The NBA playoffs has been a match for this NBA season. This has been the best NBA season in a while and the only way to top that apparently is the most unpredictable NBA playoffs in quite some time. So let’s break down the ‘upsets’ of last night. Shall we?
The Hawks take down the Bulls 103-95 (and Derrick Rose re-tweaks his ankle at the buzzer.)
Joe Johnson scores 34 points on 12 of 18 shooting from the field, with 5 of 5 from behind the arc. Joe was the difference maker in this game. Anytime Chicago made a run or tried to come back Joe made some off balance shot or long distance three to keep the lead and hold on for the victory. I though Johnson was agressive and made smart decisions particularly when he was doubled teamed, he moved the ball well.
I also thought that the Hawks just flat out had a hot night shooting the basketball. Maybe too good to be true. I highly doubt that Joe Johnson can go for 34 points and shoot 5 three pointers and all of them. While Jamal Crawford scored 22 points he’s an inconsistent player and he might not give you anything in the next game. Also Chicago didn’t defend great. They weren’t bad and Atlanta did make a number of tough and contested shots but, they didn’t rebound well to keep the ball away from Atlanta. Zaza Pachulia had a number of timely rebounds and Chicago should have taken that second chance opportunity from the Hawks.
Derrick Rose had 24 points shooting 11 of 27 from the field and he had 10 assists. Derrick didn’t shoot the ball well in the first half at all. He had a bit of trouble scoring on Jeff Teague which is not wholly surprising when you consider that Teague is a pretty good defender. Luol Deng added 21 points in the loss. Chicago was able to outscore the Hawks in fast break points 18-8. If the continue to score points off of defense and hope against all hopes that Joe Johnson doesn’t have a repeat performance then they should be okay.
I picked the Bulls to win this series in 6 games and while I still think it can happen I’m giving Atlanta credit. Nobody gave Atlanta any run, myself included. I think this team is legit and if they win this series I wouldn’t be shocked at all.
The Mavericks hang on to beat the Lakers 96-94.
Kobe missed it by that much. The would-be game winning shot, had he made it, of course. The Lakers had a lead as big as 16 points and they lost it. I thought that when Dallas unraveled at the end of the first half that they were going to lose to the Lakers once again but they regrouped and it was L.A. at the end of the game with all the questions. The game came down to a back and forth between the two best closers in the game. Dirk Nowitzki would nail one shot and Kobe Bryant would answer. Kobe had a hell of a game. He scored 36 points on 14 of 29 shooting.
I thought that a big difference in this game was the presence of Tyson Chandler. He was able to rebound against the Laker bigs because he himself is a very big guy. Tyson had 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Chandler also affected a Kobe Bryant drive to the basket that resulted in a bad pass and a subsequent basket.
The fact of the matter is that coming down the stretch the Lakers failed to execute. Dallas is going to be a tougher out than the Hornets. New Orleans was too small to play with the Lakers however Dallas is not. The Mavs are not going to get killed on the glass like the Hornets were. They can hold their own in rebounding. At the end of the day Kobe had a chance to win it and missed but that’s not why the Lakers lost. Games are not won or lost in single moments but during consistent play over the course of the game. The Lakers had Dallas down 16 points to them in the third quarter. A championship team like the Lakers needed to close out this team and keep them from coming back. Instead they blow the lead and the game.
I’ve still got the Lakers in 6 games but I’m becoming less certain of that by the minute. I never can tell with the Lakers. They never play their best until they have to and they can’t do it forever. They’re going for ring number three but they are making the same mistakes as when they wer going for one.