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NBA Playoffs 2018: If Damian Lillard is a superstar, Jrue Holiday is the face of the NBA

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Phil discusses each NBA playoff series, says screw you to the Thunder and much more

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs is underway and we have plenty to talk about this week!!

The Passing of Erin Popovich

All of us at Sonics Rising offer our condolences to San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich and his family upon the passing of his wife Erin. Sports Illustrated captured several reactions and if you like please leave your thoughts and well wishes in the comments section and we will pass them onto the Spurs and Coach Popovich.

Mike Budenholzer Out in Atlanta?

Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer may not be staying in Atlanta but he won’t be coaching the Phoenix Suns either. According to NBC Sports Budenholzer is no longer in line for the job because he isn’t interested in that position. The Hawks gave Budenholzer permission to interview with the Suns and the language used by the Front Office it’s fairly obvious he isn’t going to finish out his contract in Atlanta.

According to reports the New York Knicks want to chat with him and his name has also been linked to the Milwaukee Bucks. I think it’s safe to say the Budenholzer era in Atlanta is nearing an end.

The Cavaliers are in Trouble?

I suppose if you haven’t watched much basketball you’d be surprised Cleveland is down 1-2 in their best of seven with Indiana. It’s okay as I watch too much basketball and thought the Cavaliers would roll them in five. That hasn’t been the case as this Pacers team is spunkier than I gave them credit for. If not for a Game 2 LeBron James explosion they could just as easily be down 0-3. James played the ENTIRE second half and the Cavaliers still couldn’t hang on to win. Even the Cavaliers showing up for the game in matching suits didn’t help. I’d still be surprised if the Cavaliers lose this series but kudos to the Pacers for turning what should have been a routine series for the Cavaliers into an exciting one for NBA fans.

Washington Hangs Tough at Home

They say it isn’t a series until the road team wins and so far the Raptors and Wizards have held serve at home. John Wall and Bradley Beal each scored 28 points in Game Three to make this a series. Hard to tell which Washington team will turn up from night to night. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Fred VanVleet missing game three didn’t help much either. Washington got much more physical with the Raptors in Game three and it showed. I expect more of the same the rest of the way. The Raptors should check the milk cartons in their local dairy section for All Star Kyle Lowry. He hasn’t done much this series and at some point he will need to explode for a big game or the Raptors might implode to the Wizards.

Boston against Milwaukee

For the first time this series, Milwaukee Bucks power forward Jabari Parker played 30 minutes in game three. The result was a win for the Bucks. They still face an uphill task against the Boston Celtics but at least they found a rotation that seems to work. Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier have made up for the absences of All Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward not to mention Marcus Smart. Milwaukee has to win their next two home games and find a way to win one in Boston. The Bucks were 19-22 on the road this season so maybe next year Bucks fans.

Golden State Warriors Rolling the Spurs

Golden State is clobbering the Spurs and I suppose that was to be expected. This series is more of what the Spurs are lacking (Kawhi Leonard) than anything the Warriors are putting forth. LaMarcus Aldridge went MIA in Game One and his 22 points and eight rebounds aren’t enough. The Warriors should sweep this series and look forward to playing New Orleans in the Conference Semi-Finals. With all the rumors swirling around Leonard this could honestly be the end of the Spurs two decade playoff run. With the passing of his wife Erin maybe Coach Popovich decides he’s had enough. For the first time in 20 years nothing is certain in Spurs land.

The Rockets and Timberwolves are Having a Series

Just when it seemed safe to place Houston in round two Timberwolves All Star Jimmy Butler responded with a “not yet” game Saturday night to keep the best of seven series on serve. I was about to send out an Amber Alert for Karl Anthony-Towns but he also showed up in Game Three. The T-Wolves still have a daunting task before them and most likely a must win game at home on Monday night. Clint Capella has owned Towns most of this series and the Rockets will need more of that Monday night. Should be a fun rest of the series.

Trust the Process

The Philadelphia 76ers are taking it to the Miami Heat and hold a convincing three games to one lead in their best of seven series. With or without All Star center Joel Embiid. Veterans Ersan Ilyasova, Marco Belinelli and J.J. Redick have been putting in work. Ben Simmons has been phenomenal in this series. The best part of this matchup for me is watching Heat superstar Dwyane Wade bring it when it matters most. This should be over on Tuesday when they go back to Philly but I don’t expect the vets on the Heat to go down without a fight.

The Pelicans SWEEP the Trail Blazers

No one saw this coming. NO ONE could have predicted this. The Trail Blazers got their breakfast, lunch, dinner AND midnight snack handed to them by this feisty colony of Pelicans. If Damian Lillard is a superstar like some folks in Portland claim than Jrue Holiday is the face of the NBA. Holiday had Lillard pouting and making excuses like Trae Young after Holiday and the Pelicans put him on lockdown. If it weren’t for the whining he’s another whose face belonged on a milk carton. Lillard’s backcourt mate C.J. McCollum didn’t fare much better but at least he got to jack up nearly 20 shots a game. I’m sure that made him very happy. If it weren’t for Al Farouq Aminu the Trail Blazers may have been beaten worse. Oh wait. My bad. There’s nothing worse than getting swept in the first round of the playoffs. Oh snap. My bad. That happened to the Blazers last season to. Maybe they can wear a patch from Newton Broom Company on their jerseys next season. Nothing better than honest representation. It wasn’t just Holiday either; Rajon Rondo was vintage, Anthony Davis basically did whatever he wanted, Nikola Mirotic had more wide open looks looks than a lady gets whistles walking past a construction site. Even E’Twaun Moore got into the act and Head Coach Alvin Gentry probably gets to keep his job.

Screw the Thunder

This Real GM post about the Thunder ended up in my inbox. It’s obvious the writer isn’t a Sonics fan. Disappointing the writer didn’t talk to Sonics fans about their feelings.

The Sonics have been gone ten years now. Ten years is a LONG time, right? Isn’t time supposed to heal all wounds?

The thing is I like Sherm from Welcome to Loud City. He’s done well over 100 shows with me and has become a tremendous friend off the air. I’m the one who discovered R.K. Anthony on Facebook and sent him to WTLC. I helped a friend of my show and HUGE Thunder fan land a job with the Thunder. He designs some of those crying towels Tee Shirts you see their fans waving at games.

Hell, I even wrote a couple of posts at WTLC including advice on who their next Head Coach should be after Scott Brooks got canned. Plus I did try and warn them years before Kevin Durant bolted that he wasn’t going to play his entire career for the Thunder.

I suppose it was one too many “finders keepers losers weepers” cracks from their NBA challenged worshippers; I still hate the OKC Thunder and the MAJORITY of their fan base can kick rocks.

A few weeks ago I saw a Thunder fan proclaim when Stephen Curry got injured that it was “karma”………no dear, that’s bad luck. Would you like to see Karma in action?

· In 2012 the Thunder made the NBA Finals with a team led by three kids who would become League MVP’s. They looked like a dynasty in the making. Then genius Sam Presti panicked and traded away James Harden for a pair of used sneakers and haven’t been back to the Finals since.

· Only two players remain from the 2012 NBA Finalist; Nick Collison and Russell Westbrook. Collison WAS a Supersonic and Westbrook was drafted by and wore the SuperSonics cap on Draft Night.

· In 2017 the Thunder traded away Victor Oladipo, Domatas Sabonis, Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott and a second round pick for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. This was supposed to make a “Big Three”. Paul George even proclaimed this felt like a “Championship” team. As if he would know. This team won a total of one more game than 2017 but did lead the NBA with 67 technical fouls proving they are much better whiners than winners.

Ain’t Karma a bitch?

Watching their “super team” getting their butts handed to them by the Utah Jazz has been a joy to watch. All that yap and blah blah blah about championships. Super team my ass. The Jazz don’t have a single superstar on their team and if it weren’t for George going eight for eleven from beyond the arc in Game One the Jazz would have a three to nothing lead. What the Jazz have the Thunder obviously don’t is a killer named Donovan Mitchell. He’s done more damage to the Thunder than that other Donovan, Head Coach Billy Donovan could ever do. Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio is doing whatever he wants and has the Thunder wishing they were anywhere else except in a NBA arena wearing a Thunder jersey.

Okay Sonics fans……..use the comments section to tell the Thunder and the rest of the NBA how YOU feel about the Thunder!