Archive for April 19th, 2011
The Atlanta Hawks were not looking at all like a team that could get the Orlando Magic into any trouble. Before the series began, I was quite certain that the Magic would crush the Hawks in 5 games at the most. Let’s face it: the Hawks had been skidding badly throughout the end of the season, but that extremely precise shooting from outside the perimeter and their exceptional ball handling skills where something that neither we nor the Orlando Magic had expected. And the Hawks made them suffer for it.
The big trouble for Orlando’s comes in when one realizes that Stan Van Gundy has designed a team that relies heavily on Dwight Howards exceptional defensive skills. But to get the opponent into the paint, the Magic defense puts on the opponents shooters on the perimeter. But Orlando really couldn’t manage to bring down the Hawks shooting from the perimeter, and that cost them game one of this best of seven series.
So what happened on game 1? Well for starters, Atlanta scored only 36 of their 103 points in the paint, so they were quite lethal shooting from the perimeter. Even more, the Hawks became the first opponent in 16 consecutive postseason games to score 100 points against the Magic.
Dwight Howard received his third straight defensive-player of the Year award. Should he feel like to make it into the NBA Playoffs second round, he better force the Hawks into finding another way of beating them. Those open spaces in the perimeter can’t just be given up so easily, because the Hawks will make them pay.
The Atlanta Hawks are also in a need to revenge the 4 game sweep that the Magic gave it on last season’s NBA Playoffs second round. It still seems fairly hard for the Hawks to pull off the upset and make it into the second round. But heck, it’s certainly going to look a bit better then last years matchup. It already has.
The Chicago Bulls finished the regular season as the strongest team in the NBA league. They not only recorded a 62-20 season but also managed to do something they hadn’t done since the good times of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen: get the attention of the sports betting world on Chicago. The comparisons are there. Just like back in the nineties, when the Bulls were dominating the league, Chicago is now guided by one talented player capable of impressive solo efforts that can really change a game in the last 5 minutes.
We’ve said this once, and we’ll say it again: Derrick Rose is not Michael Jordan nor is he trying to be like Jordan. But one can’t help but to notice that he is doing an extraordinary job at filling in those huge shoes. Rose has worked his way to his first regular season MVP and kept on been a very dominant force all-around. It’s not as if the Bulls are not good without him. Numbers tell us that LeBron James in Miami Heat is more of a winner-factor than Rose is in the Bulls. I personally think it has to do with what he brings into the equation.
Rose scored a career-high 39 points in the first game of the series against the Indiana Pacers. He followed up with 36 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists on game No. 2 when the Bulls managed to comeback from a 9-point deficit and outplay the Pacers 96-90. There were some differences from the first game. Rose didn’t get to the free throw line quite as much this time but made the most out of each shot, hitting 12 of 13 free throws after making 19 of 21 in the opening game.
Carlos Boozer also wanted to get back at the Pacers. He had a very under par first game, and he was brilliant with another double-double for 17 points and 16 rebounds. The Bulls dominated the boards, outrebounding Indiana 57-33. This could had been the decisive factor in the game. The Bulls were not really sharp when it came to handling the ball. Rose was responsible for six of the Bulls 22 turnovers in the game, and as if that wasn’t enough, things were not looking too savvy in the shooting department. Still, the Bulls came away with the win even though they shot just 38.6 percent.
The series is now moving to Indiana for its next two games. Many are wondering if the Bulls are really as good as they seem to be. The question is not whether they can win or not against the Pacers, but rather analyze what the hard time they’ve had defeating a team that wasn’t supposed to give them such a harsh time means for the playoffs. But it’s the NBA, and Chicago knows quite well how competitive this league is. They’ll take a win be it pretty or not any day. The Bulls will play on Thursday, April 21st at the Conseco Field in Indiana, at 7pm. It’s going to be one heck of game, so try to make some time to watch it
On game one, the Philadelphia 76ers made us believe that an upset was possible. The Miami Heat had to go into overdrive mode in order to survive an impressive come-from-behind effort from Philadelphia. At the end, Dwayne Wade scored five of his 17 points in the last minute and a half to turn things around and give the Miami Heat a 97-89 win on game one of the series.
But it was a very different story once game two came in. There was a distinctive mindset coming from Miami: it’s all or nothing. It was more then just a mind set. Not only were the Big Three from the Miami Heat on fire, it was just that the Philadelphia 76ers weren’t doing much to help their case either. The end result: Miami outplayed Philadelphia 73-94.
Thaddeus Young scored 18 points and Evan Turner added 15 for the 76ers, and that was about it. Philadelphia’s starters were outscored 76-29 by the Heat’s starting five. Just to put things into perspective consider that Philadelphia shot 34 percent for the game and were nowhere close to been the team that played so valiantly on game one. The 76ers had 42 points in the paint in Game 1; they scored only 24 from the paint on Monday night.
So what happened? Well, for starters, LeBron James scored 29 points, recorded 7 boards and 6 assists. Check this out: James had 18 in the first half, enough for him to outscore the Philadelphia 76ers starting five all by himself. And that would had been somewhat of a disaster for Philadelphia. Now, if you consider that both Chrish Bosh and Dwayne Wade outscored the 76ers starters too, you come to the realization of how bad this game went for Philadelphia.
The trouble for Philly is that things are now really starting to look uphill for them. As a matter of fact, the 76ers have never been able to pull out of a 0-2 deficit in a first round playoffs series and that’s considering they been in this same situation 16, yes sixteen, times. The Heat, on the other hand, have never lost a series after been 2-0, and that they’ve done six different times. And of course we all know that the Heat have never looked as good as they do now that Bosh, Wade and James are all wearing the same uniform. So yes, it really looks as if the Heat is not going to have too much trouble getting themselves into the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Philadelphia couldn’t get their engines running early in the game ant that cost them. Miami outscored the 76ers 18-30 in the second quarter and from there on there was no looking back. The Philadelphia 76ers didn’t even have a starter reach double figures until 3:49 remained in the third quarter, and that was just sad. Jrue Holiday made a 3-pointer to get to 10 points, but it really wasn’t going to make much of a difference. By the time the first guy from Philadelphia had reached double-digits, James had 23, Bosh had 15 and Wade 12 points and the Heat was up 68-50.
Sometimes it is all about the last basket. And usually there is some sort of controversy involved as well. The Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks were going to go at it for the first game of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
When Carmelo Anthony landed at New York, not only did we know that he could play well with Amare Stoudemire and the also new arrival Chauncey Billups. Truth is, we knew that the Knicks would gain something they didn’t have before: a guy who could take that clutch-time shot that simply changes the game.
Occasionally those shots go in. Sometimes they don’t. Some players are particularly good at making those go-ahead shots when there are only 24 seconds or less on the game. Ray Allen is the league best at taking those decisive shots, and he didn’t fail the Boston Celtics last night.
The Celtics had been trailing for most of the second half game against the Knicks. Sure they were playing at home and truth is, the Celtics have been good at turning things around in the Boston Garden. But it was looking bleak. But then came Allen. There were only 12 seconds left in the clock and he was about to complete a three pointer that was going to give the Celtics an 87-85 lead.
The Boston Celtics reached a league high 17th National Title back in 2008, and carried on their good performance losing the NBA Finals series to the LA Lakers last season. So yes, the Celtics know how to win when it matters most, but it certainly looked as if the New York Knicks were going to be able to clinch the first game of the series.
We do have to consider that Amare Stoudemire hasn’t been at his best ever since the Carmelo Anthony and the Chauncy Billups trade off, but heck, even if it wasn’t his best night ever, Stoudemire had certainly one of his best nights in a Playoffs match. Yes, the Knicks didn’t win this game, but still, things could have been very different had the referee not given Melo an offensive foul over Paul Pierce on the previous play to Allen’s go ahead three-pointer.
And then there is experience. The Celtics haven’t miss the playoffs since they won their national title, and the Knicks, well, the Knicks are in the postseason for the first time in seven seasons, and their success rate has been somewhat of a disappointment. As a matter of fact, the New York Knicks haven’t win a single Playoffs game in the last 10 years, to be exact, since April 29, 2010.
That could had been different. The fact is that Chauncey Billups is certainly a good choice for those clutch time shots, but he left the game with little under a game to go because of a strained left knee. The big problem wasn’t that Carmelo Anthony missed that last three-pointer that could had seal the deal for the Knicks, but the fact that it is quite possible that Billups will miss game No.2 of this best of 7 game series.