Round 2 of the NBA playoffs is in full swing and there is a lot to talk about.
The headline coming out of the NBA is that all the teams that were predicted to win have been struggling. The Warriors, who scorched the competition in the regular season, have faced their makers with the Grizzlies. Memphis, who was one of the best defensive teams during the regular season, have kept up the stance against one of the best scoring teams in the NBA. The defense, anchored by Tony Allen’s 3.7 steal average against the Warriors, has proved to be too much for them. Allen, who was able to shut down Kevin Durant last year during the playoffs, has also managed to keep control of Klay Thompson this postseason.
The MVP Stephen Curry has not been playing up to his title lately, which comes in part to Mike Conley’s gritty defense. Conley has proved that he is one of the toughest players in the NBA after coming back from his gruesome facial fracture that he picked up in the series against the Trailblazers. Guarding Stephen Curry was one of the toughest things a player could do during the regular season, shooting 44% from 3-point land combined with his amazing ball handling skills, even making Chris Paul question his defensive abilities. However, Conley has shut him down; allowing Curry to shoot only 19% from 3 over the last two games. The next few games will prove valuable to see if Curry can live up to his MVP title, and to see if the Memphis Grizzlies can keep up the defensive work.
The best team in the East during the regular season, the Atlanta Hawks, have also struggled with their match-up against the Washington Wizards. The Hawks owned the Wizards in the regular season, winning the match-up 3 games to 1. However, the postseason has proved to be a completely different force. Led by veteran Paul Pierce, the Wizards have forced the Hawks to rethink their strategy. The Wizards had to play without John Wall in game 3. Without the young star, Pierce stepped up to the plate and won the game on his amazing buzzer beater off the backboard. The other sharp-shooter of the regular season Kyle Korver, who shot nearly 50% from 3-point land, has also struggled. He managed only 38.7% in the playoffs. With the Wizards leading the series 2-1, the Hawks hope that Korver will step up the 3-point shooting and that the All-Stars of the team, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, will also step up.
The last headline of Round 2 comes out of the Chicago-Cleveland matchup. The Cavaliers, who are lead by LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, have not produced the same level of play against the Chicago Bulls as they have against the other teams of the league. It does not help the Cavs that their other superstar Kevin Love is out for the rest of the season, nor does it help that Irving has been withholding an undisclosed injury. The Cavs are now very limited with their stricken team, and the Bulls have taken full advantage. Chicago has been blessed with the supreme level of play by Derrick Rose. Rose, who won the MVP title in 2011, has been playing like he is this years MVP. The other star player of the team, Jimmy Butler, has also contributed a lot to the success of the Bulls in playing defense on LeBron. With Pau Gasol out for game 4 of the series, the Cavs finally lit fire as LeBron was able to hit a last second shot to tie the series at 2-2.
With most series going into game 4 or 5, it will be engaging to see how the rest of round 2 plays out.