• Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!

    The first round of the NBA playoffs is coming to a close and there has been a ton of excitement and a new rivalry sprouted.  The Nets and 76ers will be the topic that I cover once again in the introduction to The Week Ahead.  However, I will first give the update that the Celtics have officially advanced past the Pacers and are the first team in the Conference Semifinals.  The Celtics are coming together as a team and playing some of their best basketball, which is due in large part to the improvement of Gordon Hayward as of late.  The Celtics will likely take on the Bucks next and that could definitely be an entertaining series.

    The Nets and 76ers have been going at it, and although the 76ers have a 3-1 series lead, this has been a lot closer and tougher than one would expect.  Jared Dudley vs. Ben Simmons has become an internet sensation rivalry, since Dudley is trolling Simmons on the court and off the court while Simmons seems not to care much at all.  Dudley instigated a fight with Jimmy Butler after shoving Joel Embiid for committing a Flagrant 1 foul on Jarrett Allen.  The 76ers closed out the game and pulled out the win to give themselves a 3-1 series lead, but this has definitely been the most entertaining series to watch thus far.

    The Nets have had no answer for Joel Embiid, which is simply the reason that they are losing.  Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll have disappeared in the series, but the guard play has been fantastic.  Caris LeVert has fully recovered at the perfect time, but the remainder of the roster has not been able to back up his stellar play.  The Nets have a bright future and will hit the market for players to fill their weaknesses this summer — guys like Marcus Morris, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Kawhi Leonard, or maybe even Kevin Durant to take this team one step further into a deep playoff run.

    The second most entertaining playoff series in my opinion in the Blazers vs. the Thunder.  Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook have been going at it with Lillard winning a majority of the matchups thus far.  Westbrook still does not answer some reporter questions, which has surfaced as a topic of conversation.  Lillard and Westbrook’s duel is the second most entertaining matchup behind Dudley and Simmons.

    Here is a quick look at my playoff predictions for the end of the first round:

    *Celtics already beat the Pacers 4-0*

    Bucks over Pistons 4-0

    76ers over Nets 4-2

    Raptors over Magic 4-1

    Warriors over Clippers 4-1

    Rockets over Jazz 4-0

    Blazers over Thunder 4-2

    Nuggets over Spurs 4-3

    Therefore, the next round would be:

    Bucks vs. Celtics

    Raptors vs. 76ers

    Warriors vs. Rockets

    Nuggets vs. Blazers

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Monday, April 22nd – Bucks at Pistons at 8 PM ET (MIL leads the series 3-0); Rockets at Jazz at 10:30 PM ET (HOU leads the series 3-0)

    Tuesday, April 23rd– Magic at Raptors at 7 PM ET (TOR leads the series 3-1); Nets at 76ers at 8 PM ET (PHI leads the series 3-1); Spurs at Nuggets at 9:30 PM ET (Series tied 2-2); Thunder at Trail Blazers at 10:30 PM ET (POR leads the series 3-1)

    Wednesday, April 24th– Pistons at Bucks (If necessary); Clippers at Warriors at 10:30 PM ET (Warriors lead the series 3-1); Jazz at Rockets (If necessary)

    Thursday, April 25th– Raptors at Magic (If necessary); 76ers at Nets (If necessary); Nuggets at Spurs (Game 6); Trail Blazers at Thunder (If necessary)

    Friday, April 26th– Bucks at Pistons (If necessary); Warriors at Clippers (If necessary); Rockets at Jazz (If necessary)

    Saturday, April 27th– Magic at Raptors (If necessary); Nets at 76ers (If necessary); Spurs at Nuggets (If necessary); Thunder at Trail Blazers (If necessary)

    Sunday, April 28th–  Pistons at Bucks (If necessary); Clippers at Warriors (If necessary)

    Injury Report 

    DeMarcus Cousins (torn left quad) will miss the remainder of the season with a torn left quad.  This is unfortunate as Cousins was putting up solid numbers for the Warriors and was likely to get a generous contract in free agency.  It is unlikely teams will be willing to pay the same for Cousins after this injury, his second season-ender in as many years. 

    Hamidou Diallo (right elbow surgery) will likely be out for the remainder of the playoffs and will not be able to resume basketball related activities for at least four weeks.

    Malcolm Brogdon (right plantar fascia tear) should have a target date for return within the next week.  Brogdon can return during the playoffs if the Bucks make a run deep into the Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals, but he is unlikely to play against the Celtics.

    Some day-to-day guys that have a significant impact on their respective teams: Ed Davis, OG Anunoby, Blake Griffin, and Joel Embiid

    Thanks, HoopBallers, for reading The Week Ahead!

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