Miami's Game 4 win. The wolverine, himself, will also remain out for Tuesday's Game 5. Victor Oladipo saw his first action of the series with the veteran point guard sidelined, totaling six points (3-10 FG, 0-5 3Pt), eight rebounds and four assists across 23 minutes off the bench. If Lowry is forced to sit once more, Oladipo appears to be a high-risk, high-reward fantasy option.
  • The Heat have really put the clamps on Trae Young so far. The All-Star guard is averaging just 16.5 points, 6.0 assists, and 4.3 assists per game while shooting just 35.1 percent from the field and 21.2 percent from deep. This has been quite a different postseason from Young who averaged 28.8 points and 9.5 assists in last year's playoffs. Young will look to snap out of his funk during Tuesday's win-or-go-home contest in Miami. 
    • With Atlanta's star point guard struggling, De'Andre Hunter is actually leading the team in scoring so far. The Virginia product is averaging 17.8 points and 2.0 rebounds per game for Atlanta. Hunter has only topped 20 points in one game throughout the series, but has been the Hawks' most consistent piece on offense. 

Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets

Celtics lead 3-0

  • Remember when the entire world assumed this series was a lock for seven games after Jayson Tatum's opening game heroics? Well, things have certainly not gone to plan with Boston holding a commanding three-game lead over the Brooklyn.
  • Tatum is climbing the ranks of NBA stardom before our eyes with his impressive two-way performance thus far. Tatum is averaging 29.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 2.3 steals per game in the series while playing some of the best defense I have ever seen on Kevin Durant. The "19-year-old" has Boston looking like legit contenders for the title.
    • Just when things couldn't be going much better for the Celtics, Robert Williams was able to make his return to the court in Game 3. The big recorded just two points (1-1 FG), two rebounds, one assist and one block across 16 minutes, but his return to the team helps bolster an already strong Boston defense.
    • After seeing an average of 36.5 minutes over the series' first two games, Al Horford appears to be being impacted the most with Williams back. The veteran center saw 28 minutes during Game 3's win. 
  • Kevin Durant averaged 29.9 points with a 51.8 field-goal percentage over the regular season, but the 33-year-old is not replicating the same success thus far. Durant is averaging 22.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists on 36.5 percent shooting over the first three games of the matchup. Boston is shining on the defensive end against the Nets' superstars, but with each game going forward a must-win for the Nets, I wouldn't be surprised to see Durant snap for a monster outing with the team's back against the wall.
    • Kyrie Irving exploded for a magnificent Game 1 performance, finishing 39 points (12-20 FG, 6-10 3Pt, 9-9 FT), five rebounds, six assists, one block and four steals in 42 minutes while showing a dazzling display of finishes and profanities. However, Irving has not been able to replicate that success, averaging just 13.0 points over Games 2 and 3. However, as mentioned with Durant, with the team in win-or-go-home mode, make no doubt that Irving will be doing everything he can to not get swept by his former team.
    • Ben Simmons hasn't even played a game for Brooklyn yet, but already has the fan base on edge. After reportedly being ruled active for Monday's Game 4, Simmons reversed course and has since decided that he will not play Monday night. At this stage, even if the Nets prolong the series, it feels unlikely that we'll see Simmons in uniform at any point.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls

Bucks lead 3-1

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo has been doing his thing with the Bucks off to a strong start on their quest to repeat as champions. The reigning Finals MVP has averaged 27.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.8 blocks per game over the first four contests. Antetokounmpo remains a top DFS option, but with Milwaukee appearing to have such an upper hand in the series, the threat of a blowout taking minutes away from the star forward is legit.
    • It has not been all glory for the Bucks so far. Khris Middleton suffered a sprain MCL in Game 2 and will be sidelined for the next two weeks. However, Middleton's injury has paved the way to back-to-back big outings from Grayson Allen. As a Bulls fan, it pains me to write good things about Allen, but the guard has been incredible, averaging 24.5 points and 4.0 rebounds over Games 3 and 4. The Duke product is scorching hot from deep, shooting 11-14 from deep over that span.
  • Maybe DeMar DeRozan just likes even numbers? It has been an inconsistent start for Chicago's star wing with DeRozan averaging 32.0 points per game in Games 2 and 4, but just 14.5 points in Games 1 and 3. The veteran forward's playoff usage numbers are nearly identical to the regular season, but he has started off the post-season as a high-risk, high-reward DFS option.
    • Zach LaVine's playoff debut has not gone according to plan. The dynamic guard is averaging just 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game over the series and is yet to score over 24 points so far. LaVine is set to be a free agent this season, but this decreased level of play will certainly not help him come contract time. The 27-year-old is more than capable of popping off for big games, but the All-Star is running out of time to prove his value with the Bulls on the brink of elimination.
    • To go along with DeRozan's inconsistency and LaVine's struggles, Patrick Williams and Coby White have also had rough starts to their playoff careers. Williams has averaged 9.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game over the first four contests. While it is fair for the Florida State product to be rusty after coming back from injury so recently, White's struggles are another story. The guard is averaging just 6.3 points while shooting 25.0 percent from deep. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors

76ers lead 3-1

  • Joel Embiid and the 76ers are just one game away from getting their revenge on the Raptors for Kawhi Leonard's 2019 game-winning shot. The All-Star center has had a strong start to his postseason, averaging 26.0 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game over the first four contests. Embiid also perhaps had the shot of the playoffs so far with his game-winning shot in Game 2. The 76ers are looking strong here in the opening round.
    • Tyrese Maxey has elevated his game in this series, averaging 22.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game so far. The second-year pro is quickly climbing the ranks of the 76ers offense having hoisted 15.5 shots per game over the first four contests, which is good for second on the team behind Embiid. Maxey still has DFS value going forward, coming in at $6,400 on FanDuel for Monday's Game 5 contest.
    • James Harden's series averages: 19.3 points, 5.5 rebounds, 9.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks per game.  
  • There has not been too much explosiveness out of Toronto's offense thus far with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby being the only Raptors players averaging over 15.0 points per game in the series. The team has been caught with the injury bug at the worst possible time, first with Scottie Barnes being forced to miss two contests due to an ankle injury and now Fred VanVleet has been ruled out for Monday's Game 5. Things are not looking too bright for Toronto right now.

Western Conference

Phoenix Suns vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Series tied at 2-2

  • While the Eastern Conference appears to be quite top-heavy right now, things are getting wild in the West, starting with Phoenix and New Orleans being knotted up at 2-2. Phoenix looked like sure winners of this series after a strong opening game, but Devin Booker was forced to exit in Game 2 with a hamstring injury and everything has changed.
  • The All-Star shooting guard could miss two-to-three weeks with the injury. Deandre Ayton has stepped up in his absence, averaging 25.5 points and 12.5 rebounds over both Games 3 and 4. The former No. 1 overall pick averaged just 17.2 points per game over the regular season. but Booker's absence has seemed to thrust Ayton into a more prominent offensive role for the time being. 
    • Chris Paul has still been up to his Point God antics as he embarks on yet another quest for his first career ring. Despite a rough four-point (2-8 FG, 0-3 3Pt) and -25 outing during Sunday's Game 4 loss, Paul is still averaging 19.8 points and 12.3 assists per game over the series.
  • Brandon Ingram is proving something this postseason. The 24-year-old is averaging 29.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game thus far and has topped 30 points in three straight appearances. One just has to wonder how good this Pelicans team could really be if they had Zion Williamson suiting up alongside the rising star in Ingram. But as long as Williamson remains on the sidelines, Ingram appears set as an elite fantasy option this postseason.
    • CJ McCollum keeps on blossoming as a splendid mid-season addition to the Pelicans. The veteran guard is averaging 24.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game over the first four contests. 

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

Series tied 2-2

  • One of the most fun series of the postseason has been the battle between the Grizzlies and Timberwolves, which has included highlight-reel dunks, courtside fathers and a host of protesting fans. Karl-Anthony Towns has proven to be the X-factor in this series. In Minnesota's two victories, the All-Star center has averaged 31.0 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. However, if you take a look at the games the Timberwolves have lost, Towns is averaging just 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds. For Minnesota to walk away with the upset, Towns needs to be ready to go each night going forward.
    • Anthony Edwards has been the most consistent option for Minnesota thus far. The second-year pro exploded for 36 during Minnesota's Game 1 win on the road and has scored at least 19 points in each of the four contests. Edwards is averaging 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks per to start his playoff career.
  • Ja Morant has not been achieving much success from a scoring standpoint, but he is making up for that with impressive all-around play. The Most Improved Player of the Year favorite has averaged 20.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 10.8 assists per game for Memphis so far. Morant was averaging 30.5 points per game post-All-Star break, so it would not surprise me to see him snap out of his little scoring funk. I am already targeting over 26.5 points for him on DraftKings for Tuesday's contest in Memphis. 
    • Desmond Bane was the Grizzlies' most efficient player for their two contests on the road, averaging 30.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists across Games 3 and 4 while shooting 55.6 percent from deep. Bane is leading Memphis in scoring this series with a 23.3 points per game average across the entire series.
    • Jaren Jackson has not been too dynamic on the offensive end thus far, averaging just 10.3 points per game, but the forward continues to do his thing on the defensive front. Jackson is averaging 3.0 blocks per game to start the series, despite battling constant foul trouble. 

Golden State Warriors vs. Denver Nuggets

Warriors lead 3-1

  • The only series in the West that appears out of hand is the Warriors matchup against the Nuggets. Denver escaped walking away getting swept with a win in Denver on Sunday, but the team faces a steep uphill battle to advance to the next round.
  • For now, Stephen Curry is making the case for the best sixth man ever, averaging 27.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals per game while coming off the bench in the series. With Curry back to full strength and Devin Booker's status in question, the Warriors are starting to seem like the team to beat out West.
    • Jordan Poole scored "just" 11 points in Sunday's Game 4 loss. This was the emerging star's worst scoring outing in his last 23 outings as he continues to lights out for the Warriors in the late season. Poole is averaging 24.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game for Golden State over the postseason, but with Curry back to full strength it would not be surprising to see at least a little dip in the Michigan product's numbers.
  • While the Nuggets appear to be out of the series, for the most part, Nikola Jokic is still producing for Denver. The MVP candidate is leading all playoff scorers so far with 31.3 points per game to go with 11.8 rebounds and 5.3 dimes as well. While the results are not what Denver had planned, Jokic continues to shine in the rough losses.
    • Sadly, it is starting to seem like we will not be able to see Jamal Murray in action this season. However, With a full season of rest and rehab under his belt, I personally have no fear in drafting Murray in fantasy drafts next season. Just a season ago, Murray did rank as the 32nd overall nine-category fantasy option. 

Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz

Series tied 2-2

  • The last series in the West is the matchup between the Mavericks and Jazz. This series has gotten off to a thrilling start. Utah took the first game 99-93 behind a great 32-point outing from Donovan Mitchell. The All-Star guard is averaging 30.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists thus far this postseason.
    • However, Dallas was able to rattle off two straight wins behind impressive outings out of Jalen Brunson to take a 2-1 series lead. The soon-to-be free agent averaged an absurd 36.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over Dallas' Game 2 and 3 wins. Someone wants to get that payday. 
  • The storyline of Game 4 was the return of Luka Doncic who got injured in the team's final contest of the year. The All-Star showed no signs of rust, totaling  30 points (11-21 FG, 4-10 3Pt, 4-4 FT), 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals across 34 minutes, but Utah was able to walk away with a 100-99 loss after a clutch lob from Mitchell to Rudy Gobert. We are in for a good end to this series. 

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Michael Spero
Michael writes in the NBA and NCAAF departments for RotoWire. He is a big-time fan of both the Bulls and Nuggets. Michael spends his time playing pick-up or anxiously rooting for his fantasy teams.
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