NBA

NBA Playoffs First Weekend Recap

Joseph Glorioso Photography

The highly anticipated NBA Playoffs began on Saturday and as always is the best first two days in NBA.  It is 4 games per day (on Saturday and Sunday) starting in the morning and ending at night.  It is like the first day of the NCAA Tournament all over again (minus 12 games).

SATURDAY

Game 1 – Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors

After being bounced by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams and the rest of the Brooklyn Nets team in 7 games last season.  The Raptors went up against a familiar face in the 2015 Playoffs that they faced in the 2014 postseason, Paul Pierce.  Paul decided to leave the Nets and join John Wall and Bradley Beal in the Nations Capital.  Pierce was the man who put the Nets into the next round last season after knocking off Toronto at home in 2014 in Game 7.

The game stayed close for the most part in the first half before the 37-year old NBA Veteran from Kansas took over.  Pierce had to take matters into his own hands after John Wall (10 points on 5-18 shooting from the field, 8 assists and 6 rebounds) and Bradley Beal (16 points on 6-23 from the field and 1-7 from downtown) struggled in the opening game of the 7-game series.  The Wizards would have a double-digit lead in the second half before the Raptors would make a comeback on the shoulders of Greivis Vasquez (10 points) and Lou Williams (10 points) who hit 3 straight threes to send the game into overtime.  Then the Raptors would collapse in the extra period as they only scored 4 points.  The Wizards would score 11 points.  The #5 seed Wizards would come away with a 93-86 win and take Game 1.  Paul Pierce led the way with 20 points on 7-10 shooting from the field and 4-7 from downtown.  Amir Johnson led Toronto with 18 off the bench.  DeMar DeRozan added 15 points.  Kyle Lowry had a rough afternoon, scoring only 7 points on 2-10 shooting from the field.

Game 2 will be on Tuesday in Toronto at 6pm on NBA TV.  If the Raptors want any chance of tying this series before heading to DC, they will need a better performance from their starters, especially their lone all-star, Kyle Lowry.  The whole starting lineup had 1 person in double figure scoring.  If the Wizards want to head home with a 2-0 lead, they will need the same performance out of Paul Pierce, but will also need John Wall and Bradley Beal to step up.

PREDICTION: I think Kyle Lowry and the rest of the Toronto Raptors will have a better performance as a whole in Game 2 and will tie up the series on Tuesday.

 

Game 1 – New Orleans Pelicans at Golden State Warriors

After beating the San Antonio Spurs on the last day of the NBA Regular Season, they come into the Playoffs with a tall task.  How tall? Only the best team in the entire league that won 67 games during the regular season, the Golden State Warriors.  The Pelicans had a goal of going into the loudest arena in the NBA and play the role of spoiler.  That wasn’t really the case in the first half as the Warriors laid the hammer down on the Pelicans as they had a 28-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Then the damage wasn’t terrible going into the locker room as the Pelicans trailed by 18 points.  Both teams would then score 25 points in the third quarter.  Then the Warriors would let off the gas pedal as the Pelicans made a huge comeback and brought the game to within 4 points before the Warriors would seal the deal and take a 1-0 in the series with a 106-99 win over New Orleans.  Curry led the Warriors with 34 points, Klay Thompson added 21 points, but the ridiculous stat of the game for the Splash Brothers was that they each missed 3 free throws which is a rare occasion.  The Warriors as a team shot 21-34 from the free throw line, while the Pelicans went 20-25 from the charity stripe.  Anthony Davis was a monster for the Pelicans in his Playoff debut.  He dropped 35 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks.  Quincy Pondexter added 20 points and Eric Gordon scored 16.

Game 2 is Monday night at 8:30pm on TNT.  The Warriors will need to keep the gas pedal down because anything can happen in the postseason, no matter what your record is.  If the Pelicans want to sneak a win out of Oakland, they will need to control the tempo and not get down so early, so they are not trying to use all of their energy on making the comeback.

PREDICTION: I think Golden State will be too much for New Orleans and will head to the Big Easy with a 2-0 lead.

 

Game 1 – Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls

The last time Derrick Rose played in a Playoff game was in 2012, he tore his ACL that game and sat out the entire next season.  Rose has slowly been recovering from his latest knee procedure.  But this game might have been his comeback game that we have all been waiting for.  We have to be careful when we say that, because when we think he is back he has another injury.  So if you are a Chicago Bulls fan or just a fan of watching a player like Derrick Rose, knock on wood right now!  This game stayed fairly even which is a surprise since last year the Bucks were in contention for the #1 pick in the NBA Draft (ended up with #2) and are also playing without that #2 pick in Jabari Parker, who tore his ACL in the first half of the season.  The Bucks played the Bulls tough but Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler took over in the second half.  Rose ended up with 23 points on 9-16 shooting in 27 minutes, while Jimmy Butler had a team high 25 points on 8-14 shooting.  The Bucks were led by Khris Middleton with 18 points.  The Greek Freak added 12 points.

Game 2 is Monday night at 6pm on TNT.  This is Derrick’s chance to really put himself back on the map and now that the Bulls are healthy, they could be serious contenders in the east.  The Bucks will need to shoot the ball better in game 2, 39% won’t help you win games.  They also need to win the rebound battle.

PREDICTION: Derrick Rose will have an even better game than in Game 1 and the Bulls will head back to Milwaukee with a 2-0 lead in the series.

 

Game 1 – Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets

Coming off a dominating win over the Utah Jazz and taking the #2 seed in the West, the Rockets look to start their road to the NBA Title against in-state rival, Dallas Mavericks.  This game looked ugly in the first quarter as the Rockets were getting anything they wanted on the offensive end.  Dallas’s defense was invisible in the first quarter as they allowed 32 points and scoring only 19 in the opening period.  The Mavericks would then settle down and re-group as they outscored Houston, 36-27 in the second quarter to put the Mavs within 4 going in to the locker room.  After the intermission, the Rockets would sneak away just a little at a time outscoring the Mavericks by 3 points in the third and fourth quarter.  James Harden and the Rockets would pick up the win, 118-108.  Harden led the way for the Rockets with 24 points and 11 assists.  Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 24 points.

Game 2 is Tuesday at 7:30pm on TNT.  Dallas will need to come out with more defensive intensity and not make it so easy for the Rockets.  The Rockets just need to keep doing what they have been doing all season, giving James Harden the ball.

PREDICTION: James Harden will score 30+ and the Rockets will head to Dallas up 2-0 in the series.

 

SUNDAY

Game 1 – Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James made his highly anticipated postseason return with the Cleveland Cavaliers as they played the Boston Celtics.  The last time that LeBron played a playoff game in a Cavaliers uniform was against the Boston Celtics.  But, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo was on that Celtics team and now none of them are.  The Celtics made it a close game in the first half, playing really well being led by Isaiah Thomas.  But Cleveland would go on a run late in the second quarter and take an 8 point lead to the locker room.  Cleveland would then coast in the second half to pick up the 113-100 win and a 1-0 series lead.  Coming into this game, LeBron James had played in more Playoff games than the whole Boston Celtics roster put together.  James put in his regular day at the office but the story of the game was the Playoff debut for Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.  Irving had a game high 30 points including 5-9 from downtown.  Kevin Love went back to his old self and put up a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds.  LeBron ended the game with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.  Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 22 points.

Game 2 is Tuesday night at 5pm on TNT.  Boston will have a hard time going against Cleveland because the Cavs have so many weapons.  They will need a close to perfect game to come out of Cleveland with a win.

PREDICTION:  It will be LeBron’s turn to take over the series and the Cavaliers will be up 2-0 heading to Beantown.

 

Game 1 – Brooklyn Nets at Atlanta Hawks

The Brooklyn Nets barely got into the Playoffs as they entered into the series with the Hawks as an #8 seed and that means they would face the team oriented Atlanta Hawks, who won 60 games this season.  Just like most games over the weekend, it started out pretty ugly for the 8th seed as the Hawks were up by 12 after the opening quarter.  Brooklyn would make a run in the second half, especially in the 4th quarter but the Hawks wouldn’t let them come away with the upset as they won Game 1, 99-92.  Kyle Korver led the Hawks with 21 points and 7 rebounds on 5-11 shooting from downtown.  DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague each added 17 points.  Paul Millsap struggled going only 2-11 from the field with 6 points. Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson led the Nets with 17 points each.  Deron Williams had 13 points.

Game 2 is Wednesday at 5pm on NBA TV.  If the Nets want any chance at winning a single game they will need to play spectacular defense and the big 3 (Williams, Lopez and Johnson) will need to have a big game.  For the Hawks, the great thing about this team is that if someone is having a bad night (Paul Millsap), someone else will step up (Kyle Korver).  I don’t see Brooklyn making it to Game 6.

PREDICTION: Paul Millsap will have a great game and the Hawks will dominate Game 2 and will have a 2-0 lead heading to Brooklyn.

 

Game 1 – Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies

This game was a blowout from the jump.  I won’t go to deep into this game other than saying that the Blazers came out and laid a egg.  The Grizzlies were up by 19 at the end of the first half and was up by as much as 30 points before winning Game 1, 100-86.  Beno Udrih (not a typo) led the Grizzlies with a career Playoff high 20 points.  Zach Randolph added 16 points.  Marc Gasol added 15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks.  LaMarcus Aldridge had 32 points to lead the Blazers but also shot the ball 34 times.  Damian Lillard ended up with 14 points and 8 rebounds on 5-21 shooting (ouch).

Game 2 is Wednesday at 6pm on TNT.  The Blazers will need all-star like performances from both Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge and will even need help from Nicolas Batum since both Wesley Matthews and Aaron Afflalo are both out with injuries.  Memphis just needs to continue to play the way they have been defensively and they should win this series in 4 or 5 games.

PREDICTION: The Blazers will bounce back but the Grizzlies will still win Game 2 and will be up 2-0 heading to Rip City.

 

Game 1 – San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers

This matchup was the most exciting games to watch when the bracket was set.  The Clippers were able to make things difficult for Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.  Plus, it didn’t hurt that Aaron Baynes (backup center for the Spurs) was on two posters that involved Blake Griffin dunking the ball over him.  It was all about energy for the Clippers in their 107-92 Game 1 win.  The Spurs didn’t bring any energy.  Chris Paul was brilliant in the win, scoring 32 points, pulling down 7 rebounds and dishing out 6 assists.  Blake Griffin added 26 points and 12 rebounds.  Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs with 18 points.  Tim Duncan added 11 points and 11 rebounds.  Ginobili and Parker each had 10 points in the loss.

Game 2 is Wednesday at 8:30pm on TNT.  The Clippers will need the performances that they received from Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in all of the games in this series if they want to knock off the defending champs.  The Spurs need to bring more energy in the Game 2 and will need more help from the bench and will need to knock down the shots that they normally hit.

PREDICTION: San Antonio will come out fired up and they will steal Game 2 from the Clippers and will head back to Texas with the series tied 1-1.


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