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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.
I guess they owed it to their fans, particularly after the tragedy that has hit the city of Boston this month. Facing a 3-0 deficit in the series and what most probably would end up been a first round sweep, the Boston Celtics came out with all they had to defend their home court and force a game 5. Paul Pierce guided the Celtics efforts with a brilliant performance that included 27 points, 43 rebounds and 3 assists. Jeff Green chipped in with 26 points and 6 rebounds. Veteran center Kevin Garnet finished the night with a solid performance that included 13 points and 17 rebounds.
But it was Jason Terry, the Celtics shooting guard, still probably feels a bit of pain from the elbow to the face he got on game three from the Knicks own shooting guard J.R. Smith. He took it personally, and he made sure that the Knicks paid for that dirty shot. Terry finished the night with 18 points and 4 assists, including the final 9 points in overtime to give the Celtics a brilliant 97-90 win at home over the New York Knicks.
J.R Smith got a one-game suspension by the league, and the Knicks could have quite clearly used some of his shooting abilities last night. Carmelo Anthony, as usual, guided the Knicks effort with 36 points. It was up to Raymond Felton to cover up for the lack of Smith and he gave the Knicks another 27 points. It wasn’t, however, a good overall game. New York made just 28.9 percent of its shots in the first half as Boston took a 54-35 lead. They managed to come back in the later part of the third quarter. The team rallied from a complicated 20-point deficit to tie the game and force Boston into overtime. But that was exactly when Jason Terry got his groove on, and things started to happen for the veteran team. “It wasn’t really the elbow,” Terry said in the postgame press conference. “It was more (like) this is it. I mean, the season’s over. You can leave it all out here tonight and go home for a long summer or you can live to play another day.”
Game 5 will be played in the Madison Square Garden in New York. The Celtics are still alive, but it is a long shot for this squad to make it into the second round. The Celtics still have a huge deficit in trying to become the first team to win after trailing a series 3-0 in the NBA playoffs. Certainly the odds are not in their favor, but so is the New York Knicks’s most recent history in the playoffs. As a matter of fact, New York is trying to win their first playoff series in 13 years. J.R. Smith will be back for the next game, and it’s unclear whether that will make a huge difference overall. One thing is for sure: the Celtics are going to need another performance like this from Terry and Green in order to give both Pierce and Garnett the backup they need to keep this squad rolling.
Well, it really is not a surprise that the team that dominated the regular season and finished with the best record in the league is not having much trouble making it through the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. And so far they have not shown any signs of weakness. For a while, it´s only been a matter of standing behind LeBron James and hoping that someone else could step up and delivered. And that really shouldn’t be much of a problem, considering that his teammates include, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
Sure enough, the veteran Allen is coming off the bench and is averaging only 25-30 minutes per game, but last night, he reminded us that at 37-years-old he is still capable of delivering. He finished the night with 23 points and 3 rebounds. Enough to make it pass Reggie Miller for the best record of Playoffs three-pointers, finishing the night with 322 postseason three-pointers, two more than the retired star of the Indiana Pacers.
LeBron James guided the visiting team effort with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. They made it quite clear. The Buck gave it a good effort, they fought a good fight, but it seems as if James took over in the third quarter and just killed the Milwaukee Bucks will to keep on fighting. . Miami blew this one up in the third quarter and rode it to the end to take a 104-91 victory on Thursday night. The Heat now has a chance to complete the sweep Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center and get some extra days of rest before going into the second round.
It’s been a long while since we’ve seen a team dominate so much in the regular season. And it’s quite interesting to see if this sort of dominance could translate into the Heat winning their second straight NBA title. The Heat certainly has the man power to pull off this feat. Let’s consider that Chris Bosh added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, and despite Dwayne Wade having a terrible night, getting only four points for the night in 1-of-12 shooting, this team is on a streak.
Consider for a moment that the Heat has won 11 straight games dating to the regular season and 40 of their last 42. Chris Andersen had another big game, scoring 11 on 5-of-5 shooting and grabbing six rebounds in less than 14 minutes, to prove he’s good to go from the bench.
“I shot the ball terrible,” Wade said in the postgame press conference. Let’s not forget that he has been nursing a bruised right knee and that might cause him to be a little off mark. No, forget that, he was extremely off mark. “But we played a good game. Game 3 is a tough game. I thought, as a team, we showed a lot of guts, a lot of grit. When those guys came out hot, we stayed with it, we stayed with our game plan and were able to get a great win. There’s nothing as satisfying as winning a Game 3 on the road. But it’s over now. Now we have to focus on closing the series out.”
The Chicago Bulls are fighting against the odds. Very few people out there believe this team has the stamina and the courage to beat the Brooklyn Nets. On the one hand, the Nets hold home court advantage throughout this best of seven series of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs. On the other, it is clear that they will have to keep on going without their best player, Derrick Rose.
It hasn’t made much of a difference however, and despite losing their first two games on the road at Brooklyn, the Bulls gave it all they had to take this vital win at the United Center in Chicago behind Carlos Boozer and his 22 points, 16 rebounds and 3 assists. It wasn’t a pretty game, it lacked that luster that makes the NBA the perfect place for the exciting highlight reel worthy plays. Still, it was the sort of game that the Bulls needed to take a 76-79 win over the Brooklyn Nets to shorten the deficit in the series.
Chicago really needs to work around the schedule and win the next two games if they hope to make it into the next round. There’s no doubt that winning at home is a must for Chicago, and taking the next road game is what could turn this 2-1 deficit into a first round playoffs upset. Loul Deng, on the other hand, chipped in with 21 points and 10 rebounds to help starve off the Nets who gave it all they had to close down the gap late into the fourth quarter. Deng is one of those players that will not be making the highlight reels anytime soon. He plays in the background but he is as vital as any player could be for his team.
He was the guy who got Chicago rolling strong in the third quarter for the second consecutive game. The All-Star forward scored 12 points in the first 4 minutes after the halftime break seemingly making life a living hell for Gerald Wallace who was trying to stop him on the other end. In the third period, the Bulls turned a seven-point halftime advantage into a 16-point lead.
“I had a few good minutes,” Deng said about his performance in the postgame press conference. “I felt like I could have shot the ball a lot better. I don’t know how many minutes, seven or so of great minutes. They could have sent me home after that.” The Brooklyn Nets would give it one last shot in the fourth quarter and behind Brooke Lopez, who finished the night with 22 points and 9 rebounds, including eight points in a 10-2 spree that got Chicago withing 77-74 with 14.4 seconds left in the game. The Bulls didn’t break under pressure and they managed to control the game in clutch time. Nate Robinson and Joakim Noah each hit a free throw in the final seconds of the game. The Nets had one last chance to push for a tie and into overtime but guard C.J. Watson air-balled an open 3 at the buzzer and the Bulls took this vital win at home.