The first eight games of the 2015-16 NBA Playoffs are behind us and it has been quite a weekend. On Saturday, we had the Raptors losing against the Pacers at home; we had the Warriors demolishing the Rockets; we had the Hawks barely beating the Celtics and we had the Thunder dispatching of the Mavericks. On Sunday, the Cavaliers only barely beat the Pistons; the Heat destroyed the Hornets; the Spurs obliterated the Grizzlies and the Clippers easily bested the Trail Blazers.
But what did we learn this weekend?
Well, for one, we learned that the West is very clearly divided into two tiers of teams. This Tweet probably paints the clearest picture:
After one game apiece, the Western Conference’s top four seeds are a combined +116.
— Ian Levy (@HickoryHigh) April 18, 2016
The reigning champs absolutely demolished the Houston Rockets and exposed everything that is wrong with the Texan team. The Oklahoma City Thunder did away with another Texan team, the Dallas Mavericks and they did it in style. Once again, it was obvious that the Thunder were simply the better team and there was no doubt about it for a second. The San Antonio Spurs wiped the floor with the Memphis Grizzlies, handing them the worst playoff defeat in franchise history. In LA, the Clippers easily prevailed over the Portland team, even though some people thought the Trail Blazers have a chance in this series.
Another thing we learned is that the Miami Heat might be the dark horse of the Eastern Conference. Their series against the Charlotte Hornets has been the least simple to predict, at least before the first game. After we’ve seen the Heat destroy their opponent, they are looking more and more like the third or even second-best team in the east.
We also learned that the Cleveland Cavaliers might not experience the smooth sailing they probably expected at the beginning of the year. They barely survived the Detroit Pistons in the first game, even though almost none of the players on the Pistons team has any playoff experience. It may be too early to say anything specific about this, though.
Finally, we learned that the Warriors can probably breeze through the first round of playoffs without their best players. They could easily rest Curry, Thompson and Green and they would probably sweep the Rockets who are a shambles of a team. The Houston team seems to have checked out even before the playoffs started.