paul pierce april 2014

Midway through the first week of the 2014 NBA playoffs, it is time to take a look at how things have shaken out so far. Let's see how the first round has shaped up.

(1) Indiana Pacers vs (8) Atlanta Hawks

paul george demarre carroll pacers hawks april 2014The Pacers and Hawks opened up their series in Indiana on Saturday with a surprisingly competitive game. The struggles of the Pacers have been well chronicled, but many assumed that their mediocre play would be enough to get them past the Hawks in the first round.

On Saturday night in Indianapolis, the Hawks took the game to the Pacers and showed them that they can’t sleepwalk through this series and expect to advance.

Jeff Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points while leading the Hawks to the 101-93 win. Paul Millsap added 25 for Atlanta as the Hawks used a 20-4 run in the third quarter to runaway and hide from the Pacers. Millsap and Teague combined for all of Atlanta’s points during the run.

Paul George led the way for the Pacers in Game 1 with 24 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Unfortunately, George was the only bright spot for a Pacers team that was out hustled on both ends of the court.

Game 2 was a different story altogether. George contributed at his usual clip, 27 points and 10 rebounds, but got significant help from an unlikely source in the form of Luis Scola’s 20-point outburst and George Hill’s 15 second-half points.

The Pacers moved the ball efficiently on offense as well, collecting 25 assists on 36 made field goals. Six players had two assists or more.The Pacers regrouped on the defensive end as well limiting the Hawks to just 39% shooting for the game.

One less than bright spot for Indiana was Roy Hibbert, who went just 1-7 from the field. Hibbert continued his struggles from Game 1 and now is just 5-16 from the field in the series while collecting a mere 12 rebounds.

The Hawks led for most of the first half before Indiana took the lead for good at 68-65. With Atlanta only down three, it looked as if this back-and-forth contests would continue, that is until the Pacers dropped the hammer going on a 19-0 run.

The Pacers dropped the Hawks 101-85. The series now turns to Atlanta where Indiana squads have historically had trouble, winning just two games there in the last 8 years.

(2) Miami Heat vs (7) Charlotte Bobcats

Charlotte Bobcats v Miami Heat - Game OneThe Heat and Bobcats squared off in Game 1 of their series on Sunday in Miami. The Heat also limped into the playoffs while the Bobcats cruised in to secure the 7 seed. Miami took the season series 4-0 and won 16 straight against the Bobcats heading into this series.

The Bobcats looked quicker out of the gate and led by as many as nine in the first half as Miami looked out of sorts for most of the half. Jefferson dominated the paint until a foot injury struck in the second quarter that limited his effectiveness.

Jefferson was still able to collect 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kemba Walker stepped up to lead the Bobcats with 20 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Heat stalwarts Wade and James predictably let Miami by combining for 50 points. The Heat were buoyed by James Jones who was filling in for an ice cold Shane Battier. Jones finished with 12 points.The Heat went 11-23 as a team from beyond the arc.

If the Bobcats are to make this series interesting, they will need Al Jefferson back and healthy for Game 2.

(3) Toronto Raptors vs (6) Brooklyn Nets

deron williams raptors nets april 2014The Toronto Raptors are in the playoffs and they are ecstatic about it. Before their Game 1 matchup against the Nets, the war of words had already begun with the leading Toronto paper calling the aged Nets roster dinosaurs in a fit of clever word play.

Then, before the game, Toronto GM Masai Uriji led the throngs of Raptors fans outside the stadium in a cheer, culminating in the Raptors official yelling “F*** Brooklyn”. The incident garnered widespread attention and even a fine from the league office.

The Toronto fans brought it in Game 1, creating a raucous atmosphere inside the arena and out. The Raptors fed on the energy of their fans. Kyle Lowry continued his excellent play, scoring 22 points to go with seven rebounds and eight assists. Jonas Valanciunes contributed 17 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for the Raptors, but it wasn’t enough.

Wily veteran defense of the Nets forced the Raptors into 17 turnovers while Brooklyn only had eight turnovers of their own. The game remained tight throughout despite Brooklyn missing 19 three point attempts in a row.

When Paul Pierce ended that three-point drought, he gave the Nets a their first lead and they never let go. Pierce ended the game with 15 points, nine of which came in the fourth quarter which sealed the 94-87 win for the dinosaurs—I mean the Nets.

Game 2 was another close contest.

The Raptors remained in the game despite poor performances from Lowry and DeMarr DeRozan through three quarters. The Raptors duo combined to go a mere 6-of-24 from the field before the fourth quarter. But oh did they show up in the fourth quarter. The two combined for 25 points in the final frame to overcome the Nets and get teh Toronto fans a home win, 90-85.

The Nets once again were able to win the turnover battle, this time forcing 20 turnovers to their 10, but it wasn’t enough on this night. Joe Johnson carried the scoring load for the Nets with 18.

He was helped by four other Nets scoring in double figures, but what ultimately did the Nets in was their lack of rebounding. The Nets were out-rebounded 58-39 with Jonas Valanciunes again pacing the Raptors on the boards with 14.

Tied now at one game apiece, the series heads to Brooklyn for Game 3 on Friday night.

(4) Chicago Bulls vs (5) Washington Wizards

john wall dj augustin april 2014On Sunday night, the Bulls played host to the Wizards for Game 1 of their series. The Wizards jumped out to the early lead and led by as many as six in the first half. Washington was efficient on the offensive end, beating the notoriously stingy Chicago defense for 48 percent shooting from the field for the game.

The return of Nene to the Washington lineup was a boost on both ends of the floor. Nene finished with 24 points to lead all scorers. Marcin Gortat scored 15 while pulling down 13 rebounds as the Washington bigs out played Chicago’s.

The Bulls regrouped in the second half and went on a 10-3 run to lead by as many as 13 in the third quarter. Andre Miller centered things for the Wizards, scoring eight points in the final quarter to lead the Wizards to the 102-93 win.

Prior to Game 2, Joakim Noah was awarded the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award in front of his hometown fans. Noah responded with 20 points and 12 rebounds to go along with three assists and two blocks. Noah keyed the Bulls who had a 10-point lead with seven minutes to play.

Bradley Beal took things over for the Wizards in crunch time. Beal scored eight of Washington’s final 10 points in regulation. The Wizards held the Bulls scoreless for nearly the final four minutes of the fourth quarter and went on a run of their own to tie the game and send it to overtime.

In OT, Nene came out firing for the Wizards, scoring the first six points of the period. The Bulls tried to get back in the game in the extra frame, but their 3-point shooting failed them. Chicago shot less than 30 percent from distance with Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich missing each of their combined six attempts.

D.J. Agustin was the lone bright spot for the Bulls, scoring 25 points to go along with seven assists. Agustin was 4-of-8 from distance and really excelled when defended by Andre Miller.

Ultimately, the Bulls fell to the Wizards, 101-99. Washington now heads home for two games with a 2-0 lead in the series. If the Bulls can’t replicate their success of the regular season against these Wizards in Washington, then the fans in Chicago may have already seen the last of their team this season.

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs (8) Dallas Mavericks

tim duncan spurs mavericks april 2014

The Spurs and Mavericks opened up their series in San Antonio on Saturday in a thriller befitting these in state rivals.

Tony Parker came out hot for the Spurs, connecting on 7-of-10 from the field in the first half. The Spurs shooting from long range was absolutely frigid as the team connected on a mere 3-of-17.

The Spurs almost shot themselves out of the game until their advantage on the inside against the Mavericks was exposed. San Antonio outscored the Mavs, 56-32, in the paint in Game 1, with Tim Duncan feasting on any defensive matchup Dallas threw at him. Duncan finished with 27 in the game.

Nowitzki finished the game with just 11 points on 4-14 shooting. Luckily for Dallas, Devin Harris came off the bench to lead the team in scoring with 19. Despite their offensive struggles, Dallas held on to a 10 -oint lead with 7:45 to play.

That is when San Antonio took charge. The Spurs’ defense was too much for the Mavs in the closing minutes, forcing them into missing 12 consecutive shots. The Spurs finished the game on a 17-4 run, closing it out for the Game 1 win, 90-85.

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (7) Memphis Grizzlies

zach randolph kendrick perkins grizzlies thunder april 2014The Thunder and Grizzlies started their first round matchup on Saturday in Oklahoma City. The Thunder looked in control from the beginning as they were running the court off of every rebound. The Thunder game plan was obvious: don’t get bogged down in the half court. OKC was able to get out and run to the tune of 32 fast break points.

The Grizzlies were content to pound the post in their half court sets. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 37 and the Grizzlies dominated the paint, outscoring the Thunder down low 50-34.

The Thunder were led by their All-Star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined for 56 points. The OKC guard combo of Reggie Jackson and Westbrook combined for 18 rebounds. That is one more than the Memphis bigs of Gasol and Randolph combined to collect.

In the end, the Thunder were too much for the Grizzlies as OKC closed out a Game 1 win, 100-86.

Game 2 featured a different strategy from Memphis. The Grizzlies were determined to deny Durant the ball in half court sets. The strategy worked to the extent that Durant connected on only 12-of-28 shots. However, Durant was still able to amass 36 points due to his electrifying 3-point shooting (5-12) and near-perfect free throw shooting (7-8).

Memphis was able to hang with Durant and the Thunder thanks to a balanced scoring attack. The Grizzlies had four players score more than 15 points with Zach Randolph leading the way with 25. Memphis was able to limit the Thunder to 16 fast break points in their second matchup and this slowing of the pace benefited the Grizzlies’ style of play.

With the Thunder down five and 13 seconds remaining in the game, Westbrook was falling out of bounds when he flung a pass to Durant in the corner. Durant faked the shot to get Gasol in the air.

Then, while falling out of bounds, Durant launched a desperate attempt that fell as the foul was called. Durant hit the free throw for the four-point play. Kendrick Perkins, who hadn’t hit a shot all night, scored as time expired to send the game to OT.

In OT, the Grizzlies scored the first and never trailed as Randolph scored eight of his team-high 25 points. The Grizzlies pulled out the victory and will return to Memphis with the series tied at one game apiece.

(3) Los Angeles Clippers vs (6) Golden State Warriors

clippers warriors april 2014The matchup between the Clippers and Warriors was touted as one to watch due to the bad blood exhibited between these two teams.

The Clippers jumped out to a 12-1 lead right away but the Warriors were able to climb back in the game and tied things up by halftime. In the third quarter, things were all tied up at 79 when Blake Griffin and Chris Paul got into foul trouble forcing both to the bench. In their absence, David Lee keyed an 8-0 Warriors run to finish the quarter.

A made Darren Collison free throw with 2:10 remaining recaptured the lead for the Clippers at 103-102. After that, the Clippers could not get out of their own way. Harrison Barnes blocked a Chris Paul jumper and followed it up with a 3-pointer. After a pair of Blake Griffin free throws and a series of LA turnovers, the Warriors scored the final four points to take Game 1, 109-105.

Game 2 would not be as closely contested. From the opening tip, the Clippers were out to prove something on their home court. LA’s defense was swarming, forcing the Warriors into an astounding 26 turnovers.

Griffin ended the game with 35 points and both Chris Paul and his backup Darren Collison netted 10 assists apiece. The lone bright spot for the Warriors was Steph Curry, who scored 24 on 9-17 shooting. The Clippers sailed away with this one, 138-98.

The Warriors will have some time to regroup as the series shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Thursday.

(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Portland Trail Blazers

lamarcus aldridge rockets blazers april 2014

On Sunday, the Blazers took on the Rockets in Houston for Game 1 of their playoff series.

The Rockets had no answer for LaMarcus Aldridge as the big man put up a franchise-playoff-high of 46 points against the Rockets in Game 1. Aldridge also finished the game with 18 rebounds. His partner in crime, Damian Lillard, did not seem to have any jitters in his first career playoff game. The young guard put up 31 points to go with nine rebounds and five assists.

Despite the gaudy numbers from the Blazers, the Rockets were able to hang tough. Houston actually owned a 12-point fourth quarter lead before Portland came storming back thanks to their use of the Hack-a-Howard technique. Portland relentlessly fouled the big man from the 4:30 mark of the quarter down to the two-minute mark when such a strategy is rendered ineffective by NBA rules.

LaMarcus Aldridge’s tip-in with two seconds left tied the game and Harden was unable to answer on the other end as Game 1 ventured to OT.

In OT a series of phantom fouls and called-then-rescinded technicals allowed chaos to reign in the final minutes. Robin Lopez was called for his sixth foul when it was Joel Freeland who tripped up Howard in the lane. After a pair of Lillard free throws put the Blazers up one, Howard was called for a foul on the inbound.

This was a blatantly awful call as Freeland was pulling Howard away from the basket. The day after the game the NBA said it was the wrong call, but it was too late. After Freeland hit one of his two free throws, the Rockets had one more shot to tie the game for another OT, but Harden’s final shot was errant.


Low price, available in multiple styles and colors!