By Jalon Dixon, Columnist
This first round has reminded us what it is like to watch ‘real’ playoff basketball.
Coming into this postseason, every NBA fan has solely been focused on who will meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals. No real resistance and no real chance of winning, just looking for a more competitive series than we got the last two finals since Kevin Durant arrived. What we never thought was that they were going to have to truly fight to get there.
With each series in both the Western and Eastern conferences slowly coming to a close, we can look back at a lot of confrontational moments that could rear their head in the upcoming rounds. The Patrick Beverly vs. Kevin Durant saga in the Warriors/Clippers series has led commentators across the country to question Durant’s mental toughness.
“Why would someone so good let a pest get into his head like that?” Picking up two technical fouls in the very first game of the series. Now Durant has three total technical fouls, leaving him with only four more before being suspended for a game.
Portland’s Damian Lillard and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook are having a point guard dual for the ages with all the chirping, smack talk and physical play. They have built up such a rivalry that Lilliard could not even shoot free throws without hearing Westbrook talking his head off.
As probably one of the most exciting series so far, these two have led the charge as Lillard has not had a game where he has scored less than 29 points and Westbrook has continued to be aggressive, posting great numbers after starting the series off poorly. With both having something to prove and a lot riding on getting out of the first round, things will only be amplified for whoever leaves the series victorious.
Then there is the Philadelphia 76ers against the Brooklyn Nets. I think it is easy to say that Brooklyn guard Jared Dudley might be the greatest NBA troll of all time as of now. The 33-year-old journeyman guard has single-handedly become the most trending subject of the NBA world after criticizing Philadelhpia forward Ben Simmons, attacking center Joel Embiid and getting guard Jimmy Butler ejected. Dudley has scored a grand total of 12 points in this series and has found a way to be the talk of the town. With the Sixers favored to move on to the conference semifinals, they have shown that they have the flare and grit to compete in the postseason in spite of all the hoopla coming from the feisty Nets.
So far, this postseason has had a lot of bad blood boiling over, fouls all over the place and a significant spotlight on individual matchups. With things heating up, the Warriors will really have their work cut out for them as every team looking to advance has proven in one way or another that they will not be going down without a fight.