Finally! The NBA Playoffs have started after a crazy 2014 regular season, and the first day was just as exciting as the regular season. Every game had something worth seeing, and I did not want to miss anything! The first game I witnessed was between the 3rd seeded Toronto Raptors and the 6th seeded Brooklyn Nets.
Raptors and Nets:
The Nets and Raptors was a showdown between the youngsters in Canada and the old guys down in Brooklyn. The Nets, however, prefer to be called, "experienced."
The experience of the Nets was instantly apparent, as the Raptors came out a little too loose. The Raptors ended the half with 12 turnovers and were shooting below 40% from the floor. Demar Derozan, specifically, did not make one field goal throughout the entire first half. The Nets were not shooting great, but finished the half with only 3 turnovers and the lead.
The Raptors settled down a bit at halftime, or at least compared to their first half. The Raptors went through the 3rd quarter with 4 turnovers and shot 31% from the floor. Luckily for Toronto, the Nets were also shooting poorly and shot 35% from the floor. The two teams entered the 4th quarter with a score of 67-62.
In the fourth quarter, the Raptors jumped out on the Nets and actually had the lead with 5:13 left in the game! Through the first 7 minutes of the game, the Raptors upped their shooting to 50%, while the Nets shot 27% from the floor. The Raptors fans were going crazy, and they looked like they were ready to push the lead even more!
However, the Nets experienced stars came right back at Toronto. Joe Johnson, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Deron Williams scored the Nets last 19 points (Pierce with 9), while the Raptors were giving the ball to the wrong people. The Raptors finished the game shooting 38% from the floor, and did not know who to feed the ball to. In the end, the Nets experienced stars took over and won the game versus the Raptors young stars.
After the Nets and Raptors game, fans were treated to another exciting game: The Golden State Warriors vs The Los Angeles Clippers.
Clippers and Warriors:
The game started out with Clippers dominance, as the Warriors missed their first 8 shots and the Clippers jumped out to an 11 point lead. Luckily for the Warriors, it was only the first quarter. The Warriors came right back at the Clippers and went on a 16-5 run. From there, the first half went back and forth, as the game was tied 52-52 at half.
The beginning of the 3rd quarter looked like the same, until the 5 minute mark. With 5 minutes left in the 3rd, the game was tied 73-73 and it was any teams game. The Warriors took advantage of the situation, and went on an 18-7 run at the end of the third and the beginning of the 4th.
David Lee and Jermaine O'Neal led the way through the run and scored 16 out of the 18 points (Each scoring 8). Again, today David Lee quietly had a great game as he scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
The Warriors had the 8 point lead with 6 minutes left, and the Warriors were in control of the game. However, the Clippers fought right back and went on a 12-4 run to tie the game with 2:27 left in the game. Chris Paul led the charge with 8 of the 12 points, and two important three pointers. Paul had a strange day, as he had 28 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds, but also 6 turnovers!
The game only became more strange for Paul as he had a chance to cut the Warriors lead to 1 point late in the game. The Warriors had the three point lead with 11 seconds left, and with Paul on the free throw line, but CP3 missed both free throws and the Warriors finished off the game! Give credit to Klay Thompson, as he defended Paul all day (Chris Paul shot 3-11 when defended against Klay), and seemed to get in his head a little. On the other side, Klay was the Warriors leading scorer with 22 points.
The Warriors were able to play small ball all day, and looked efficient doing it (Maybe the Andrew Bogut injury is a blessing in disguise...). They were hitting three's, passing the ball extremely well, and the refs did not allow the Clippers big men to play physical (Blake fouled out late in the 4th, while Chris Paul had 5 fouls). In the end, the Warriors walked out with a 109-105 win in Staples Center.
Pacers and Hawks:
After the Warriors and Clippers, the Hawks and Pacers were matched up in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Everyone was watching how the Pacers were going to come out, as they have recently hit a long slump. In the first half, the Pacers looked a little better than they did at the end of the regular season.
The Pacers were shooting 50% from the floor in the second half, and the score was tied 50-50 at the end of the half. They were no where near the caliber at the beginning of the year, but it was improvement. Things were looking a little better going into half.
Then the 3rd quarter hit.
The Pacers came out of half tied at 50, but within 12 minutes, the Hawks had a 14 point lead. The Hawks came out of half on an 8-0 run, and then later a 14-0 run. Jeff Teague, who was great with 28 points, and Paul Milsap (25 points) led the way as they scored a combined 26 points in the 3rd quarter. The Pacers shot 25% from the floor during the third quarter, threw away 8 turnovers, and their biggest weakness (offense) was visibly showing. The Pacers body language was not helpful, as Lance Stephenson slammed his hand down on the bench, Roy Hibbert (2 points through first 40 minutes of game) had his big head slumped over on the bench, George Hill looked dead and uninterested, and Frank Vogel was screaming from the bench.
Once again, the Pacers showed poor leadership and perseverance, and Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking - With boo's, jeers, and more boo's.
Now, the only question for Indiana is: WHAT THE HECK IS GOING ON? This has been going on for months now, and the reason is a mystery. There have been talks about selfishness, poor leadership, poor chemistry, and poor coaching. WHAT IS IT!? Well, whatever it is, they better fix it fast, as it is the NBA playoffs and the Hawks just blew them out in their home, 101-93. After the frustrating Pacers game, the Thunder and Grizzlies were in a showdown in the west.
Well, the first half was not really a showdown. The Thunder and Grizzlies game was never close in the first half. The Thunder immediately jumped out to a double digit lead, four minutes into the game. From there, the Thunder only pushed the lead and made the first half a laughing stock.
At the end of the first quarter, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined had more points than the entire Grizzlies team. Russell Westbrook alone had more field goals than Memphis in the first quarter.
The second quarter was no different, as the Thunder out scored the Grizzlies 27-18, as the Grizzlies shot below 40% from the field. At halftime, the Thunder were blowing out Memphis 56-34.
Going into the third quarter, I was falling asleep, as I did not care how much OKC won by. However, all of a sudden, I blinked, I looked up, and the Grizzlies were only down by 7 points! The Grizzlies had gone on a 17-4 run, and were only down 60-51 with 6:52 left in the third! Tony Allen was a major key in the run, as he had 7 points and was playing great defense on Kevin Durant. He forced Kevin Durant into 1-4 shooting in the 3rd, and only scored 3 points in the 3rd! As a team, the Thunder shot 3 for 16 from the field, and only scored 13 points in the 3rd quarter. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, shot 60% from the field and scored 31 points in the 3rd. The Grizzlies went on this huge run when they started playing like the Memphis Grizzlies.
They cannot run with the Thunder, and that was shown in the 1st half. In the third quarter, the Grizzlies slowed down the pace, controlled the game, and played their type of basketball. They scored 22 of their 31 points in the paint, only scored 5 points on the fast break, and only gave away 2 turnovers! The Thunder did not score one point on the fast break and gave away 6 turnovers in the 3rd quarter alone! When the Grizzlies started playing their game, they started a comeback. At the end of the third, the Grizzlies were only down 5 points with a 69-65 score.
In the fourth quarter, the pace of the game completely flipped. The Thunder played great half court defense, and then was able to run on the fast break. OKC shot 62% in the fourth quarter, and scored 11 fast break points. Chesapeake was rocking, the bench was excited, and the Thunder pushed the lead to 14 points on a 18-8 run. During the run, Memphis cooled down from the field, while OKC was making field goals and getting to the free throw line. Memphis shot 36% in the fourth quarter, while OKC made 10 free throws in the 4th. Overall, Memphis was unable to control the tempo in the 4th, and they could not run with OKC. The Thunder walked out with a 100-86 win versus the Grizzlies.
At the end of the day, I was happy with how the NBA playoffs have started.