Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

The Nets are battling the Heat in the second round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. Miami is a loaded team, and one of the key advantages the Nets should have is at the point guard position, where Deron Williams is supposed to be a better player than Mario Chalmers. But D-Will shot 0-of-9 in Game 2, finishing with zero points in the Nets loss. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Deron Williams shoots 0-for-9 in Nets Game 2 loss to Heat

History tells us this series is over. The Nets might still win a game. But they don’t have what it takes to win a playoff series against the Miami Heat.

Their problems start, guess where? With the guy who is their most important player.

What a bad night for this to happen, but Deron Williams had his first scoreless playoff game of his career and it was the main story coming out of his team’s 94-82 loss to the two-time defending champs.

Williams’ line on Thursday night was awful: Thirty-six minutes. Nine shots. No makes. And no trips to the foul line. Yes, he had six assists and seven boards. But that was merely silver lining stuff.

If he had been a factor with his shooting and was able to give the Nets his usual 17 points he averaged in their eight previous playoff games, this series could perhaps be tied at 1-1.

At this point in his career, Kevin Garnett is mostly focused on rebounding, defending, working hard and doing the zillion little things that help a team win. But he still has to score at least a little, especially against a championship-level team like the Heat. Not happening so far early in the Heat-Nets series. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Kevin Garnett barely scoring so far in Nets-Heat playoff series

Two days after he went scoreless for the first time in his playoff career, Kevin Garnett was somehow worse in Game 2 – scoring just four points while missing five of his six shots in the paint.

The culmination of the 37-year-old’s frustration was an open five-footer with 5:28 remaining, which turned into a Ray Allen 3-pointer at the other end, and an eight-point Brooklyn deficit.

It also left Garnett grabbing his head as he walked to the bench following a timeout.

“I’m not happy with my play right now. I’m trying to get in a flow and a rhythm,” said Garnett, who is shooting 20% and averaging two points in the two games against Miami. “Try to bring something. It’s just frustrating. But I’ll grind through it.

“(I’ll) continue to work. Continue to find ways to be aggressive offensively. Continue to look for opportunities. Rebound the ball. And continue to talk and inspire.”

The Heat are up 2-0 against the Nets in their second round NBA playoff series. Here’s the Miami Herald on a couple of Heat players who so far in the playoffs have a good view from their seats on the bench. Which isn’t surprising, considering the Heat rotation players already have championship rings from their previous playoff efforts:

michael beasley

In crafting its roster last summer, the Heat hoped Greg Oden and Michael Beasley would provide an extra boost in its title defense.

Turns out, neither has been needed so far in the early stages of the playoffs.

Not only are both out of the rotation, but one is usually relegated to the Heat’s inactive list, alongside rookie Justin Hamilton.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra kept Beasley active ahead of Oden in the first and second games of this series because the Nets “are a very perimeter-oriented team.”

With the Nets playing a lot of smaller lineups, this series is not the ideal matchup for Oden, who played 212 minutes in 23 games this season, including six starts, and averaged 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds.

Oden, who hasn’t appeared in a Heat playoff game, might earn minutes in an Eastern Conference finals matchup against Indiana’s Roy Hibbert or Washington’s Marcin Gortat, though he likely would play behind Udonis Haslem if he plays at all.

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on the San Antonio Spurs, who have taken a 2-0 series lead in their second round NBA playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers:

kawhi leonard

Maybe it was being pushed to seven games by Dallas, or the re-emergence of the bench, or meeting an opponent with nowhere near the playoff experience they have.

Or maybe it doesn’t matter why the San Antonio Spurs look once again like the class of the Western Conference, like the team that went 12-2 in the West playoffs last season, won a league-best 62 games and won 19 games in a row this season.

Whatever the reason, the Spurs are on a dominant run that started with a 23-point win in Game 7 against Dallas and continued Thursday with their second consecutive shellacking of the Trail Blazers, this time 114-97 in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the AT&T Center.

The victory came two nights after a 24-point win in Game 1.

“The aggressiveness, the concentration for 48 minutes — off the charts,” guard Manu Ginobili said. “So we are very happy with that, and hopefully, we maintain this.”

The Portland Trail Blazers are in San Antonio tonight to play Game 2 of their second round NBA playoff series against the Spurs. A friend was waiting for the visiting team in the locker room: An actual snake, found in Thomas Robinson’s locker according to the Blazers’ team blog. Here’s a photo that Mo Williams posted:

This is from the Train Blazers’ team blog: “Man, me and Thomas [Robinson] at our lockers as usual,” explained Trail Blazers guard Will Barton. “We’re changing and he goes to put his shoes down and he’s like ‘What the …?’ You know what he said. He’s like ‘There’s a snake under my locker dog!’ And I’m like ‘Stop playing.’ He’s like ‘No for real! A real snake!’ And we just looked under there and there was a snake. I was scared!”

Wednesday in Indiana, the Pacers beat the Wizards 86-82 to tie their second-round playoff series at one win apiece. In the victory, Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who has famously struggled in the playoffs as well as for much of the second half of the NBA regular season, stepped up and shot 10-of-13 for 28 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes. Here are some Game 2 Hibbert video highlights:

Tuesday in San Antonio the Spurs beat the Trail Blazers 116-92. Tony Parker shot 13-of-24 for 33 points and nine assists in the win. Enjoy these Parker video highlights:

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on the Heat and Nets, who are facing each other in the Eastern conference semifinals:

lebron james

This is what it’s supposed to look like when the two-time defending champ plays the sixth seed.

It’s supposed to be lopsided, with the favorites imposing their will and their athletic advantage, scoring easily and often under the basket.

Only it wasn’t supposed to happen to the Nets, not after they beat the Heat in all four regular-season meetings.

“Regular seasons don’t even matter,” Miami’s Dwyane Wade said.

Like the Heat was preaching all along, the playoffs are a different animal. It became painfully apparent for the Nets on Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena, where they were stomped by a balanced Miami attack and fell in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It was just too easy for LeBron James and Co. in their 107-86 domination. They outscored the Nets in the paint, 52-28. They shot 57%, breaking open the game in the third quarter before Jason Kidd waved the white flag.

Here’s the Los Angeles Times on Clippers point guard CP3 and the great things he did last night:

Chris Paul

Tired from a grueling seven-game first-round playoff series?

Not Chris Paul and the Clippers.

Exhausted from the dark cloud that enveloped them at every turn?

Not Paul and the Clippers.

Paul orchestrated an impressive show of force Monday night that carried the Clippers to 122-105 demolition of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of a Western Conference second-round playoff series.

His 32 points in only 27 minutes 44 seconds propelled the Clippers to a resounding win in the opener of the best-of-seven series at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Even more impressive was his shooting. Paul made his first eight three-point attempts and finished eight for nine, and hit 12 for 14 shots overall as the Clippers snatched the home-court advantage away from the Thunder.

Here’s the Los Angeles Times on Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who put up a monster performance Monday night in a Game 1 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder:

He’s spent three seasons as Los Angeles’ most unappreciated star, loved by Clippers fans but scorned everywhere else, even booed at Dodger Stadium by Lakers fans who — and this is starting to get a little silly — have little respect for greatness that isn’t wearing their uniform.

Chris Paul entered this postseason famous for a ring he doesn’t have, a city he doesn’t own, and a television commercial featuring a twin brother who doesn’t exist.

Maybe that’s why, on a wind-stopping Monday night in Oklahoma City, he spent three hours shouting, “Enough.”

Enough of the talk that he’s too injured and weary to lead the Clippers to NBA greatness, as the smallest starter ducked his head and shouldered them to a stunning 122-105 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the opener of their second-round series.

Enough of the idea that his sore hamstring and thumb limit him offensively, as he missed just two of 14 shots and just one of nine three-point attempts, scoring 32 points in the best pure shooting postseason game of his career.

Enough of the talk that he’s too slow defensively, as he led a swarming Clippers defense that deadened the dazzling Thunder offense into 18 turnovers, resulting in 23 points.

Enough, enough, enough of the idea that Donald Sterling has anything to do with this anymore.

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

The droning chant will have to wait until the series moves to Barclays Center for Saturday’s Game 3.

But an argument could be made it has been ringing in the Miami Heat’s ears for months.

“Brooookl-lyn! Brooook-lyn! Brooook-lyn!”

An early-round matchup the Heat thought they had avoided with their No. 2 East playoff seed, until some late manipulation by the Brooklyn Nets, is at hand, the best-of-seven conference semifinal series starting Tuesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

No team this season, at least when it came to wins and losses, had the Heat’s number like Brooklyn, sweeping the four-game season series, as well as winning both preseason matchups.

And, yes, it means Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are back as playoff rivals, this time in Brooklyn black instead of Boston green, complete with the enduring playoff respect and contempt that long has heightened these postseason matchups against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

“It will always be there,” Wade said after Sunday’s practice, a session completed before the Nets defeated the Raptors 104-103 at Air Canada Centre in Game 7 of that series. “I don’t think there will be a moment where it won’t, just the competitive nature of those guys.”

Sunday in Toronto, the Nets edged the Raptors 104-103 to win Game 7 of their first round NBA playoff series. Joe Johnson shot just 11-of-25, but his 26 points were a big part of the win for Brooklyn. Here are some video highlights of Johnson’s efforts:

Sunday in San Antonio the Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 to win game 7 of their first round NBA playoff series. Tony Parker was great in the win, shooting 11-of-19 for 32 points, four rebounds and four assists. Here are some video highlights:

paul pierce

Paul Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry’s shot from the lane on the final play of the game, and the Brooklyn Nets held off the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The Nets will begin the conference semifinals at Miami on Tuesday night to play the two-time defending NBA champion Heat.

Leading by one point, Brooklyn used its final timeout after failing to inbound the ball. On the second opportunity, Shaun Livingston tried a lob pass to Pierce, but Terrence Ross got a hand on the ball and then knocked it off Pierce and out of bounds for a turnover.

Toronto used a timeout and gave the ball to Lowry, whose driving shot was blocked by Pierce as time expired. Lowry lay prone in the key as the Nets surged onto the court in celebration.

Joe Johnson scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nets.

– Associated Press

Paul George scored a playoff career-high 30 points and Roy Hibbert finally came up big to lead the Indiana Pacers past the Atlanta Hawks, 92-80 on Saturday night in Game 7.

Indiana staved off elimination for the second time in three days. It’s the first time since mid-March the Pacers’ regular starters have won back-to-back games.

Instead of becoming the sixth top seed to lose in the first round of the current 16-team playoff format, the Pacers will be back on their home floor Monday night against Washington in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Kyle Korver scored 19 points and Jeff Teague had 16 for Atlanta, which won just 38 games in the regular season but proved to be a tough opponent for the Pacers…

Hibbert, who scored 20 points total in the first four games, had a series-high 13 points and seven rebounds. Lance Stephenson finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, and George added 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double in the playoffs…

The Pacers finished with a 55-38 rebounding edge and with Hibbert clogging the way, the Hawks were forced to rely primarily on 3-pointers. Atlanta wound up just 11 of 44 from beyond the arc, most coming as it tried to dig out of a double-digit deficit.

– Associated Press

It nearly cost the Pacers the series earlier, but in the end, coach Frank Vogel’s faith in Roy Hibbert paid off. The maligned center gets eight points and three rebounds in the first quarter. That was huge, considering the Pacers were extraordinarily sloppy at that point. Hibbert finishes with13 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. The haters become lovers. He gets a standing ovation when he heads to the bench for a third-quarter breather.

The Hawks get little offensively from All-Star forward Paul Millsap, who finished with 15 points and was just 6-for-21 from the field. He was 0-for-9 in the first half when the Hawks looked like they might keep the game close. Millsap’s lack of production allowed the Pacers to clamp down on Atlanta’s Jeff Teague and Kyle Korver after both got off to hot starts. Teague’s driving dunk attempt on the final play of the first half is blocked by Indiana’s Ian Mahinmi and he’s barely a factor after that, scoring six second-half points.

Atlanta nearly pulled off the first-round upset because of its strong 3-point shooting and its ability to get to the line early and often. Both went missing on Saturday. The Hawks were just 11-for-44 from 3-point range and 13-for-16 from the line.

While Millsap was struggling, Pacers star forward Paul George is terrific, scoring a playoff career-high 30 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Lance Stephenson has 19 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

Indianapolis Star

When the final buzzer sounded on the longest two weeks of the Los Angeles Clippers’ careers, they felt more exhaustion than elation. While coach Doc Rivers high-fived fans and pumped his fist at the crowd, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul quietly congratulated each other.

They had just persevered through seven exhausting playoff games amid enormous distractions leading to their owner’s lifetime banishment from the NBA.

A franchise that once redefined losing was a winner despite it all - and there’s no telling how much farther these new Clippers can go.

Griffin scored 24 points, Paul had 22 points and 14 assists, and the Clippers outlasted the Golden State Warriors 126-121 in Game 7 on Saturday night to win their first-round playoff series…

Jamal Crawford scored 22 points for the third-seeded Clippers, who earned the franchise’s third playoff series win in 38 years with the highest degree of off-court difficulty imaginable…

Stephen Curry had 33 points and nine assists, but Golden State blew a lead with 2:10 left in Game 7. Draymond Green scored 24 points for the Warriors, who lost their first Game 7 since 1977 and failed to advance in consecutive postseasons for the first time since that same year…

Redick scored 20 points for the Clippers, and Jordan put in a stellar low-post performance for the two-time Pacific Division champions.

– Associated Press

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Miami Heat, who swept the Charlotte Bobcats 4-0 in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs and await the winner of the Nets-Raptors series:

With the Miami Heat given Saturday off by coach Erik Spoelstra, there was no need to answer the question that never results in an honest answer, or any answer, anyway:

Who would you rather face in the next round?

The question will answer itself in Sunday’s Game 7 between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre, the winner to arrive at AmericanAirlines Arena for Tuesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

But let’s be real, there is a reason the Heat executive suite has been stocked with Canadian Club for the weekend, a reason Canadian bacon and Tim Hortons will be featured at the player brunch Sunday, a reason Spoelstra will flip a loonie to decide which team defends which basket during Sunday practice.

The Heat not only swept the four-game season series from the Raptors, but have won the past 15 meetings, never losing to Toronto during the Big Three era.

By contrast, the Heat went 0-4 against the Nets this season, losing both preseason games to Brooklyn, as well.

You do the math.

Here’s the New York Post reporting on the Brooklyn Nets, who on Sunday will play Gmae 7 against the Toronto Raptors to see which team advances to the second round of the 2014 NBA playoffs:

You could see it in DeMar DeRozan’s eyes, hear it in his voice: the Raptors were cooked in the layup lines. They had no idea what they were getting into. All that talk of experience that seemed so trite the past few games? Finally, we saw why it really can be a big deal.

“We didn’t realize we had Brooklyn against the wall,” DeRozan said quietly shaking his head, the Raptors’ gifted guard copping to a team-wide malaise, setting up the throttling they had just endured. “They came out and started throwing haymakers.”

This is what the Nets wanted to believe about themselves all along, going back to Durham, N.C., back to the first hours of training camp. This is how they viewed themselves before the slings and arrows of the regular season started chipping away at that veneer, before the rigors of a rugged playoff series nudged their toes to the brink of the abyss.

Maybe greatness on demand was too much to ask across the season’s first 87 games. But Friday night at Barclays Center, they were able to summon their inner Superteam when they needed it most desperately. They were able to buy themselves at least two more days of basketball. The final score was 97-83, 14 points that felt like 40.

One game left to decide the series.

Here’s the Oregonian reporting on Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who won Game 6 of the team’s first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets at the buzzer with a shot that eliminated Houston from the postseason.

The answer is yes.

After watching all of you dance in the aisles, some of you taking your shirts off and waving them above your head … after watching the Trail Blazers rush the court, and LaMarcus Aldridge saying he wouldn’t let go of Damian Lillard for “three minutes” … after hearing the roars, wave after wave after wave as the replay unfolded on the scoreboard screen … after hearing the players singing in the showers … after sitting before this screen, trying to put it all into perspective, all I can say is …

Yes.

Damian Lillard just hit the greatest shot in Trail Blazers history.

And because of it, the Trail Blazers have won a playoff series for the first time in 14 seasons.

Mavs beat Spurs 113-111, force Game 7

Monta Ellis is headed to his first Game 7, and DeJuan Blair gets a chance to play his old team in San Antonio one more time after all.

Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki will return to the site of one of the best moments of his stellar career.

Ellis scored 12 of his 29 points to lead a fourth-quarter comeback that also got an energetic boost from Blair in his return after getting suspended, and the Mavericks forced a deciding game in their first-round series with top-seeded San Antonio, beating the Spurs 113-111 on Friday night.

“Put all of our chips on the table and see what happens,” said Ellis, whose 3-pointer put eighth-seeded Dallas ahead for a good at 94-92 with 5 minutes to go.

Tony Parker matched Nowitzki with 22 points to lead the heavily favored Spurs, who are stuck in a tossup series after they won all four games against the Mavericks during the regular season and had a 10-game winning streak against them after taking the opener.

– Associated Press

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