The NBA playoffs kicked off this weekend with a mostly “expected” Saturday slate of games and a whirlwind of upsets on Sunday. Dallas Mavericks fans were truly loving life as they rested on the laurels of a comfortable win over the Portland Trailblazers Saturday and watched Western Conference leaders both fall on Sunday. Despite beating the New Orleans Hornets four times during the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers lost their afternoon matchup. Perhaps even more shocking was the Sunday noon game, in which the San Antonio Spurs allowed the Memphis Grizzlies to slip past them and log their first ever playoff win.
So the question is posed…fans, are you panicking? Of course, in the playoffs anything can always happen. Upsets are what make it all fun and with basketball, even one minute is a LONG time left on the clock. Considering each series, here are my thoughts.
SPURS v GRIZZLIES – Spurs didn’t play Manu Ginobli on Sunday. Some suspected his elbow is still a nagging injury; others thought maybe Coach Pop was just resting him. I would certainly expect to see him in Game 2 on Wednesday. I doubt the Spurs will let the Grizzlies beat them again, but good on former Houston Rocket Shane Battier for scoring that amazing game-winning three-point shot for the Grizzlies. Battier deserves some congratulations of another kind as well – rumor has it Baby Battier entered the world on Sunday as well – what a killer day.
LAKERS v HORNETS – If I were a Lakers fan, I would be slightly concerned about this one. Hornets beat the Lakers by nine and honestly outplayed the reigning champs the entire game. It appeared as though the Lakers were struggling to find their rhythm against the quickness of New Orleans and by the end of the game, even Los Angeles’ stars looked defeated and bruised. The Lakers better turn this around now if they want to even think of a repeat.
THUNDER v NUGGETS – While some may have been surprised by Oklahoma City’s win over the “New York Knicks West,” there are several who are looking at the Thunder as this year’s surprise out of the Western Conference. Biggest worry for Thunder fans? The fact that although Kevin Durant put up a HUGE 41 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 for the Thunder, the rest of their starters only scored 9 points combined. Just how long can the “Durantula” carry this team?
MAVERICKS v TRAILBLAZERS – Another University of Texas alum came up big for the Trailblazers on Saturday, when LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points for Portland. Although the Mavericks suffered a slump in their shooting during the middle of the game, a hot start by Jason Kidd and a strong finish by Dirk Nowitzki led them to an eight-point victory in Game 1.
BULLS v PACERS – I must admit I almost gave up on the Bulls early in this game. The Pacers pressured likely MVP Derrick Rose early and often, but blew their opportunity for the upset late in the game when they allowed Rose to dominate and the Bulls to get back in it. Derrick Rose better get some rest because he is going to have his work cut out for him during this playoff run. If the Bulls hope to win it all, they are going to need some more help from the bench.
HAWKS v MAGIC – The only first game upset in the East was this matchup between the 4 and 5 seed. Another instance of depth, Dwight Howard had a huge game with 46 points, but Atlanta managed to shut down the perimeter plays by leaving Howard wide open. After the Hawks cruised to a ten-point victory, it was no surprise that Howard’s post-game press conference was short and quiet, but not lacking in frustration with the Magic’s loss.
HEAT v SIXERS – The Heat are destroying the Sixers. The whole world will be watching the great Miami experiment as James, Wade and Bosh try to prove that all of the off-season hoopla was worth every minute. The Sixers are not the team to prove otherwise.
CELTICS v KNICKS – Most exciting finish of the weekend! If these two teams keep it up, this series will go the distance. Despite a slow start, which prompted Boston head coach Doc Rivers to say, “I just thought defensively we joined the playoffs in the second half,” the Celtics battled their way back into this game and got the victory. The key to Boston’s success was also hitting the boards, as they out-rebounded New York 44-34.
Stay tuned for more NBA updates. Of course, as always, you can find your favorite game on one of our many televisions at your neighborhood Third Base. See you there!