5 fascinating storylines to watch in the first round of the NBA playoffs


The best time of the NBA season has finally arrived. Playoff basketball is back! As we’re in the early stages of this postseason, here are five interesting storylines to keep an eye on for first-round matchups.

NBA Storylines #1: Shannon Sharpe

When the news broke of the Memphis Grizzlies and the Los Angeles Lakers facing off in the first round, most people could only think about one person. Somebody who, ironically, is not a player for either team. That person is Shannon Sharpe.

In a matchup between the squads earlier this season, we saw Shannon Sharpe get into an altercation with several members of the Grizzlies, including family members of the players and team personnel.

One thing that’s certain is that Undisputed is relishing what will come from this series.

NBA Storylines #2: Same Seeds, Different Conference, Last Year

If we rewind just a season ago, we witnessed the Dallas Mavericks defeat the Utah Jazz in six games to win their first playoff series since the 2011 NBA Finals.

That series granted viewers a showdown between two rising young guards Donovan Mitchell and Jalen Brunson, the latter who needed to step up with Luka Doncic injured at the start of the series.

In a similar scenario, the face of New York in Julius Randle is managing an injury. This likely means there will be more expected out of Jalen Brunson, against a hungry Donovan Mitchell in another matchup of the four and five seeds.

However, several reports are indicating that Randle shouldn’t miss as much time as Doncic did last year.

There’s a lot of optimism that Julius Randle will be back into the lineup for the Knicks very soon.

– Adrian Wojnarowski, ESPN Senior NBA Insider

NBA Storylines #3: Traded From Home

On August 30, 1996, Mikal Bridges was born in Philadelphia. For many years, the forward had a role as a primary perimeter defender and corner specialist with the Phoenix Suns. Now, with the Brooklyn Nets, he has an opportunity to get back at his hometown team.

Why would he want to? On draft night in 2018, the Philadelphia 76ers actually drafted Bridges before trading him for Zhaire Smith.

A recent video was released showing how excited Bridges was to represent Philadelphia across his chest. It’s only a matter of time to see if he is able to get his revenge.

NBA Storylines #4: The Inverted 2021 Western Conference Finals

Just two years ago, the Los Angeles Clippers made their first-ever appearance in the conference finals. Many thought it would not happen that season following the season-ending injury to Kawhi Leonard. Paul George had a lot of pressure against the Phoenix Suns and performed as well as you could ask for in that situation.

This time, Paul George is injured while Kawhi is out on the floor. To make matters more exciting, Kevin Durant has entered the picture. And with injuries at the forefront of this coincidence, the last time he was scheduled to face Kawhi Leonard in a playoff series was the 2019 NBA Finals when Durant tore his Achilles tendon.

NBA Storylines #5: Mike Brown

There are a few coincidences to point out when it comes to the Sacramento Kings and Golden State Warriors matchup. Harrison Barnes used to play for the Warriors; the missed call on Klay Thompson fouling Kevin Huerter earlier this season; and the battle of Northern California basketball are all worthy candidates.

However, the biggest story has to be Mike Brown’s. He has revived his head coaching career this season by leading one of the most impressive stories in recent NBA history. He won three championships as an assistant with Golden State, including going 12-0 as the head coach in the 2017 run while Steve Kerr had a back injury.

He arguably knows Golden State’s system better than every other coach and, as of today, is undefeated in the first round over his career. The peculiar part of this matchup is his task to lead a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 17 years against the team that has won the most championships in that time, including the most recent one.

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