NBA Playoffs: Not Swayed By First Impressions

It's Wednesday night (okay, early Thursday morning). Over the last two evenings, I just watched a pair of contests where someone snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory.

In my honest opinion, Indiana threw away Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series Tuesday night against the Celtics. The turnovers and typical subpar defense gave Boston enough light to force overtime and hold on for the win. On Wednesday, Minnesota led late against Dallas. However, the Timberwolves went cold at the wrong time. The Mavericks grabbed the series lead, and home-court advantage, with an endgame surge.

Did those two results sway the best-of-sevens too much in favor of the victors?

So far, Boston has had only two hiccups in the postseason. It may provide a slight opening for Indiana, seeing as the Celtics dropped Game 2s to both Miami and Cleveland. However, those glimmers of hope lasted mere seconds, with Boston closing out each of the previous series in five games. During the regular season, the Cs led the NBA in Offensive Rating (both unadjusted and adjusted) and were 3rd best in Defensive Rating (both categories). This bodes well against an opponent that ranked 24th in Defensive Rating over the entirety of the campaign.

In regards to the major stars remaining in the tournament, only one sports a title ring for his efforts. Dallas' Kyrie Irving may be seen by many as Luka Doncic's sidekick, but his importance in that backcourt is second-to-none. After wondering whether Kyrie and Luka could share the dribbling and leadership duties, the response has been music to Dallas fans' ears.

So, do these Game 1 wins spell doom for the opponents? I don't necessarily think so.

Yes. Indiana's defense is pretty horrid right now. But that isn't Rick Carlisle's mode of operation for this squad. The Pacers' coach wants to run a high-octane offense with plenty of, well, pace ... and he's getting that in droves. His team trails only the Celtics in Offensive Rating for the season. As of Thursday's Game 2, there are 7 Pacer players scoring double digits in the playoffs, meaning it can be a very difficult task containing all of the weapons Indiana brings to the court.

Minnesota had their own questions to solve going into the season. Last year, health was not on the Wolves' side. Karl-Anthony Towns missed nearly two-thirds of the regular season with a calf injury. Then, at the outset of the regular season, the team lost two key contributors (Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid) to season-ending injuries. This experiment that began with the trade for Rudy Gobert never had the chance to gel. Now, that extended trial run can be deemed successful. The Wolves sport the best Defensive Rating in the NBA and are putting together a playoff run that hasn't been witnessed in 20 years.

I also don't think either 0-1 combatant will worry about lack of confidence. Just a few days ago, both the Pacers and T-Wolves punctuated comebacks from 2-3 down with signature Game 7 road wins. Now, being in the hole early isn't ideal for any team. But I wouldn't expect (barring injury issues) Indiana or Minnesota to step aside and give free reign to Boson or Dallas. I believe four franchises still have a legitimate shot at the Larry O'Brien Trophy. And I believe both of these Conference Finals won't conclude before the first weekend of June rolls around.

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