Tag:2011 second-round playoffs
Posted on: May 4, 2011 1:03 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 1:26 am
The Los Angeles Lakers look to even their series with the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. Posted by Ben Golliver.
DALLAS LEADS 1-0
One Big Thing: The first two rounds of the Western Conference playoffs were always going to come down to the focus (or lack of focus) displayed by the Los Angeles Lakers. In Game 1, the Lakers collapsed in ugly fashion down the stretch, gifting the Dallas Mavericks a crucial road victory. Unlike L.A.'s two first-round losses to the New Orleans Hornets, though, the Lakers immediately made it clear that there was a sense of urgency. Lakers All-Star guard Kobe Bryant was quoted by ESPNDallas.com saying after the loss: "I'm highly concerned. This team can beat us. It's clear. We just have to come in ready to play Game 2." And all it should take is intensity. The Lakers were able to build a commanding double-digit lead in Game 1 before the choke job.
The X-Factor: This series will turn (or not) on the play of Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who was a bit disappointed in his passive play in Game 1. He should have been disappointed in his eight-point and five-rebound effort after posting four double-doubles against the Hornets, and falling just one rebound shy of a double-double in L.A.'s other two games against New Orleans. Mavericks center Tyson Chandler was a difference-maker in Game 1, never more obviously than with his help on a Bryant drive that led to a late fourth quarter turnover. Chandler can be foul prone, though, and Bynum is the player best equipped to send Chandler to the bench for stretches.
The Adjustment: Dallas got big-time contributions top to bottom of the roster. They also shot the ball extremely well and hung in there on defense. If they could replicate their Game 1 performance, they would gladly do it, especially their steely play down the stretch. For the Lakers, the biggest adjustment is simple: Bryant can't be a one-dimensional bomber. He needs to look to get to the free throw line, avoid settling for difficult shots and continue to look to get his teammates open shots. In turn, his teammates must knock down those shots. The Lakers shot just 5-19 from deep in Game 1.
The Sticking Point: What will the Lakers do to better counter Dirk Nowitzki? The All-Star forward put up 28 points, while only shooting five free throws, but adding 14 rebounds. The performance was typical of his playoffs so far, as he continues to raise his game in the big moments and deliver when called upon. The Lakers will likely look to rough him up a bit more, but it's tricky because he's such an elite free throw shooter. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't with Nowitzki. But a little extra physicality from the likes of Ron Artest and Lamar Odom may be enough to make his life more difficult and his offense a little less efficient.
Tags: 2011 Lakers-Mavericks, 2011 Mavericks-Lakers, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, 2011 WC Conference Semifinals, 2011 WC Playoffs, Andrew Bynum, Conference Semifinals, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Lakers-Mavericks, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers, Mavericks-Lakers, NBA Playoffs, Ron Artest, second-round playoffs, WC Playoffs
Posted on: May 4, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: May 4, 2011 12:28 am
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade turns Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett around backwards with a eurostep. Posted by Ben Golliver.
The story of the first two games in this year's Eastern Conference semifinals has been Miami's athletic prowess stomping all over Boston's team-oriented, tough-minded approach.
If you're looking for a signature play from the first two games, both Miami victories, you need look no further than Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade's eurostep blow-by of Celtics All-Star forward Kevin Garnett during Tuesday night's 102-91 win. Wade approached Garnett with a full head of steam in transition on a two-on-two fast break with LeBron James to his right. Garnett was back and in solid defensive position, back-pedaling to stall the play a bit as Wade approached.
As Wade his the three-point line he angled into the paint, lunging forward as if to drive hard to his dominant right hand. Garnett bit on the move and Wade perfectly executed the crossover second step, shifting his entire body weight back to the left. Garnett had no idea what just hit him, and continued to turn towards the middle, before realizing his error. As he spun full circle to attempt to contest the shot, Garnett lashed out with his left arm, contacting Wade as he rose to scoop in a right-handed lay-up.
The most remarkable part of the move? Wade took just 2.1 seconds to go from the three-point line to the rim.
Here's a look at the video of the must-see highlight from Tuesday night.
That play was the story of the first two games in a nutshell. Garnett, back on his heels, reacting as Wade carefully picked his path, executed too flawlessly and too quickly for one of the league's premier defenders to keep up.
Not to be overlooked in the video is LeBron James' reaction. James is full of intensity, confidence and exuberance, as if the carefully-laid Big 3 plan had come to fruition right before his eyes.
Tags: 2011 Celtics-Heat, 2011 EC Conference Semifinals, 2011 EC Playoffs, 2011 Heat-Celtics, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, Boston Celtics, Celtics-Heat, Conference Semifinals, Dwyane Wade, EC Playoffs, Heat-Celtics, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Miami Heat, NBA Playoffs, Ray Allen, second-round playoffs
Posted on: May 3, 2011 1:12 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Doc Rivers already said Shaquille O'Neal will be ready for Game 3 against the Heat, but there's a chance he'll go tonight, reports WEEI. Shaq is being dubbed a "game-time decision" right now.
"He looked great yesterday," Rivers told reporters. "He went through the whole practice. He was phenomenal actually. He had one stretch that was phenomenal. Then by the end of the practice he was struggling walking. We’ll see but I would say Game 3 is becoming likely. Game 2, were not sure but I doubt it."
Shaq has yet to play in the postseason and hasn't seen meaningful minutes since February. He made a brief return in April, but only made it a few trips up and down the floor before straining his calf.
Shaq has been practicing however and even scrimmaged some. As Rivers pointed out above, the team is really encouraged with the way he performed and looked. Whether he's able to hold up in an actual game though, is yet to be seen.
The Celtics and Heat play Game 2 tonight at 7 p.m. ET.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 12:40 pm
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:54 pm
Posted by Royce Young
Not that it matters, because Derrick Rose was playing regardless what it said, but the X-rays on his tweaked left ankle came back negative.
No MRI is planned. Officially, he's listed as day-to-day. It was also reported that there was no swelling in Rose's ankle and he practiced without a hitch today.
Rose tweaked his previously sprained ankle in the last five seconds of Monday's Game 1 loss to the Hawks when he stepped on Jamal Crawford'd foot. Just an unlucky play at about the worst possible time. Not only did the Bulls lose, but as the final seconds ticked off, Rose was sent limping off the court. Double ouch.
He'll play in Game 2, no doubt. But don't think this is insignificant. Once you sprain an ankle, the ligaments loosen up and the structure is weakened. So the chances of re-tweaking or re-rolling it are always good. Rose was mostly healthy in Game 1, but struggled shooting the ball going 11-27 for 24 points. We'll just have to wait and see his effectiveness in the next one.
Game 2 versus the Hawks is Wednesday.
Tags: 2011 Bulls-Hawks. Bulls-Hawks, 2011 EC Conference Semifinals, 2011 EC Playoffs, 2011 Hawks-Bulls, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, Al Horford, Atlanta Hawks, Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls, Conference Semifinals, Derrick Rose, EC Playoffs, Etan Thomas, Hawks-Bulls, Jamal Crawford, Jason Collins, Jeff Teague, Joakim Noah, Joe Johnson, Josh Powell, Josh Smith, Keith Bogans, Kirk Hinrich, Kurt Thomas, Kyle Korver, Larry Drew, Luol Deng, Marvin Williams, NBA Playoffs, Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, second-round playoffs, Tom Thibodeau, United Center, Zaza Pachulia
Posted on: May 3, 2011 3:21 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 12:44 pm
The Boston Celtics look to even their Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
MIAMI LEADS 1-0
One Big Thing: Game 1 win was all about the Big Mo: Momentum. It was the perfect, confidence-boosting start for the Heat. Their dominant, level-headed performance in a physical game went a long way in answering questions about whether they'd fall apart or get bullied in the big moment. The Heat's bench production -- spearheaded by James Jones -- proved they're capable of playing a full 48-minute game against Boston. Game 2 should serve as a hinge on the series. If Miami can repeat -- or approximate -- their Game 1 performance, Boston will be facing an inordinate amount of pressure when the series returns to Massachusetts. If Boston manages to even things up, all of Miami's old doubts -- Are we deep enough? Are we tough enough? Can we win on the road? -- will arise again.
The X-Factor: Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been identified as the single X-Factor in the Eastern Conference playoffs since back in early April. That's only more true now that the Celtics are staring at the potential of an 0-2 deficit. In Game 1, Rondo was limited by foul trouble and shot poorly, finishing with eight points on 3-for-10 shooting. The Celtics never need him to be a go-to scoring threat, but he should dominate his match-up against the likes of Mike Bibby and Mario Chalmers. But sometimes it's as simple as staying on the court. Rondo played just 32 minutes, making it difficult for Boston to establish its offensive rhythm and dictate tempo, especially given the emotionally charged Game 1 atmosphere and the fact that Dwyane Wade was having a Supermanlike game for the Heat.
The Adjustment: I hate to make this one about the officials, but the biggest adjustment will be in how these two teams are treated by the zebras. In Game 1, four technical fouls and a flagrant foul were dished out, but the league office stepped in after the fact to downgrade and rescind some of the harsher in-game rulings. Boston, clearly, is hoping the game is whistled a bit more loosely, so that there isn't a repeat of Paul Pierce's needless ejection.
The Sticking Point: Will Wade fall back to Earth? And, if so, how far will he fall? He was dominant with the ball and with his play-making. He set up LeBron James beautifully on multiple occasions while making Ray Allen's life miserable. This is where the whack-a-mole Magic of the Big 3 comes into play. Should the Celtics devote more attention to Wade, they'll be opening doors for James, who had an off night by his standards, scoring 22 points on 19 shots, and Chris Bosh, who was big on the glass but provided little scoring pop. Miami needed every last Wade bucket on Game 1. He did his part. Who's up next?
Tags: 2011 Celtics-Heat, 2011 EC Conference Semifinals, 2011 EC Playoffs, 2011 Heat-Celtics, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, Boston Celtics, Celtics-Heat, Chris Bosh, Conference Semifinals, Danny Ainge, Delonte West, Doc Rivers, Dwyane Wade, EC Playoffs, Eddie House, Erick Dampier, Erik Spoelstra, Glen Davis, Heat-Celtics, James Jones, Jeff Green, Jermaine O'Neal, Joel Anthony, Kevin Garnett, LeBron James, Mario Chalmers, Miami Heat, Mike Bibby, Mike Miller, NBA Playoffs, Nenad Krstic, Pat Riley, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, second-round playoffs, Shaquille O'Neal, Udonis Haslem, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:37 am
Edited on: May 3, 2011 2:54 am
The Los Angeles Lakers collapsed in ugly fashion in Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks. Posted by Ben Golliver.
After Monday night's debacle, Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn't mince words: "We felt like we gave the game away."
The Lakers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, 96-94, and to say they collapsed would be an understatement. L.A. was in full command of the game shortly after halftime, leading by as many as 16 points in the third quarter. To get to that point, they hadn't played particularly well. Sure, it was clear from the opening tip that the Mavericks will struggle to check Kobe Bryant, and that Lamar Odom looked poised to be a two-way force in this series. But this wasn't Showtime success, by any means.
Leading big while not playing spectacularly early is one of those "fork in the road" moments in the NBA. You can either step on the gas and blow the game open or you can let up and set yourself up for some unnecessary dramatics. In Game 1, the Lakers obviously took the latter route, but the manner in which they gave away their lead was stunningly bad.
At times, it was almost childish.
The Lakers scored just four points in the game's final 5 minutes, as Bryant shot 2-6 during the closing stretch. To compound those shooting woes, the Lakers committed two unforgiveable turnovers in the game's final 20 seconds.
First, Bryant drove to the basket and sloppily attempted a kick-out pass through traffic that was intercepted by Mavericks guard Jason Terry. The mistake had Bryant hopping mad, literally, but there was nothing he could do to take it back. He looked like he was living a nightmare.
Then, with less than 10 seconds to play, Lakers forward Pau Gasol fumbled an exchange with Bryant near the three-point line, the ball slipping through his hands as Bryant fell to the floor, his feet getting tripped up with those of Mavericks guard Jason Kidd. A foul could have been called, but close-up replay shows Bryant mostly tripping over his own feet. After Gasol's thoughtless bumbling, Kidd emerged from the pack with the ball and the Lakers were forced to foul so that they would have one final crack at a game-winning or game-tying attempt.
To add to the absurdity, that play wasn't even Gasol's biggest goof in the game's closing minute. On the previous possession he carelessly fouled Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki on an inbounds play, putting the German All-Star on the free-throw line. Nowitzki made both to put the Mavericks up for the first time since late in the second quarter.
Game 1 felt over before Bryant missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer. The mistakes came so fast and furious they were difficult to process. The Basketball Gods rarely reward that type of recklessness.
Really, it's a given that the Lakers will play better than they did in Game 1 throughout the rest of the series. To play worse, they would have to wear clown outfits and show up riding mini-tricycles. That Dallas was only able to eek this out at the end by two points -- even when it was gifted to them -- speaks to the disparity in talent between these two teams.
Tags: 2011 Lakers-Mavericks, 2011 Mavericks-Lakers, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, 2011 WC Conference Semifinals, 2011 WC Playoffs, Andrew Bynum, Conference Semifinals, Dallas Mavericks, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Kobe Bryant, Lakers-Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers, Mavericks-Lakers, NBA Playoffs, Pau Gasol, Phil Jackson, second-round playoffs, WC Playoffs
Posted on: May 3, 2011 2:08 am
Posted by Royce Young
According to most every casual NBA and Los Angeles Laker fan, the Lakers had the Mavericks right where they wanted them. Or at the least, in an advantageous spot. L.A. was down two with 3.1 seconds left.
Meaning it was Mamba Time.
We've all seen Kobe Bryant hit big shots time after time. He's done it my team, he's done it to your team. The image of him drilling a huge crunch-time shot is emblazoned into our brains. Ask most anyone that hasn't ever heard of 82games.com or has a Synergy Sports account and they'll tell you Kobe is the most clutch player since Michael Jordan.
And in some ways, he is. I mean, you let me pick one guy to take and make a shot with a few seconds left and I'm probably going to come back to Kobe. Still, a ton of research and a ton of great sportswriting has sort of debunked the Kobe in the clutch thing. A big reason for it is because the Lakers tend to go away from the offense that makes them so tough to defend and basically it turns into Kobeball. His ball-hogging bogs down the Lakers and in the clutch -- defined as the last five minutes of a game within five points -- the Lakers' offensive efficiency takes a massive hit.
Monday though, down two with a couple seconds left, the Lakers drew one up for you-know-who and it was a beauty. After Kobe caught the ball, I would assume every Dallas Maverick fan there is immediately sensed the worst coming. Kobe had a clean look and we all just knew we were about to watch the latest signature Kobe in the clutch moment.
Except a funny thing happened. He missed. Just barely, but he did.
A shame too, because what a great play it was. Andrew Bynum completely swallowed Jason Kidd whole, Derek Fisher delivered the ball on time and Kobe got a clean look. That, was a great play. That, was a great look. If Kobe nails it, we're all talking about The Black Mamba for a few days and bringing up names like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and every other big playoff shotmaker. But he missed it. It happens. Still, a great look for him.
Tags: 2011 Lakers-Mavericks, 2011 Mavericks-Lakers, 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, 2011 WC Conference Semifinals, 2011 WC Playoffs, Andrew Bynum, Brendan Haywood, Caron Butler, Conference Semifinals, Dallas Mavericks, Derek Fisher, Deshawn Stevenson, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Jose Juan Barea, Kobe Bryant, Lakers-Mavericks, Lamar Odom, Los Angeles Lakers, Mark Cuban, Matt Barnes, Mavericks-Lakers, Mitch Kupchak, NBA Playoffs, Pau Gasol, Peja Stojakovic, Phil Jackson, Rick Carlisle, Ron Artest, second-round playoffs, Shannon Brown, Shawn Marion, Steve Blake, Tyson Chandler, WC Playoffs
Posted on: May 2, 2011 11:33 pm
Posted by Royce Young
MEMPHIS LEADS 1-0
One Big Thing: I hate calling games a "must-win" when in reality, they aren't must-win at all. I mean, the Thunder aren't eliminated if they lose Tuesday.
But really, they might as well be. Lose Tuesday at home again to the Grizzlies and winning this series is near impossible. It's not the end of the world to drop Game 1 and give away homecourt advantage. Teams survive that sort of thing. The Lakers did this season against the Hornets. Though with the way the Grizzlies seemed to dominate, Thunder fans have to be a bit anxious.
The pressure will be on in OKC Tuesday. It's not win or go home. It's just win at home.
The X-Factor: Pack the paint. Memphis scored 52 in the painted area in Game 1 and really just chewed up the Thunder inside. The Grizzlies aren’t a proficient 3-point shooting team (just 3.8 3-point makes per game, last in the league). In the postseason, the Grizzlies rank dead last in both attempts and makes, by pretty wide margins. They don’t want to shoot from outside. They want to score in the paint. It’s just a matter of you stopping them.
The Adjustment: Dig down and maybe even double Zach Randolph . This is something the Thunder doesn’t like doing much of, especially since acquiring Kendrick Perkins. Even after his terrific game yesterday, I still think Serge Ibaka can defend Randolph to a degree, but having the guards dig down and show double-teams could maybe force him to give the ball up some.
Randolph isn’t a big guy that’s prone to turn the ball over (2.0 per game during the regular season) and passes well out of a double-team. It’s worth a shot to at least try and force him to give it up. When he’s got his lean-back jumper going, he’s impossible to defend. The only way you can stop him is if you keep the ball away from him.The Sticking Point: The Grizzlies took care of the ball Sunday only turning it over eight times while forcing 18 against the Thunder. Russell Westbrook had seven on his own. OKC has to do a better job handling the Grizzlies' pressure. The Thunder offense was decent but it could've been a lot better had they not turned it over so much. Same thing with the defense. Memphis had an offensive rating of 123.48, but if the Thunder forces a handful of turnovers, that number drops. Kevin Durant did fine scoring the ball and Westbrook added a good secondary punch. Bad defense, too many turnovers and a lack thereof on the other end did OKC in. Fix some of that and the Thunder can get back in this.
Tags: 2011 NBA Playoffs, 2011 second-round playoffs, 2011 WC Conference Semifinals, 2011 WC Playoffs, Conference Semifinals, Eric Maynor, James Harden, Kendrick Perkins, Kevin Durant, NBA Playoffs, Nick Collison, Oklahoma City Thunder, Russell Westbrook, second-round playoffs, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, WC Playoffs