Things certainly felt... final last night in the National Basketball Association.
1. Dallas beat the Blazers 103-96, in Portland, to win the series 4-2. My original prediction had Portland winning in 7 games, as I assumed Dallas would get good numbers from Dirk and not much else. Turns out, Jason Terry scored 22 and Marion contributed 16 points on Thursday, two players I didn't expect that much from. Meanwhile, Wallace, Aldridge and Matthews had good games, but the team as a whole only made 5 of their 21 3-point attempts, and while their percentages of 44% from the field and 80% from the line aren't terrible, especially for the playoffs, they let the Mavs shoot 50% from the line and Dallas made 86% of their freebies.
Looking at the series stats, Portland didn't play poorly, Dallas just played better. Close series, and the horses came out on top. Sometimes that's the way it falls. And for Dallas to close it out on the road is kind of impressive. I had them getting smoked by the Lakers in the next round, but now I kind of feel like they can win a game or two.
2. The Lakers beat up on the Hornets last night, in New Orleans, 98-80. Paul submitted a nearly superheroic line of 10 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds, but he needed a real superheroic performance to get the win. Poor guy got very little help in this series; Trevor Ariza shot 41%, Marco Bellinelli was 39%, Jarrett Jack shot 35% and Paul's lone bright spot was Carl Landry's 45%.
Anyway, LA is huge and a matchup nightmare for anyone. Sorry, Hornets. Get some better pieces around Chris Paul.6%
3. Atlanta finished off the Magic 84-81, to win the series 4-2. Another outcome I failed to predict, and what's funny is I gave a lot of credit to the Hawks... I just assumed Dwight would go crazy and his shooters would be average. Instead, Redick hit 35% of his shots (6% from deep!), Jason Richardson was a 35% shooter as well and Turkoglu hit 30% of his looks (23% from deep). As a team they hit 26% of their 3-pointers, while letting the Hawks hit 36% of theirs, including Crawford's blistering 45%.
Tough luck, Orlando. Better luck next year.
In other news, Real Salt Lake got beat 1-0 by Monterrey (a club team from Mexico) in Sandy, Utah. If Real could have scored a single goal, they would represent North America in the World Club Championships or something, which would have been cool and maybe I would have become more interested in soccer. As it was, they got shut out, at home (did I mention that a tie would have been as good as a win? Silly soccer), and went home losers. Tough break for those who hope American soccer can take off.