The NBA Playoffs finally took off on Saturday with 4 games, as the Chicago Bulls shocked the Celtics in Boston, the Mavs made a great comeback against the Spurs in San Antonio and we had the more one sided games : Cleveland handled the Pistons easily at home while Houston came to Portland and just easily brushed the home side.
Shocker of the Night – Houston Rockets(5) 108 Portland Trail Blazers(4) 81
I know a lot of people were more surprised by the Bulls winning an OT game in Boston, but the Bulls don’t get enough credit and the Celtics are overrated, especially without KG for the playoffs.
Portland boasted a 34-7 home record during the regular season and were outplayed and out hustled from the get go. Yao Ming had an amazing first half shooting 9 of 9 from the field and even without taking a shot during the second half and sitting out the entire fourth quarter he finished with 24 points and 9 rebounds.
Aaron Brooks was the surprising big contributor for the Rockets, scoring 27 points while dishing out 7 assists. The Rockets just controlled the boards and the paint, out rebounding Portland 44 to 30. Their defense just didn’t give any easy shots while Portland didn’t seem to show up on the defensive side.
Nate McMillan summed up the Blazers disastrous playoff premier for the first time in 6 years : “It’s a bad night, we lost.” Pure poetry.
Comeback of the Night – Dallas Mavericks(6) 105 San Antonio Spurs(3) 97
The Mavs won their first playoff game on the road for the first time in three years and it doesn’t get any sweeter than doing in in the home of their state rivals, the Spurs.
San Antonio had a 13 point lead but couldn’t hold on, with Dallas getting stronger and stronger throughout the game, finishing strong with a 31-23 fourth quarter. Josh Howard whose return in March helped the Mavs finish the season strong had 25 points to lead the Mavs who enjoyed a very good contribution from their bench, outscoring the Spurs’ bench 39-14. It’s tough for the Spurs without Manu.
Tim Duncan scored 27 points and added 9 boards summed up the overall feeling in San Antonio: “We’ve been here before, but it’s a big loss at home for us.” He maybe was consoled a bit by moving to 11th on the All Time playoff scoring list.
The Amazing Lebron Win, Stat Line and Amazing Shot of the Night – Detroit Pistons(8) 84 Cleveland Cavaliers(1) 102
This doesn’t look like the playoff series of 2007 and not of 2006. Detroit are a different team, the Cavs are a different team. Lebron is a different player. Detroit just aren’t good enough to play with the Cavs. The Cavs held a 12 point lead at half time and it was never really in doubt they would come out with the win.
Lebron’s numbers? 38 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. Oh, and the half court buzzer beating shot in the first half. The Pistons didn’t know what to do with him, so he scored and dished and did whatever he wanted. Like Detroit’s Antonio McDyess said: “It’s tough when he’s going like that. No matter what you do; trap, he’s going to make that play; contest shots, he’s making shots. He’s going to the bucket and being fouled. It’s just tough.”
The Cavs didn’t need anyone else to step up offensively, with Joe Smith scoring 13 and 3 others adding 12 points each. The Defense did it’s bit and Lebron did the rest on the offense. This was the Cavs fifth straight playoff win over Detroit in a series that has all the great makings of a sweep.
And Finally, The Coming out/Breakout coming of age win : Boston Celtics(2) 103 Chicago Bulls(7) 105 (after overtime)
Chicago ran away with it a bit in the second quarter but Boston came back in the third. Paul Pierce tied things at 97 and missed a free throw that would have won the game for Boston but instead sent the game into overtime. And then came Tyrus Thomas and banked in the winning shot. Ray Allen had a chance to tie it in the final seconds but that shot looked like most of his night (4 points, 1 of 12 from the field).
The Bulls who missed the playoffs last year relied on Tyrus Thomas and Derrick Rose. Salmons and Ben Gordon were off, shooting a combined 12 of 33 from the field, leaving it to Rose and Thomas. Derrick Rose scored 36 points with 11 assists, tying Karim Abdul Jabbar’s record from 1970 for most points by a rookie in his playoff debut. More than that, he became the second rookie ever to begin his playoff career with 35 points and 10 assists. Who was the first – Chris Paul, last year. Rose beat him with a point and assist.
Tyrus Thomas added 16 points with 6 rebounds but it was the timing of his shots that made the difference. No Garnett means a lot of troubles for the Celtics, with Ray Allen playing one of his worst games of his career. Rondo was the only one to really show up, scoring 29, grabbing 9 boards and dishing out 7. But he was pretty much alone. Doc Rivers needs to get his 2 remaining players of the “Big 3” to step up before they’ll be in too deep a hole.
The Bulls will come to the second came riding high on getting their first ever playoff win against the Celtics. Even Michael doesn’t have that skull on his belt.