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.