Which NBA playoff teams should be panicking?

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The NBA playoffs opened with gusto this weekend thanks to a thrilling buzzer-beater by Jayson Tatum, a breakout debut from Anthony Edwards and dominant performances from the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat.

Of course, not everyone went home happy. To help sift through the early action, here’s a survey of how concerned each of the eight losing teams should be after Game 1. Let’s call this the Playoff Panic Index.

Toronto Raptors: The scrappy Raptors were a trendy pick to upset the Philadelphia 76ers because their length and athleticism on defense has posed problems for James Harden. If Harden couldn’t perform like a star, the thinking went, Philadelphia’s offense would short-circuit.

Instead of melting down, the 76ers dismantled the Raptors, 131-111, in a game that was even more lopsided than the score indicated. Toronto’s small front line struggled to handle Joel Embiid inside, and its vaunted perimeter defense was torched by Tyrese Maxey for 38 points. Nothing went well for the Raptors: they didn’t get out in transition, they didn’t force turnovers, they conceded more three-pointers than they made and they lost standout rookie forward Scottie Barnes to a bad ankle sprain.

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With better top-end talent, the 76ers entered the series needing to show that they could manage the expectations that accompanied Harden’s midseason arrival. Their steady play in Game 1 was convincing on that front. Toronto Coach Nick Nurse leaned heavily on his best players all year, so he can’t expect to swing the momentum simply by tightening his rotation. Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam can play better, but both will need to raise their game to new heights to prevent this from being a lopsided series.

Denver Nuggets: The Golden State Warriors beat the Nuggets so badly Saturday that many Twitter users wondered whether Nikola Jokic was really a deserving MVP. A better question: How did Jokic possibly lead this group to 48 wins without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.? Denver’s perimeter defense stood no chance of containing Golden State’s guards, even though Stephen Curry came off the bench in his first game back from a foot injury.

Jordan Poole was electric in his postseason debut, scoring 30 points and hitting five three-pointers in just 30 minutes. But the Warriors feasted on open looks, playing two or three steps ahead of the Nuggets at every turn. As long as Kevon Looney and Draymond Green continue to make Jokic work for his own offense, Golden State’s clear advantages in talent, depth and experience should carry them easily into the second round.

Dallas Mavericks: Credit to the Mavericks for hanging tough without franchise centerpiece Luka Doncic, who was sidelined for a 99-93 Game 1 loss to the Utah Jazz on Saturday. At the same time, Dallas was expected to do a lot more than hang tough before Doncic suffered a calf strain during the regular season finale.

That injury flipped this series upside down, installing the Jazz, who has been shaky since the all-star break, as favorites. While Utah’s offense didn’t light the world on fire, Rudy Gobert controlled the paint and the glass to steal home-court advantage with the road win.

Unless Doncic returns quickly at something close to full strength, the Mavericks – who are led for now by Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie – will struggle to score efficiently. Dallas’s defense should also brace for more from Donovan Mitchell, who scored a game-high 32 points but only played well for one quarter.

Memphis Grizzlies: The FedEx Forum crowd showed up Saturday hoping to party and went home confused like they had just watched a foreign film with no subtitles. Edwards’s 36 points led the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 130-117 victory that exposed multiple areas of concern for the Grizzlies, who finished the regular season with the NBA’s second-best record.

Where to begin? Memphis lost track of Minnesota’s shooters and conceded 16 three-pointers. Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. was limited to just 24 minutes because of foul trouble. Center Steven Adams went scoreless in 24 minutes and struggled to keep up with Minnesota’s spread offense. And the Grizzlies’ excellent bench was outscored, even though Timberwolves Coach Chris Finch relied heavily on his stars di lui.

Ja Morant shook off the loss, noting that Memphis won Game 1 against the Jazz last year before going on to lose the first-round series. Edwards runs hot and cold, and Memphis will be counting on him to come back to earth. Even so, Grizzlies Coach Taylor Jenkins already faces some meaty decisions. How long can he afford to stick with Adams? When does he play Morant more than 35 minutes? How much help should he send if Edwards gets rolling again?

New Orleans Pelicans: Not much to see here. The Suns are more talented, more disciplined, more experienced and more rested than the Pelicans, and they led wire to wire in Sunday’s 110-99 victory. Honestly, this game seemed over when Devin Booker calmly swished a three-pointer just 14 seconds after tip-off.

In light of Zion Williamson’s season-long foot injury, New Orleans achieved its main goal by reaching the playoffs with a win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Friday’s play-in tournament. Considering the quality of their first-round opponent, the Pelicans are free to enjoy the ride, rather than fret about the prospect of a sweep.

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Atlanta Hawks: The Miami Heat thumped the Hawks, 115-91, on Sunday afternoon, capitalizing on Atlanta’s tight turnaround after a Friday play-in win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Trae Young will need to play brilliantly for the Hawks to have any chance of upsetting the East’s No. 1 seed, and the two-time all-star guard fell far short of that standard in the opener.

Young scored just eight points on 1-for-12 shooting, appearing flustered by Miami’s active and physical defense. The Hawks don’t have enough secondary firepower to keep up with the Heat attack, especially on a night when a red-hot Duncan Robinson went 8 for 9 from deep. Clint Capela’s absence with a knee injury only made matters worse.

Jimmy Butler and company have gotten back on the same page after a memorable sideline blowup in March, and Miami played crisply on both sides of the ball. The Heat isn’t the type of organization to look ahead to the second round, but viewers can feel free to do so on its behalf.

Chicago Bulls: Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks have owned the Bulls in recent years, but they didn’t show it during an ugly 93-86 victory on Sunday. Chicago can lick its wounds knowing that its stars couldn’t play much worse: DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic combined to shoot 21 for 71 in the loss, squandering multiple opportunities to take control down the stretch.

The Bucks have shown the tendency to play down to their competition in early-round series under Coach Mike Budenholzer, and they deserved to lose given their poor outside shooting and sloppy play. While there’s certainly a chance that the Bulls just missed their best chance to take a game in this series, they weren’t blown off the court by the defending champions. After getting swept in the four-game season series, making the Bucks sweat counts as a moral victory.

Alex Caruso’s fierce defense set the tone for the Bulls, who will need to shoot better than 7 for 37 from outside if they want to keep pace with the Bucks going forward. DeRozan, who has had a long history of playoff struggles, and LaVine, who made the first postseason appearance of his eight-year career on Sunday, can’t keep shooting blanks.

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Brooklyn Nets: No one suffered a more gut-wrenching Game 1 defeat than the Nets, who lost 115-114 thanks to Tatum’s spinning layup at the buzzer. Brooklyn need not panic yet: The high-intensity contest felt like the opening act of a long series, and the Nets were in position to steal a road win even though Kevin Durant played one of his least effective playoff games in recent memory. Despite regular heckling from the TD Garden crowd, Kyrie Irving poured in 39 points and could have iced the win with better decision-making on Brooklyn’s final possession.

Although Boston moved the ball brilliantly to set up Tatum’s game-winner, its fourth-quarter offense left much to be desired. Durant and Irving remain nightmare covers even for the Celtics ‘swarming and intelligent defense, while the Nets’ defense held up reasonably well given their lack of continuity. Most forecasters expected a tight series between two teams with title aspirations, and a hard-fought Game 1 should only reinforce those predictions.

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