The NBA Playoffs started. We’ve had 8 games. It’s way too early in each series to decide anything….but here are some impressions:
(1) Atlanta v (8) Brooklyn
Is there anyone outside of the borough of Brooklyn and the sad state of New Jersey that actually wants this Nets team to win? I guess Cavs, Bulls, Raptors and Wizards fans temporarily want Brooklyn to beat Atlanta. The Hawks are the only underdog 60-win team in playoff history. Not underdogs in this series, but not favored to win the East. Health remains key. Jeff Teague had a brutal game 1. Paul Millsap didn’t look quite right. Al Horford’s x-rays were negative. The Hawks would do well to win this in 4 and rest as TOR-WAS goes 6 or 7. Kyle Korver: 5 of 11 from deep.
(4) Toronto v (5) Washington
This series has as much to do with Kyle Lowry’s back and Nene’s knees as anything else. Paul Pierce got himself revved up with his own comments. Makes you wonder if that’s how it works when Pierce is with his lady. “Do you really want it? Are you sure you want it? You don’t seem like you want it? Should I go take the kids to the park instead?” Kyle Lowry needs a good deep-tissue massage and some shiatsu.
(3) Chicago v (6) Milwaukee
Derrick Rose is in attack mode and it has to be refreshing for Bulls fans. Anyone who is still complaining about not getting Russell Westbrook in the playoffs, just watch the Bulls-Bucks series. Before Westbrook’s furious rampaging to the hoop, it was Rose making the impossible mid-air contortions. The Bucks will be bounced quickly unless Jason Kidd decides to come out of retirement and hits about 6 corner threes per game. Michael Carter-Williams has a problem shooting.
(2) Cleveland v (7) Boston
After one quarter, the Celtics led Cleveland 31-27. With 9:24 remaining in the first half, Boston was somehow ahead 38-31. Then the Cavs got loose and started doing what they’ve been doing for the last two months. Hitting wide-open three-pointers, and letting Kyrie Irving loose. LeBron’s penetration led to one triple each from J.R. Smith, Irving and the Artist Formerly Known As Kevin Love (AFKAKL). Kyrie finished the half with two ridiculous off-the-bounce stop-me-if-you-can three-pointers. Suddenly the Cavs finish the half up 62-54.
“Nobody said it was easy,” was the theme song to this loss for the Celtics.
Isaiah Thomas had a rough first half, but finished with a solid all-around game (22 pts, 10 ast, 5 reb and 5 turnovers). Kelly Olynyk was a spark off the bench early (12 pts on 7 shots and 2 blocks). Surprisingly, Brandon Bass was given the majority of the time on LeBron early, with Crowder playing more in semi-garbage time once the Celtics were down 15. At some point, Gigi Datome will make an appearance and shoot lots of threes. Stevens is probably saving him for Game 3 and the rabid home crowd.
All in all, the Celtics can take some solace in the fact that this was not a complete and utter devastation in Game 1. A few problems that aren’t going away for Boston: LeBron and Kyrie can get anywhere they want on the court and the Celtics have no rim protection. Cleveland offensive rebounding (15) vs Boston defensive rebounding (27) was a disaster. Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov are large and determined. Celtics need Crowder and anyone else willing to fend off the Cleveland bigs. The problem, Cleveland spreads the floor so well, that the Celtics aren’t going to succeed on the rebounding front unless they can summon 2008 Kevin Garnett or 2010 Kendrick Perkins. Oh well. At least they got an invitation to the big dance.