Is the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament bleeding into the NBA playoffs or what?
No lower seed this weekend has been embarrassed. In fact, three of them have outright won Game 1, meaning the Lakers, the Spurs and the Magic have already lost a home game to what people considered to be vastly inferior opponents.
Dag. This is why I don't gamble on sports.
Anyway, here's my breakdown. More detail available from games I actually watched.
An absolutely heartbreak for the Pacers. To lead the entire game, only to utterly choke in the final two minutes or so... that stings, and I don't even care about Indiana.
Rose was unstoppable. For a team that publicly pronounced they had to slow down Rose to beat Chicago, the Pacers sure did a bad job. 39 points is always impressive, though he was ice cold from dowtown (0-9) and as a result shot only 43% overall. But he got to the basket so often, and in such a way it was impossible to block his shot or draw a charge, that he attempted 21 free throws, making 19 of them. Normally I hate seeing a stat like that, but believe me, Rose earned every one of those attempts, getting smacked in the face and hammered across the arms more than once. The Pacers tried to make him earn his points, and he did.
The other thing that stuck out was how bad Boozer was. 12 points on 4-11 shooting and 6 rebounds? That's what the Bulls are paying him $14 million for? And besides the horrendous offensive showing, he was completely outclassed by Tyler Hansbrough on the other end. Psycho T scored 22 points on 10-19 shooting, most of which was one-on-one against Carlos. This was despite catching an elbow to the temple from Kurt Thomas and apparently being knocked unconscious at one point in the game.
Midway through the 4th, the Pacers were essentially running the offense through Hansbrough and he was coming through. Then they inexplicably stopped giving him the ball, were unable to score over the last 3 minutes of the game and lost as Rose did whatever he wanted on offense. I believe if Hansbrough hits one or two more jumpers over Boozer's pathetic excuse for a defensive effort, Indiana could have won this one.
As it was, massive collapse, loss, try again next time.
Miami doesn't run an offense. Defensively, they're very good, and LeBron and Wade can both get to the hoop pretty much any time the want, but it's essentially pickup ball. Elton Brand, Thaddeus Young (best name in basketball) and Jrue Holiday all had great games for the Sixers, but in the end, Miami's Big Three were too much, even if the rest of the Heat were worthless.
Miami's lack of a structured offense will hurt them eventually this postseason, but not against Philly.
I'm going to choose to believe I lit a fire under Dwight Howard with my criticism last week. I mean, 46 points and 19 rebounds? Really? Jameer Nelson also had a great game, contributing 27 points, but no one else really showed up for the Magic. Arenas: bad. Turkoglu: bad. Bass: bad. Redick: bad.
Meanwhile, the Hawks had five players reach double figures, and four of those scored at least 15. Crawford had one of those games he's capable of producing, scoring 23 points on 5-6 shooting from range, and Joe Johnson was not terrible, putting up 25 points on 9-16 shooting himself. Overall, Atlanta shot 51% from the field and 43% from deep; those numbers will win you games no matter what time of year it is.
A close game throughout, but in the 4th quarter it was the Nowitzki show, as he scored 18 points over the final 12 minutes. Most of those were from the free throw line, and as I didn't watch I can't comment as to whether they were legit fouls or not, but still an impressive stretch of basketball. Kidd was Dirk's second banana last night, and without his 24 points I doubt Dallas wins.
Aldridge scored for the Blazers, and Camby rebounded (18 total), but overall they were just no match for the big German.
25 and 14 for Zach. 24 and 9 for Lil' Gasol. Three other players in double digits. These are not the last decade's Spurs.... no way the Grizzlies shoot 55% from the field with a younger, healthier Duncan and Co.
But this afternoon it was the younger, healthier Grizzlies taking it to the legends and coming out on top. Duncan wasn't terrible, scoring 16 and pulling down 13 boards, and Parker got to the line a ton on his way to scoring 20, but you can't shoot 40% from the field as a team and expect to win without some amazing defense. And San Antonio just doesn't have it right now.
Epic upset in the making here.
Los Angeles-New Orleans
It appears the rumors of Chris Paul's demise are greatly exaggerated, as he out-dueled Kobe on a way to a big win for the Hornets. 33 points, 14 assists and 7 rebounds is clearly a better line than 34 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds, I don't care how many rings the Black Mamba has.
Carl Landry came up big, scoring 17 and apparently helping the Llama to a 2-9 shooting night.
Kobe had no help from anyone in this game, but I wonder if he'd involved his teammates a little more early if it would have paid off in the end. Five turnovers for Bryant in the loss.
Tight Game One, fitting for a predicted tight series. All five starters with double digits for Boston. Poor shooting from Pierce, Garnett and Rondo. Meanwhile, 28 and 11 from Stoudamire, but little help from Carmelo, Billups or anyone else. Does not bode well for the Knicks.
Durant with 41 points on 13-22 shooting, 3-6 from downtown, and 9 rebounds. Kid is a winner. Westbrook held up his end of the "best backcourt in the NBA" label, scoring 31 points and dishing 7 assists to go with 6 rebounds. No one else did much (outside of 11 highly effective minutes from Maynor (I miss that guy)), but it didn't matter. Oklahoma holds off a strong effort from the star-less Nuggets for a close win.
Denver needs more from Ty Lawson (10 points) and Wilson Chandler (9) if they hope to keep this series close.