NBA playoffs: 10 most memorable moments from the first round
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The first round of the 2016 NBA playoffs was a letdown, with only two competitive series. That’s not to say there weren’t some compelling moments. Some, like injuries to Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, were devastating. Others, like Drake’s taunting of the Pacers and the Rockets’ reaction to James Harden’s game-winner, were a bit more lighthearted. Round 1 had everything you’d want out of a postseason round, outside of an abundance of actual good games. Here are the 10 most memorable moments from the first round.
Stephen Curry injures knee
Undoubtedly, the biggest story of the playoffs so far has been the Warriors’ quest to maintain their extraordinary level of play without star point guard Stephen Curry. The reigning MVP slipped on a wet spot in Game 4 against the Rockets and fell awkwardly, spraining his MCL. In what was ultimately a sorely disappointing first round of the playoffs, this was by far its lowest moment. No one wants to see a basketball superhero miss time due to injury.
“He’s an idiot”
The Mavericks and Thunder traded verbal blows during their five-game series, which was probably more interesting than their on-court battles. First, Mavs veteran Charlie Villanueva tried to interrupt Russell Westbrook’s pre-game dance, then Mark Cuban said that Kevin Durant was Oklahoma City’s only superstar. That culminated in one entertaining post-game presser after Game 5, where Durant called Cuban an “idiot,” and Westbrook joked about VIllanueva gearing up to ride the bench next season.
Harden hits game-winner, Rockets seem bored
This was likely the most overblown controversy of the playoffs, but one that had folks laughing the most. Harden’s stepback game-winner was probably the most exciting of the opening round, but the Rockets bench certainly didn’t appear to find the moment thrilling.
They knew the game was far from over, with a couple of ticks left on the clock, so they held their emotions in check until the final buzzer. They got clowned on the internet as a result.
Norm Powell’s steal and dunk
Pacers-Raptors was actually a good series. Norm Powell had his coming-out party thanks to this steal and dunk in Game 5, which capped a 17-2 Toronto run and tied the game. Toronto went on to win, 102–99.
Drake inserts himself into the Raptors-Pacers series
Whether it was talking trash on Instagram or right there on the court, Drake tried his best to have an impact in Round 1. He actually clapped in the ear of Rodney Stuckey after a turnover in Game 5, and later memed Paul George.
Gabrielle Union rips officials
Heat-Hornets Game 5 ended in controversy when Dwyane Wade went up against three defenders to try to tie the game, drew contact, and missed. His wife, Gabrielle Union, was absolutely furious afterward and went on a lengthy Twitter rant.
The Clippers’ Game 4 misery
In just a day, the Clippers went from potential Western Conference champions to the most depressing story in basketball. Los Angeles lost Chris Paul to a broken hand, Blake Griffin to a quad injury, and their opening-round series, four games to two.
The Austin Rivers game
Though the Clippers’ postseason ultimately ended in disappointment, they got one insane performance from Austin Rivers. The 23-year-old started in place of an injured Paul, left due to an eye injury that required 11 stitches, and returned to drop 21. Rivers did all he could to will L.A. to a win.
“Bye Bye. Bye Bye. Bye Bye.”
Though they won in a sweep, Cleveland’s opening-round series with Detroit was one of the more contentious matchups. After a tight Game 4 win, Kyrie Irving bid farewell to the Pistons by directing some words toward their bench.