Tag Archives: Joe Johnson

Brief 2017 NBA Playoff Recaps: Volume 1 (Opening Weekend)

Four games in each day, to launch the 2017 NBA Playoffs. One paragraph per game, that’s all time will allow.

Saturday, April 15

Cleveland Cavs 109, Indiana Pacers 108 (Miles To Go Before I Sleep…)

(CLE leads, 1–0)

LeBron very good, rest of Cavs looked rusty…Kyrie 1 of 9 from deep…Cleveland dodges bullet when C.J. Miles misses fade-away at buzzer. Paul George is mad at C.J. Miles for taking a good look. Too bad Sir Lance couldn’t steal one for Indiana, that would’ve made things dramatic. (Lance is bringing it back to 2013, by the way)…Kevin Seraphin got 16 playoff minutes! Don’t wake the monster…

Milwaukee Bucks 97, Toronto Raptors 83 (Sir Brogdon At Your Service…)

(MIL leads 1–0)

Giannis in attack mode, such a beautiful sight. Half court to the rim in 3 strides. 28 on 18 shots…President Malcolm Brogdon ain’t a rookie, he’s a savvy vet! What do you need? I got your defense, your timely shooting, your smart passing. Just tell me what you need…Khris Middleton is the only human on the planet who can shoot 4 of 15 and finish +27 on the night. Three blocks by Maker made me squeal with delight. Lowry 2 of 11 and 0 of 6 from deep. Wrist rust be a problem. Casey needs to get Valanciunas more than 5 shots. This is going 7.

Dwayne Casey needs to figure some things out before Game 2

 

San Antonio Spurs 111, Memphis Grizzlies 82 (Kawhi Can’t This be a Forfeit?)

(SA leads 1–0….soon to be 4–0)

When we heard Tony Allen was out for the series, we stopped holding out any hope that this would be competitive. The Spurs were ordered by Adam Silver to wait until the 2nd quarter to annihilate the Grizzlies, so they cooperated, ending the first with a 5 point deficit. Then San Antonio won the next three quarters by 34. When you want to watch every series, it helps to have one like this.

Utah Jazz 97, Los Angeles Clippers 95 (Win One for the Gobert!)

(UTAH leads 1–0)

17 seconds after tip and The Gentle Giant, Gobert the Great, was on the ground, crawling and shaking his head. It was a painful, deflating sight. Anyone who was rooting for the Jazz felt hollow inside. Quin Snyder’s expression was more than concerned. Not exactly panicked, though. He held himself together, and the Jazz held themselves together. Players like Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, George Hill, and Derrick Favors…pulled this one out. What a wonderful game. The Clippers have all the talent and the Jazz have all the grit. The Clippers are an empty vessel, with a ferocious point guard at the helm. They are less than the sum of their parts, while the Jazz are more than just a couple of Joes. What sweet music, Game One brought us. Joe Johnson has been reborn. Joe Ingles is the best YMCA gym rat in the NBA.

Slow-Motion Joe Goes With the Flow

 

Sunday, April 16

Golden St Warriors 121, Portland Trail Blazers 109 (McCollum Merely One Man…)

(GS leads 1–0)

C.J. McCollum was Golden State’s Gollum, they were never sure which way he’d go. Dropping 41 points on 28 shots, McCollum and his pal Lillard kept the Blazers afloat until the 15–2 Warrior avalanche began the 4th. Defensive Draymond opened the gates and the unassuming Ian Clark chipped in 7 of those 15. The first 36 minutes of the series may be the closest, though it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Blazers backcourt pull one out in the Rose Quarter.

Washington Wizards 114, Atlanta Hawks 107 (Chief Markieff Offers Relief)

(WAS leads 1–0)

The Wizards are probably the better team, and certainly the more interesting one of the two, but with time slipping away at the end of the half, the Hawks led, 48–42, and Washington’s Markieff Morris missed a contested corner three. The ensuing review showed that Morris had been fouled as time expired on the shot. Three free-throws and the lead was cut to 3, as they strolled toward the locker rooms. After the half, Morris opened up by hitting a 3, and the game was tied. Sometimes a game swings when you least expect it. The Hawks have little margin for error. The Wizards bench came up completely empty (except for Mr. Oubre). A few Tim Hardaway threes (0 of 6) and the Hawks might have pulled it out. Instead, Washington still holds home court for now.

Chicago Bulls 106, Boston Celtics 102 (Tragic Turn for Cs but Baby Please…)

(CHI leads 1–0)

What an awful turn of events for Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics. A tragedy clouded what should have been an exuberant first round home game in Boston. Despite it all, Isaiah showed up and did what he always does: scored. 33 points on 18 shots, 10 of 12 from the line, and 3 from deep. Isaiah finished with a +12. So did Bobby Portis, the Bulls 22 year-old who came off the bench with a fury. Those ten minutes without Isaiah belonged to Portis, who scored 19 on 8 of 10, grabbing 9 boards, dishing 3 assists and blocking 2 shots. After the Bulls sent Gibson and McDermott packing, Portis has seen his minutes grow. Once he started knocking down threes at the end of the regular season, his confidence apparently grew as well. Boston’s 53-wins and home court advantage are in the rear-view now, as they fight off Jimmy Butler and Bobby Portis, looking to even things on Tuesday night. Bradley and Horford did their parts, along with Isaiah. Crowder, Smart, Olynyk, and Jaylen have to give more.

Houston Rockets 118, OKC Thunder 87 (Roll the Thunder, Hear Their Cry)

(HOU leads 1–0)

No more debates, no more MVP concerns, just throw the ball up and play. The better team won. The better team has Patrick Beverley, whose offensive contributions (21 points on 13 shots) pale in comparison to the impact of his Westbrook-hounding. Russell can rampage all over the regular season, but he won’t rampage all over Mr. Beverley, who has never known the concept of fear or intimidation. Westbrook’s 6 of 23 line, and 9 turnovers were a big part of the problem. His sidekick, Victor Oladipo, was a dreadful 1 of 12 from the field, misfiring on all 6 three-pointers. OKC’s only hope is to contain Houston’s relentless attack, in which James Harden dissects their defense and makes life simple and breezy for Clint Capela and Nene, who shot a combined 14 of 17, feasting on lay-ups and dunks. Either redirect Harden away from the paint, or Westbrook has to play three times as well as he did tonight and Oladipo needs to wake up. This could be over in 5.

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2014 NBA Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference Semis

After two whirlwind weeks of the NBA Playoffs, I feel like this:

The keyboard can be used as a pillow in emergencies.

The keyboard can be used as a pillow in emergencies.

 

The NBA Playoffs are excruciatingly, overwhelmingly, exhaustingly awesome. People are over this great nation of ours are screaming and collapsing and vomiting and….falling asleep with the remote control in their hands. Eight teams are gone and eight teams are left. One Round over. Three Rounds left. Fortunately, there will be two games each night for the next two weeks. These three-game nights are too much. For the NBA obsessed writer/fan/reader, the fast-forward button starts to take over, just so you can get to bed before sunrise.

Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but you understand.

In the Eastern Conference, the survivors hail from Miami, D.C., Indianapolis and Brooklyn. No Boston. No Chicago. No Canada. Those devoted Canadian hoops fans (images of Maple Leaf Square overflowing with crowds) who so exuberantly inspired their Raptors through seven games, down to the very last second, in which Kyle Lowry navigated all kinds of swarming hands in the paint, only to be denied by the ageless Paul Pierce. Now GM Masai Ujiri must decide how integral Lowry is to the Raptors future. Lowry’s spectacular second-half and playoff run will bring in multiple offers. The exciting young Raptors should keep this crew together. Meanwhile, the Nets have one day off before they face off with the defending-champion Heat.

Miami Heat (2) vs. Brooklyn Nets (6)

While it’s smart to dismiss the Nets’ regular season sweep of Miami as mostly noise, due to the fact that Heat guard Dwyane Wade did not play in any of the four games, the Nets do match up pretty well with Miami. The length of Livingston, Pierce, Joe Johnson, and Kirilenko will frustrate Miami. The Nets are great at taking away the corner three, one of the Heat’s offensive strengths. Expect fewer Ray Allen, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole open looks.

Wade has been resting patiently for most of the last six weeks, waiting to ramp up his intensity for these games. It will be interesting to see how many minutes he gets and how effective he is toward the end of this series. Chris Bosh should feast on the Nets bigs whenever Kevin Garnett hits the bench. Kirilenko is better suited to matching up with Bosh than Plumlee or Blatche. Jason Kidd would be wise to experiment with Kirilenko at the center. If Garnett can somehow manage to give 30 minutes, that may be enough to keep the damage to a minimum.

After missing two shots in the final minute, Paul Pierce comes to the rescue with the block that saved the Nets.

After missing two shots in the final minute, Paul Pierce’s block with time expiring saved the Nets.

Though it remains unlikely the Nets can push this series to seven games, I wouldn’t expect a sweep either. The Heat may show some rust in Game 1, after a week layoff. Joe Johnson’s sweet-shooting will be absolutely necessary, as will some unexpected Marcus Thornton, Mirza Teletovic and Alan Anderson performances.

Expect Teletovic, who averaged 10.3 ppg in the four regular season games, to make a significant contribution.

As a Celtics fan, it’ll be fun to see Pierce and KG get one more shot to ruin Miami’s attempt at another deep playoff run.

Three questions:

Will Jason Kidd prove he can handle the pressure of late-game strategy as a first year coach?

Will Kevin Garnett play more than 20 minutes per game?

Will Dwyane Wade start limping around Game 4 or 5?

 

Darko Index Predicts: Heat in 6.

 

Series Schedule

Game 1: Brooklyn @ Miami, Tuesday, May 6, 7pm EST, TNT

Game 2: Brooklyn @ Miami, Thursday, May 8, 7pm EST, TNT

Game 3: Miami @ Brooklyn, Saturday, May 10, 8pm EST, ABC

Game 4: Miami @ Brooklyn, Monday, May 12, 8pm EST, TNT

 

Indiana Pacers (1) vs. Washington Wizards (5)

Has a top seed ever been so heavily criticized at this point in an NBA season? In the internet age, where the criticisms feel more like chants than whispers, where quotes are linked to and every Larry Bird utterance and Roy Hibbert disappearance is under the microscope, the magnitude of the doubters is exponentially greater. Not to mention that the ridiculously early (January) MVP-debates that stir the straw that is the media-hyped narrative soup of the regular season stretched Paul George’s great first-half to mythical proportions. This Indiana team started the season with the mental focus of the playoff-Spurs…but that’s the very reason it started to crumble in March. 82 games. It’s a slog, a marathon, whatever word you want to use to describe the 25-week regular season…it’s seriously long and every team goes up-and-down. The word “unacceptable” should NEVER be applied to a regular season loss. One loss is always acceptable, given the context of the season. A three-game losing streak to mediocre or awful teams may be unacceptable.

Before the Pacers’ wagon-wheels fell of their ever-lightning bandwagon, back on March 12, Bird told the Indianapolis Star:

“A lot of times, we don’t take the fight to them [the opponent],” Bird told the Star. “A lot of times we sit back and wait and see how it goes. And that was the case even when we were winning a lot of games early in the season. We’ve got to be mentally prepared to really go after the teams we’re playing against. We can’t have the mindset it’s just another game; it’s a very important game. All of them are.”

While Bird has a point that developing a consistently dominant franchise, season-to-season, takes a mental approach that sets one team apart from the rest, he misses a few points: 1) The Pacers won 49 games in 2012-13; 2) These Pacers have never played in an NBA Finals; 3) These Pacers are a defensively dominant, offensively-suspect crew, without the depth of those dominant franchises in San Antonio, Miami, and to some extent, Oklahoma City.

Bird’s desire for these Pacers to bring the mental approach that his mid-80’s Celtics teams brought to their games is understandable, but his insistence that they never let-up is unrealistic.

The media turned this Pacers team into what they wanted: an imagined rematch of last year’s great Eastern Conference Finals series in which the Pacers surprised the casual NBA fan with their tenacious defense and grinding offense. Like the Memphis Grizzlies, the Pacers became a formidable foe. I wrote more in-depth about the Pacers season here. Simply put, they were never the team that people thought they were. They are a very good team with real flaws and match-ups are critical to how dominant they are at any given time.

Which brings us to their match-up with the upstart Washington Wizards.

The Wizards style-of-play brings a breath of fresh air compared with the factory-smoke air that the slug-it-out Chicago Bulls style brings. The regular season match-ups favored Indiana, but two of the three games were played without Wizards forward, Nene. Dominant at times against DPOY Joakim Noah (who was admirably fighting through a knee injury), Nene will not find the same level of success against David West and Ian Mahinmi. Without Nene facilitating so effectively, John Wall’s range will be severely tested. The Pacers may sag off of Wall the way teams defended Rajon Rondo early in his career. Expect some vicious interactions between Nene and David West. Flagrant fouls will be ubiquitous.

Many are talking about the perimeter defense of Trevor Ariza as a Paul George stopper. This worked pretty well in the regular season. Ariza has a similar body-type to George, and can contest those fade-away jumpers in isolation better than most wings, with his long arms. More than anything, it would make sense for Wizards coach Randy Wittman to send Ariza running all over the baseline, like Ray Allen in Miami, in order to wear George out on the defensive end. If this is the case, Pacers coach Frank Vogel may take George off of Ariza, though Bradley Beal is equally capable of running all over the place in the half-court.

The Wizards may take a page from the Hawks’ playbook, and go extra small, forcing Indiana’s defense to stretch out. If they do, Hibbert absolutely needs to dominate on the block, and West must facilitate from his coveted elbow spot. The problem with going extra small is that the Wizards won’t have any real chance of setting the tempo through offensive rebounding and second-chance points that come with the efforts of Marcin Gortat.

Bradley Beal is one of my favorite young players to watch. He has a similar kind of poise that Damian Lillard possesses, rarely showing the exasperation and exuberance that John Wall plays with. Though Wall has that electricity that is contagious, Beal plays with the even-handed confidence of Ray Allen. Can’t wait to see how he does in this series. I’m hoping Wall doesn’t forget how important Beal and Ariza are to the team’s success.

Three Questions:

Will Nene or David West get ejected from more than one game each?

Will John Wall turn the ball over more often than Paul George? Will both of them average five turnovers per game?

Will Bradley Beal hit more than one game-winning shot in this series?

 

Darko Index Predicts: Pacers in 6.

 

Series Schedule

Game 1: Washington @ Indiana, Monday, May 5, 7pm EST, TNT

Game 2: Washington @ Indiana, Wednesday, May 7, 7pm EST, TNT

Game 3: Indiana @ Washington, Friday, May 9, 8pm EST, ESPN

Game 4: Indiana @ Washington, Sunday, May 11, 8pm EST, TNT

 

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My name is Boumjte. I am always hungry and almost always happy.

My name is Boumjte. I go by BOOM-ee. I am always hungry and almost always happy.

 

 

 

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