Chicago vs Philadelphia
Notes on game
- I completely overlooked that Lavoy Allen was now starting for Philadelphia. This is a really bad decision for Philly. I hate it. I can’t believe Doug Collins is starting this guy. Talk about hurting your own team.
- Lavoy Allen is such a limited player. A limited defender and sub=par rebounder who is a low level midrange jump-shooting PF. There are at least 50-60 PFs in the league more talented than him. By using him alongside Brand, Philadelphia becomes severely undersized in the paint without gaining any offensive (or rebounding) advantage and gives Chicago a strong opportunity to exploit them (and they have done exactly that today).
- The Sixers should be using Vucevic (10-15mpg) and Hawes (22-26mpg) as their center rotation with Thaddeus Young getting a large chunk of minutes at PF coming off the bench with Brand sliding over and getting some minutes at center also. Putting Lavoy Allen in the rotation at all is a major error from Doug Collins nevermind starting him and pitting him against a Carlos Boozer.
- Derrick Rose looked very comfortable attacking the rim when Philadelphia went small with Elton Brand at center alongside T.Young at PF and three perimeter guys. He clearly realizes that Brand is the only shot-blocker on the floor and that he is severely limited in terms of quickness and explosiveness on help defense sequences. Rose aggressively looked to attack Brand and create high percentage shots in the paint because of this.
- Rip Hamilton has had a terrific game. He has 19 points on 6-7 FGAs and 6-6 FTAs early in the fourth quarter.
- Jodie Meeks got skewered by Rip early in the game. Doug Collins dropped him from the starting lineup in the second half and put Evan Turner in the lineup instead with Iggy taking the Rip assignment and Turner taking Deng. Appearently, Collins does not like Turner on Rip because Turner struggles to defend players like Rip who are great at running off of screens off the ball.
- The Sixers having a lot of problems defending Rip Hamilton. I’d like to see them use Jrue Holiday on Rip and then use Turner or Iggy (or Lou Will) on Derrick Rose. I might even give Meeks a go on Rose if Rip continues to light up Meeks like this.
- The Bulls bench made a nice run early in the second quarter when the game got close (28-26 to 36-26) . The Sixers bench cannot afford to get outplayed in this series because their starters will regularly get beaten down by the Bulls starters. The Sixers only chance at winning games in this series is if their bench gives them a big lift.
- Derrick Rose has done a very nice job finding other ways to impact the game tonight. He has run the offense well. Done a terrific job rebounding the ball. Played tough defense on Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams. As a scorer, he created well but didn’t finish his shots as consistently as usual … but like I said, he found other ways to effect this game. Good job.
- The Bulls pounded the Sixers on the glass. A plus 12 rebounding differential midway through the fourth as Chicago moves ahead by 20 points.
- Jrue Holiday had a bad game. He usually does much better against tough PG matchups. A strong defender/rebounder and solid creator offensively who is uses his excellent size and elite athleticism well but today? Not so much.
Philly desperately needs to change their starting lineup and get Lavoy Allen the hell out of both their starting lineup and rotation. Their margin for error in this series is minimal and they cannot afford a major miscue like this. Doug Collins deserves a large share of the blame for how his team played today because of his rotation.
Miami vs New York
- The Knicks got off to a slow start. Carmelo Anthony started the game 0-7 in the first quarter. Amare Stoudemire had three baskets (one drive, two cuts and finishes) but didn’t look comfortable creating off the dribble with the congested paint. Still, the Knicks managed to hang in there and keep it close to finish the quarter. They did so in large part due to Baron Davis’ big 10 first quarter points.
- Shane Battier has gotten far too much criticism for his play this year. He has looked very impressive defensively whenever I have seen him. I think he is still very valuable role player and key glue guy for Miami’s title hopes.
- Udonis Haslem, on the other hand, hasn’t been nearly as impressive. He has looked slower than ever and isn’t making his usual crisp defensive rotations. Add in his jump-shooting problems and you have a player who isn’t adding much to his team. Miami need more out of him.
- The two teams have been trading punches midway through the second quarter.
- Unfortunately, from here on, foul trouble caused a major problem and the NY Knicks (mainly due to their poor reaction to foul calls, came undone mentally) fell apart. A three point game (midway through the second) became a 20 point game by halftime.
- There have been four charges taken by Miami already. Two by LeBron and two by Battier. Two of those came against Tyson Chandler and one against Amare. I forget the other.
- The Knicks passing and ball retention has been very sloppy. 8th turnover of the second quarter. 9th turnover. Miami getting a lot of opportunities for run-outs and getting a bunch of free throws helped greatly by the unset NY defense.
- A bunch of questionable calls here. Going both ways but Miami has gotten a lot more benefit from them because of NY’s turnovers.
- LeBron and Battier have done an excellent job fronting and three-quartering Carmelo. They have denied him the ball and the Knicks passer has been unable to get him the ball. The Knicks don’t have anyone moving to the high post to create a better passing angle for the ball-handler. That lack of movement and proper spacing is leading to a lot of bad passes.
- Moving screen on Chandler. Third foul of the first half (all offensive). Dodgy call. Mike Woodson keeps him in. Mike Miller nails a three to make it a 14 point game immediately after and the Heat crowd goes wild. This place is erupting. NY needs to whether these final two minutes. Melo responds with a tough contested jumper (bad sign if he has to take those shots the rest of the night). New York follow that up by failing to protect the defensive glass, several tips, then Miami draws a foul on the put-back and goes back to the FT line. Oh boy, another foul on Tyson Chandler (4th personal). They are going to call a flagrant on Tyson. Why is that a flagrant? That is ridiculous. Awful call. A flagrant 2? What? (edit: changed to a flagrant 1, at least that)
- New York continues to suffer a meltdown and finishes the half down 20 after a LeBron mini-run to end the half (23 points, 14 FTAs – scored about 9 points in the final 90 seconds). A 22-2 run by the Knicks to end the half.
- Miami’s defense has been incredible here in the second quarter. Forced 12 turnovers from New York. Forced them into numerous low percentage shot attempts. Completely shut them down.
- Miami continues it’s terrific play and comes out roaring in the third quarter. Builds a 30 point lead (62-31, doubled up on NY three minutes into the third quarter). More questionable calls. The Knicks have totally lost their focus and are now giving up on the contest. Game over.
Awful performance from the Knicks. They suffered some bad officiating but that is no excuse for their terrible use of the basketball offensively and large number of miscues and turnovers. Then they had an emotional meltdown and completely fell apart.
Editors Note: The final score was 100-67 to Miami. The Knicks had 27 turnovers and gave up 32 points on those turnovers. The Heat also held New York to a 35.7% field goal percentage. Demolition.
Indiana vs Orlando
Seriously, who cares? These series is over before it has even begun.
Editors Note: Indiana should be ashamed at how they lost that game against the non-playoff caliber Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic. Ashamed.
Oklahoma vs Dallas
This is the best matchup of the first round. Very much looking forward to this game.
- Both teams feeling each other out early. Some mental mistakes from either side with Westbrook barely being contested with his jumper and Oklahoma failing to put a body on Haywood on the offensive glass. Might be a bit of nerves.
- Kevin Durant has had two early blocks. A block on Marion’s bad post up play on the game’s first possession + a chase down block on Jason Kidd’s breakaway layup attempt. Setting a tone for his teammates. Durant’s defense on Marion was nowhere near good enough in the playoffs last season. He has to step up and do a better job this time around. Looks like that is his focus too.
- On the other end of the court, Durant has missed his first three jump-shots but he has gotten good looks. Bad sign that Dallas is conceding good percentage looks at the rim to a scorer of Durant’s quality.
- Mahinmi with a lovely helpside block on Westbrook’s spin drive off of Kidd in the low post (right block going central). Mahinmi has shown good improvement defensively this season. More awareness and communication. Still has a ways to go but, finally, he is starting to put it together.
- Dallas up 23-15 (two plus minutes to play in the first) after Jason Terry nails a three pointer in transition to push Scotty Brooks into a timeout. Vince Carter has come in and had a few good moments too. Dallas’ bench performing well.
- Dirk Nowitzki has started slowly. Only 1-6 from the field but got clobbered (surprising no call) by Perk on one of those baseline drives out of a right wing isolation. Not moving particularly well physically (Dirk).
- Hubie Brown – “Jason Terry is alive, he has a bounce in his step”
- Kevin Durant has knocked down three straight jumpers to pull Oklahoma back into this. Seven points in about 90 seconds. Jason Terry responds by burying a jumper of his own.
- Oklahoma doing a nice job attacking Dallas’ zone. Patient ball movement and rim attacking moves. OKC has taken back the lead, 27-26 early in the second quarter. Delonte West responds with a lovely solo drive and finish at the rim. Jason Terry backs him up with a triple in transition. Dallas back up four. OKC turn it over again, Dallas run out against, Terry right wing, drives hard right on Fisher, pull up jumper from 14 feet, goes glass, nails it. Timeout OKC. Great response by Dallas.
- Oklahoma aren’t going away. Keep fighting back. Ibaka gets back-to-back dunks. Harden gets to the foul line in transition. Durant gets the switch in the 1-3 pick and roll against Delonte West, easily beats him off the dribble and finishes at the rim. Dallas has had no shot-blocking presence on these last few possessions. Brandan Wright has to put himself in a better position to provide help defense. Pretty much a tie game again.
- I’d like to see what James Harden can do in the post against Jason Terry. Not sure whether Harden has a strong enough post game to take advantage of Terry but I’d like to see what he has to offer.
- Neither Nowitzki (5pts on 9 FGAs) or Durant (9pts on 11 FGAs) have had much of a showing offensively so far. Durant has made his presence known defensively and on the backboards (4 boards in 16 mins) though in contrast to Dirk (1 rebound in 13 minutes, so-so help D). Jason Terry has been great for Dallas with 14 points on 7 FGAs.
- Dallas lead 42-37 with under three minutes to play in the first half. Just as I say that, Durant gets a (soft) three point play and Dirk returns with a lovely bank shot from 13 feet after the pump fake, dribble and shot from the left elbow area. Mahinmi blocks a Westbrook dribble drive once again. Westbrook has done a nice job knocking down shots so far tonight though. However, not doing nearly as good a job of running his team’s offense and getting his teammates involved. Harden knocks down a triple. Dirk comes back, catches top of the key in semi-transition, pump fake on Perk, drives left, draws contact, foul, fallaway off balance bank shot from 8 feet, hits it and makes the free throw. Dallas up 6 with 30 seconds to play. Turnover Harden, Dallas fastbreak, pull it back out, isolate Dirk, Ibaka fouls Dirk but Dirk gets called for it (saw the retaliation, not the initial incident). 12.5 seconds, OKC ball, inbounds to Westbrook, walks it up, drains the clock, 5 seconds, drives, foul to give and Kidd gives it. 3.5 seconds, Durant inbounds to Ibaka, three pointer top of the key, nails it! Unreal.
- Dallas leads 51-48 at halftime. Oklahoma look the more talented side but Dallas the more intelligent and cohesive. OKC more individual style of play (as usual for them)
- Russell Westbrook doing a brilliant job with his midrange jumper tonight. He has knocked down at least four of them here in the third quarter and we are only halfway through the period. He also has two steals and has been keyed the Thunder’s third quarter rally here tonight.
- Shawn Marion hit back to back three pointers from the right corner. A pair of them (questionable shooters) at it tonight.
- Jason Terry is an incredible shot-maker. Comes into the game and right away knocks down a three pointer.
- Both teams throwing jabs but neither one of them has done much damage yet. No real separation on the scoreboard. Dallas up four, 64-60, with four plus minutes to play. Make that a tie game at 64 as Ibaka makes another bucket (6-8 from the field, 13 points and 4 blocks). Make that 15 points as Russell Westbrook makes a beautiful drive and wrap around around pass to the ready Serge Ibaka for the flush. Oklahoma lead.
- Nick Collison does a terrific job denying Dirk Nowitzki the ball and forcing him away from his favourite spots on the floor.
- Durant gets the switch on Terry, Terry loses focus as Durant begins to post up and then jumps off of him for a wide open shot at the elbow.
- Fourth quarter, Dallas leads 73-71
- Derek Fisher has played 12 minutes and missed all three of his shots. A non-factor tonight.
- Oklahoma gives away two quick fouls early in the quarter. This could hurt them down the stretch with Dirk attacking their defense and getting to the foul line for easy points.
- Vince Carter with a nice lefty drive. He has 13 points. Harden comes back with a lefty drive of his own and throws down a thunderous slam to say “anything you can do, I can do better”. Vince comes right back down and attacks Harden again, beats Harden easily, explodes to the rim but can’t finish in a crowd. Fastbreak the other way, Dallas’ transition D snuffs it out. Delonte West drains a triple on the other end to quiet down the crowd and put Dallas back up 5. Oklahoma turn it over again and that leads to a timeout.
- Westbrook misses from midrange, Durant gets the offensive rebound but has it snared away from him easily. Dallas out-toughing Durant there.
- Harden with a lovely drive and short jumper in the paint.
- Vince posts up Fisher on the left midpost, he goes to work, no double team, fadeaway, hits it. 80-75 Dallas with under 7 to play. Westbrook responds with another midrange jumper. Timeout.
- Brandan Wright has checked in for Dallas. Oklahoma still has Perk out there. I’d like to see Oklahoma post up Perk here. Not much of a post player but he is effective against undersized bigs like B.Wright.
- Kidd gets three free throws after a sloppy foul by Harden with the shot clock about to expire.
- Kidd on Durant, Durant posts up left side of the paint, hard spin move out of the post and easy finish for Durant. Kidd responds by knocking down a triple on the other end of the court. Then grabs a rebound off of Westbrook’s miss, pushes the break, up to Dirk, cross court to Marion, midrange J on left wing, misses. Too bad, that would have been a nice rally from Dallas.
- Harden responds by making a terrific drive and attacks Haywood to draw the foul and get to the line. So intelligent.
- Dallas leads 85-84 with under five minutes to play
- Nowitzki posts up right wing, Ibaka trying to force him baseline, Perk arrives to supply the help defense, eliminates the shot attempt. Out of bounds, still Dallas ball, Dirk drains a fallaway J from the other side of the court from 12 feet.
- Ibaka with a terrific offensive rebound. He has come down with a couple of great offensive boards in a crowd tonight. Third offensive board. Having a very good game for Oklahoma. He goes to the FT line and knocks two down.
- Durant with 19 points on 24 shots while Dirk has 16 on 15 shots. Neither has had a good night offensively tonight.
- Clearout Dirk right wing, Durant cheats baseline off of Marion, Dirks picks up his dribble, turns right into Durant and draws a lucky foul (lucky since he was out of control). Although Hubie Brown disagrees and says Dirk was looking for that foul, maybe he is right. It didn’t look that way to me at first glance. That puts Dallas up 89-85 with 3:40 to play.
- Kidd with a terrific block and steal as Westbrook looked to take it hard to the rim … fastbreak, Kidd runs, layup Marion, blocked by Ibaka, Haywood runs down the loose ball and finds the trailing Dirk filling a lane, pass, layup and a foul. Dallas leads 92-85. Timeout OKC.
- It was 85 all until Dallas scored the last seven points to pull away here.
- Harden pushes it upcourt with under three minutes to play, lob pass ahead to Westbrook for the alley oop, dunk!
- Dirk responds at the top of the key, turns middle, drains a high arcing jumper. Makes it look easy. Tough shot. Dirk with 9 points in the quarter. Taking over this game late.
- Durant gets to the foul line with a drive and hits two freebies. Lead still at five with two minutes and fifteen seconds to play.
- Kidd sets it up, to Terry, to Dirk at the top of the key, clearout against Perk, Dirk doesn’t drive, takes the jumper over Perk who has closed out on him, misses. Bad decision.
- Durant in transition, drives around the screen, dribbles hard down the left hand side of the lane and drops it off to Ibaka for the easy finish inside plus the foul and he hits the FT. Two point game.
- Dallas leads 94-92 with 1:40 to play. Kidd up top, to Dirk top of the key, about to turn into a clearout but Dirk decides to make his move quickly, falls over on the drive, turnover, fastbreak the other way, Oklahoma has numbers, Durant dunks! Nice pass by Harden on the break again. Great decisions down the stretch from Harden. Making the right play time and time again down the stretch (in contrast to his turnover prone play earlier in the game). Tie game. Oklahoma has been on a 9-2 run over the last 90 seconds or so.
- 1:20 to play — Harden knocks it away from Kidd, Kidd dives on it, saves it, throws it to Dirk, knocked loose, ball rolls loose to Vince, drives baseline, corner shot fadeaway heavily contested and from behind the backboard, misses (as expected), Mahinmi with the huge play, offensive rebound, fouled on the putback. He makes both FTs.
- One minute to play, Dallas leads 96-94. Oklahoma timeout.
- Westbrook has played great defense on Jason Terry down the stretch. Terry has been a non-factor. Forcing Dallas into a lot of one-on-one play. Taken away the two-man game that Dallas loves so much with Terry and Dirk. Great job by Westbrook.
- Inbounds to Westbrook, a double high screen, Westbrook goes right and throws it back to Durant, not a lot of space but Durant splits the defenders, gets into the paint, lovely hand off to Ibaka for the finish and the foul. Tie game. Ibaka takes the free throw and hits the free throw. 22 points for Ibaka and Oklahoma lead by 1.
- 50 seconds – Kidd to Dirk off the curl, slapped away by Perk and Harden, turnover. Oklahoma come back down, isolation Durant (30 seconds) on the left wing, Durant spins baseline, takes the turnaround J over Vince Carter, misses. Rebound Dallas. Timeout.
- 24 seconds – Dallas down one. This to win it. Clearout Dirk near the top key, slightly to the left, Perk shades him to the left, Dirk takes it, goes left, drives hard, steps back, pump fake, Perk bites, Dirk steps through and draws the contact and the foul. Misses the shot. Two FTs. Dirk hits the first one and then calmly nails the second one. Dallas lead.
- Timeout Oklahoma — 9 seconds, 98-97 Dallas — up top to Durant, drives left, Marion cuts him off, forces him to spin back right, does a decent job staying with him but Durant gets enough of an angle to drive towards the rim and gets to the foul line, raises up, second defender arrives to help Marion contest the shot but it’s a decent look, up and on the rim, bounces around and falls down.
- Inbounds to Marion with 1.5 seconds to play, he dribbles upcourt and doesn’t get off a shot. Game over. Oklahoma wins.
Terrific game from both sides. This looks a very even and hotly contested series. Definitely living up to it’s billing as the best series of the first round.
Odd scoring charts for OKC – Westbrook had 28 points, Durant had 25 points, Ibaka had 22 points and Harden had 19 points. They combined for 94 of Oklahoma’s 99 points. The other five came from Perk. Four other players played between 10 and 18 minutes and went scoreless.