The Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a half time deficit to continue their perfect home playoff run as they defeated the Miami Heat in Game One of the NBA Finals 94-105. Kevin Durant was his usual ridiculous best scoring 36 points. LeBron James had 30 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in the losing effort. Dwyane Wade added 19 points, 8 assists and 4 rebounds.
Russell Westbrook was massive for the Thunder, giving them the second scoring option they needed as Harden was well guarded by Wade and the Heat. Westbrook had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists in a near triple double effort. Shane Battier also added 17 for the Heat giving them an unexpected boost
The Lakers post season came to a grinding halt as the Oklahoma City Thunder won the series 4-1., winning the final game 106-90. Russell Westbrook top scored for the Thunder with 27 points, while Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds.
“Oklahoma (City) really blitzed us there at the start of the fourth. It was tough to watch to say the least. We had the game under control but this team (the Thunder) is very explosive all of a sudden they go on an 8-0 run.”
— Lakers guard Bryant.
This is no doubt a big step forwards for the Thunder. They have achieved what they did last year, and now have the chance to take this franchise to the next level. It would be be a huge achievement for this team to make it to the Finals. However, they face a more than difficult challenge in the San Antonio Spurs, almost the opposite to who they are. It will be veterans against youth in a hugely exciting Western Conference Final.
A certain Kobe Bryant did everything humanly possible to stave off elimination, scoring 42 points in his final playoff outing of the year.
A 24-0 run from the veteran Spurs left the Clippers faithful wondering what could of been as the Spurs topped the Clips yet again to take a more than likely insurmountable 3-0 lead. 28 points from Blake Griffin however was a reassuring sight for the future. For now however, Tim Duncans 19 points and 13 rebound game, complimented by 4 assists, will come out on top. Still youthful guard Tony Parker added 23 points and 10 assists.
“We did not plan on being down that much in the first quarter, but we understood that they were going to make a run early, and we needed to sustain. We’ve been through enough of them to understand that’s how it goes. It was great poise by our entire team.”
— Spurs forward Tim Duncan
Whilst it looks likely that the Clippers will be leaving these playoffs in a sweep, this can be nothing but a positive season for this young team. Griffin playing against the master himself in Tim Duncan, in playoff time, is a huge learning experience for the young man.
The 76ers got a stirring victory over the Celtics as they stunned the men in green with an 18 point comeback.
Down big and on the verge of having to go into Boston to fight for their playoff lives, Andre Iguoldala came up big, knocking down key shots including a shot clock beating triple.
Iguodala high scored for the Sixers with 16 points while Evan Turner also had 16 but shot at just 5-22 (22%) from the field.
“I thought, for the most part, we played decent defense. We just didn’t do it well enough in the last four or five minutes.”
— Boston forward Garnett.
Rajon Rondo was the Cs best, or at least close to it, with 15 points and 15 assists while Paul Pierce had 24 points on one knee.
Yet it seemed that the offence did not go through Garnett enough, as he had only 9 points. When he has a big night and gets lots of touches, the Celtics seem to win. When he does not, they appear to struggle. An interesting thought to carry into Game 5 in Boston.
The Hawks may of gotten back Josh Smith and Al Horford back into the lineup but it made little difference as the Celtics cruised to a dominant 22 points win in the last game before Atlanta. With the win, the Celtics take a 3-1 series lead into Atlanta next game. Paul Pierce led all scorers with 24 points in only 16 minutes of play. Rajon Rondo set the pace early with 10 assists in the first half and finished with 20 points and 16 assists in another clinical display.
The Hawks struggled all night and the individual scores reflect this. Usual high scorer Joe Johnson only had 9 points while Josh Smith led all scorers for the Hawks with 15 points on his return from injury but struggled with touch, shooting just 5-13 from the field. The Hawks as a team shot quite well, hitting 40 percent of their shots, but they were simply overwhelmed by an always loud TD Garden crowd and the Celtics 50 percent shooting display. Simply a great win for the Cs to take onto the road.
An efficient 31 points from Dirk Nowitzki was not enough to prevent the Thunder from taking a 2-0 series lead as the Oklahoma City Thunder won their second game at home. Russell Westbrook had 29 points while Kevin Durant had 26 but struggled with his handle as he turned the ball over 7 times. But he made up for it as he pulled down 10 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins also had a nice offensive night, with 13 points and 6 rebounds. James Harden had 15 off the bench.
“This was a physical, intense, hard-fought basketball game. I’m proud of our guys for hanging in there. Dirk is the most amazing player I’ve ever seen but we stayed with it and we did a little better job on him in the second half. Both teams made runs in the first half and that second half was just a fight.”
— Thunder head coach Scott Brooks
Barring Nowitzki’s 31, there was not a great deal of offensive punch from any other Mavericks. Shawn Marion had 15 while Jason Terry had 13 off the bench but missed two shots to win the game.
(All times American)
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Philadelphia at Chicago, 1 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Philadelphia at Chicago, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Chicago at Philadelphia, 8 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Chicago at Philadelphia, 1 p.m., ABC
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Chicago at Philadelphia, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Philadelphia at Chicago, TBD, TNT
Not to long ago, this playoff series didn’t really seem likely. The Sixers were much higher in the standings then their current 8th seed position and were looking to prove that a team could win without a true superstar in their lineup. This does not look likely to present much of a challenge to the Bulls, as there really is no “No Rose, no Bulls argument”. If Rose does start to prove a factor, as he surely will, Andre Iguodala may play some defence on him, much like LeBron James did at times. Perhaps one of the keys here will be that. Elton Brand against Carlos Boozer will be another key match up, with the two veteran forwards likely to have to score highly for their respective teams. Bulls will get the win here
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, New York at Miami, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, New York at Miami, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thu. May 3, Miami at New York, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, Miami at New York, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, New York at Miami, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Miami at New York, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, New York at Miami, TBD
Possibly one of the more exciting match ups of the Eastern Conference. Great contests at multiple positions and superstars littered all over the place. The highlight will no doubt be the competition between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the two 2003 alumni likely wanting the win over their compatriot. Both teams love to get out on the fast break, but its not secret that a big step towards stopping the Miami Heat is halting the run of Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. Amare Stoudemire’s play against Chris Bosh will be interesting to see, with Bosh having to deal with the physicality of Stoudemire, something he has shown in the past to dislike. Tyson Chandler’s shot blocking and ability to fill up the paint will also be essential in stopping the drives of Wade and James. Possible upset, but Miami likely to get the win.
Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Orlando at Indiana, 7 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, Orlando at Indiana, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Wed. May 2, Indiana at Orlando, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 4 – Sat. May 5, Indiana at Orlando, 2 p.m., ESPN
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Orlando at Indiana, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Indiana at Orlando, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, Orlando at Indiana, TBD
Injuries will definitely be the determining factor in this series. The Pacers have quietly gone about having a good season as they secured the number three seed and Dwight Howard’s injury will make their playoff run much easier. David West, Danny Granger and co. will have a much easier time scoring in the paint without Dwight’s intimidating presence in the middle. Howard is really the only defensively minded player on the Magic team and they will struggle without him. Hedo will have to turn back to clock and Ryan Anderson will need to play out of his skin to force David West to play defence all the way out of to the three point line if the Magic are able to fit the series win here. Unlikely though.
Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Boston at Atlanta, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Boston at Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3 – Fri. May 4, Atlanta at Boston, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4 – Sun May 6, Atlanta at Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Boston at Atlanta, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Atlanta at Boston, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Boston at Atlanta, TBD, TNT
Boston’s charge at the end of the season has them well place in this years playoffs. They avoid Miami and Chicago in the first round but the Hawks are no small hurdle to overcome in the first round. The Hawk duo of Josh Smith and Joe Johnson have been playing some of the best basketball of their careers, especially Josh Smith. But the suffocating defence and the inability of the Hawks to match up with Rajon Rondo should allow the Celtics to get the win here. Ray Allen could play a key role as he comes back from extended injury, and if he’s playing off the bench will provide a huge spark. Celtics to get the win here
Western Conference previews up before too long!
In what is likely to be Deron Williams last game for the New Jersey Nets, he sat out as the Nets struggled to score all night. The now Brooklyn Nets were held to just 27 points in the first half as the Raptors built a 27 point lead. Ed Davis had 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds as both sides played with skeleton teams. Solomon Alabi had 19 rebounds off the bench.
Ben Gordon had 26 points, including 8-10 shooting from behind the arc, off the bench as the Detroit Pistons took down the Philadelphia 76ers. As most teams are at this time of the year, most of the Sixers top players were resting up for the playoffs and looking after niggling injuries.
The Boston Celtics played the exception to the rule as their usual starting line up, barring Ray Allen, all suited up and played as they won against the Milwaukee Bucks. Avery Bradley had 14 points as Doc Rivers emptied his bench throughout the game.
The Big Three sat out for Miami as the Washington Wizards tore through the Heat at home, winning by 34 points. The lead only changed hands three times as the Wizards were dominant throughout the night. Without Wade and James in the lineup, Wall dominated the fast break. Maurice Evans led the Wizards off the bench with 18 points.
With Melo and Tyson Chandler sitting out, Amare Stoudemire proved he thrived being the man as the Charlotte Bobcats are officially the worst team in NBA history. Amare had 21 to lead the Knicks including an absolutely nasty dunk over Tyrus Thomas. Next stop: Miami Heat.
Josh Smith had 23 points 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a near triple double effort as the Atlanta Hawks took down the Dallas Mavericks. The lead only changed hands once as the Hawks comfortably won by 17 points.
John Lucas had 25 points off the bench as the Bulls finished off their regular season with a 32 point win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the win the Bulls claimed the Number One overall seed throughout the playoffs, ensuring that they will have homecourt advantage no matter how far in they go.
The Memphis Grizzlies claimed home court advantage for the first time in franchise history as the Memphis Grizzlies won over a seriously slumping Orlando team. Marc Gasol had 22 points to lead all comers while Hedo Turkoglu returned to the line up with a 18 point game.
The New Orleans Horents only scored 6 points in the final quarter as they lost to the Houston Rockets. Chase Budinger had 27 points to lead both teams as the Hornets shot themselves in the foot with their terrible final quarter.
JaVale McGee had 19 points over a vertically challenged Minnesota Timeberwolves as the Nuggets won by 29 points. Riddled by injuries, the Wolves gave rookies and bench players the start in a game that had no point.
Like most playoff teams, the Utah Jazz rested their starters but still had enough to beat the Portland Trailblazers. Rookie center Enes Kanter showed some of what Jazz fans have been ranting about, scoring 12 points in 33 minutes of play.
Literally half the Laker team sat the game out as the veteran group prepared themselves for the playoffs. However, their reserves were unable to pick up the slack as they lost to the Sacramento Kings. Jimmer Freddete had 10 points off the bench while DeMarcus Cousins led all comers with 23.
Australian guard Patty Mills had a career night as he 34 points and 12 assists as he was given the start once more against the Golden State Warriors. DeJuan Blair had 22 points and 13 rebounds as well to help the resting Spurs to the win.
The Charlotte Bobcats have once last chance. One final chance to avoid going down as the worst team in NBA history as they lost to the Orlando Magic. J.J Redick’s career high 31 points helped push the ‘Cats closer to the edge of NBA lore. DJ Augustine had 23 points as well as 6 assists but it was not enough to get the Bobcats a much needed win. Despite Dwight Howard’s absence, the Magic have sealed the 6th seed in the playoffs. However, they suffered yet another injury blow with Glen Davis going down with an ankle injury. The injury leaves Ryan Anderson as the only man of considerable height going into the game against Memphis.
The Wizards owned the middle of the game as John Walls phenomenal performance lifted them to heir longest winning streak since 2007. Wall well and truly filled up the box score registering 23 points, 7 rebounds, 13 assists and 7 steals as he tore through the Cleveland defence. Potential Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving only played 6 minutes in the Cavaliers final match for the season. Only two players scored in double figures for the Cavs, with DJ Kennedy leading them with 12 points. After the match, Atawn Jamison announced that he would not be resigning with the team when he is a unrestricted free agent this summer. It will be interesting to see which teams show interest, as the veteran has shown that he can still offer something this year with the Cavaliers.
With the playoffs around the corner, a win against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff team was no doubt a confidence boost as the Chicago Bulls took down the Indiana Pacers. Carlos Boozer looked set for a big night after 10 points in the first quarter alone, but it was Kyle Korver who led the Bulls with 20 points off the bench. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose only scored 10 points on the night, his match fitness and form the greatest concern for the Bulls as they head into the playoffs. Lance Stephenson, filling the gap that the absent Danny Granger left, top scored for both teams as he had 22 points. Granger was out resting a sore knee and will be back before too long.
Chris Paul sat out the game as the New York Knicks continued to get their front court tandem clicking as they seemed to warm towards the playoffs with a win over the Clippers. With the loss, the Clippers fall 1/2 a game behind the surging Memphis Grizzlies for the fourth seed, who could very well steal the once seemingly safe Clipper home court advantage. JR Smith ended up being the driving force off the Knicks bench, scoring21 points. Blake Griffin had 29 points on 11-14 shooting while Randy Foye had 28 but shot much more poorly, only connecting on 9 of his 23 shots.
Evan Turner’s big 29 point game gave the Philadelphia 76ers the win as Andre Iguodala sat out for the Sixers. Luo Williams and Thaddeus Young also sat out as the Sixers started preparing themselves for the rapidly approaching playoffs. The Bucks on the other hand also rested most of their stars in their second last game of the season, with Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova and a few others sitting the game out.Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 19 points as well as 6 assists.
Kevin Durant had 32 points while Russel Westbrook had 30 points and 9 assists as the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame 25 points from Ty Lawson to win against Western Conference competitor Denver. Serge Ibaka blocked 4 shots to further strengthen his claim for Defensive Player of the Year. Derek Fisher also had 9 points off the bench for the Thunder.
In what was possibly Steve Nash’s final game for the Suns, they were not able to get the win as they lost by four points against a Spurs team that was resting its big three for the playoffs. Australian Patty Mills had 27 points as he was handed the start against premier point guard Steve Nash. Shannon Brown had 21 to lead the Sun while young big man Tiago Splitter had 26 points in only 19 minutes of play.
Mike Woodson was given yet another quandary in the seemingly endless drama in the Big Apple as the Knick’s got the win against the Hawks. With Tyson Chandler sitting the game out, Amare Stoudemire played his seemingly preferred position at the center, with Carmelo Anthony filling the power forward position. Whilst the Knicks were worse defensively, they got the win and Melo and Stat combined for 51 points, the kind of numbers Knick fans are more than happy to see. Which leaves Woodson with the question: Can all three of his potential All Stars play well in the same front court?
Serge Ibaka had 18 points 14 rebounds and 7 blocks but it was not enough as Kobe Bryant had 28 to lead the Lakers to a double overtime victory over the Thunder. However the biggest talking point of the night would end up being Metta World Peace’s elbow to the back of James Harden’s head. Looking much more like the Ron Artest of old, World Peace slammed his elbow into Hardens head with enough force to knock the man to the ground. Will be very interesting to see the type of punishment handed out by the league.
DeMarcus Cousins played big as the Sacramento Kings completely eclipsed the Charlotte Bobcats, winning by 26 points. Cousins had 29 points and 10 rebounds but perhaps Tyreke Evans was the real star of the show as he had 22 points on 10-11 shooting, including three assists and 2 steals.
The Heat scored 31 points in the fourth to overwhelm the Rockets 19 points as LeBron James’s 32 points lifted the Heat. With the loss the Rockets are no longer in playoff contention, despite Chandler Parsons’ 23 points.
40 points from the Toronto Raptor bench were not enough for to push the Raptors over the line as they lost to the Detroit Pistons. Despite none of the starters scoring in double figures for the Pistons, Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon scored 19 points apiece to lead Detroit.
Manu Ginobli the Super Sub had 20 points off the bench for the San Antonio Spurs as they increased their buffer as the number one overall seed in the playoffs with a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 19 points.
It’s amazing how injury can destroy a promising season. The Timberwolves are the epitome of this. Playing without Kevin Love and many other notable absentees, the Wolves put up a good fight but were defeated by the Golden State Warriors. Charles Jenkins had 24 points.
JaVale McGee had 17 points as the Orlando Magic were held to just 30 points in the second half. Ryan Anderson had 24 points for the Magic to lead all scorers.
Chris Paul had 33 points and 13 assists as the Clippers outscored the Hornets by 19 as they won by 9. With the win, the Clippers stay in the race for the top spot in the Pacific Division with the Lakers.