1. Sorry, Denver, but your scrappy "no real star, who you gonna guard?" offensive just isn't enough to make it past the Thunder. Durant and Westbrook didn't have the best games Saturday, and in fact, OK City went over 6 minutes of game time without scoring at one point and the Zombie Sonics still won. J.R. Smith was not fouled on the final shot... it was amazing defense from Harden and Smith should have passed it once it was clear he wasn't getting anything close to a good look. Thunder up 3-0.
Prognosis: goodbye Nuggets.
2. The Celtics completed a sweep of the Knicks Sunday. I would feel sorry for the fans in New York, but most of them are also Yankees fans, so whatever. Not all that surprised the pairing of Amare and Carmelo didn't exactly take off, but you'd have thought they could at least win one game. The Knicks as a whole might have had a chance to win some games if they'd played some defense, at least. Boston spent most of the second half of the season struggling to score on anyone, but Ray Allen shot 65% from deep against them on the series and Pierce was at 50%. Add in Rondo's freakish triple double of 15 points, 11 rebounds and 20 assists in Game 4 and you have a pretty big bag of defensive fail.
[Rondo joined] Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson and LeBron James as the only players in NBA history to record six career playoff triple doubles.
A Mike D'Antoni leading a team known for poor defense? Whodathunk? Boston wins 4-0. Prognosis: the Celtics need to look this good against a team that cares about the other end of the floor before I'll take them seriously.
3. Portland beat the Mavs Saturday behind Brandon Roy's 18 fourth-quarter points. Dallas shot only 40% as a team, and while Portland only made 42% of their looks, Nowtizki's 20 points weren't enough. Like I said, both teams have their flaws, and it's going to be a close series. Tied 2-2.
Prognosis: Dallas wins.
4. The Sixers beat the Heat Sunday to extend the series at least one more game. In a nutshell, Wade and LeBron had great games and no one else showed up for Miami. Bosh: 5-12 and 5 rebounds. Bibby: 0-6. Chalmers: 3-9. Jones 1-3. Just an ugly offensive showing for the Heat's role players. The Sixers weren't exactly on fire themselves, but rookie Evan Turner scored 17 on 7-13 shooting to help Elton Brand's 15 points, and they got it done. Heat up 3-1.
Prognosis: good job showing some life, Philly, but it's not enough in the long run.
5. Similar story for the Magic and Hawks. Dwight continues tearing it up (29 points, 17 rebounds and 2 blocks in Game 4) but his supporting cast is terrible. Turkoglu shot 2-12, including a last-minute 3 attempt at the end of the game. Jameer Nelson was 3-12 and Redick shot 0-6. In fairness, the ghost of Gilbert Arenas did score 20 points on 9-18 shooting, but if not for this unexpected good night from him, the loss would have been much worse than three points. Apparently the strategy of "get a dominant big man and surround him with shooters" doesn't work if your shooters can't shoot. The Hawks had four guys in double figures, including the red-hot Jamal Crawford, who is averaging 24 ppg and 47% shooting from deep for the series. Atlanta leads 3-1.
Prognosis: Atlanta is scrappy.
6. Derrick Rose's bad shooting numbers finally caught up to him as the Pacers beat the Bulls 89-84 Saturday. Rose shot 6-22 from the field, bringing his series average to 29 ppg on 35% shooting overall and a blistering 17% mark from deep. He was outscored by Deng, Boozer and Noah, while taking several more shots. Rose himself was 1-9 from deep... someone needs to tell this kid to stop jacking them from behind the line. You don't see Rajon Rondo doing that, do you? He knows his limitations and doesn't hurt his team by shooting from range. Anyway, Hibbert and Granger both had double-doubles in the close win. Chicago leads 3-1.
Prognosis: it'd take a miracle for Indiana to win, especially considering Mr. Stern has no intention of his league MVP getting ousted in the first round. Sorry, Hoosiers.
7. Memphis punked the Spurs for the second time in three games Saturday behind Zach Randolph's 3-pointer with less than a minute left to put Memphis up four. Here's how improbable that shot was: Zach was 8-21 on the night and had only hit 8 of his 43 three-point attempts on the season. Duncan afterwards said he didn't think Randolph would shoot it from there, and he had every reason to think that, but sometimes the basketball gods smile on otherwise poor shooters. Ginobili and Parker combined to shoot 10-24 from the field and Duncan only scored 13 points on 11 shots. Pau's little brother contributed an efficient 17 and 9 in the win. Memphis up 2-1.
Prognosis: San Antonio is old, but they'll figure it out.
8. And the cherry on top of a good weekend in NBA basketball: Kobe Byrant shoots 5-18 and spends the night yelling at his teammates in a classic Lakers loss to the Hornets. Chris Paul was brilliant, racking up a triple double line of 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists and flat out destroying anyone who tried to guard him. He got good help from Trevor Ariza, Carl Landry and Aaron Gray, as the team shot a relatively blistering 44% from the field. The Lakers had five guys in double digits, but Gasol only pulled down 4 boards and Odom was 1-7 from the field. Series tied.
Prognosis: CP3 can't keep it up forever, but look out for the Thunder, Laker fans.