Last night completed the round of game 1s for the elite 8 of the NBA, with 3 of the 4 road teams coming out ahead. Only the Heat, who seemed to be picked by many 'perts to lose, held home court.
Miami was more emotionally ready for this match up and showed that they are by far more athletic than the aging hall of famers from Boston. Yet, I think the fact that Boston seem to still hang around even with Pierce being ejected, KG moving around like a zombie, and Rondo almost having more turnovers than assists, bodes well for the rest of this series. Also, can Miami keep their emotional high for a long series or will Lebron fade like he did against Boston a year ago? Boston can't let Jones beat them over and over again, who became the new third of the big three. Miami absolutely would have been better off with Boozer or Amare, which would have given them a true post threat.
Memphis?!? I will be the first to say that I love Durant, as a UTexas alumni, it's a given, yet in game one it was ZBo and the rest of the Grizzlies who proved to be the better team. Between the younger Gasol and ZBo, they had 54 points and 23 rebounds and dominated inside the paint, which makes me wonder would this even be a series if the Thunder didn't make the trade for Perkins? I really think the Thunder will bounce back, Kevin Durant is too good not to at least get a couple wins on his own. But the rest of the team needs to step up and that starts with the four bigs. As a Knick fan, its hard to see Zach Randolph dominate on the playoff level after we gave up on him for pennies on the dollar... maybe its ok that ZBo isn't the smartest player. Will he jack up a 40 footer with 8 seconds remaining? Will he try to go 1 on 3 when you send him a pass? All the mental lapses can be forgiven if he carries this Memphis team to the next round on his big back.
I will be the first to admit that I never felt that Joe Johnson was a winner. Actually I will go as far as saying that Joe Johnson is a quitter. I thought Atlanta would never get past the second round as long as their top paid player was Joe. Well I guess he made me eat my words last night. Joe Johnson showed up, dropping 34 and going 5 for 5 from long distance in a high pressure game. Chicago clearly isn't as dominate as many thought from the regular season. I was never a huge fan and always felt like they had to work so much harder than many of the other teams and could have easily lost a few of those close games to the Pacers. This series will truly be a dog fight, even with ex-bull Kirk Hinrich sitting out. Jeff Teague stepped up, holding Rose to only 11-27 shooting, and committing 2 fouls against one of the most prolific drivers in the game. Rose will need to play at a very high level for the Bulls to win this series, which means the fate of their playoffs might all be leaning on that one sore ankle.
Dallas Dallas Dallas... I happened to live with 2 guys from Dallas from 2007-2010. I have seen their suffering and pain first hand. Golden State still brings them chills, along with the lost to Denver and the awful series against the in-state rival Spurs. Many people have chosen to call the Dallas Mavericks "mentally soft", and when they ended the half giving away 4 free points, I thought to myself, here we go again. But Dirk stayed tough and Chandler proved to be the piece the Mavs have been lacking for the past decade. There was nothing soft about Dirk's 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Dallas presents the same problems Oklahoma did last year to the Champs. The Lakers do not deal well with a stretch four. Gasol and Bynum are not comfortable being so far from the basket since it takes away their twin towers' ability to use their length in paint defense. Oddly enough, the one successful Western Conference team the Lakers never had to beat to win their past 6 titles might be the one best designed to beat them. Yes Kobe, that statement surprises me too... Kobe better do his best Jordan impersonation because he might have to drop 40 points a night to keep their three-peat dreams alive.
These playoffs have lived up to the hype, and every potential Finals match-up seems to be an attractive one except Atlanta versus Memphis. I'm sure ABC would love that... But lets not get too ahead of ourselves yet, there's plenty of ball to be played.
And did old man Kidd really have 11 dimes last night?! I love the NBA playoffs. Looking forward to the rest of round two!