Jack Maloney (@jmaloney9)
Winner: Mike Scott
Before the playoffs, nobody knew who this guy was. Well now, just a few games later, he’s a playoff hero and has his own nickname—Young Emoji. In Game 5 he hit five threes in one quarter to help the Hawks to a huge win and in Game 6 he essentially ended Ian Mahinmi’s career with a flex-worthy jam on the big man’s head. Nobody has won these playoffs like Young Emoji has.
Loser: People Who Don’t Believe in John Wall
*Side-eyes certain media member*
Winner: The City of Toronto
The Raptors are on the verge of advancing to the second round for the first time since 2001, and the city has been sent into a frenzy. The crowds inside the arena have been incredible, but even more impressive has been the crowds outside the arena, watching on giant TV screens.
Loser: Old, Racist Owners
See ya, Donald. It took far too long, but the piece of garbage is finally on his way out of the NBA.
Michael Wesson (@iamWesson)
Winner: The Washington Wizards
The Washington Wizards would have to be my winner so far. If you would have told people that they would be fully healthy before the playoffs started, you might have heard a nice up-roar. Their first round match-up against the Bulls showcased just how good they can be when their front-line comes to play. Nene destroyed the Bulls when he was on the floor. He averaged 17.8 points per game and 6.5 rebounds per game during the four games he played in the first round. I expect John Wall and Bradley Beal to continue their rise to stardom and status as one of the best backcourts in the league for round 2. The leadership of John Wall is something to keep a close eye on going forward.
Loser: The Houston Rockets
The Indiana Pacers would be a good pick here, but I will not choose them. My pick would be the Houston Rockets. Once Dwight Howard signed his name on the dotted line on his new contract in Houston, there were analysts and fans alike picking the Rockets to win it all. With these playoffs the first go around for the Harden-Howard combo, they have looked very uncomfortable. Neither one of those guys love to run the pick and roll, but honestly, they probably would be the best pick and roll tandem in the league if they committed to it. And I have to give McHale some blame here, they have lacked a true identity all season long and it shows against Portland. Look for the Rockets to make some serious coaching and rosters changes if they go out earlier then most people expected.
Matt Constas (@mconstas41):
Winner: Doc Rivers
The guy has been awesome this playoff series. On top of having to handle a very good squad in the Golden State Warriors, he also had to walk not only his team, but also the whole Clippers franchise through the whole Donald Sterling situation. Nobody had to talk to the press more than he did, and he handled it with class. Every answer he gave made me like him even more. His players have been very appreciative of his efforts as well, saying they can’t imagine anybody else guiding them through this process and that he is more than a coach he is also a teacher. My favorite quote from him was about how the best thing for his team was if they could continue to win not just from a team standpoint but from a political standpoint, so we could continue to address this issue. He has led his team on and off the court. A class act. My hat goes off for you, Doc.
Loser: The Indiana Pacers
Don’t care if they win this series or not it has been an embarrassing run for them so far in the playoffs. They come out this season and are one of the best teams in the league. Now they need to go seven games against a team that had 38 wins this season. I know picking them to sweep the Hawks in our roundtable was a stretch, but maybe it wasn’t. I mean come on, you are the best team in an NBA conference and you are playing a team below .500! No offense to Mike Scott, but come on, 5-5 in a quarter? COME ON PACERS! YOU ARE WAY BETTER THAN THIS! Your defensive stud center, Roy Hibbert, just looks emotionally out of every game. 4.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, .6 blocks and shooting 31 percent from the field….what? On top of that, Larry Bird and Frank Vogel look like they have no idea what to do. This has been an incredible fall and if they make it out of the first round, I don’t know how they make it out of the second.