Sunday, April 20, 2014
Here's what happened in the second night of the 2014 NBA playoffs:
DALLAS MAVERICKS - SAN ANTONIO SPURS 85-90
Despite a good team effort from the Dallas Mavericks, there has been no chance to overcome the Spurs on their homecourt. Led by Tony Parker with 21 points and six assists, and the ageless Tim Duncan, 27 points and 7 rebounds, the Spurs put themselves on top in this first round of the playoffs.
CHARLOTTE BOBCATS - MIAMI HEAT 88-99
Nothing to see and everything as expected here: the Bobcats started stong, and had good performance from Walker (20 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds), Jefferson (18 points, 10 rebounds) and Neil off the bench (17 points), Miami took the lead in the second quarter to stay ahead until the very end. For the heat, good games from James and Wade that combined for 50 points.
WASHINGTON WIZARDS - CHICAGO BULLS 102-93
Here's the surprise of the night to me: the Chicago Bulls that finished the season in strong fashion, lost the first game at home against the Wizards. Strong overall game for Washington that finished with 6 players in double figure: the starters Ariza (18 points, 7 rebounds), Nene (24 points, 8 rebounds), Gortat (15 points, 13 rebounds), Beal (13 points, 7 assists), John Wall (16 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds) and Miller that added 10 points off the bench.
Lots of points but weaker all around stats also for the Chicago Bulls with seven players in double figure: Dunleavy (11 points), Boozer (11 points, 9 rebounds), Noah (10 points, 10 rebounds), Butler (15 points, 7 rebounds), and Hinrich (16 points) and off the bench Augustine scored 16 points and Gibson twelve.
PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS - HOUSTON ROCKETS 122-120
Hard fought game in Houston with the Blazers that managed to came out on top of this after an overtime,
led by an incredible night from Aldridge with 46 points and 18 rebounds. Good performance also from Lillard with 31 points, 5 assists and 9 rebounds, and Matthews (18 points). Strong team effort for houston with Jones (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Howard (27 points 15 rebounds) that recorded a double double and Harden that finished with 27 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds.
Lebron James passed Larry Bird on the playoffs scoring list.
The Mavericks went scoreless after taking a 12 point lead over the Spurs. San Antonio returned to their winning formula over the final seven minutes, taking an 86-81 lead with a 15-0 run. Duncan overcame a brief injury scare to score 27 points.
What a performance out of the Blazers. Fearless, relentless team. Absolutely refused to leave Game 1 without the victory.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) April 21, 2014
I thought the Rockets had this game. But like Wojo's tweet said, the Blazers didn't quit. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a franchise playoff-record 46 points and Damian Lillard added 31, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, to lift the Portland Trail Blazers to a 122-120 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in Game 1. Houston wouldn't double-team Aldridge, and the outcome worked out great for Portland.
Rajon Rondo has built his legacy in the playoffs. He was 12 minutes away from leading the Boston Celtics to a second banner in three years, and their 18th overall. Rondo is the ultimate competitor, and the playoffs bring out the best in him. Rondo almost led the Celtics past the Heat in 2012, after suffering a dislocated elbow the year before, ending the Celtics hopes to redeem their 2010 loss in the Finals.
Rondo's number was called when Boston entered the 2009 playoffs without Kevin Garnett. During the 2008 season, and in the playoffs Rondo had some great moments. Rondo was crucial for Boston in their 39-point win over the Lakers in Boston's game clinching win. Rondo's playoff legend began in 2009, when Boston squared off against the Chicago Bulls.
If your reading this, your likely a Boston Celtics fan. I know all of us are missing the C's out there in the playoffs. The everyday NBA fan will be missing him as well.
During Rondo’s most recent playoff series – the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals – he averaged 20.9/11.9/6.9; posted a monster 44-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound Game 2; finished Game 7 (a loss) with 22 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds; and used one halftime interview to berate the Heat for crying about fouls instead of getting back on defense. When asked about the comment later, he began, “What I said was true.”
Looking back at the run by Boston. It hurts just as much as the 2010 Finals loss. That run was unlikely, just like 2010's, but it had a different feel. It was an older Rondo in Boston's 2012 run, a player who was so sure of himself, and sadly the wheels feel off of his older teammates in game seven. They couldn't hang with Rondo no longer. Which was evident during the first 40 games of the 2012-13 season.
We already knew it before it began: this was going to be an up and down season, a learning season for most of the guys that are either really young or just not accustomed at playing together.
To understand how much of an up and down season it’s been, there’s nothing better than to look at a graphic: as I love numbers, I tried to put down an idea of everything that happened since October.
This is a summary of the whole Celtics season: lots of flat lines in the lower part followed by sharp peaks. Already looking at this complete graphic, we can notice that most of those low lines are for the games away from the garden; in fact, if we split the two graphics they would look like this:
Still a lot of ups and downs, but the alternation between win and losses is a lot more regular for home games. We struggled on the road for the whole season and the lines just confirm that showing some long losing streak.
There have been some difference also from a month to another: between January and February we had lots of tough game that saw the Celtics lose 21 games in that period.
We started the season in the right way, losing some games as expected but also surprising a lot of people on some occasion and coming away with some big win that made everyone excitement grow and more than one person in the media took notice of the Celtics potential under Brad Stevens wing.
As anticipated, this has been the dark period of the Celtics season: 7 victories in two months and 21 losses. We had some tough games and many game on the road, but we also started to struggle on the field, with good performance from some lone guy and not as a team.
Our struggles continued throughout the months of March and April.
Soon enough we understood that we had no chance to make it to the playoffs, and sometimes, we’ve seen the guys play without the effort that we wanted to see from them.
I started the season with lots of excitement for this team and the early results together with the mess that was the Atlantic division made me hope that we could make it to the playoffs, but the reality is been a lot different, and toward the end of the season I was a little disappointed to see my team lose so many game and some of them without fighting.
That said, I still see a lot of potential in those guys, both in the players that as a team. And Brad Stevens has won me over since the beginning.
We have a long summer in front of us and we will probably see some fireworks. Yet, in a couple of weeks my excitement will be back exactly as it was last year and I’ll be ready for the next season.
Paul Pierce put the Nets on his back in the 4th quarter in game one. Pierce scored 9 of his 15 in the 4th. After the Nets win, a Raptors fan didn't care much about a free headband from Paul.
Serge Ibaka anyone as Boston's rim protector? Checkout the top ten from day one in the NBA playoffs. Durant with a 33 point MVP like game in game one against Memphis.
How about Chris Paul and Klay Thompson?
Danny Ainge and Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck spoke about "fireworks" this summer, and with the NBA bumping up their salary cap. Those bold predictions may come true for Boston. This could change the landscape in the NBA this coming summer. Especially with potentail free agents Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony set to try the market.
ESPN Marc Stein
The NBA has informed teams that it is projecting a rise in the salary cap of nearly $5 million for next season, which could aid clubs such as Chicago and Houston in their attempts to steal free agent-to-be Carmelo Anthony from the New York Knicks, according to sources familiar with the forecasts.
Sources told ESPN.com that all 30 teams were informed this week via league memorandum that an increase in the cap from this season's $58.6 million to $63.2 million in 2014-15 -- thanks to increased revenues -- is now expected. A corresponding rise in the luxury-tax threshold from $71.7 million to $77 million is also projected, sources said.
The Celtics already have cap space to work with, but the bump allows the Celtics to be more active, and able to trade and to absorb big contracts like Kevin Love.
The Celtics currently have about $49 million in salary on the books for 2014-15. That does not include Boston's two first round draft picks, who will likely make $3.7 million (the 6th pick) and $1.5 million (the 17th pick) next year. That brings the Celts to around $54.2 million in contracts. The Celtics should have $9 million in cap space now after the NBA's salary bump. That allows more wiggle room for Boston, and let's not forget the 10.3 million trade exception from the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade. The ball is in your court Danny Ainge.
NBA playoffs began last night and not without some surprise:
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - OKLAHOMA THUNDER 86-100
The Thunders won the series opener on homecourt behind another strong performance from Kevin Durant, who scored 33 points with 7 assists and 8 rebounds. Russel Westbrook added 23 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Strong team effort for Memphis pulled off a great comeback in the third quarter outscoring the Thunder 31 to 13 and closing that period down by 4 points, but down the stretch there has been no chance for them to take this game.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 109-105
This is the first surprise of the night, with the Clippers losing the first game at home against the Warriors.
Despite 28 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds from Chris Paul, and strong performance from Redick, Jordan and Griffin, there has been no way to stop Golden State, leaded by Lee and Thompson and with good efforts from Curry and Barnes.
ATLANTA HAWKS - INDIANA PACERS 101-93
Another surprise here. Indiana wasn't playing very well lately but I expected them to get back on track when the playoffs began. Instead last night, behind the performance of Jeff Teague and Paul Millsap, Atlanta won the series opener. For Indiana, strong performance from Paul George with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assissts, but they need a stronger team effort to win.
BROOKLYN NETS - TORONTO RAPTORS 94-87
This is the one game that I didn't know what to expect from. Led By Johnson and Williams that scored 24 points apiece, followed by Pierce with 15 points, the Nets won the series opener against the Raptors. For Toronto, good performance for Lowry with 22 points, 8 assist and 7 rebound, and a strong effort off the bench from Vasquez.
The other team I follow is Golden State. It means more that the Dubs are going up against Doc Rivers Clippers. Old friend Jermaine O'neal was big for the Warriors Saturday. Especially with Bogut out. Blake Griffin was in foul trouble all day, and after he fouled out. Blake showed some signs of being an asshole.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
The Nets made the trade with the Celtics for one simple reason. Paul Pierce along with KG, live for moments like Saturday's game 1 in Toronto. Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Nets beat the Raptors 94-87.
"You just get that feeling, you've been in those situations a number of times," Pierce said. "I don't get rattled in the fourth quarter, down the stretch or in playoff settings. I've been in pretty much every playoff setting that you can imagine. I just try to stay calm and bring my calmness to the game."
It was nice watching Paul Pierce deliver in a big moment. With the Celtics out, we need to cheer for someone.
Friday, April 18, 2014
What more can be said about Brad Stevens first year in the NBA? Even though Stevens and the Celtics crashed and burned this season, with a 25-57 record. Brad Stevens gets it, and he's the right coach for the Boston Celtics.
The Jazz came away with the 4th spot in the draft lottery, after the Celtics lost out on the tiebreaker. And yes, the Celtics are underdogs in the draft. Honestly, the draft could workout for the Celtics regardless of the percentages.
The Celtics and Jazz finished with matching 25-57 records, tied for the fourth-worst mark in the NBA. Ties in the lottery are broken by a random drawing.
Brooklyn and Washington finished with matching 44-38 records, and ties for non-lottery teams are broken by coin flip. By virtue of Brooklyn winning the flip, the Celtics will choose 17th overall with one of three future first-round picks acquired from the Nets in last summer's blockbuster trade.
Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren detailed the team's percentage at each pick on Celtics.com:
Pick 1: 10.3 percent
Pick 2: 11.1 percent
Pick 3: 12.0 percent
Pick 4: 0 percent
Pick 5: 23.7 percent
Pick 6: 34.2 percent
Pick 7: 8.2 percent
Pick 8: 0.3 percent
Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Miami will embark on a journey that hasn't been done since the Boston Celtics in the 1980's. Reaching four NBA Finals in a row is hard, and in today's NBA it seems harder than ever. The Bulls would have likely reached the Finals 8 years in a row if Jordan didn't retire. I believe that. The Lakers fell short twice in the past 14 years. The Lakers made it to the Finals three years in a row from 2000-2002, and again from 2008-2010. Each time the Lakers lost in the second round. Will the Heat? I don't know how to answer that.
So here I go, filling my NBA bracket. Who will win the NBA title?
1) Pacers vs 8)Hawks (Pacers win series 4-1)
4)Bulls vs 5)Wizards (Bulls win series 4-2)
2)Miami vs 7)Bobcats (Miami wins series 4-0)
3)Raptors vs 6)Nets (Nets win series 4-2)
1)Pacers vs 4) Bulls (Pacers win series 4-2)
2)Miami vs 6)Nets (Miami wins series 4-3)
Eastern Conference Finals
Pacers vs Miami (Pacers win series 4-2)
I was leaning towards the Heat reaching their 4th Finals in a row, but with Wade, and some other factors. I still like the Pacers reaching the Finals despite their poor play in the final weeks, or month frankly. I think the Nets will force the Heat into a seven game series. They play Miami well, and if the Nets had Lopez. I would have picked the Nets. Even if the Heat get past the Pacers. What about the very deep West.
1)Spurs vs 8)Dallas (Spurs win 4-1)
4)Rockets vs 5)Portland (Rockets 4-2)
2)Thunder vs 7) Memphis (Thunder 4-1)
3)Clippers vs 6) Warriors (Clippers 4-2)
1)Spurs vs 4) Rockets (Spurs win 4-2)
2)Thunder vs 3)Clippers (Thunder win 4-2)
Western Conference Finals
Spurs vs Thunder (Thunder 4-3)
Thunder vs Pacers (Thunder Win NBA Finals 4-2)
I think the Thunder will pull it out over the Spurs, and they'll go on and beat Indiana. I don't see big surprises, but at the same time the west is so deep. You just don't know. I would have picked the Warriors against the Clippers, if Bogut wasn't hurt. I won't be surprised for a moment if the Spurs win their 5th banner this year.
The way the East is. I wouldn't be surprised to see Miami back in the Finals. I just don't like their odds this year. Even if they reach the Finals. I just can't see them beating the top team in the West.
Kris Humphries averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds in over 69 games. I think it's safe to say that those numbers could have been higher if Hump played more earlier in the season. Humphries will be a free agent this summer, and he's coming off a season where he made 12 million. Kris won't get a deal like that again, but he will get some attention from teams looking for a strong and consistent big man. Ainge has some thoughts on Kris Humphries pending free agency.
"Kris had a really good year," Ainge told Toucher & Rich. "I think he was a bright spot. He was a good teammate, he was a good player, he was productive, a terrific shooter from the mid-range, gave great energy and effort. Had to play out of position a lot of the year by playing center. Did an outstanding job."
But despite doing and saying all the right things, Humphries is by no means guaranteed to be back - despite the fact that he does want to return. Ainge could certainly see that happening, or he could see him being part of another deal.
"Kris is a guy that very well could be on our team next year," Ainge said. "He has been a free agent and at a $12 million dollar salary also has a chance to hit a jackpot again on a sign-and-trade possibility. His contract could be valuable in acquiring future assets for other teams. So he gets it all. He understands it. He wouldn't come back to us with a $12 million dollar salary, it would be some much reduced number, but Kris understands the business. We've talked to him numerous times throughout the course of the year. He gets it. He's on board, and knows that it's sort of up in the air and there's quite a few different possibilities for him this summer."
I would love to keep Kris for the right contract. For me 5 million is the cap for him. And that's a little more than I want to pay. Ainge hinted that Hump could be used in a potential deal, in a sign-and-trade type of deal. I don't think will see that type of move, but who knows with Ainge. I would love to keep Humphries, which is odd. I didn't think he would workout, but he has in so many ways.