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NBA FINALS: GAME ONE

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

Thunder vs Spurs: Game Five

The Oklahoma City Thunder continued their momentum as they notched their third win in their series against the San Antonio Spurs and one away from the NBA Finals. In a perhaps unforeseen turnaround, the Thunder have won three in a row and suddenly people are saying that the Spurs look to old. With the loss today, the Spurs lost three in a row for the first time this season. Kevin Durant led the way for the Thunder with 27 points on 10-19 shooting while James Harden had 20 points of the bench.

“Bottom line is you can’t turn it over 21 times for 28 points. That’s what we did again. Turnovers have been theme during the entire deal.”

Spurs coach Greg Popovich

Manu Ginobli was huge for the Spurs, scoring 34 points, including 2 big threes to bring the game close. However, it was not enough as the Spurs now face elimination from the playoffs.

Thunder vs Spurs: Game One

The San Antonio Spurs fought back late to take a Game One victory at home over the dangerous Oklahoma City Thunder. On the verge of giving up home court advantage and losing their first game of the playoffs, the Spurs rode a tremendous Manu Ginobli to victory. Ginobli had 26 points off the bench in a encouraging return to form for the Spurs.

“(Ginobili) is just left-handed and crafty. He can get to the rim. He made plays in the fourth quarter, and we stopped moving the ball.”
— Oklahoma City’s James Harden

Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 27 points and 10 rebounds, but for one of the few times in his career, fell over in the 4th. After veteran Stephen Jackson was moved on to Durant, the long armed terror only managed to get up two shots in the final period. A poor return from a usually reliable performer. James Harden had 19 while playoff warrior Derek Fisher added 13 points

Thunder vs Lakers: Game Five

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.

Thunder vs Lakers: Game Two

20 points from both Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum were not enough for the Lakers to take down the Thunder in Game 2. The Thunder stormed to on a 9-0 run at the ennd of the game to steal the game from the Lakers. Durant led the way for the Thunder with 22 points including the game winner. James Harden added 15 off the bench in another consumate performance.

“I’ve been around these guys four years and they won’t quit. When we were down seven they could have hung their heads and we would have probably lost by 12 and gone on to L.A. It’s all about toughness with our guys. That toughness on the defensive end that’s our game. That’s who we are.”
— Thunder coach Scott Brooks

This series is heading into dangerous territory now for the Lakers. Next game at Staples is critical if the Lakers are to gather any momentum in this series, it has to start next game. Anything later is too late.

Mavericks vs Thunder: Game Two

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.

Layne Murdoch/NBAE/Getty Images

“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.

Mavericks vs Thunder: Game One

Final score: 98-99 OKC win (OKC leads 1-0)

Despite a strong performance from Dirk Nowitzki down the stretch, Kevin Durant stole the headlines as he bounced home the difficult jumpshot to steal the game from the Mavericks. The Mavs looked set to win it after two free throws which put them up by one but Durant was able to make the winner despite the defence of Shawn Marion draped all over him. With no time outs remaining, Jason Kidd inbounded the ball to Marion, but he was unable to get a shot off before time expired.

Jason Terry kept the Mavericks in the game during the first half and finished with 20 points for the game. Jason Kidd also quitely have ae good game with 8 points, 7 steals, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. James Harden peformed well in his return to the lineup after the hit from Metta World Peace and recieved a warm welcome from the OKC crowd.

Despite a poor shooting performance, Durant still ended up being the difference in the end as he scored 25 points. Westbrook had 28 to lead all comers in a terrific performance.

Western Conference Playoff Preview

San Antonio (1) vs. Utah (8)

Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Utah at San Antonio, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 2 – Wed. May 2, Utah at San Antonio, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Sat. May 5, San Antonio at Utah, 10 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Mon. May 7, San Antonio at Utah, TBD
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, Utah at San Antonio, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, San Antonio at Utah, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, Utah at San Antonio, TBD

Things are much different this time around for the San Antonio Spurs. This time they’re not limping into the playoff but instead have all their superstars healthy and raring to go. Tony Parker is playing MVP basketball, Manu Ginobli has embraced his new role off the bench with vigor and Tim Duncan is doing the same he has for years, if only slower. The Jazz have the tall timber that could bother the Spurs in Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap brusing their way through the lane. With no true defensive center left in San Antonion, this is where the Jazz can win the series. But the electric offense of the Spurs should be too much for the Jazz. Expect a reasobably easy series win here.

Oklahoma City (2) vs. Dallas (7)

Game 1 – Sat. April 28, Dallas at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 – Mon. April 30, Dallas at Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Thu. May 3, Oklahoma City at Dallas, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 4 – Sat. May 5, Oklahoma City at Dallas, 7:30 p.m., TNT/R
Game 5 * Mon. May 7, Dallas at Oklahoma City, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, Oklahoma City at Dallas, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Dallas at Oklahoma City ,TBD, TNT

Surely the Thunder were hoping for an easier first round matchup than with the reigning champs. Championship experience runs deep in the roster and the Mavericks pose a real threat to the Thunders potential championship run. But the absence of defensive anchor Tyson Chandler, who now makes port in the Knicks key, will seriously effect the Mavs chances. Whether ageing center Brendan Haywood can stand in the way of the likes of Russel Westrook and Kevin Durant will hold one of the main keys to the series. Also, Serge Ibaka will have to stay with Dirk Nowitzki. Same thing with Shaun Marion on Kevin Durant. It’s there for the Mavs to win, but the Thunder will probably go on to the second round out of this one.

L.A. Lakers (3) vs. Denver (6)

Game 1 – Sun. April 29, Denver at L.A. Lakers, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
Game 2 – Tue. May 1, Denver at L.A. Lakers, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Fri May 4, L.A. Lakers at Denver, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Sun. May 6, L.A. Lakers at Denver, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 5 * Tue. May 8, Denver at L.A. Lakers, TBD
Game 6 * Thu. May 10, L.A. Lakers at Denver, TBD
Game 7 * Sat. May 12, Denver at L.A. Lakers, TBD, TNT

Well the Lakers got here. And if it wasnt for Ron Artest’s flailing elbows, they would of arrived in one piece. Playoffs seem to turn this team into another creature. It’s said so often, but the Lakers are built for the playoffs. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol give them unmatched size and now with Ramon Sessions running the point, there’s even an element of speed in Lakerland. However, Sessions’ number one task will be to slow down rocket point guard Ty Lawson, who could very well claim to be one of the All Stars of the second half of the season. But Bynum’s improved low post play and rebounding will be the key here. There’s simply noone who can match up with him in the league, let alone on the Nugget’s roster. Look to him to have a big series and possibly an opinion changing playoffs as the Lakers get the win here.

Memphis (4) vs. L.A. Clippers (5)

Game 1 – Sun. April 29, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2 – Wed. May 2, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3 – Sat. May 5, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4 – Mon. May 7, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Game 5 * Wed. May 9, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD
Game 6 * Fri. May 11, Memphis at L.A. Clippers, TBD
Game 7 * Sun. May 13, L.A. Clippers at Memphis, TBD

The Clippers gave up homecourt advantage in the dying stages of the regular season and that could very well make all the difference as the Grizzlies building is one of the more hostile environments around the league. It’s a difficult building to win in, as the Spurs showed last time around. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin form a dangerous duo and one that could very well win the series for the Clippers. However, if the bustling Zach Randolph can get Blake into foul trouble early, then the Clippers could be in a bit of trouble. Paul is one of the better clutch performers in the league and the matchup between him and Tony Allen during crunch time is something to look forward too. The Clippers don’t really have anyone to match up with Rudy Gay, the hard running and slashing guard likely to cause some headaches for the Clippers. This one is almost too close to call, but the edge goes to Lob City in this one.

26/4/2012-Westbrook and Durant take off as Nash’s (possible) farewell falls short

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.

Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

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.

25/4/2012-Hawks take step towards home court advantage as Jazz claim final playoff spot.

While Chris Paul and Blake Griffin combined for 70 points, no other Clippers players reached the double figure mark as they lost to the Atlanta Hawks. Joe Johnson had 28 points including 6-8 from behind the three point line as the Hawks edged closer to home court advantage against the Boston Celtics. However, with the loss, the Clippers lost the Pacific division title to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Boston Celtics 2nd team beat the Miami Heat reserves as the stars for both teams sat out. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all were absent while Paul Pierce only played minimal game time as the bench players for both teams were forced to step up. Aleksander Pavlovic was the standout of both teams, with 16 of his 18 points coming in the final quarter.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Kings but Kevin Durant’s 32 points led the Oklahoma City Thunder to the win. DeMarcus Cousin’s also had 32 points to match Durant, but it wasn’t enough as Durant’s big game kept him in the running for the scoring title.

The chaotic race to the end of the season continued as the Utah Jazz officially claimed the final playoff spot up for grabs with a win over the Phoenix Suns. The Jazz eliminated the Suns with a 12 point win at home. Paul Millsap had 26 to lead all comers and was absolutely dominant throughout the game.

Marco Belinelli hit the go ahead layup with 0.7 seconds remaining as the New Orleans Hornets won against the Golden State Warriors. Belinelli had 23 to lead both teams as Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 16 points.