Already too many headlines to cover…
I haven’t made any posts of late about the playoffs for one reason. There is way too much to talk about. Unless you want to read another long post like the “Awards Time”, I have chosen to focus a bit on the playoffs so far as a whole.
Day 3 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs ended yesterday and there have already been enough headlines to match the total number of big headlines from the regular season. From Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics being ejected after bumping into a referee in game 1 between the Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. To the big shocker, Derrick Rose tearing the ACL in his left knee and now is out for the remainder of the post-season. Or how about the New York Knicks? Can they come back from down two games to none against the Miami Heat without rookie guard Iman Shumpert and now all-star forward Amar’e Stoudemire? Or how will the Los Angeles Lakers deal with the possible in-jailment of newly acquired Jordan Hill? What about how last years western final matchup meeting again in the first round and playing each game to the wire. The Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks are playing in the best series of the playoffs, each of the first two games has come down to the final shot. Maybe most importantly the 27 point comeback by the Los Angeles Clippers. What happened there? Memphis looked to be dominating the game, but let their almost 30 point lead slip from their fingers allowing the Clips to go on a 28-3 run in the dying minutes. All of those stories are huge headlines and I will do my best to touch on each of them.
Chicago’s hopes of winning an NBA championship this year have been cut in half with the loss of the reigning MVP Derrick Rose. Rose tore his ACL at end of the game against the 76ers on Saturday. He was driving to the right side of the paint and came to a jump stop where it looked like he changed his mind about what he was going to do and landed on his left knee awkwardly. Some might criticize coach Thibodeau’s decision to leave his starting five, including Rose in the game that long, but no one could have seen this coming. However, if there is a silver lining to this story its that the Bull have had to deal with this sort of stuff the entire season. Rose has missed a total of 26 games this season due to various injuries. As a result, the Bulls are well prepared for what they have to face. I have no worries about them advancing and beating the 76ers this series. I could also see them beating the Hawks or Celtics should it come to that in the next round. But it looks like the eastern conference finals will be as far as this Bulls team will go. Without Rose, the Bulls don’t stand much of a chance against the Heat. But who knows if they can make it to the East finals they might have the momentum and confidence to compete with the power house from south beach.
Much like Rose, Shumpert tore his ACL in game one. But the bigger shock is when Stoudemire took himself out of the series. After game 2’s, 10 point loss to the Miami Heat, many of the Knick players were feeling extremely frustrated with their play. Amar’e took it to the next step, physical expression. Instead of kicking the water cooler, or punching a wall, he punched the glass protecting a fire extinguisher. Paramedics were rushed into the room and Stoudemire left the AAA in an arm sling. Apparently his hand was severely cut and he will most likely miss a game or two if not the whole series while his hand recovers. That just lengthens the IR list for the Knicks. With Linsanity unavailable until at least the second round, and Shumpert out for most likely the length of the post-season, the Knicks can’t afford another loss to their star player.
Celtics In Trouble
With their best player, Rondo, being suspended for one game after making contact with a game official, the aging Celtics must face the Hawks in Atlanta without their all star point guard. Even worse, sharpshooter, and my favorite player, Ray Allen is unlikely to play in game two as he is still getting over a sore ankle. This puts an even heavier load on sophomore guard Avery Bradley. Bradley will most likely end up playing close to 42 minutes. Paul Pierce will have to step up big on offense if they want to try and steal one in ATL. Also, Kevin Garnett will have to hit 90% of his perimeter jumpers and will have to shut down Josh Smith while Bradley will have to be stuck guarding Joe Johnson.
Western Conference Showdowns
Who would have thought that the two seed versus the seven seed out West would end up being the series of the playoffs? Everyone did, once they knew it was the Thunder against the Mavericks. The last time these two met was in the conference finals of last years playoffs. The Mavericks won that series in 6 and as we know, went on to win the NBA Championship. This year however, the Thunder hold a 2-0 lead over the Mavericks. The only thing is, either of those games could have gone either way. For instance, if Durant’s game winner in game 1 doesn’t go in, the Mavs have that one. And yesterday if Dirk is able to hit that wide open 3 on the wing, the Mavericks have the ball on the last possession and instead of going for the tie, they are going for the win. Now with the series switching over to Dallas, the Mavs could easily win two games at home to tie the series up and make it a best of 3.
The other series that is catching everyones attention after game one, is the Clippers Grizzlies matchup. Everyone knew that the Memphis Grizzlies would come out guns blazing in the playoffs, which they did. And everyone knew that without Chauncey Billups in the starting line up, the Clips lack a lot of playoff experience. And, as everyone expected they got run over by the Griz, through the first three quarters that is. But then Lob City woke up. They had an offensive explosion coming back from a 27 point deficit to win the game by one. This comeback was one for the record books because it was the largest in playoff history. Rudy Gay almost spoiled the party, but he came short on his game winning hook from in the paint. Nick Young is truly the catalyst for the Clips offense. He hit back to back to back three’s in the fourth quarter to help the comeback. Young finished the game with a team high 19 points off the bench. But, don’t expect the Clippers to get so lucky next game. The Grizzlies shot 70% from the 3 point line! That’s unconscious.
The End Result
Only three days have passed and there are enough headlines covering all of the big teams, the NBA playoffs are starting to look like May Madness? I’m going to try and get that trending, but in the mean time, hopefully the stories keep coming. Although I do hate reading about injured players, that is never fun to read about. But if all the matchup can continue to be top notch, it is sure to make for a great first round.