2012 NBA Playoffs Diary – Day 1

Derrick Rose went down, and the Chicago Bulls saw a big chunk of their title hopes disappear. LeBron James put on a huge show to open the Heat’s title run. Kevin Durant showed just how clutch he is against the stubborn Dallas Mavericks. The Orlando Magic stunned the Indiana Pacers, but nothing seemed to be full of impact as Rose tearing his ACL.

He wasn’t even the only player to tear his ACL on the night. Iman Shumpert injured his knee a few hours later against the Miami Heat. But the Knicks never really showed up for that game, and their chances of making it through the first round were small anyway. With Rose, the Bulls were probably the favorites to win the NBA title. He wasn’t brilliant in his postseason return, Finishing with 23 points, nine rebound and nine assists while missing 14 of his 23 field goal attempts.

But the Bulls have been fantastic with Rose on the court this season, doesn’t really matter if he’s at his best. They play the same kind of defense, but with a much more dangerous offense. Faster, more aggressive. The Bulls should do well against the 76ers without him as well, but that title dream, despite Rip Hamilton finally showing up (19 points, 6-7 from the field), looks to be falling apart for another season.

Mike Woodson was furious with his guys. For their effort, for their lack of composure. LeBron James had one of those games when he just decided to burst inside and not finding anyone really capable of stopping him. The soon to be three time MVP (if you believe the Heat fans) finished with 32 points and 4 steals while shooting 10-14 from the field.

This already happened to the Knicks once this season, playing Miami in the midst of all the Linsanity festival, only to be hit by reality hard in the face. The Heat aren’t really 33 points better than the Knicks (winning 100-67 in Game 1), but the Knicks’ April form, and especially Carmelo Anthony (11 points, 3-15 from the field), were no where to be found.

I do hope that the officiating crew didn’t set the tone for the rest of the series, allowing LeBron James to flop like the worse of soccer players. The soft calls while ignoring certain harder fouls on both sides was ridiculous, and it seemed that the only reason this game didn’t get out of hand was the fact that the Knicks were simply too terrible to get over-the-top upset with everything.

Dejavu, as Kevin Durant was the hero for the Thunder once again. Coming back from 94-87 with 2:20 left wasn’t enough. Durant had to nail a game winning shot with 1.5 second left. Durant did the same thing to the Magic with a long three earlier this season.

He finished with 25 points on a bad shooting night, as the Thunder were pulled through by Russell Westbrook, scoring 28 points. More than anything was the defense, that inconsistent little thing that wins you games. A great job by Ibaka for most of the game on Nowitzki and later in the game by Perkins. Jason Terry did score 20 points, but had problems getting involved in the fourth quarter.

Indiana were supposed to steamroll the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic, who fell apart during the season’s ending. Well, Glen Davis, who didn’t really have a season to remember, showed how big a heart he has. Playing on a bad ankle, Davis finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds, battling with Roy Hibbert all night in the paint. A 77-70 lead wasn’t enough for the Pacers to close out the game, losing 81-77.

Hibbert found it very difficult to get it going offensively, but did finish with 9 blocks. Orlando’s outside shooting, which they live and die upon, worked this time, hitting nine tres, five of them by Jason Richardson who combined for 34 points with Jameer Nelson.

4 Players, 4 Games

Sixers (91) – Bulls (103) – Derrick Rose with 23 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.

Knicks (67) – Heat (100) – LeBron James with 32 points and 4 steals.

Magic (81) – Pacers (77) – Jameer Nelson with 17 points and 9 assists.

Mavs (98) – Thunder (99) – Russell Westbrook with 28 points and 5 assists.

On Tonight

Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs (1 ET), Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers (3:30 ET), Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks (7 ET), Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies (9:30 ET).

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