Playoffs around the league

After Saturday's near loss, I thought the Bulls playing poorly in the first round might be an interesting talking point for today.  

They're just a blip on the radar because for the first time in the history of the NBA, the 1 and 2 seed of the same conference both lost their first game.   While the Spurs dropping a game doesn't surprise me too much given that they're missing one of their best players, and I've called them a paper tiger all year, the Lakers loss was truly baffling.

In terms of good fortunes for the Bulls, the Hawks upset the Magic in their first game, and I've been getting a ton of feedback on twitter about the Bulls potentially matching up against Atlanta rather than Orlando.

Let's cheer the (Atlanta) Hawks on

But don't expect them to win.

I know there is a school of thought here that says Dwight Howard played as well as you could possibly imagine and the Hawks still beat the Magic, but I'm not buying it.

Here's the thing, the Magic have been the third best defense in the NBA this season.  The Hawks shot 51.4% from the field and over 42% from the three point line.    Atlanta was 20th in offensive rating this year by the way.

The Hawks might play a similar defensive game, though the Magic still aren't likely to shoot THAT bad as a team again, Howard isn't likely to have THAT big a game, so their overall offense may stay roughly similar, but the Magic defense won't be this soft the rest of the series.

As much as I want Atlanta to win, I only give them a 10-15% chance of pulling off the upset, and yes, I know, Atlanta is 4-1 against Orlando this season counting game 1.   No, I don't think that's important outside of the 0-1 in the playoffs.

If the Hornets beat the Lakers in game 2, I'd still bet on the Lakers

Sure the Lakers lost a close game, and Chris Paul played the part of complete bad ass to more or less single handedly take them out.  The NBA commentators can bring back the "Pau Gasol is soft" mix tape, and I even heard someone say "Aaron Gray can not be stopped!" and chuckled.

Great win by the Hornets, but does anyone believe they even have a small chance to win this series?    If you remove a Kobe injury from the equation, my mental odds went from 1% to maybe 5%.  Granted, you probably won't win any money in vegas playing my mental odds.

Memphis over San Antonio isn't surprising

The Grizzlies tanked to avoid L.A., and it's working for them.  Of course with L.A. losing, maybe it would have worked for them either way.   Still, of all the teams that pulled a game 1 upset, I think the Grizzlies are the only one with a chance to turn it into a series upset.

I'm still picking the Spurs to come back and win, but the Griz are very talented and playing very well.  They have the depth to do some damage, and if a few guys play just a bit over their heads they can continue to do some damage.

The Spurs, however, were missing Ginobili for game 1, and he's presently listed as 'likely' for game 2.   With Ginobili back, the Spurs probably have too much fire power for Memphis, but I give the Grizzlies a 30% chance or so if pulling off the upset.

Everyone else narrowly escaped

Chicago's escape is obviously well documented [and completely bad ass, MVP! MVP!], but almost all of the other game one's also went down to the wire.  

Dwyane Wade hit an incredibly difficult shot to close the game for Miami.  Let's hope Spoelstra ran this play by accident and hasn't actually realized that going to Wade to close games is a pretty good idea.

Dallas eeked out a win against Portland as Dirk was simply clutch as hell at the end of the game and put the Mavericks on his back.  I'm not really a Dirk basher, I think he's awesome, but I do think his style of play doesn't translate well into playoff wins.  Well, it did on Saturday.

Boston barely takes out the Knicks on Ray Allen's three with about 10 seconds left.   Then Carmelo Anthony proves what an ass hat he is by taking a double teamed 27 foot three pointer at the buzzer to try and win.   Hey ass hat, when you're double teamed, down by two and 27 feet from the basket, maybe you should pass the ball.  He approached the shot with no urgency and wasted time on the clock and could have easily worked for a better shot than he did.

In the only game I didn't get to watch the end of [sorry 4:55 am wakeup], the Thunder managed to beat the Nuggets in what I'll assume was a fairly close game given the score. I watched about 2/3rds of the game, and it was probably the most entertaining of all the games i watched this weekend, can't wait to catch some more of that series.

Man did this weekend make me realize how much I love playoff basketball

In the playoff's opening weekend, the only game that looks like it wasn't a game with a minute left was Orlando/Atlanta, and that was an upset.   You couldn't ask for a more dramatic opening weekend for the NBA.   

The questions will be swirling for the three teams who were upset, and even the favorites who won didn't have it easy.  If the rest of the playoffs lives up to this weekend, we're in for some epic stuff.

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  • Chris Paul had a "who says I'm not still the best PG" type game. The Lakers probably still win the series but they're looking sketchy as hell, the West is wide open for whatever team can get hot right now.

    I'd like Atlanta to win, but even if they don't the game shows again that the Magic just aren't that scary no matter how many Howard scores. I really don't see the Bulls losing a 7 game series to them.

    The Thunder/Nuggets game was great, can't help but feel the Nuggets blew a golden chance though, both teams kind of fell apart offensively to end it and the Thunder just got lucky (offensive interference no-call followed by a high bouncing jumper that fell in).

  • 1. I disagree with your Orlando series. I think Atlanta has a better chance than 10-15%. Remember they have Hinrich who can guard the perimeter a little bit compared to Bibby along with Joe Johnson. I think they are not the team we saw at the end of the season as they had mentally turned off the switch.
    2. Denver just gave ammo for people who keep talking about a closer. They had every easy chance to win the game but I think Raymond Felton screwed it up for them. Actually Nene was playing very well and I have no idea why Felton started jacking up shots in the last few minutes and didn't even make one shot. They were a far better team than OKC except for Durant making some clutch shots.
    And Westbrook was average in the 2nd half after a great 1st half.
    3. If the Hornets had David West healthy, they would have a great chance of beating the Lakers. And Fisher really sucks...this guy is the Bogans of the Lakers and he will come back to haunt them.

  • In reply to schaumburgfan:

    I think Hinrich hurts them more than helps them, but we'll see. I'm simply not a believer in the Hawks.

    I think OKC wins that series pertty easily, but that was a pretty awesome game for the part I saw of it. I think each game will be close, but that the Thunder are much better positioned to win the close games because they have better closers.

    If the Hornets had David West they probably wouldn't have fallen to the seven seed, but yeah, he would give them a legit chance to make it a series.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    Only giving them a 10-15% chance after already taking game 1 is ridiculous. people are acting like the magic are a 2 seed and better than they are. I'm still not picking alt to win but there is a reason this is the 4 5 match up not the 7 2.

  • In reply to dldjr:

    So you agree that Orlando wins, but you think it's ridiculous that I think Orlando definitely wins?

    I don't think the seed is meaningful to me in this case. I think what's meaningful is that I think Orlando is simply much better than Atlanta.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    something about the way Atlanta beat us that last time they did, scares me more than Orlando & the last time they beat us, which was way back in early December, one of the last big games before our impressive 12 game win streak vs NBA elite. Horfod probably had the best game of his career that game, true, but if they play under control (josh Smith), they have the athleticism to be scary.

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    we truly are in for an epic Playoff

    could be the best since 1993

  • In reply to DougThonus:

    How exactly does hinrich hurt more than he helps them? That's way off. He moves the ball, plays great perimeter defense, and doesn't shoot much. He fits perfectly.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    I agree..He was badly cast on the Bulls as a SG who can dribble with Rose. But in Atlanta, he is a PG who can shoot(off-course he bricks a lot) where he has a ball-handling SG like Joe Johnson. He can play decent defense on PGs and can guard a SG even on a switch. I think the problem with Atlanta is
    1) They(JJ,Josh Smith) can disappear any moment
    2) Their Center position is weak(even though Collins is supposedly good against Howard)
    3) Jamal Crawford is too much of an ISO player and they are going away from that.

  • In reply to bullshooter:

    this week reminds me how much i wish the regular season was just a little bit longer. i have 3 weeks of classes left. i hate missing this action.

  • Well Doug, Denver, much like NY was their own worst enemy. They had the lead late, and blew the game in the last few possessions just like NY. Suddenly our close game does not look that bad. I fear for Celtics.

  • Doug I like the fact that even though you think the Spurs are overrated you didn't pile on, and rip them for losing the first game at home against the Grizzlies. I'm not surprised at all they lost nor would I be surprised if they do lose that series. Especially without Ginonli.

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