NBA Playoffs: The stage is set for multiple “upsets” in the first round

NBA Phoenix Suns Devin Booker (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA Phoenix Suns Devin Booker (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Through the first weekend of the NBA Playoffs, it seems like we could be in for some big upsets. 

After the first weekend of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, one thing is clear. There’s at least a good chance that we could be in for several first-round “upsets” and I’m not sure when the last time that happened in the NBA.

Through the first eight games in the NBA Playoffs (all Game 1’s), there are five series that turned in an “upset” outcome in Game 1. The Dallas Mavericks (5th seed), Portland Trail Blazers (6th seed), Phoenix Suns (underdog 2-seed against the defending champs), Memphis Grizzlies (8th seed), and Atlanta Hawks (5th seed) hold a 1-0 series lead.

At least on paper, and through all of the Game 1’s in the first round, we are likely going to see at least one upset and possibly multiple first-round upsets. If nothing else, that will bring a new wave of intrigue that the league hasn’t seen in quite some time.

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First-round upsets in the NBA Playoffs will only help grow the game

If there’s one big gripe about the NBA for the casual fan, it’s about the lack of parity that exists on a year-to-year basis. For the most part, the elite teams are and have always been the same 6-8 franchises.

Over the last two and a half decades, since the retirement of Michael Jordan, the franchises that have run the NBA have been the Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors (as of late).

There have been a few rogue franchises that have managed to win a championship between these four elite organizations, but when the playoffs come around it’s generally the same group of teams that are winning titles.

And especially early in the playoffs, the results are generally chalk. There are an upset or two every so often, but not nearly enough where a lower-seeded team actually believes they have a realistic shot at pulling off an upset in a seven-game series.

But this year could be that exception.

This season could be the exact formula for a postseason full of upsets – a shortened season, not a traditional homecourt advantage, and multiple teams battling through injuries.

The one concern that the NBA should have regarding potential upsets is whether or not that means a downshift of the product. Upsets are good and all, and fans love them, but it becomes a bigger issue when the upsets come at the expense of an elite on-the-court product or even a lesser on-the-court product.

So far through the Game 1’s, that doesn’t appear to be the case. But it’s certainly something to watch as many fans continue to cheer for upsets and for the underdogs.

Next. Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks: 3 reasons why Game 2 will decide the series. dark

This is certainly a storyline that will continue to steal headlines over the next few days. Will the favorites begin to reassert themselves after faltering in Game 1? Will the “underdogs” continue to play with a chip on their shoulder and take commanding leads after Game 2?