The Good & Bad of the Conference Semi Finals

Magic – Hawks, Orlando lead 3-0

Dwight Howard

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We knew the Hawks didn’t handle the Magic well, that despite their athletic big men they don’t play well against a beefed up paint. Well, it’s all true, but the way Orlando are manhandling this seemingly unmotivated and waiting for summer vacation bunch is a bit embarrassing. The game 2 win by “only” 14 points was the closest so far, with the Hawks hanging on for three quarters before Vince Carter woke up and lead the Magic to a 19-2 run in the fourth quarter. Last night’s 105-75 win in Atlanta, as the Hawks shot a dismal 35% from the field while Rashard Lewis scored 22 and Dwight Howard went for a 21-16 night was, was the Hawks’ worst home playoff loss in franchise history.

The worst of the worst for the Hawks is their supposed leader and go-to-guy, Joe Johnson. Johnson is going free agent when these playoffs end, probably in a couple of days. He’s shooting less than 30% from the field against the Magic, averaging only 12.3 points per game. Not a very impressive showing from a guy hoping to get a max contract from next season onward. The Magic? Howard is looking MVP’ish, averaging 23.7 points with 15 rebounds per game while the rest of the gang do what they do – hit jumpers. They’re shooting nearly 53% from the field in the series and right now are looking like the best team out there.

Cavs – Celtics, Cleveland lead 2-1

Lebron Shaq

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It’s The only series that’s not looking like a total blowout, but game 3 sure didn’t look very close. The elbow rumors didn’t look very true as LeBron erupted for 38 points, including 21 in the first quarter, handing the Celtics their worst home playoff loss in franchise history. After the C’s dominated the Cavs in the first two games but coming up with one win, it was a different story on Friday night. The Cavs out-rebounded Boston 45-30, limited the C’s to only 5 fast break points and had six player scoring in double figures, hitting over 90% from the line (31-34) and 40% from three (5-12). They didn’t settle for jumpers, and those they did usually sank in.

Boston? The team looked lifeless. Pierce couldn’t handle James on both ends, going 4-15, scoring 11 points. Ray Allen couldn’t hit anything (2-9) and the man who seems to be a sort of x-factor for Boston, Rasheed Wallace, was no show with 2 points and one rebound in 15 minutes. This series is far from over, but the question is – Is this the real Cleveland we saw on Friday night? A team with one mega stars and two guys who can easily go 20+ in each game (Williams and Jamison), the best team in the league, like the record shows? Or was it just Boston on an off night and we’re going for a full seven games? Answers tonight. My gut says that despite the C’s coming out full of energy, this won’t take more than six games max.

Lakers – Jazz, Lakers lead 3-0

Kobe Bryant

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Deron Williams is doing everything he can and did so again last night, but it still wasn’t enough. D-Will went for 28 points and 9 assists and he did get help from Kyle Korver (5-5 from three) with 23 points, but still, they were one point short. Wesley Matthews missed the last second tip in after Williams’ missed three, but more importantly, he missed all six three point attempts after hitting 60% in the first two games. Boozer was the real no show, scoring only 14 points, maybe exhausted from the effort he’s putting in, fighting with Gasol, Bynum and Odom in the paint.

Kobe was Kobe, scoring 35, averaging 32 points in this series so far, after having a very tough time against Oklahoma in the previous round (23.5 points). Utah aren’t starting Kirilenko, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone capable of keeping Bryant, at least partially, in check. Artest (4 three’s) showed Phil Jackson he knows how to be sensible with his shot selection and even Derek Fisher, who was one of the worst starters in the NBA this regular season, came up big with some clutch shots. Once again, it looks like the Jazz aren’t enough for the Lakers.

Suns – Spurs, Suns lead 3-0

Goran Dragic

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The most surprising series outcome (so far) of them all in my book and I guess many others’ as well. If you look at’s experts’ picks, only two of ten picked the Suns to win the series. Game 3 seemed like the killing blow in this semi final – San Antonio limited Amare, usually a great tormentor against the Spurs, to only 7 points, and still got beaten, at home, by 14 points. Nash was Ok, nothing special (16 points, 6 assists) and Grant Hill was good with 18. The Spurs should have them, no? Nope. First – you have to stop Jason Richardson, who’s ability to hit from the outside seems to be the deciding factor if the Suns win or lose. 21 Points with five three pointers is good. The big surprise was Goran Dragic, who until game 3 was mostly known as the guy Derrick Rose dunked on, went crazy, scoring 26 points, 10-13 from the field, 5-5 from three.

Spurs? The big three are doing their thing, but Jefferson is doing miserably, averaging 9 points, including 5 points in game 1 and 4 points in game 3. Generally, the Suns’ bench is outplaying the Spurs, with someone else stepping up each time, be it Frye or Barbosa and now even Dragic in that mix. The Spurs looked broken after game 3, and it looks like the Suns can start thinking about LA, and how to deal with Kobe and the gang.