Monday night featured a entertaining double-header in the NBA Playoffs.
Game 2 – Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls – Bulls Lead Series 1-0
Both teams came out extremely flat in the first half. Most of it was just not making shots but there was some good defense in the mix. At the end of the first quarter, the Bucks had a 16-11 over the Bulls, that is painful. The second quarter, both teams were able to hit shots again, but that was also when the game became chippy. Bucks Center John Henson ran into Bulls Guard Aaron Brooks and then stood over him as if he was taunting him. That was when the players starting pushing and shoving one another. Jimmy Butler and OJ Mayo got into each other’s face. Aaron Brooks picked up the personal foul while John Henson and OJ Mayo from the Bucks and Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler from the Bulls all picked up a Technical Foul. Including the mix up, the Bulls scored 28 points and the Bucks scoring 22 points putting the Bulls up by 1 at the half. The third quarter was pretty even as the Bulls outscored the Bucks, 32-30 to put them up by 3 heading into the fourth quarter. Just when you thought the chippy play between these two teams was over, you were wrong. On a jump shot from the Bulls, during the rebound, Bucks Center Zaza Pachulia elbowed Bulls rookie Forward Nikola Mirotic in the back of the head and the official gave Zaza a technical foul. Now do you think these teams were done with cheap shots? If you said yes, you are still wrong. Closer to the end of the game, the ball was loose on the floor. Zaza and Nikola dove for the ball and Pachulia pretty much sat on Mirotic. When Pachulia sat up with the ball, Mirotic was sitting on the floor behind him and gave him a shove and then they starting the pushing all over again. The officials gave each player a Technical Foul. Since Pachulia had received a Technical earlier in the quarter from the elbow he threw to Nikola Mirotic, he was ejected from the game. After that elbow early in the quarter, that sparked a 13-0 run led by Jimmy Butler and the Bulls pick up a 91-82 win over the Bucks and take a 2-0 lead heading to Milwaukee.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with his second straight Playoff career high 31 points on 10-19 shooting from the field and 9 rebounds. Butler scored 14 of his 31 points in the 4th quarter including 4 of 5 from the field and 3 of 3 from downtown. Derrick Rose added 15 points (all scored in the second half), 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Pau Gasol had 11 points and 16 rebounds and Joakim Noah had 6 points and 19 rebounds. The Bulls outrebounded the Bucks 64-48. Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 22 points. Michael Carter-Williams added 12 points. They were the only players who were in double figures for Milwaukee
Game 3 is on Thursday at 6pm on NBA TV in Milwaukee. If you are a Bucks fan, be patient with this team. They are very young and all of these games in the postseason will pay off down the road. Keep in mind, they haven’t won a playoff game since April 28th, 2010 against the Atlanta Hawks. If they clean up the rebounding but continue to consistently play tough defense, I think they can win 1 game in this series. For the Bulls, I thought Derrick Rose would have a better performance but that didn’t happen and really didn’t need to happen. If they continue to rebound at an elite level and Jimmy Butler continues to score Playoff career high games, this team could give the Cavaliers a run for their money.
PREDICTION: I think the Bucks will have more energy than ever before after returning to Milwaukee. I think they will have a great performance in Game 3 and will win the game, but that will be their only win of the series.
Game 2 – New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors – Warriors Lead Series 2-0
After getting dominated in the first quarter of game 1, the Pelicans came out with a different idea. They opened up a early 13 point lead and ended the opening quarter with a 28-17 advantage. The Warriors bench would come in and get Golden State back in the game led by Leandro Barbosa. Stephen Curry drilled a three late in the second quarter to give the Warriors a 3-point lead at the intermission. New Orleans would rebound and continue their consistent offensive play that occurred in the 1st quarter into the 3rd. That great first quarter play from the Pelicans was due to great ball movement and getting open looks instead of forcing the shots. That was something Golden State Head Coach Steve Kerr told the TNT broadcasters that his team wasn’t doing. They weren’t playing their game that got them to 67 wins, which was ball movement and spacing the floor. Both teams were knotted up at 71 at the end of three quarters. Both teams would stay neck and neck until late into the fourth quarter when Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green were playing the defense that helped GSW become the best defensive team in the league. Getting stops that led to transition buckets was what broke the camels as Golden State held the Pelicans to only 35 second half points and gave the Warriors the 97-87 win and a 2-0 lead heading to the Big Easy.
Klay Thompson led the way for the Warriors with 26 points. Steph Curry added 22 points and Leandro Barbosa had 12 points off the bench and was a big spark for the Warriors. Golden State continues to win games at home, with this win over the Pelicans, the Warriors have won 20 straight at 41 of 43 at Oracle Arena. Their last loss at home was on January 27th against the Bulls. The last time the Warriors had a 2-0 first round series lead was back in 1989 against the Utah Jazz. The Warriors would sweep the Jazz in 3 games (best of 5 series back then). Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 26 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon chipped in 23 points.
Game 3 is on Thursday night at 7:30pm on TNT. The Pelicans get to return home where they went 28-13 (17-24 at home). They will need to have Davis and Gordon continue to put up great numbers but they will need to keep the crowd into this game. If they have the same start to the game as they did in game 2 into game 3, they have a very good chance. Golden State needs to return to their bread and butter. That is ball movement, getting stops/turnovers that lead to fastbreak points. Look for them to do that.
PREDICTION: New Orleans will come out swinging like they did in game 2. They will feed off of their crowd and will get help from one of their role players. I think the Pelicans will win game 3 but that is the only win they will get of the series.
Games on Tuesday – Three games on the NBA Playoff schedule. Game 2 between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be at 5pm on TNT from the Q (Cavs lead series 1-0). Game 2 between the Washington Wizards and the Toronto Raptors from the Air Canada Centre is at 6pm on NBA TV (Wizards lead series 1-0). The night cap features game 2 of the Dallas Mavericks and the Houston Rockets from Houston. Tipoff is at 7:30pm on TNT (Rockets lead series 1-0).
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