Billy Donovan, head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, knew his team had to generate points in a hurry if they want to win Game 3. He was right. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook deferred to their teammates and they won in a blow-out. The Golden State Warriors should be concerned about this loss, although history shows that when they face adversity last year being down 2-1 against Cleveland and Memphis last year in the 2015 NBA playoffs they usually come up with future series wins. Let’s see if the Dubs can repeat that feat this year.
The Atlanta Hawks have knocked off the Brooklyn Nets in six games, behind NBA Coach of the Year winner Mike Budenholzer who has effortlessly led these Hawks, who has heard of DeMarre Carroll and Mike Scott and Dennis Schroder, to a winning record. The Chicago Bulls have outlasted these feisty and long-armed Milwaukee Bucks with their size and half court offense with Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. The Bulls have gotten under the Bucks’ skin late in Game 6, and I would expect a rematch between these two teams in the future. The Golden State Warriors dispatch of the New Orleans Pelicans was no contest. The Warriors will host the Memphis Grizzlies who got rid of the Portland Trail Blazers in five games. The Clippers outlasted the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 as they win 111-109 and will face the Houston Rockets in the second round, Kevin McHale’s squad playing outstanding with the play of James Harden and Dwight Howard were too much for the older, aging Dirk Nowitzki and these Dallas Mavericks.
Three Game 7s were played last night. The Indiana Pacers finally put away the Atlanta Hawks and boy, were the Hawks pesky. Atlanta didn’t want to go away without a fight. Anyway, Indiana wins Game 7 92-80 and the Thunder put up 120 and the Grizzlies 109. Very high scoring game and OKC wins the series 4-3. The Clippers take care of the Warriors and do advance for the third time since they moved to L.A. prior to 1984-1985. Very exciting game to watch, and so the Clips will take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round.
The Indiana Pacers force a Game 7 as do OKC against Memphis and Golden State. Exciting basketball to watch, but it’s not pretty basketball. Pacers guard George Hill and Hawks forward Mike Scott got into a scuffle last night, despite the Pacers winning it in Game 6. Now it’s winner-takes-all in Game 7 in Indiana. OKC doesn’t leave out everything on the floor against Memphis, because Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince are trying to deny Kevin Durant scoring baskets. OKC is resisting the Grizzlies’ defensive tactics. The Warriors have the heart to win Game 6 against the L.A. Clippers, but what about Game 7?
The Washington Wizards are moving on to the next round, by eliminating the Chicago Bulls 75-69 in Chicago in Game 5. John Wall was unstoppable, because Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin were unmatched for him. There’s no one on the Bulls team that could contain Wall because of his athleticism and foot speed. The Grizzlies take Game 5 in overtime against the Thunder 100-99 and go up 3 games to 2. The combination of Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince was too much for Kevin Durant. There’s no one scoring, if Durant can’t score. The Clippers beat the Warriors 113-103 and are one game away from the second round. The Clippers play team ball, because Doc Rivers wants them to play that way.
The Grizzlies hung on to beat Kevin Durant and his Thunder 98-95 to take the pivotal Game 3 and lead the series 2 games to 1. The L.A. Clippers held on to beat the Golden State Warriors 98-96 in their Game 3. Both were exciting games to watch. The Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors 102-98 and they did it in style behind Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce. The Bulls take Game 3 against Washington, 100-97 and so do the Houston Rockets against the Portland Trail Blazers 121-116. So the Pacers win Game 4, 91-88 behind Paul George and it wasn’t easy, because a determined Hawks squad wanted to dismantle a united Pacers team on that night only. The Miami Heat take a 3-0 commanding series lead with a 98-85 victory and they look confident in the first round, knowing that the later rounds will get difficult as time goes on. The Mavericks win Game 3 on Vince Carter’s improbable three-pointer at the buzzer as Dallas wins 109-108 to lead the series against the San Antonio Spurs, 2 games to 1. And, the Oklahoma City Thunder take Game 4 92-89 against a mentally tough Memphis Grizzlies team led by Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Is there anyone in the league who can contain these two from getting their points? The San Antonio Spurs have shown that in the past playoffs. The Miami Heat are cruising here, because the first round competition is too easy to handle. The Raptors-Nets series, the Pacers-Hawks series, the Thunder-Grizzlies series, Mavericks-Spurs, and Bulls-Wizards are all very closely competitive contests. The Raptors and Nets are equally talented on paper, however the Nets are more experienced. The Hawks are giving Indiana all they can handle. The Grizzlies and Thunder face off in another showdown, while the Mavericks-Spurs and Bulls-Wizards are very closely played basketball games. Given from the start, the Wizards are showing us they are a very good ball club now against Chicago in these playoff games. The Atlanta Hawks are also showing the world they are a good basketball team against the Indiana Pacers.
Three new NBA teams are showing up for the playoffs, the Charlotte Bobcats, the Toronto Raptors, and the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are really behind John Wall on him having a terrific year. The Bobcats are banking in with Kemba Walker doing the heavy lifting in Charlotte. Don’t be surprised if Toronto actually wins a playoff series this year. They are for real. The Raptors are gunning behind Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, and DeMar DeRozan. No surprises for the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, or the Memphis Grizzlies making the playoffs again. I like how the Golden State Warriors have made a late stride toward making a push for the playoffs. Don’t expect the Warriors to make a bigger push with David Lee and Stephen Curry trying to pull late night heroics.
The San Antonio Spurs sweep the Memphis Grizzlies in four games. They didn’t let up as the Spurs didn’t give the Grizzlies a chance to succeed against playing these Spurs. Tony Parker exploited every single opportunity the Grizzlies let San Antonio do, because they weren’t expecting the San Antonio Spurs to do. Parker had his way with Memphis as he got in the paint and found his teammates for perimeter shots. There was nothing Memphis could do to stop San Antonio and Tony Parker was the reason why. Putting Tony Allen on Parker couldn’t stop Parker from getting his points or halting the Spurs attack. Mike Conley and Allen were repeatedly put through double screens set by Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, and Tim Duncan and that got Conley committing a silly foul on Tim Duncan fighting through a screen. With that being said and done, the Spurs got inside the Memphis Grizzles’ head and found a way to contain Zach Randolph’s inside play and Marc Gasol’s effective perimeter game. The Spurs found weaknesses and flaws in Memphis’ game plan and it showed. San Antonio exploited it and they made sure of it.
Western Conference Finals
Tim Duncan is the best at what he does. No one can rattle Tim Duncan. Shaquille O’Neal has tried to get under Duncan’s skin. No success. Duncan is the reason why San Antonio has a 2-0 series lead. He makes the Spurs go with his patent bank shot that he makes and the jump hooks and 20-foot jumpers he makes. Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker are hard to contain, when they are making their jump shots and getting whatever kind of layups they are getting in the paint. You also can’t rely on your offense against the San Antonio Spurs, because the Spurs have your offense scouted. They have your best offense scouted to a T and then try to contain your best scorer to limit an amount of points. The Spurs have scouted the play of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph and have limited them successfully to doing a number of things. Gregg Popovich is a successful head coach who knows how to play basketball the right way and has treated his best player the same way he has with the twelfth guy on the roster. No one has escaped Popovich’s masterful art of coaching because he has mentored them mentally and has cheered them on from scoring to rebounding to defense and preached everything from getting his hard hat on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Spurs do try and win Games 3 and 4 in Memphis.