chris paul clippers april 2014

These playoffs couldn’t possibly get more exciting. Heading into game action on Wednesday, road teams had won 21 games in the first round. That is the most wins by road teams in the history of the NBA Playoffs, and the first round isn’t even near over.

We also have a new mark for most overtime games in a first round series, surpassing the epic Bulls-Celtics series in 2009.

Let’s take a look at game action from April 28-30.


lebron james april 2014This series, though the least competitive, was intriguing on multiple levels. The Miami Heat seemed to get better with each game after crawling to the finish line at the end of the regular season.

The Charlotte Bobcats played admirably, but with Al Jefferson limited after Game 1 due to injury and a supporting cast of youngsters, most of whom were playing in their first playoff series, it wasn’t enough to eek out even one game against the defending champs.

For Game 4 in Charlotte, the Bobcats were without their star center altogether as Jefferson sat due to an accumulation of injuries. The absence of the big man left the paint wide open to abuse by the Heat.

The Bobcats held the lead with seven minutes left in the third quarter after Kemba Walker drained one of his four made 3s on the night. But after LeBron James knocked knees with Bismack Biyombo, he heard cheers from the Charlotte crowd and decided that he would put an end to their cheers.

LeBron scored 19 of his game-high 31 after that and the Heat closed out the sweep of the Bobcats with a 109-98 victory.

The Bobcats have lots to be proud of and a bright future on which to build. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and Josh McRoberts all stepped up their games during the playoffs and were productive even without their dominant big on the court.

The sweep means that the Bobcats never won a playoff game as the name will be retired when the team changes its name to the Hornets next season.


jeff teague david west hawks pacers 2014After a stunning Game 4 comeback win in Atlanta, it seemed that the Indiana Pacers had a little momentum heading into their Game 5 matchup back in Indianapolis.

The Pacers came out and battled to take a 12-7 lead early. As usual, Paul George and Lance Stephenson led the offensive outburst with David West and George Hill contributing to give the Pacers a 21-20 lead at the end of the quarter.

At the quarter break, Coach Budenholzer must have said the magic words. The Hawks came out in the second quarter and went on a 28-6 run. They hit six 3s and limited the Pacers to one shot on eight of their 10 possessions though the first seven minutes of the second quarter. Atlanta had turned a one-point deficit into a 21-point lead at halftime.

The body language of the Pacers heading into the break looked as if someone had finally told them that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. In the third quarter Atlanta held serve and maintained a 20-point lead heading into the final period of Game 5.

To prove that they actually care about this season, the Pacers decided to start playing basketball again. C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland hit two three pointers apiece as the Pacers went on a 16-7 run. A C.J. Watson layup with 4:03 left cut the Atlanta lead to nine, but that was as close as the Pacers would get.

Paul George didn’t have a field goal attempt in the fourth quarter until the 3:15 mark. The Pacers will need more from their All-Stars if they have any hope of advancing.


tim duncan spurs mavericks april 2014The Spurs are not facing your typical No. 8 seed in the Dallas Mavericks. Both of these teams have a championship pedigree and the familiarity they have with one another as division rivals has only bred more contempt. Their dogfight continued in Game 4 in Dallas on Monday night.

San Antonio was desperate for a win, lest they fall down 3-1 in the series. Manu Ginobili stepped up once again as Tony Parker struggled to find his shot. Manu’s 23 points helped lead the Spurs back from a first half deficit to a 14-point halftime lead. That is when the Mavs began mounting their comeback.

From the 2:39 mark in the third quarter to the 6:22 point in the fourth, the Mavs went on a 20-6 run, keyed by DeJuan Blair of all people with six points and seven rebounds over that span. In a tied game with less than one minute remaining, Boris Diaw—or ‘Bobo’ to his teammates—hit a huge 3 to give the Spurs the lead for good.

Game 5 had San Antonio back on its home court with an opportunity to put the Mavs on the brink of elimination. The Spurs rode that wave of fan support to go on an 11-1 run midway through the first quarter thanks to 10 first quarter points by Tony Parker.

Dallas went on a run of their own sparked by Vincent Lamar Carter’s two 3-pointers to close the quarter down just one point. Carter continued his hot shooting from distance in the second quarter when his third 3 of the game tied things at 42 apiece. Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan ensured that the Spurs took a 58-49 lead into the locker room at the half.

The Spurs lead ballooned to 12 before Carter and Monta Ellis combined to trim it back down to eight points headed into the fourth quarter. Try as they might behind Nowitzki and Vince Carter, the Mavericks were answered at every turn by the relentless machine that is the San Antonio Spurs.

The Mavs needed more than the turn-back-the-clock performances they got from Nowitzki (26 points, 15 rebounds) and Carter (28 points 7-9 from three). Their inability to get stops late in the game was their downfall and could be their doom this series.


marcin gortat bulls wizards april 2014In Game 5, the Wizards had an opportunity to close out the Bulls and advance to the second round for the first time since 2005. With Nene back after a one game suspension for his altercation with Jimmy Butler, their chances looked pretty good.

The Wizards opened up an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter and extended it to 12 through the first minutes of the second quarter before the Bulls made their move. Taj Gibson was the only Bull able to create his own offense off the dribble this entire series and Game 5 was no different.

Gibson scored six points including an emphatic slam during an 11-2 Bulls run that gave them a lead at 35-34. Washington took control in the third, thanks to Beal scoring eight of his 17 points in the quarter while the Bulls searched for answers they didn’t have.

Both teams shot poorly, but the interior defense of the Wizards was more stout on this night and throughout the series. In the end, the 24 points from John Wall and 20 from Nene were enough to get Washington to the second round with the 75-69 win.


raptors nets april 2014With the series tied at two games, these two squared off in Toronto in what had to be the biggest Raptors home playoff game since 2001. This one was decided in dramatic fashion.

After a relatively pedestrian first quarter, the Raptors went on a 26-4 run to end the second quarter. The run was capped by Kyle Lowry’s buzzer-beater at the half that gave Toronto a 62-44 halftime lead.

Toronto was up by as many as 26 late in the third quarter before Brooklyn went on a 32-10 run. Joe Johnson tied things at 101 with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:16 to play.

Lowry was too much for the Nets, hitting a 3 with 1:04 remaining to put the Raptors up by four, then pulling a dipsy doo move in the lane to get a layup and put the Raptors up three with 27 seconds remaining.

With Toronto up five with less than ten seconds remaining, Amir Johnson fouled Alan Anderson as he sank his 3-point attempt. Anderson hit the 3 to pull Brooklyn within one point. After a Toronto basket, the Nets had a chance to tie down three with 6.5 seconds remaining.

The Nets inbounded to Andray Blatche and he was fouled immediately. Blatche hit the first free throw and missed the second. Somehow, Blatche collected his own rebound out past the 3-point line near the Raptors bench and threw the ball toward Deron Williams near the top of the key. The ball sailed over Williams’s head and landed in the backcourt for a violation and the game was over.

This was an absolute stunner of a game. The Nets outscored the Raptors 44-24 in the final period, yet still came up just short. The Nets will be facing elimination at home in Game 6.


mike conley thunder grizzlies april 2014This Thunder-Grizzlies series has been nothing short of spectacular. With contrasting styles and three straight overtime games, these two teams couldn’t have been more evenly matched headed into Game 5. The Thunder had the benefit of playing this one at home, but someone forgot to tell that to Joey Crawford (more on that shortly).

The Grizzlies came out determined to establish the post and gave the Thunder a steady diet of Zach Randolph. Z-Bo had six of the Thunder’s first 10 points on his way to scoring 12 in the first period. Memphis held a 30-25 advantage after the first quarter

In the early part of the second period, the Thunder reserves allowed the Grizzlies to extend the lead when a Beno Udrih jumper brought the Grizzlies lead to 20 at 72-52. The Thunder ripped off an 18-4 run of their own with Caron Butler and Serge Ibaka leading the way.

In the fourth quarter, things tightened up. With the Grizzlies up one with 30 seconds remaining, Tony Allen, a surprising source of offense in this series for Memphis, was fouled on a shot and hit his first free throw before missing the second. Tayshaun Prince was able to tap the rebound out and Memphis secured the ball before taking a time out.

Up two with the ball and 20 seconds left, Mike Conley choreographed the Memphis offense on what they thought was their final possession. Russell Westbrook, however, had other ideas. Westbrook poked the ball free from Conley and was off to the races, finishing with a slam to tie the game with six seconds remaining.

After a Memphis timeout, the Grizzlies tired to find a final shot, but Z-Bo’s attempt came after the horn. We were headed to our fourth straight overtime.

In OT, Mike Miller hit two 3s in a row while Durant answered back with a pair of buckets. Conley’s layup with a minute remaining gave the Grizzlies the 100-98 lead. On the ensuing possession, Marc Gasol blocked Serge Ibaka’s 3-point attempt and in the scramble for the lose ball, Durant was fouled and sent to the line for two shots.

This is where things get weird. Durant hit the first shot and referee Joey Crawford collected the ball and gave it back to Durant for his second attempt. Before Durant could shoot again, Crawford ran toward Durant screaming and ripped the ball from his hands.

Crawford ran to the scorer’s table and yelled, loudly and angrily about how the scoreboard was not showing the correct number of team fouls. After this matter of extreme importance was settled, Crawford gave the ball back to Durant. Whether it was nerves or having his rhythm broken by Crawford, Durant missed the second free throw.

Each team missed a shot and the clock expired giving the Grizzlies the 100-99 victory. The two teams will square off again in Memphis on Thursday night.


blake griffin clippers warriors april 2014In what could only be described as an emotionally charged Staples Center, the Los Angeles Clippers took on the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of their first round Western Conference playoff series. The Clippers organization was still reeling from the comments and subsequent banning of team owner Donald Sterling and had the task of not falling down three games to two before the series shifts back to Oakland.

DeAndre Jordan was held scoreless in Game 3, a big part of why the Clippers fell in that game. In Game 5 he seemed intent on not shrinking in the moment again. Jordan scored 15 points, including a buzzer beater, and ripped down 11 boards in the first half alone as the Clips took a five point lead into the break.

Steph Curry only had seven points at halftime and seemed uncharacteristically timid on offense. Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala spurred the Warriors on both ends of the floor and the duo brought the energy that their teammates seemingly left in NoCal.

The Clippers maintained their five-point advantage through the third quarter, but the Warriors finally pulled within three points when Chris Paul headed to the bench for his customary rest. Jamal Crawford and Blake Griffin really stepped up for the Clippers, combining to score 15 straight points through the first six minutes of the final frame.

Andre Iguodala did his best to pull the Warriors closer, but despite scoring seven points in a row for Golden State, the remained behind by eight with five minutes to play. David Lee (6 points), Klay Thompson (5 points) and Draymond Green (6 points) were the only Warriors to score the rest of the way as LA had an answer for them at every turn.

The Clippers closed it out for the 113-103 win, taking a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 Thursday night in Oakland.


dwight howard rockets blazers april 2014The Rockets were facing an elimination game on their home court on Wednesday night. Maybe the home court aspect would have been more comforting had they been able to take one of the first two games in Houston.

Portland was playing with a heavy heart as Portland legend and head coach of their only World Championship team, Dr. Jack Ramsey passed away earlier in the week. The Blazers honored him with a patch in Dr. Jacks customary red plaid design.

Patrick Beverley got the start over Jeremy Lin in Game 5 despite suffering from the flu so severely that he was admitted to the hospital on Monday night. Beverley struggled mightily and was limited in his role due to fatigue scoring just five points on 2-5 shooting in 21 minutes.

In Beverley’s stead, Jeremy Lin performed uncommonly well. Lin was 9-15 from the field with 21 points off the bench. LaMarcus Aldridge never got it going in this one. Aldridge with eight points and eight rebounds on 2-12 shooting, a far departure from his performance in this series thus far.

The Rockets jumped out to the early lead and led by as many as 17 in the first half. Blazers cut the lead to 56-48 at the half thanks to a 12-2 run. In the third quarter, Wesley Matthews took over for the Blazers, scoring 18 of his game high 27 points in the period. The Rockets were able to keep step with the Portland guards and Houston maintained a five point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, the Rockets seemed to get every stop they needed while still getting vital baskets from Lin and Howard. When Damian Lillard cut the Houston lead to two with five minutes remaining, James Harden decided it was time to step up.

Harden scored eight of 17 points in the final five minutes of the game and even got a crucial block on a Lillard 3-point attempt that sealed the game for Houston with a little over a minute remaining.

The 108-98 Houston victory keeps their season alive. They will have to survive one more do or die game in Portland on Friday if they are to have a chance of pulling off the epic comeback in a Game 7 in Houston next week.


Low price, available in multiple styles and colors!