Latest NBA Leads

NBA Playoffs Upgraded to Unpredictable

By Stephen Douglas
Joel Embiid during a collapse.
Joel Embiid during a collapse. / Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
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The only certainty remaining in the NBA playoffs is that if you're sure of something you're probably wrong. Over the last 48 hours we've seen some incredibly unbelievable things and over the course of the 2021 postseason we've seen narratives swing wildly from side to side. Everyone is only as good or bad as their last game and legacies have been built and destroyed in a single evening.

Let's go all the way back to the play-in tournament and start with the Los Angeles Lakers. In a thrilling, highly-rated single game against the Golden State Warriors, LeBron James hit a remarkable three-pointer to clinch the 7-seed. Most people then thought the Lakers would beat the Suns and challenge for their second straight title. Then the Suns went out and beat them in Game 1. Suddenly Phoenix looked like the real deal. But then the Lakers won Games 2 and 3 with LeBron James looking especially froggy and they were the favorites again. Then Anthony Davis got hurt in Game 4 and the Suns won three straight like there was never any doubt.

Now Phoenix, who everyone thought were headed for a first-round loss about three weeks ago, is the only team to advance to the conference finals so far and has the second-best odds to win the title behind Brooklyn according to WynnBet. Brooklyn hasn't even won their second-round series yet.

In fact the Nets looked like toast just four days ago, which was just a few days after they took a 2-0 lead over the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks evened the series and the Nets lost Kyrie Irving. Suddenly it was all doom and gloom in Brooklyn, except the nobody could have predicted the '07-'08 Seattle SuperSonics having a reunion to give the Nets a 3-2 lead.

Not to mention that James Harden ended up playing, seemingly out of nowhere. And he made just one shot, but he played 45 minutes and he could barely move! His upgrade was to questionable! That barely makes sense, which makes perfect sense in the NBA.

Now we're certain Giannis will never win a title and Rick Carlisle is eyeing the Bucks' head coaching position. They haven't even lost the series yet!

And how about the remaining Los Angeles team? The Clippers lost the first two games of both their playoff series and looked like they were going to get bounced and everyone was wondering where Kawhi might go. Then they came back and beat the Mavs and evened their series with the Jazz. Somehow things got even weirder. Kawhi Leonard was suddenly lost for the series and the team's future depended on Paul George, a.k.a., "Punchline P." And you know what? He came through last night. George went out and had 37 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists.

Keep in mind this was a game in Utah where the Jazz hit 10 of 15 three pointers in the first quarter and added seven more in the second quarter. And the Clippers, without their best player, didn't blink. All the Clippers have done is blink over the last couple postseasons. Now the Jazz, who were the best team in the league by a wide margin in the regular season, are a game from elimination.

Then you have the Philadelphia 76ers. They had a 22-point halftime lead. That lead was as big as 25 points with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter and still as big as 14 points with 6:25 left in the fourth. The Sixers looked like they were going to put away the plucky young Hawks, but instead we're going to spend all day talking about how bad Ben Simmons is at basketball. And the Sixers haven't even been eliminated.

The only thing we know for certain is that the Suns are in the Western Conference Finals. The Nets, Hawks and Clippers all have 3-2 leads. At least one of those teams is going to blow this, right? You would think it's the Hawks because they're so young, but why not the Clippers without Kawhi or the Nets without a fully operational Harden or Irving? Why can't Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo or Rudy Gobert, three healthy All-NBA level players, make the conference finals? Stranger things have happened. Just look at the rest of the postseason.

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