What an exciting weekend of basketball. It almost made me forget about March Madness. Ok, that’s not true, but after an eventful first weekend of the NBA playoffs, we’ve learned a few things and there have been some huge, playoff-altering developments. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting stories around the league.
Derrick Rose’s Knee – The most notable development during the playoffs was that the best player on arguably the best (or second best) team, is done for the season. Derrick Rose tore his ACL on Saturday in the first game against the 76ers and despite what coach Tom Thibodeau says, the injury is a “death sentence” for the Bulls. They may make it out of the first round against a weak Philadelphia squad, but don’t count on any more than that.
The Heat Came to Play – After all of the talk that Miami received a tough draw in playing the Knicks in the first round, the Heat dispelled any doubt that they would dominate the series as they took New York out to the woodshed on Saturday for a 100-67 drubbing. Coach Spoelstra said his team had that “look in their eyes” and by early in the second quarter, this game started getting out of hand. Jeremy Lin may be back for game 4 on Sunday, but I don’t see an out-of-shape second year player coming off surgery–even one as skilled as Lin–being able to stop this Heat train. The Knicks will need to steal game 2 to keep this series within reach.
Dwight Howard’s Back/Attitude – Whether Howard is going to miss the playoffs due to injury or disdain for his coach, the Magic are toast without him. Although the Magic stole game one from the Pacers in Indiana, the Pacers probably won’t play that bad again. Indiana shot a horrible 34.5% from the field and, for Orlando, Jason Richardson went 5-8 from three point range. I don’t see either of these things happening again and, without Howard, the Magic are simply too undersized to handle a good Indiana team, which may have simply underestimated the Howard-less Magic. Look for Danny Granger and David West to get back to work and take care of the Magic in six.
The Lakers Have a Shot – When Metta World Peace received his suspension, I was quick to write the team off. However, if Kobe gets some help from his supporting cast like he did on Sunday, they may have just enough to make another run. Andrew Bynum had a triple double in points, rebounds, and blocks, the first time it’s been done since Hakeem Olajuwon did it in 1990, and the first triple double of any kind for a Laker in the playoffs since Magic in 1991. Toss in 12 points from Devin Ebanks and 14 from Ramon Sessions and it’s beginning to look like Kobe is getting the help he needs. With World Peace coming back for game 7, the Lakers just might have enough firepower left for one more run.
Kevin Durantula – Kevin Durant is a beast. What a great ending to that game. OKC was down seven to the defending champs with 2:16 left, and Durant took over. Westbrook gets a steal, Durant nails a few J’s, and then the Thunder are down one with 0.04 on the clock and the rock in Durant’s hands for the final shot. You know what’s happening there. He mind-controlled that ball to bounce, bounce in.
Don’t Sleep on the Clippers – What a comeback! Down 27 points in the third quarter, and they came back to win. That was the biggest playoff comeback in the last ten years. (Here’s a play-by-play recap of the comeback.) To be honest with you, I went to bed over here on the east coast, and I bet a lot of other people did too. That’s the last time I’ll make that mistake. This Clippers versus Grizzlies series will likely be the best first-round series of the playoffs.
Rondo’s Pending Supsension – Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo is going to be suspended for his
love tap “bump” against referree Marc Davis, who Rondo made contact with while arguing a call late in game one. As the Hawks already lead 1-0, this could be trouble for Boston who was playing so well the second half of this season. With Ray Allen still injured and Rondo out for one (or more) games, the Celtics may be looking at an early exit.
By: Todd Davis