Happy First Day of Playoffs! Today, Saturday April 19 is a time NBA teams, players, fans and more have been waiting for all season. There will be four games played throughout the afternoon and evening, beginning with the Brooklyn Nets – Toronto Raptors matchup at 12:30pm ET and culminating with the Memphis Grizzlies – Oklahoma City Thunder game at 9:30pm ET. In case you’re interested in the full first-round playoff schedule, here it is.
Below are suggested pieces of reading from around the web, focusing on different headlines and stories heading into the postseason and other topics in the NBA:
Despite playing in a hockey country, the Toronto Raptors are finally captivating fans and succeeding on the basketball court. After dealing Rudy Gay, the team transformed themselves due to impressive seasons from DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and others. Toronto enters the playoffs as arguably the biggest challengers to the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference. Sohi, a Canadian resident writes of the excitement of the country in this piece for ESPN’s TrueHoop Blog.
The Mysterious Case of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook: By Ric Bucher (@RicBucher)
As the Thunder enter the playoffs as the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed and one of the favorites to win the NBA Championship, Bucher writes of the curious relationship between Russell Westbrook… and Russell Westbrook. While it is the dynamic of Kevin Durant and Westbrook that the critics frequently talk about, Bucher argues that it is the point guard who has to find it within himself to allow the Thunder to reach their full potential.
While the NBA Development League doesn’t receive much attention, it should. For Sporting News, Deveney writes how the D-League provides players with second chance opportunities to make it back to the Association, the exciting style of play that teams such as the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have implemented and the development of new strategies and rules that are tested before they are brought over to the NBA.