Hardwood Hypothesis week 26: FINALLY … the wait is over, NBA playoffs commence

Hardwood Hypothesis week 26: NBA Play-In



Erick’s Hardwood Hypothesis digs in to the best NBA storylines every week.

ERICK AGUILAR, Evergreen reporter

FINALLY, the dreaded wait is over. The 2023 NBA playoffs are underway and I could not be more excited. 

I am writing this Tuesday from my couch as my roommates and I watch the Lakers and Timberwolves game.

I apologize for not having this out Monday, but hey, I am a college student and we can be busy sometimes. And I have to be honest, it is super fun writing this while watching a game. 

Play-in tournament 

From the West, the nine-seed Pelicans are playing the 10-seed Thunder. And the seven-seed Lakers are facing the eight-seed Timberwolves. 

Regarding the first matchup, I have to assume the Pelicans will win this one. Yes, I am aware that Zion is injured but it really does not matter. CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram will lead this team to victory and the only man to say anything about it will be Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. 

SGA will be the best player on the court, but will not be able to carry his team to victory. The winner of this matchup will go on to play the Loser of the Lakers-Timberwolves game, the victor will be inserted into the bracket to face the second-seed Grizzlies. 

The Lakers and Timberwolves will be a great matchup although it must be mentioned that Rudy Gobert will not be present due to

Kyle Anderson. 

In addition, Naz Reid the big man in the paint is out due to injury. Look, the odds are stacked against the Wolves but I still think they can pull out the win. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards will have to play their absolute best. 

It is currently the first quarter, and the Wolves lead 18-17, there is still much basketball left to be played but I think the Lakers will win this one. 

So assuming the Lakers and Pelicans win their respective games, the Timberwolves will be set to face the winning Pelicans and I see the Timberwolves running through them. This of course would mean the Timberwolves would earn their spot as the eight-seed against the Nuggets.

From the East, the nine-seed Raptors are playing the ten-seed Bulls and the seven-seed Heat are playing the eight-seed Hawks. 

If you have not figured it out already, I am currently watching the Lakers game meaning the Hawks-Heat has already finished and the Hawks are advancing. 

I would have taken the Hawks to take that game anyways so I am not entirely surprised there. This of course means the Hawks will face the second-seed Celtics. And to be completely honest, the Hawks could give the Celtics some problems, not enough to win the series but good competition nonetheless. 

Raptors-Bulls is a pretty intriguing matchup. My gut is going to have to pick the Bulls on this one simply because they have a deeper roster.

Sure, the Raptors have more veteran presence and they have their championship pedigree from being in the deep playoffs before, but I think the Bulls get the best of them here. 

Given my predictions are correct with the Bulls winning their game it would set the Heat to face them. I can see this matchup going either way. But my gut says to take the Bulls in this one. This would give them the eight-seed spot to take on the Bucks. 

Unfortunately, there will not be a player of the week selection for this edition, because the rest of the Play-in has not taken place and either way there will not be a “not as recognized player” making a splash in the playoffs having a good game. 

Oh and by the way, there are currently 30 seconds left in the third quarter and the Timberwolves lead 86-77. I really do hope they win this game, although I can see the Lakers actually pulling it off. 

*fast forward to the very next day* 

I proceeded to finish watching the whole game from the couch and well, it appears my prediction was correct, the Lakers came back. 

I will say, it is not that the Lakers won the game, but more so that the Timberwolves lost the game themselves. They did not score during the last several minutes of the fourth quarter and were still able to push the game into OT. 

I also learned of this embarrassing stat the Timberwolves are second in the league in blowing 10+ point leads in the fourth quarter. 

Consider yourself lucky L.A., because Memphis will NOT make the same mistake. Memphis is going to STEAM ROLL these Lakers.