It’s all about terrible or great when it comes to reactions. Everything we thought about the playoff series, especially in the conference semifinals, completely changed. In all four series we had a situation of a 2-1 lead. All the teams behind on the count (Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets) ended up winning the series and going to the conference finals.
The Washington Wizards held a 2-1 lead in the series after Paul Pierce hit that bank shot buzzer beater in game 3. The Hawks went on to win three straight times: 106-101 in game 4, 82-81 in game 5 (Pierce hit what seemed like a game winning 3-pointer, but Al Horford scored at the rim to win the game) and 94-91 in game 6. Pierce again was involved in that ending, hitting a game-tying 3-pointer that upon review was cancelled, as the shot didn’t leave his hand in time.
Another series with buzzer beaters and drama took place between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls took a 2-1 lead after a 3-pointer from Derrick Rose game them a 99-96 win in game 3. But on the next game the Cavs won 86-84 with James delivering the buzzer beater. Game 5 was a great one, but the Cavaliers won 106-101. In the series finisher we had no late-game drama. Just the Cavaliers running over the Bulls, winning 94-73.
Even the Golden State Warriors ran into some trouble in their series. They fell behind 2-1 once the Memphis Grizzlies found out how effective using Tony Allen can be on defense. But first the Dubs responded by guarding him with Andrew Bogut. Then Allen got injured, while Curry and Thompson started hitting shots. By the end, as the series ended in six games, it felt like these were two teams on different levels.
The only series that went to seven games was between the Clippers & Rockets, which we’ve been discussing all day here. The Clippers actually had a 3-1 lead, but then got destroyed in game 5. The real blow to their confidence was in game 6, losing a 19-point lead in the third quarter at home. The shellshock didn’t wear off in time for another game 7, as the Rockets sped to an early lead, walking away with a 13-point win and the ticket to the conference finals.