Tag: NBA Playoffs
The Indiana Pacers stayed true to their game and won at home to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven Eastern Conference semifinals. With a phenomenal performances from Roy Hibbert and Paul George, the Pacers took control of the game early on and never gave the Knicks a chance to even fight for it. Hibbert would go on to finish the night with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while George, although a little slow offensively, was a complete nightmare for the Knicks with his spectacular defense. George struggled to create offensive opportunities but still finished the game with 14 points. He was a bit shy of a triple-double as he would sing off the night with eight rebounds and eight assists. But it would be his defensive heroics that would ultimately give the Pacers and strategic advantage to secure a 82-71 win at home.
With this win, Indiana now has emerged from an embarrassing 26-point loss to New York in the Madison Square Garden last week and proved that the Knicks are going to have to bring forth something more than the return of the banged-up Amare Stoudemire to the court. In his return from injury, Stoudemire looked very rusty and was unable to give the Knicks an edge. He would finish the night making just 3-of-8 eight shots to finish the match with seven points and two rebounds. The Knicks star Carmelo Anthony never really had much space to do his magic. Still, he did what he could and scored 21 points. Not bad, but certainly not in par with his playoffs scoring average of 29.3 points per game.
The biggest issue here is that Melo went cold in the fourth quarter, when his team needed him most and finished with only two points and no baskets in the final 12 minutes. As if that was not enough he was held to 6 of 16 shooting from the floor. And yet, we have to acknowledge that this was in part because of the Pacers ferocious defense. J.R. Smith once again also had very little production. He went 4 of 12 and scored nine points. Still, as a whole, he is only 11 of 42 from the field and his shooting woes continue. The Knicks attempted only 3 three-pointers all night long and were held to their worst scoring game in this postseason.
It was clear from the start that the Pacers defense proved to be too much for the Knicks last night “Offensively, we just didn’t have anything,” said New York’s head coach Mike Woodson in the postgame press conference. “I thought defensively, we hung in there and did what we had had to do, but we just didn’t have any offensive pop and we have to figure that out.” For starters they have to find a way to get more open shots and how to fight a little better against the best rebounding team in the league. Indiana limited the Knicks to 35.2 percent shooting from the floor and forced 15 turnovers. And they had a 53-40 rebounding that ultimately gave the Pacers a 20-10 advantage in second chance points.
Well, this is certainly not how we had expected this series to go. On the one hand, it was unclear all along whether the Thunder would be able to cope with the absence of the injured Russell Westbrook. And yet, although Durant can certainly give the Thunder a huge edge, he really needs to get more production from his teammates, otherwise it is going to be very difficult for him to take on the Memphis Grizzlies on the road. Particularly when Memphis goes ahead and changes the rhythm of their game and go for a very defensive oriented play. And that’s exactly where defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol, takes on the spotlight.
Gasol’s defensive presence was a huge factor in keeping the OKC Thunder to a series-low shooting percentage. Consider for a moment that although Durant would finish the night with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, he only got 2 points in the fourth quarter and shot 3 of 11 from the floor in the second half. Now, consider thar his teammates went a combined 23 of 69 for the game, and much of that had to do with Gasol’s almost supernatural hability to be in the right spot in the right time defensively.
And yet, it was the Spaniards offensive resurgence in the second half, that turn this game around and gave the Grizzlies the much-needed win at home. Gasol would have a very unsuccessful first half but he would go all-out in the second half to finish the night with 20 points, 16 of those coming after the break. He would also hit two free throws with 1:03 left to put Memphis ahead to stay and ultimately give the Gizzlies a 87-81 win on Saturday.
Game 2 is going to be played Monday night and a win here is key. Memphis has proven that they are a very difficult team to beat at home. So far this season they haven’t dropped one game at Memphis, and the record stretches back to 18-1 at home since February 8th. If they hope to win this series against the Thunder, a win on game 4 is a must. That way, they can plan on taking on the Western Conference semifinals by defending their home court advantage. Let’s not forget that these two teams met each other in the same instance last season, and it was the Thunder who would go on to win the series in 7 games.
Now, it’s payback time for Gasol and the rest of the squad. Tony Allen had his best game in this series, scoring 14 points for the Grizzlies. Jerryd Bayless chipped in with 11 while Zach Randolph, who had a very slow night for the Grizzlies scored only eight points but made up for it hanging on to 10 boards.
“Obviously, they beat us in a lot of different areas tonight,” said Memphis guard Mike Conley, who had a brilliant performance in the fourth quarter making all of his four free throws in clutch time. “For us to come away with the win, we are very happy. We will take it, but it just goes to show we have a lot of work to do. We have to do better the next game.”
The round two of the NBA Playoffs kicked off this Sunday night as the Oklahoma City Thunder hosted the Memphis Grizzlies at home, and one more time, Kevin Durant had a chance to prove that despite not winning this years MVP, he sure enough is among the finest active players in the league. Sure the Most Valuable Player award when to LeBron James, who has been a dominant force with the NBA defending champions the Miami Heat, but despite that, Durant want’s to make it clear that he is par with James. And no other statement will do that, but to make his team make it into the NBA Finals, were most likely the Miami Heat is going to be waiting for them, and beat the LeBron James and the Heat and give the Thunder their first NBA title.
For now, however, Durant and the Thunder have to get pass the Memphis Grizzlies who have shown that they will not be an easy target for Scott Brooks’ men. Durant had to go into overdrive mode and score 35 points, 15 rebounds and 6 assists to lead Oklahoma City in a 93-91 win at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. Sure, Durant was the best all around in the court, but it would be veteran Derek Fischer who would make the game-changing play and get the Thunder out of a very difficult situation. The Grizzlies were up by one point in the final minute of the game. And that’s where the old Fisher poked the ball away from Memphis’ Mike Conley. The ball went free and three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant sprint into the open court. He swerved and pulled off a nice jumper with 11.1 seconds left. “I just wanted to get up the floor as quick as possible and find a shot,” said Durant, who was second in the MVP race. “That was the only shot I could find and, by the grace of God, it went in.”
Thabo Sefolosha got on his defensive prowess to keep the Grizzlies from going ahead in the final 11 seconds. Marc Gasol finished the night with 20 points, 10 rebounds to guide the visiting team effort, who certainly managed to give the Thunder a good fight despite playing on the road. Game two of the series will be played in Oklahoma City on Tuesday and it wouldn’t be so much of a surprise if they managed to pull off a win on the road. The thing here is that the Thunder’s bench has been phenomenal, and if they can keep it up, it’s very hard to break that winning streak.
Kevin Martin scored 25 for Oklahoma City. The Thunder trailed for much of the game but was to turn things around and avoid once again losing game 1 loss as they did when the two teams met in the West semifinals two years ago. The Thunder were able to rally and win that series in seven games. Now, for the sake of making it into the Playoffs with the best shape, they better solve this series in 5 or 6 games before going head to head with the Miami Heat, or whoever may come out of the East.
This was by far one of those very interesting stories coming out of the Western Conference. Both the Nuggets and the Warriors went head to head in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs and it was quite unclear which team would come out victorious. Now, the Nuggets were a slight favorite on the series price to take on the first round, but Stephen Curry got on the way. He guided the Warriors efforts with 22 points and eight assists to finish off the series in 6 games at the Oracle Arena in Oakland California as the Warriors took a 92’88 win at home. Before a sellout 19,596 crowd, the Warriors managed to make it pass the first round of the NBA Playoffs for the first time in the last six years. The Warriors dominated from the start, and even managed to expand their lead to 18-points going into the fourth quarter, before the Denver Nuggets gave it one last shot to get back in the game.
The Nuggets relied heavily on a brilliant performance from Andre Iguodala who had 24 points and 9 rebounds while Ty Lawson added 17 points but couldn’t help to see how Denver made another early disappointing exit in the postseason. The Nuggets won 23 of their final 26 regular-season games to earn the Western Conference’s third seed. It made them a clear favorite to give either the San Antonio Spurs or the Oklahoma City Thunder a run for their money. They followed that sensational run in the regular season with losing the next four of six to the hot-shooting Warriors. “We didn’t lose this series tonight. This is a proud loss,” Nuggets coach George Karl said in the postgame press conference. “We lost this series in Game 1 and 2. We didn’t play well enough to sustain the confidence. We won Game 1 on a last-second layup. In Game 2, we gave away everything we worked for with 57 wins in the season. And that’s on me.” Still, it was a disappointing sensation overall.
The Warriors had a great game not only from sharpshooter Stephen Curry, but from the rest of the squad as well. Andrew Bogut was able to overcome an injury prone season to finish the night with 14 points and 21 rebounds. Every time he went into the court, you could feel the excitement from the crowd that was backing him up as he returned from an injury that had kept him out of the 5 previous games. Draymond Green had his best game ever with 16 points and 10 rebounds and the Warriors were able to stop the Nuggets who kept on throwing more plays at them. Despite the 11 points and 11 rebounds from Kenneth Faried and the 11 points from Wilson Chandler who couldn’t just turn this one around.
The Warriors make it to the second round for the first time since the 2007 season when they also upset the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games of the first round. Now, they have to get back on track and face a very rough opponent in the third round. Let´s not forget that the Warriors will now face the San Antonio Spurs in round two starting this Monday. Let´s see what these guys can throw against Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.