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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Which higher seed should be most concerned in the first round?

We've reached Game 3 in each first round series of the 2019 NBA playoffs, and there's already been a fair share of suprises.

Three of the four top-seeded teams have dropped a game, including thrillers lost by the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. Even a couple teams who took care of business at home haven't yet looked to be running on all cylinders, as any Boston Celtics fan will tell you.

So which teams truly have a reason for concern? Our Global NBA.com staff weighs in on who should be hitting the Panic Button.

Golden State Warriors

Pablo Schatzky, NBA.com Argentina

I know, I know. Take it easy. This is not the end of the world for the Golden State Warriors. But giving up the largest lead in an NBA playoff game is definitely something worth taking the powder off the alarm case. During the regular season, this 2019 Warriors edition looks quite different than the previous ones. They have suffered tremendous home losses on top of the last one against the Clippers: a 26-point loss to Lakers, a 33-point loss to the Celtics and a 35-point loss to the Mavericks are a few of those.

I'm not implying the Clippers will make history happen again and shut down the Oracle Arena forever by eliminating this team. But it's true that this historic loss was a wake up call for the Warriors, who will eventually face the Rockets in the second round, and they need to be at full throttle when any stumble could have drastic consequences.

Philadelphia 76ers

Yash Matange, NBA.com India

The 76ers' dominant and convincing Game 2 win over the Brooklyn Nets only raised more questions.

Why wasn't this dominance on display in Game 1? Was the Game 1 upset by the Nets a one-off? How serious is Embiid's injury? Can the 76ers remain consistent with the form they displayed in Game 2?

Given the talent at their disposal, even with Embiid playing limited minutes and the fact that the Nets' weakness has been the inability to guard centers, the 76ers can't afford to lose another game in this series. If they do lose another one, it's a huge concern because it raises questions about the team's cohesion and consistency, or lack thereof.

If the team fails to play as a unit consistently and turn up with the same form each gameday, they might advance past the Nets, but they'll stand no realistic chance in the later rounds of the postseason against serious title contenders.

Portland Trail Blazers

Takuma Oikawa, NBA.com Japan

The 3-seeded Blazers lead the 6-seeded Thunder 2-0 after two first-round games. But Portland cannot relax until winning 4 games. OKC seemed to be sleeping in the first two games, with their 10-of-61 (16.4%) 3-point shooting. This number was clearly too much to overcome. The Thunder's 3-point percentage was 33.3% (22nd in the league) in regular season. While this number also might not be great, they could easily wake up and bring back thier shooting touch in Games 3 & 4 at home.

In addition, We should not forget that the Thunder defeated the Blazers with Jusuf Nurkic in all 4 games of the regular season (include an overtime win at the Moda Center on March 7).

This match-up is still not done. With Russell Westbrook & Paul George, the Thunder will not give up until the final buzzer of the series.

Denver Nuggets

Carlos Herrera Luyando, NBA.com Mexico

Despite the series against the Spurs is 2 vs 7, Gregg Popovich is a genius and in situations like this finds the way to deal with it.

Nuggets had a great season with young players developing his game and help the franchise to get on Playoffs. The couple Nikola Jokic-Jamal Murray were the most shining players, but guys like Gary Harris and Paul Millsap were so important for the franchise.

No matter this, they don't have something that Spurs has: Playoffs experience. San Antonio showed that if Denver wants to get to the second round, they will have a long series and in critical moments, Spurs has the experience players to take the difficult shots.

Mike Malone will have a long series against Gregg Popovich.

Portland Trail Blazers

Sergio Rabinal-Vera, NBA.com Spain

If there's something that have been characterized Oklahoma City Thunder throughout this season has been for its irregularity. A team capable of the best and the worst in equal parts that has an elite defensive system with players like Jerami Grant, Paul George or Steven Adams. Undoubtedly the Blazers have been much superior to Oklahoma City in the first two games, but let's not forget that this is Playoffs and no advantage is final until you win 4 games, so Lillard & company should not be trusted at all.

One of the reasons because I'm choosing the Blazers is Paul George. PG has been performing below his level due to his shoulder problems, which not only have conditioned him in offense, but have also impaired his defensive performance and his ability to stop the best Blazers players. George have defended in the most of the possessions to Rodney Hood and Mo Harkless with very good results (only 7 points received across 77 possessions), however when he have defended CJ McCollum (24 possessions) or Damian Lillard (14 possessions) he had allowed a lot of points Futhermore, Westbrook has not found allies in the rest of the team, without taking advantage of Adams over Kanter or the fact that Dennis Schroder has not yet awakened.

Oklahoma City has proven to be a strong candidate for the Western Conference Finals throughout 2019, but it has not been the best start at all. The lack of an big man reference after Nurkic's injury has not yet taken its toll on the Blazers and McCollum has returned to a great level, will it be enough to beat George and the Thunder? Or will the curse of 2018 return?

Boston Celtics

Leandro Fernandez, NBA Latam

First of all: it's not 100% correct that the Celtics should be concerned. How can we say that about a team that with a 2-0 lead in the series? But we should view (at least on paper) Boston as one of the top candidates to make it to the Finals, even if the regular season got them more headaches than smiles. But even after the ups and downs, I'm on the boat with the people who consider the Celtics as the top threat in the East. However, this 2-0 lead over the Pacers doesn't give me that feeling of "you see, this is the Celtics team that everyone was expecting in the Playoffs".


We must say that Boston did great in terms of defense. That was the key from each win against Indiana. But, at the same time, the Pacers don't have a lot of firepower on the offensive end. So, was it great defense or bad offense? A little mix of both, probably.


But the main concern for Boston is on the offensive end. They have one of the top 3 point guards in the NBA in Kyrie Irving, and a huge suporting cast around him that should be able to create good things, individually and colectively. Yet after two games, Boston's offensive rating is 96.3, the worst from any team that has won a game in these playoffs. Again, it's only the begining. But if Boston wants to make a long run in the Playoffs, they must pick things up in that side of the court which rules the NBA. People might say that "defense wins championships". True. But you need to score the ball in this modern NBA to be succesful.

Denver Nuggets

Matias Baldo, NBA.com Argentina

After the first two games, the San Antonio Spurs proved that they are a threat for the Nuggets, although they had been able to fight against the Monstarz Golden State Warriors during the regular season.

Denver is an inconsistent team that, besides Jokic point guard skills in a center body, needs their inconsistent guys to be consistent. The proof is Game 2, where Jamal Murray was on fire in the forth quarter to lead the Nuggets to their first win.

Michael Malone has a hard challenge against Gregg Popovich, one of the NBA best coaches of all time, and the smart Spurs.

Toronto Raptors

Benyam Kidane, NBA.com Australia

The Orlando Magic left Toronto with a 1-1 split and although they return home on the back of a 29-point defeat in Game 2, Steve Clifford's men have every reason to be confident.

The Magic won nine in a row and 13 of their last 14 at home in the regular season and returning home will likely see a boost for Nikola Vucevic who has struggled so far in the playoffs. At home, he averaged 21.1 points on 52.1% shooting in the regular season.

Orlando's bench has outscored Toronto's on both Game 1 and Game 2 of the first round, so don't be surprised if we see a couple of big games at Amway Center from former Raptor Terrence Ross.

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