Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

Tuesday in Toronto, the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 to tie their first round playoff series at one win apiece. In the win, DeMar DeRozan shot 9-of-21, with 12-of-14 free throws, finishing with 30 points. He did commit six turnovers; still, the all-star stepped up and helped his squad squeeze out a much-needed victory. Here are some DeRozan video highlights:

Tuesday in Chicago, the Washington Wizards beat the Bulls 101-99 in overtime to take a 2-0 series lead. Wizards guard Bradley Beal shot 9-of-20 for 26 points, 7 rebounds and two steals in the win. John Wall is the star guard in the Wizards backcourt, but Beal is on the rise. Here are some video highlights:

Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Wizards, who have played two NBA playoff games against the Bulls, both in Chicago, and won both. Nice position to be in:

The Washington Wizards had to wait six years to get back to the postseason. But they only needed two games to really get introduced to playoff basketball, with more physical play, short tempers and extreme rallies. In the intense cauldron of United Center — a place that has devoured more seasoned units — the Wizards refused to relent after watching a 17-point lead turn into a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and didn’t crumble when they were betrayed by missed free throws and calls that went against them.

The Wizards have been through several ups and downs during the regular season, and they staged a game against the Chicago Bulls that matched those emotional oscillations. Relying upon the scoring of its youngest player, Bradley Beal, and the guile of Nene, Washington took a two-games-to-none lead in this best of seven series with a 101-99 overtime victory in which it outscrapped and outwilled the Bulls.

“I wanted our guys to be greedy,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said. “Nothing is guaranteed. We’ve got two wins, you’ve got to get to four. We have to continue to understand how we won these games and the way we went about it.”

Beal scored a game-high 26 points and Nene scored 17, with six coming in overtime, as the Wizards accomplished their mission of returning to Washington for Friday’s Game 3 with two wins. Grasping to a two-point lead in the closing seconds, Nene fouled out while contesting Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich on a driving layup, sending the former Wizard to the free throw line with 2.4 seconds remaining.

Watch this ridiculous, clutch, four-point play that Kevin Durant got for the Thunder against the Grizzlies in their first-round NBA playoff series. Memphis wound up winning the game in overtime, but check the video footage:

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley. Houston is facing the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the NBA playoffs:

Patrick Beverley healthy enough to keep playing for Rockets

Patrick Beverley limped badly, sat on the bench by himself while his teammates were huddled and generally looked like a player whose postseason had come to a screeching halt Sunday after he was injured during the Houston Rockets’ overtime loss to the Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their Western Conference series.

But instead of losing their defensive-minded point guard, the Rockets will apparently have him back in the lineup Wednesday for Game 2 at the Toyota Center.

The Rockets announced Sunday that Beverley suffered a sprain to his right knee, the same knee in which he suffered a meniscus tear last month, sidelining him for eight games. But the team announced Monday that Beverley “had a knee examination which revealed no acute issues. He will likely be available for Game 2 Wednesday.”

On Sunday the Trail Blazers beat the Rockets 122-120 in overtime, getting 46 points and 18 rebounds from forward LaMarcus Aldridge. The Blazers now lead the first round playoff series 1-0. Here are some video highlights of Aldridge’s great performance:

Spurs Big 3 does big damage to Mavs

Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram blog repoting on the Spurs and Mavericks, who are facing each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs:

Spurs Big 3 does big damage to Mavs

On a night when the Dallas Mavericks’ offense went silent after the first 41 minutes, the San Antonio Spurs’ Big 3 came up big Sunday afternoon.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to score 65 of the Spurs’ 90 points, grab 17 of their 48 rebounds, and dispensed nine of their 14 assists as San Antonio opened the playoffs with a 90-85 triumph over the Dallas Mavericks at AT&T Center.

“I wish I could always score like this, or Tony, or Tim,’’ said Ginobili, who scored 17 points and collected six rebounds. “The way they play defense didn’t let us move the ball as much as we usually do to find open teammates, so we played way more one-on-one.”

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on the Trail Blazers:

Rockets guard Patrick Beverley hurts right knee

After suffering an overtime home loss in Game 1 of their first-round series against Portland, the Houston Rockets got more bad news.

Their starting point guard, Patrick Beverley, suffered a sprained right knee when he was hit by LaMarcus Aldridge on an attempted screen, the team announced after the game.

Beverley will have a magnetic resonance imaging taken on the knee Monday. It was the same knee on which Beverley suffered a meniscus tear in March. The injury had been serious enough that there was talk that it might require season-ending surgery, but he instead missed eight games before returning for the final four games of the regular season.

Sunday in Miami, the Heat beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1 of their first round NBA playoff series. But the Bobcats did enjoy a highlight coming in the form of a great Josh McRoberts dunk on Chris “Birdman” Andersen. Enjoy the video clip:

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on the Wizards, who are set to face the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs:

It’s a nice badge to carry into the playoffs: The team no one wants to play.

It even has a tinge of intimidation to it, that is, if the Bulls were actually facing a team that was susceptible to intimidation.

But they aren’t.

The Washington Wizards have little to lose, especially when all they’ve been hearing is they’re destined for elimination by next week.

“Why would they pick us?’’ Wizards center Marcin Gortat told the Washington Post on Friday when asked about all the predictions from the so-called experts favoring the Bulls. “First of all, Chicago is an experienced team. They have a lot of good players every year. The pressure is on them. I don’t understand why we should be mad. This is a good team, and we’ve just got to beat them. We’ve got to focus on our team.’’

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat:

Mike Beasley inactive for Heat in playoff opener

Michael Beasley was designated as inactive for the Miami Heat’s playoff opener Sunday against the Charlotte Bobcats at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Beasley sprained an ankle during Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the Philadelphia 76ers. Coach Erik Spoelstra said Beasley got in a workout Sunday and is closer to a return.

“Michael is still getting healthy from that ankle,” Spoelstra said. “He didn’t really progress the last couple of days the way that we had hoped. He was able to get a better workout today than he was the last couple of days.”

Here’s the Miami Herald reporting on the LeBron James and the Heat, who tomorrow begin their first-round playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats, who are owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan:

James has two NBA championships. Jordan won six. James has four NBA MVPs. Jordan earned five. James is a better athlete. Jordan is a tough competitor. James likes to ride bikes in his free time. Jordan is a golfer. And it goes on from there.

Everyone has an opinion. Even the President of the United States has weighed in on the topic.

Sure, Barack Obama once said James held the world in the palm of his hand, but, given a choice, he probably would pick Jordan to strip that sphere in the open court and glide in for a tongue-wagging breakaway dunk.

“I’m a Chicago guy, and Mike will always be the guy for me,” Obama said in an interview with Charles Barkley in 2012.

Of course, Obama then added to that show of loyalty a mighty large caveat.

“LeBron has the chance to be as good as anybody,” he said.

Here’s ESPN Miami reporting on the Heat, who begin their first round playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday:

Having finished 54-28, the Heat endured their lowest winning percentage of any season since James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh came together in 2010. They’ve survived a seven-month grind during which nagging injuries forced Wade out of the lineup for 28 games and coach Erik Spoelstra to sort through 21 different starting lineups to fill the voids.

Now, the two-time defending champions enter the playoffs older — six of their top nine players are in their 30s — and arguably more vulnerable than they’ve been at any point. In addition to those factors, Miami limped into the postseason having lost 14 of their final 25 regular-season games and failed to secure home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, which proved to be essential last season.

Yet as defiant as they’ve ever been, the Heat insist none of those potential warning signs matter.

“On the outside, there’s more doubt,” said forward Udonis Haslem, who along with Wade are the lone players who have been with the Heat since their first championship season in 2006. “Within here, we’re still confident in one another. We still know what we can do. We still understand what needs to be done and we know how to get it done. From the outside looking in, people might have a different opinion.”

Rockets and Blazers set to battle

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on the Rockets vs Trail Blazers first round playoff series, which begins Sunday:

Bench play figures to be a wild card entering the first-round playoff series between the Trail Blazers and Rockets, if for no other reason than neither team leans that heavily on its reserves.

In the regular season, the Blazers used their reserves the fewest amount of minutes, while the Rockets ranked 25th out of 30 teams.

So when asked whether either team has an advantage, Portland coach Terry Stotts didn’t have an answer.

“I don’t know. It depends on how much either team plays the second unit,’’ Stotts said. “Ultimately, I don’t think either team is going to have five reserves in the game at one point. So the players who play, need to play well.’’

Point guards and big men figure to be the central players in both teams’ bench production. The Blazers’ Mo Williams and Houston’s Jeremy Lin will play the most, while Rockets big man Omer Asik figures to play an intricate role in how Houston defends.

Raptors GM sounds off against Brooklyn

Here’s the Toronto Sun with a fun update on the general manage of the Raptors:

The Raptors-Brooklyn Nets series was never going to be a quiet one.

Between the Maple Leafs missing the playoffs eight of nine seasons and the Raptors done by late April for five straight seasons, Toronto fans have been impatiently waiting years for another taste of post-season action.

The Air Canada Centre was bananas from the start Saturday, getting on the visiting Brooklyn Nets, the referees and even Nets coach Jason Kidd. And if that wasn’t enough, scores of people gathered outside at Maple Leaf Square were even more amped up after team president/general manager Masai Ujiri, throwing political correctness out the window, ended an address to the gathered fans in emphatic fashion.

“F— Brookyn,” yelled Ujiri, handing off the mic as he left the stage with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke, who dropped his head, perhaps thinking, ‘It’s on now.’

In the last two decades, all but three titles have been claimed by teams that had at least the fourth-best overall record in the league. So maybe the two-time defending champion Miami Heat have some reason to worry: They were No. 5 this season.

“For the most part,” Atlanta’s Kyle Korver said Friday, “the best team wins.”

The Hawks, therefore, have no chance. Not with the worst record (38-44) among the playoff qualifiers. Not in this league, which tends to weed out the sort of surprises you see in the one-and-done NCAA tournament — where a No. 7 seed (Connecticut) beats a No. 8 seed (Kentucky) for the championship. Or in the NFL, where a team getting hot at the right time can spring a major surprise on the right day.

Then NBA is best-of-seven through four grueling rounds; but, then again, so is the NHL, which also requires 16 playoff wins to take the championship. Baseball, for that matter, has the same format for its league championship series and World Series. Why, then, do those leagues produce far more surprise champions than the NBA?

– Associated Press

Here’s the New York Post reporting on the Brooklyn Nets, who begin their first-round NBA playoff series against the Toronto Raptors tomorrow:

Nets guard Shaun Livingston tries to heal up for playoffs

As the Nets rotated players in and out of the lineup over the final five games of the season in order to be rested and healthy for the playoffs, only one player sat out all five games.

That player was Shaun Livingston, who sprained his right big toe on a dunk attempt in the Nets’ win over the Heat on April 8 in Miami and needed the week off to be back in the starting lineup for Saturday’s matinee Game 1 against the Raptors.

“I definitely needed the time,” Livingston said after Friday’s practice. “But circumstances, I think I would have been able to play through it. I would have just pushed through it.

“I feel better. I got a chance to get on the court for the first time [Thursday], so I feel better. I’m shaking off the rust, trying to get my wind back. There’s going to be a lot of adrenaline … [so I’ll] just try to stay composed and stay in the moment.”

Quick intro to the 2014 NBA playoffs

Here’s the Philadelphia Daily News with some words on the 2014 NBA playoffs, which begin tomorrow:

This year’s playoffs is a mix between the usual contenders and a few surprises. The Eastern Conference is significantly weaker than the Western Conference, as has been the case all season.

For example, the Washington Wizards, who are the No. 5 seed in the East, won 10 fewer games than the Portland Trail Blazers, the No. 5 seed in the West. The Atlanta Hawks, who snuck in as the eighth seed, are six games below .500.

The Heat and Pacers are the class of the East, and seem to be on a collision course in the conference finals. Any one of the top four seeds in the West thinks it realistically has a shot at getting to the Finals. The combination of the two scenarios will make for an exciting 2 months of basketball.

And now, read this still-growing NBA playoff preview.

Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting on the Dallas Mavericks, who are back in the playoffs. There is now just one playoff berth left, in the Western conference, and it will go to the Grizzlies or Suns. Anyway:

Champagne might as well have been flowing in the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room after what they were able to accomplish Saturday night.

Down 13 points in the third quarter and in a tense fight for their playoff lives, the Mavs clinched their 13th postseason berth in the past 14 years with a pulsating 101-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks (49-32) will seek to win 50 games for the first time since the 2010-11 season when they end the regular season Wednesday night in Memphis.

Using every ounce of energy they had, the Mavericks had to rally from a 13-point second-half deficit to beat the Suns, who dropped to 47-33.

Monta Ellis tied his season high with 37 points and Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half as the Mavericks kept barking at each other on the court during tense moments, and it paid off in the end.

The Houston Rockets are heading to the playoffs for the second straight year and believe wins like the one they picked up Friday night will help them when they get there.

James Harden scored 39 points and the Rockets ended a three-game skid and clinched a playoff berth with a 111-107 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder

“It was a great win for us … just to give ourselves confidence, especially going into the playoffs,” Harden said. “We might see them. It was a big win for us. It shows the resilience we have.”

Kevin Durant scored 28 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for his 40th straight game with at least 25 points, the longest streak since Michael Jordan also did it 40 consecutive times in 1986-87. But he was in no mood to talk about matching the feat after the game.

“We lost the game that’s all I’m worried about,” he said. “I don’t care. We lost.”

– Associated Press

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