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The knock on Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder is he's apparently not athletic enough. He doesn't have the strength or ability to make the finishing moves necessary to win a championship. Without that, Durant is having to force tougher shots, gets bodied away from position, and struggles to finish off plays.
Thankfully, bad Dallas Mavericks defense proves that Durant can do quite a bit close up in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. First, Peja Stojakovic let Durant blow past him on his way to the basket, leaving his center Brendan Haywood out to dry on the blow by. Durant was happy to take advantage of the situation and exploit it to the best of his abilities.
Kevin Durant Poster Dunk On Brendan Haywood 5/19/2011 (via nbafufu)
For more on the Mavericks, head out to Mavs Moneyball to talk with Dallas fans. For more on the Thunder, head out to Welcome to Loud City to talk with Oklahoma City fans.
Okay, so apparently Taj Gibson decided to make the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals his personal coming out party. First he decided to baptize Dwyane Wade like Scottie Pippen on Patrick Ewing (check out the video here). Then he played incredible defense for most of the game, being able to switch onto LeBron James on pick and rolls and play him straight up, play on the backline, pound the glass, block shots, and also knocked down some shots too. 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists, with a plus/minus of +17 to boot.
And at the end of the game, this happened.
It doesn't feel too bad to be Taj Gibson right now, doesn't it? Chicago is now up 1-0 on Miami. Game 2 is Wednesday Night.
For more reaction from Bulls fans, head to Blog A Bull. For reaction from Heat fans, check out Peninsula is Mightier.
Taj Gibson was a pretty special defensive force for the USC Trojans, particularly his rebounding and blocking skills. He was always a great athlete though, and his incredible leaping abilities were always quite underrated. He's established himself as a solid bench player for the Chicago Bulls, as they now find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Taj Gibson dunks on Dwyane Wade -- Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat Game 1 (via nbavideosnow)
What'd you think of the dunk? Best dunk of the playoffs? Let us know in the comments!
Chicago and Miami are deadlocked in battle in the Eastern Conference Finals. Check out additional coverage of the game on SB Nation's NBA hub. Head to Blog A Bull to discuss the game with Bulls fans. Head to Peninsula is Mightier to discuss the game with Heat fans.
Well, the Eastern Conference Finals are set. Good vs. evil, if you believe in that nonsense. Pure-hearted Derrick Rose led his Chicago Bulls to a defensive snuff-out of the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference Playoffs Series, meaning they'll be facing off with the madmen LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, the early schedule has ensured they'll be way more talk than play, as the first three games will take ONE WEEK to play out. Game 1 is Sunday night on TNT, Game 2 is Wednesday night on TNT, then a three day gap to ge tto Miami and Game 3. Pretty ridiculous, if you ask me.
Here are the times and listings for each game in the series.
Sunday, May 15: Game 1, Miami at Chicago, 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, TNT
Wednesday, May 18: Game 2, Miami at Chicago, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT
Sunday, May 22: Game 3, Chicago at Miami, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT
Tuesday, May 24: Game 4, Chicago at Miami, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT
Thursday, May 26: Game 5, Miami at Chicago, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT (*)
Saturday, May 28: Game 6, Chicago at Miami, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT (*)
Monday, May 30: Game 7, Miami at Chicago, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, TNT (*)
(*) if necessary
Who do you think will win the series? Let us know in the comments!
No one is likely to question the heart of Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics anymore after his heroic performance coming back from that horrific elbow injury. However, now that the Celtics have been eliminated in five games by the Miami Heat, there will be plenty of questions about his mind. Was it a wise decision? Did he further damage the arm through subsequent contact with opposing defenders?
Mike Gorman of CSN New England reported after the game that he’d heard from sources inside the Celtics that Rondo’s injury was very serious, and could have kept him out as much as two months if he had decided to shut it down for the season. That Rondo decided to keep on chugging is a pretty impressive testament of character, even though his effectiveness considerably declined playing with one arm.
I guess it’s a small price to pay for immortality in the New England sports world.
What do you think of Rondo deciding to play with a serious elbow injury like that? Obviously a gutsy move, but was it a smart decision?
For more on the Celtics, hit up Celtics Blog.
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat proved they could beat the Boston Celtics playing at their best. But can the Heat continue to do this throughout the NBA Playoffs against the remaining teams like the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder?
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls is a remarkable player, but he's needed all the help he can get in this series from all of his teammates. Rose led the way, but the efforts of Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Luol Deng and Ronnie Brewer really pushed the Bulls to a 3-2 series lead over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Miami Heat are thriving thanks mainly to their commitment to the defensive end of the floor, the side of the basketball where they’ve hovered near the top for most of this year. Nowhere is that commitment more steadfast and certain with Dwyane Wade shutting down Ray Allen offensively the last three games. D-Wade’s ability to chase Allen all over the court has severely hampered Boston’s offense
After an efficient Game 1 where Allen flicked his wrists and poured in 25 points on 13 shots, five of them three point makes, the sharpshooter has been held to a very limited 11 of 30 shooting from the field, his best performance coming in Game 4, managing a limited 5 of 12.
The most decisive stat has to be the screen game. Allen usually curls himself around a multitude of big men who check his man, then gets free and takes a wide open shot. That did not happen a lot the past few games. Wade stuck to Allen like glue. According to MySynergySports, Allen has attempted only 10 shots off of screens and made three of them, and only six in the last three games (none in Game 2!).
If Boston is to reverse their chances of winning in this series, Allen has to get freed and get better looks at the basket. Got Kendrick Perkins anyone?
Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat had to sacrifice a lot to join LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, plus endure constant ridicule of his basketball stature. He might just be earning himself redemption with his important play against the Boston Celtics, particularly in Game 4 to put them in a decisive 3-1 hole.
Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks is probably one of the most talented players in the NBA with his incredible athletic leaping ability and shot-blocking/rebounding aptitude. In Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls, he combined those talents with pure, all-out effort.
Zen Master Phil Jackson did not have a great finish to his NBA career as he saw Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers fall to the Dallas Mavericks in a stunning four-game sweep in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder do seem to share a similar dynamic in their relationship on the court as Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers did, but the acrimony just isn't there, and their ability to share the ball is much greater than Kobe's and Shaq's.
Peja Stojakovic is long remembered as perhaps the greatest pure shooter in Sacramento Kings history, but he always struggled in big playoff moments. Now a member of the Dallas Mavericks, he was given another chance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Playoffs, and he's making the most of it.
Dirk Nowitzki is soft. Never forget this NBA fans. Never forget this despite the innumerable 20+ point playoff performances, the incredible clutch shots he makes, the work he puts into making his incredible one-legged fadeaways.
Yes people, he practices shots like this. As good an NBA player as he is, what is Pau Gasol supposed to do with THAT?
Nowitzki finished with a modest 24 points, but also only needed 16 shots to get that, and also pulled down seven rebounds. And if you watch his nine field goal makes, you can only hope that gravity forces that shot down a few inches short or beyond the rim. Wild shots for everyone else equals normal shots for Dirk.
But yeah, soft. Keep on saying that. One of these days, it might even be true.
In the closing seconds of a shocking Dallas Mavericks sweep of the first two games in the Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Semifinals, Ron Artest added injury to insult by attempting to dislodge the head of the man that killed his team all fourth quarter long.
Artest is likely to earn himself a game off, and at the worst possible time with Dallas up 2-0. Artest went to the head of Jose Barea, a move that has generally warranted a one-game suspension in every other instance during these NBA Playoffs (Zaza Pachulia and Jason Richardson come to mind). Artest's streaky history also does him no favors here, despite being the recent winner of the Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Artest's likely suspension means Matt Barnes probably starts for LA on Friday night in Game 3. It does not solve the worrisome issue the Lakers have with trying to stop Barea, who exploded for 10 points and 4 assists and took advantage of lame Laker pick and roll defense all night long.
It's NFL Draft weekend, so it's naturally that the basketball player most suited for being a tight end in the league would show off something that was worthy of the football highlight reel, right? NFL fans looking for a sure-thing quarterback might have been looking at the wrong sport, as the video below exhibits.
LeBron James had a relatively quiet game (22 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks, oh man, what a disappointment!) to complement the scorching Dwyane Wade, but he was very good at shutting down Paul Pierce for most of the first half and helping the Miami Heat build up their lead.
I was a little surprised that Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson kept on talking. I'm pretty sure the only way you can teach a basketball player to throw a 75 foot chest pass on instinct is if you were born to be an athletic freak like LeBron James, and had someone who can catch and finish like Dwyane Wade. That's just me though.
To discuss the NBA Playoffs, head over to SB Nation's NBA page.
The Miami Heat acquitted themselves well in a 99-90 Game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics, and Dwyane Wade was all-around brilliant. 38 points on 21 shots, 5 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Great game for Wade.
Miami Heat fans? Less so, as they continue to reinforce the stereotype they're among the worst and least-supportive in the league. Check the animated GIF by clicking here.
Hey Heat fans, you do realize this guy singlehandedly carried you to your only NBA championship? You realize his recruitment of LeBron James and Chris Bosh is the reason you're in this position to be three wins away from the Eastern Conference Finals? CATCH THE MAN YOU KEEP ON CHANTING "M-V-P" FOR (Well, you also chant "M-V-P" for LeBron, and Joel Anthony, which also doesn't reflect too well on you...) INSTEAD OF LETTING HIM FALL INTO THE METAL CHAIRS.
What do you guys think of D-Wade's hustle and the spinelessness of Heat fans? Let us know in the comments!
Well, they did it. Those Memphis Grizzlies chased the San Antonio Spurs off the three point line all series long, and they rode behind their stalwart in Zach Randolph, the defense of Tony Allen, the skills of Marc Gasol and O.J. Mayo, and a deep starting rotation that now has them playing in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, upsetting the top-seeded Spurs in six. Memphis becomes the first team to upset a #1 seed since the Golden State Warriors.
The next task of the Grizz? Dispatching the suddenly popular sleepers to win it all, the Oklahoma City Thunder. They'll have a relatively quick turnaround from this series to the next one, with Game 1 early Monday afternoon. Here is their schedule.
Game 1 - Sunday, May 1st, Grizzlies at Thunder, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, ABC
Game 2 - Tuesday, May 3rd, Grizzlies at Thunder, 6:30 PM PT/9:30PM ET, TNT
Game 3 - Saturday, May 7th, Thunder at Grizzlies, 2 PM PT/5 PM ET, ESPN
Game 4 - Monday, May 9th, Thunder at Grizzlies, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, TNT
Game 5 * Wednesday, May 11th, Grizzlies at Thunder, TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Friday, May 13th, Thunder at Grizzlies, TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sunday, May 15th, Grizzlies at Thunder, TBD, TBD
(*) if necessary
Who do you like in this series? Let us know in the comments!
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls waited two days to find out their second round opponent after eliminating the Indiana Pacers. The Atlanta Hawks surprisingly took advantage of poor Orlando Magic perimeter shooting and rode the hot hand themselves to some close but impressive victories, winning their series in six games. They now head to the Second CIty to try and score their second upset in as many rounds.
Here is the schedule for the Bulls-Hawks series, which will be primarily featured on TNT (with a few possible games on ESPN).
Game 1 - Mon., May 2nd, Hawks at Bulls 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, TNT
Game 2 - Wed., May 4th, Hawks at Bulls, 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, TNT
Game 3 - Fri., May 6th, Bulls at Hawks, TBD, ESPN
Game 4 - Sun., May 8th, Bulls at Hawks, 8:00PM, TNT
Game 5 * Tue., May 10th, Hawks at Bulls, TBD, TNT
Game 6 * Thu., May 12th, Bulls at Hawks, TBD, ESPN
Game 7 * Sun., May 15th, Hawks at Bulls, TBD, TNT
(*) if necessary
For more on Chicago, check out the Bulls SB Nation site Blog A Bull. For more on Atlanta, check out the Hawks SB Nation site Peachtree Hoops.
Who do you like to win the series? Leave your predictions in the comments!
And now the Miami Heat will finally begin their real test of validation.
Miami struggled and struggled throughout their first playoff series, but still managed to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in five games. It wasn't easy, and the Heat still don't look particularly in sync, but they did just enough to close out the series on their homecourt Wednesday night.
However, their true test lies down the road against the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Boston Celtics (who eliminated both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade last year). The preliminary schedule dates has been announced, although TV times aren't completely set. All we can tell you is that Games 1 and 3 will be on ABC, and Game 7 (if necessary) will be on TNT.
Sunday, May 1st: Game 1, Boston vs. Miami, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
Tuesday, May 3rd: Game 2, Boston vs. Miami, TBA (likely TNT)
Saturday, May 7th: Game 3, Miami vs. Boston, 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, ABC
Monday, May 9th: Game 4, Miami vs. Boston, TBA (likely TNT)
Wednesday, May 11th: Game 5, Boston vs. Miami, TBA (likely TNT)
Friday, May 13th: Game 6, Miami vs. Boston, TBA (likely ESPN)
Monday, May 16th: Game 7, Boston vs. Miami, TNT
Who do you have? Let us know your series predictions in the comments!
So, Kobe Bryant didn't seem to be having any trouble dunking on big men and creating more posters for aspiring hoopsters to plaster on their walls. Why not continue the trend in the second half? First it was Emeka Okafor on a nasty drive and finish, now Carl Landry is on the brunt end.
Funny thing is that Trevor Ariza is probably more to blame for playing Bryant too close up and letting him drive past him on both occasions. Ariza has been great offensively, but these defensive gaffes might have just as much of a negative impact as they've helped get Kobe and the Lakers going offensively.
The Lakers have started to pull ahead in the third quarter over the Hornets. Will the lead hold and will LA manage to take the critical 3-2 series lead?
So, everyone thought Kobe Bryant might be done after turning his ankle in Game 4 of the Western Conference Playoffs. Bryant was limping and was seen on crutches after the game, and with a swing game looming between the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers, no one really knew if Bryant would be up to the task.
Yeah, whatever. A drive past his defender and a facial on Emeka Okafor later, I doubt anyone is thinking that.
Kobe Bryant dunk on Emeka Okafor -- Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets Game 5 (via nbavideosnow)
Bryant scored all of his field goals in the second quarter in the first half, and his L.A. Lakers hold a narrow three point lead over Chris Paul and the Hornets. Will Kobe have any more highlights in store for us in the second half?
(HT Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge for uploading the video)
Chris Paul is not of this Earth. In Game 4 he lifted his New Orleans Hornets to an incredible 93-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers with an impressive triple double performance. He executed a nasty crossover on Kobe Bryant, who used to be one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. He nearly broke Andrew Bynum's knees when he turned him around on a switch with his incredible dribbling skill. He had as many rebounds as Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum combined (13). He had 23 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the second half alone. He waited until the very last second to draw the double team and find a cutting Jarrett Jack, who nailed the clinching jumper.
And when asked by Cheryl Miller after the game about his competitive spirit and jousting with Kobe in the first half of this game, CP3 showcased his ferocious competitive spirit.
This is a series. The Hornets are two wins away from one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. Can Paul pull off two more extraordinary performances like these?
So a day after a dramatic performance at the Staples Center, what exactly happened for the New Orleans Hornets to shoot 52% from the field, shoot 33 free throws and dictate the tempo? Some of the issues are obvious, some not so much, so let's take look. Courtesy of the incredible Synergy Sports, I made these observations.
The Hornets were 6 of 7 on their cuts (Lakers were 1st in the league this year at defending cuts--57.3%)
Chris Paul makes floater/runner, Tied at 14, 4:37 in 1st quarter (gambling defense)
CP3 takes the ball down the left sideline, with Carl Landry coming up to set the pick. Lamar Odom switches onto Paul and has him now on the sideline and gives him trouble with his length. Landry cuts to the left block and Pau Gasol eventually picks him up. Fisher is stuck on Gray on the right block.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Odom plays Paul too close, allowing him the ability to move off the ball. Paul executes a give and go with Landry by passing the ball around Odom's waist, getting it back, and finishing with an open floater in the lane.
Emeka Okafor dunk, NO 41, LAL 35, 5:15 in 2nd quarter
Same formula. Pick and roll, pick and roll. (lazy rotation)
Jarrett Jack guarded by Derek Fisher, Emeka Okafor comes out to set a pick. Gasol switches on Jack as he drives to the outside, and does a good job forcing him toward the baseline. He loses the ball on what looks like an Artest reach-in, but Jack eventually gets back the ball.
In the second or two available, none of the Lakers manage to rotate back onto their original man. Gasol stays on Jack, Odom remains on Landry ... and Fish guards no one (after he gets tripped up on the pick, he floats back on the play). Meanwhile, Okafor is wide open under the basket after his cut in one of the longest successful pick and roll plays in history. Jack directs himself toward the outside of Gasol's body before wrapping it around to the center.
Carl Landry AND-1 layup, NO 62, LAL 55, 6:30 in 3rd quarter (gambling defense)
Paul again runs pick and roll with Okafor on the strongside, but Bynum again does a great job picking him up. So he reverses the ball to the weakside to the right wing with Trevor Ariza. Kobe Bryant gambles for the steal again (something he's not that good at doing), giving up the drive from Ariza, who makes a pretty sweet pass between Ron Artest & Pau Gasol to Landry for a pretty automatic finish.
Carl Landry layup miss, NO 65, LAL 63, 3:15 in 3rd quarter (good D)
Paul again gets ready for the pick from Landry on the left wing, but Odom leaps over to trap and cut off the passing lane, and Paul has to keep the ball and start dribbling it to the left baseline. When Odom comes in to cut off the drive, Paul threads the needle to the driving Landry down the middle, but Gasol comes over from a great contest. Best defense against a cut shown so far (and probably the rest of the game).
Aaron Gray layup, NO 71, LAL 68, 1:05 in 3rd quarter (CP3 is a god among men)
CP3 is conducting an orchestra and the Lakers are the captive audience.
Ron Artest is first on Paul, and Paul drives past him. Artest funnels him to Kobe Bryant, but Paul simply yo-yos it around the court before backing up to the top of the key. Aaron Gray comes back to set another pick, and the Lakers switch Gasol on Paul, Bryant on Gray. Paul simply waits for the Hornets to clear out for a 1-4 isolation set, then drives past Gasol toward the basket when he gets his body turned toward the sideline.
Gray is nearest the basket on the opposite baseline. When Bryant comes over to try and block CP3's shot, Paul lays it off to Gray for the dish.
Willie Green layup, NO 79, LAL 74, 9:54 in 4th quarter (gambling defense)
Jarrett Jack takes the ball down the right sideline. Jason Smith comes over and picks Derek Fisher; Matt Barnes switches on Jack. Jack drives right past Barnes toward the baseline, and Odom comes over to provide the help.
But the issue comes on the weakside. Bynum comes over to provide additional help (or readies himself for a block shot) that probably isn't needed with the help Odom is showing to Barnes, so Shannon Brown leaves his man to take Brown's man. Green then makes a half circle from the corner Jack is driving from right down the middle of the paint. Jack dishes it to Green for another easy basket off a cut.
Jarrett Jack hook shot, NO 98, LAL 92, 2:24 in 4th quarter (good defense)
Paul again gets a pick from Gray from the right side at the top of the key, but Bynum and Fisher do a good job holding him to the left corner and cutting off driving lanes for Paul to get to the basket. Fisher sags off Paul for a second to watch the cutting Gray, but Odom is watching from behind to ensure Gray doesn't figure it out.
So again, just like Green, Jack curls from the opposite corner to receive the ball from Artest.
This is a tough shot for Jack though, but if Artest wasn't bothered by Jack's lateral quickness, Jack probably would have been stopped in his tracks and not allowed to drive much further and convert the shot. I'd give more credit to Jack for draining a tough shot like this one.
Hornets 9 of 13 on P&R ball handler (Lakers 9th at defending P&R ball handler--39.8%)
Chris Paul made layup; NO 6, LAL 2, 10:19 in 1st quarter (gambling defense)
Chris Paul brings the ball up the court, but Pau Gasol commits way too early to trapping toward the sideline when Carl Landry comes up to set the pick on Derek Fisher. Paul drives right down the middle of the court. Emeka Okafor also does a good job to block out Andrew Bynum without committing a moving screen, giving Paul enough room to get up for a layup without getting blocked or stripped by Ron Artest leaking over from the right.
Chris Paul made layup, NO 10, LAL 4, 8:10 in 1st quarter (CP3 is a god among men)
Again coming up the court, Paul this time gets a double screen from Landry (to take Fisher out of the play) and Okafor. This time Gasol sags off to prevent the penetration, but Bynum doesn't step up enough to challenge Paul's shot either. Open jumper from the right elbow, although to be fair it's not an easy shot)
Chris Paul layup blocked by Andrew Bynum, NO 12, LAL 6, 7:44 in 1st quarter (good defense)
Okafor sets a pick and Bynum switches on Paul. Paul this time gets the drive, but Bynum with good contain to watch the jumper, then blocks the shot when Paul drives past him. One of the better efforts with the Lakers defending the man on the ball with a pick and roll.
Trevor Ariza missed jumper, NO 12, LAL 8, 7:10 in 1st quarter (good defense)
Ariza has the ball on the right elbow guarded by Kobe Bryant. Landry comes over to set a pick on Bryant's left. Bryant does a good job forcing Ariza to his right, into the help of Gasol. Gasol backs off and lets Ariza fire, which I'm sure the Lakers will take considering how poor a jump shooter Ariza is, particularly off his own dribble.
Jarrett Jack made jumper, start of 2nd quarter (poor defensive fundamentals)
Trey Johnson is guarding Jack but backing way off of him. Aaron Gray is at the high post but gives the ball back to Jack. Johnson goes over the pick of Gray and Lamar Odom comes over to hedge, keeping his arms up to prevent Jack from rocking it over to the rolling Gray. Jack comes up and pulls up from the left angle and Johnson might have conceded too much space. Open look and two points for the Hornets.
Chris Paul made runner, NO 30, LAL 24, 10:28 in 2nd quarter (poor defensive fundamentals)
After Shannon Brown fights through one pick from Okafor, Brown gets his feet turned toward the sideline instead of keeping Paul in front of him. Paul crosses over to the basket and Brown is left trailing; Odom is getitng ready to trap at the top of the key and is out of the play. This is all on Shannon.
Again, Okafor does a good job pinning Bynum behind him in the paint to prevent him coming over for the block.
Jarrett Jack made jumper, NO 37, LAL 30, 6:18 in 2nd quarter (poor defensive fundamentals)
Jack dribbles to his right as the Hornets center comes out ot contest. Trey Johnson runs right into the pick set by Okafor. Bynum doesn't have the lateral ability to step out to contest Jack's shot, but Johnson knows he'll have to fight harder through that because of who the big defender on the play is.
Chris Paul missed jumper, NO 55, LAL 54, 8:43 in 3rd quarter (good defense)
Okafor again comes over to set a pick from the right side and is able to bump Fisher off his coverage of Paul. Bynum does well do with contain, backing up but not conceding too much space to Paul, forcing a tough moving jumper. Bynum has acquitted himself well here.
Trevor Ariza missed jumper, NO 60, LAL 55, 7:27 in 3rd quarter (good defense)
This is a late pick and roll after Paul can't set up any options. Ariza receives the ball at the top of the key, guarded by Bryant. Okafor comes over to set a pick from the right, with Bynum staying back. Ariza dribbles to the help and tries to get to the bucket, but Bynum retreats while forcing him down the lane and ensures a likely blocked shot when Ariza goes all the way. Ariza is forced to a difficult turnaround spin.
Chris Paul made runner, NO 69, LAL 66, 1:36 in 3rd quarter (CP3 is a god among men)
Paul comes to the right elbow guarded by Fisher, Ariza comes to set the pick from Paul's left and Fisher's right. Paul executes a deadly killer crossover and drives with a clear path to the lane, as Bryant (Ariza's defender) doesn't switch, instead pointing to the big defender behind him (Gasol) to try and contest Paul at the basket. Gasol does his best, but Paul elevates the ball high and banks it in off glass.
Defense wasn't perfect, but this is really just a great play by CP3.
Jarrett Jack made runner, NO 77, LAL 74, 10:19 in 4th quarter (Lazy rotation)
Jack recieves the ball on a dribble handoff, while being guarded by Fisher. Jack gets moving before Aaron Gray comes to pick Fisher as Odom seems to trail a little too far behind Gray. Jack splits the double team and scores on a jumper on the run with a Bynum contest.
Willie Green made runner, NO 84, LAL 76, 8:45 in 4th quarter (Good defense)
Green one-ups Jack with an even more difficult runner. Gray comes from the right and Bynum hedges toward the outside, opening up the driving lane inside. Bryant does gamble for the steal, but Green probably could have given that ball up to the open Jack waiting on the wing when Fisher tries coming in and defending him close up. Fisher does also reach for the ball, giving Green open space when he reaches up and connect. It's a great shot by Green though, and not the worst Laker defense.
Chris Paul made jumper, NO 94, LAL 87, 4:25 in 4th quarter (CP3 is a god among men)
Paul is guarded now by Bryant, with Gray coming over to set the pick. Bryant switches on to Gray while Gasol is left guarding Paul. Whoops. Gasol shifts back to avoid dribble penetration and Paul buries the shot (and Gasol's corpse) on a stepback. Truly virtuoso performance from Paul, especially considering he had just isolated on Pau and already knocked down another jumper on the previous possession.
Great game for New Orleans. The big question is can they maintain this level of play when the Lakers inevitably wake up and start playing their brand of D? What will Paul does when the Lakers don't switch pick and rolls and play way off of him to avoid the drives altogether? Can he sustain that mid range game through the series? A lot of questions yet to be answered in what could be a surprisingly entertaining series.
You might have been hearing about Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook, and Derrick Rose the past few months. And they're all fine point guards, some of the best in the league. But let's get one thing straight: Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is the best of them all. At the top of his game, he can dominate like few others at the point position, and can win a game by dictating the tempo offensively. He showed that by toppling the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers with a performance for the ages--33 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, 4 steals, 2 turnovers, and big big buckets down the stretch. He helped turn Willie Green, Aaron Gray, Marco Belinelli and Jarrett Jack.
His best moment from yesterday? An incredible dish from his right hand that he zipped to Gray underneath. Even Drew Brees had to sit back and admire that play.
Some NBA experts believe that the only way the Los Angeles Lakers will stop being a consistent contender is either a drastic decline in health, or if Kobe Bryant somehow goes down with an injury. Well, the plastic end of a chair seemed to nearly guarantee the latter. Bryant made a fadeaway late in Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs against the New Orleans Hornets, then went sliding back.
It was reported that it was only a neck bruise, and he was back out in the third quarter anyway. You'd pretty much need to put Kobe in a body cast to keep him out of a playoff game. Additionally, it doesn't really help improve the already weak image of the Laker fan at Staples to see an empty courtside seat during Game 1 of a threepeat bid.
Here is your 2011 NBA Playoffs schedule for Sunday, April 17th, and my picks on how the games will turn out.
Pick: The Spurs might be without Manu Ginobili on Saturday, but despite his value he isn't expected to be that much of a loss in this one with no Rudy Gay. Ginobili will not be needed to help defend Zach Randolph, but Tim Duncan should be able to do a good enough job to limit him and the Spurs shooting should be enough for them in Game 1. Spurs in a blowout.
New Orleans Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
Pick: Expect this to be a typical Laker playoff opener. LA will come out dragging their feet against an opponent that isn't likely to win, and Chris Paul will definitely be raring to go, but they will eventually do just enough to squeak by. LA has not been consistent all season; don't expect them to start now. Lakers win close but comfortably, if that makes sense.
Pick: We all know New York's offense vs. Boston's defense is the big-time matchup, but the bigger story is whether the porous defense of the Knicks is exactly what the Celtics need to wake up their stagnant offense. I think Boston will need at least a game to get back into playoff form because they haven't looked good at all in the past month. I've got the Knicks in an upset.
Pick: A lot of people liking Denver as a sleeper pick in the first round, but they picked the worst possible team to face. Unless Aaron Afflalo is back and at 100%, they really have no great individual defenders to check Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant is also going to be a problem. Thunder will roll here.
Poor Dwight Howard. He has one of the most incredible first halves in NBA Playoff history (31 points!) against the Atlanta Hawks in Game 1, but the rest of the Orlando Magic do nothing and they end up trailing at halftime. He goes to the free throw line 22 times and hits 14 of them, but the rest of the team makes only 8 traditional trips and Orlando's free throw advantage was minimal. Other than Howard and a great third quarter from Jameer Nelson, the Hawks held the rest of the Magic down and were well-balanced on offense.
Superman's performance of 46 points/19 boards puts him on an incredible list for playoff performances. It includes Dwight Howard's performance from yesterday, and that's that. That's the entire list. No, Howard didn't have the perfect game (8 turnovers and an iffy technical foul), but it's hard to ask him to do much more and get so little from the rest of his teammates. If you just want 45+ point losing performances in recent memory, enter the Bonzi Wells zone.
Oh well. At least he'll inspire the poetic Etan Thomas to write a few sonnets after he obliterated him with a monster block.
For more on the Hawks, head over to Peachtree Hoops. For more on the Magic, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post.
(HT Matt Moore for the background on NBA historical performances.)
Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers had an impressive showing in Game 1 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs against the Miami Heat. He scored 12 of his 20 points in the 4th quarter, the majority of those on a run that cut the Miami big lead from 16 to 1. He also grabbed eight offensive rebounds, four during that final run. Young really looked like he was working harder than most of the other players on the floor with his effort
He punctuated his impressive performance with this incredible reverse alley-oop layup on the feed from Andre Iguodala.
Thaddeus Young's Crazy Reverse Alleyoop (via NBA)
At 23, Young is a free agent this summer, so there's probably some self-interest at work with this effort, but the man looks like he has a bright future with his rebounding and athleticism in the open court. Unfortunately, Dwyane Wade got the better of him in this game thanks to some dubious officiating, but that doesn't negate the impressiveness of his performance.
I don't really have a stake in who should or will be the MVP. It's an award that's poorly defined in a sport where quantifying value is sketchy at best. So if you want to ask me if Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls deserves the award, you might as well ask me how to solve the financial crisis. Don't know, probably won't know anytime soon.
That being said, it's hard to really think of anyone in this league who can recover from getting screened and trailing one of the fastest point guards in the league in Darren Collison, block the layup milliseconds before it hits the backboard (when it would've been a goaltend), take the ball back the other way at full speed, make at least one full spin through three Pacer defenders in the paint (Tyler Hansbrough, Roy Hibbert and Brandon Rush), and finish the basket.
And that wasn't even the most remarkable moment of his 38 point performance in the narrow Game 1 victory over the Indiana Pacers. Check out the video of the sequence that won the game over in our recap post.
It's the playoffs, which means it's time to gripe about NBA officiating again.
The Miami Heat had just seen their huge second half lead cut to a one possession game by the hard-working and energetic Philadelphia 76ers. So naturally, we know what's coming next. Dwyane Wade gets the ball in his hands at the top of the circle, gets a pick, and drives to the basket. Here's what results.
Patently ridiculous shot by Wade. But definitely an offensive foul that was not called.
As Jeff Van Gundy points out, Wade kicks Thaddeus Young away from him with his right leg. As he has done so often in this past, this is a case of D-Wade initiating contact to get more space for an open jumper and getting the benefit of the doubt from the officials. It might have made a huge difference in the final 97-89 outcome to give his Heat a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Although the Chicago Bulls had the best record in the NBA in the regular season, there were a lot of questions about whether they could replicate that success in the playoffs. One of them surrounded starting power forward Carlos Boozer. Boozer has had plenty of playoff success during the Utah Jazz, but genuinely did not play very well against teams with strong power forward play. Of course it's not really fair to Boozer to judge him for trying to stop two of the best in Tim Duncan and Pau Gasol.
Well, second year man Tyler Hansbrough of the Indiana Pacers definitely made Carlos Boozer look foolish this Saturday afternoon. Over and over, Hansbrough went to the pull-up long jumper, and Boozer refused to step up and contest the shot on almost every occasion. 22 points for the former Tar Heel, and Boozer was held to 12 points on 4 of 11 shooting.
What makes it worse is Hansbrough went to the body of Boozer during the 4th quarter to contest that same sort of outside jumpers, and this was the result.
Tyler Hansbrough Steals / Dunks Ball on Carlos Boozer 4/16/2011 (via nbafufu)
Boozer is probably going to have better games, and Derrick Rose saved him from two days of constant bashing, but there will be tougher matchups for the big man down the road, and the question marks linger.
Let's give dap where dap is due in the first game of the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Derrick Rose was incredible down the stretch for the Chicago Bulls. He got an and-1 off an incredible drive through traffic to tie the game. He made an incredible spin floater through traffic on a soft double team to give his team their first lead of the game. He drew the triple team on the drive, then found Kyle Korver for the wide open three that pretty much clinched the game to give Chicago a five point lead. 39 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 blocks, plus so many trips to the free throw line (19 of 21!).
Bulls Rally behind Rose and Korver (via NBA)
But let's not ignore the efforts of Paul George and Darren Collison by the Pacers. Collison did a good job setting up other teammates, and had an excellent first half to put pressure on Rose defensively, finishing with a statline of 17 points and 9 assists. George did a solid job defensively on Rose before wearing down the stretch, and it's worth mentioning that Rose missed all nine of his three pointers. The comparisons between Dwyane Wade 2006 and Rose 2011 are almost uncanny, aren't they?
Should be the first game of an exciting series between two of the youngest team in the NBA Playoffs.
Western Conference Playoffs
Essential Reading: What Daily Thunder learned from the last two matchups between OKC and Denver ... Roundball Mining Company has plenty of words to break this series down ... Don't miss these good tidbits from Sebastian Pruti on the offenses that each team runs.
Prediction: Oklahoma City in 5. The Thunder are a year removed from nearly taking the champs down, and they know they have the potential to be a true championship contender. They should take advantage of their athleticism, talent, and strength on both ends of the floor to shut down the upstart Nuggets and move on.
Game 1: Sun., April 17 in Oklahoma City, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 2: Wed., April 20 in Oklahoma City, 8 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Sat., April 23 in Denver, 10 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: Mon., April 25 in Denver, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 5: Wed., April 27 in Oklahoma City, TBD
Game 6: Fri., April 29 in Denver, TBD
Game 7: Sun., May 1 in Oklahoma City, TBD
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Pick: Boston in 6. Usually when great team offense meets great team defense in a playoff series, you roll with the D. It's not much different here. New York has the two most individually talented players in this series, but they're also huge defensive liabilities. Boston's offense hasn't been running very well these playoffs, but this is the perfect panacea to their current woes.
Game 1: Sun., April 17 in Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 2: Tue., April 19 in Boston, 7 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Fri., April 22 in New York, TBD, ESPN
Game 4: Sun., April 24 in New York, 3:30 p.m., ABC
Game 5: Tue., April 26 in Boston, TBD
Game 6: Fri., April 29 in New York, TBD
Game 7: Sun., May 1 in Boston, TBD
Western Conference Playoffs
Pick: Spurs in 5. San Antonio should win this one. The Grizz are an intriguing squad, and they have a lot of upset potential brewing in them, but they don't have enough options down the stretch to be trusted as a team that can move on to the conference semifinals. With Rudy Gay, Memphis probably has a decent shot at pulling it out, but without him (even with no Manu Ginobili), they don't have a shot to get to the second round.
Game 1: Sun., April 17 in San Antonio, 1 p.m. ET, TNT
Game 2: Wed., April 20 in San Antonio, 8:30 p.m., NBA TV
Game 3: Sat., April 23 in Memphis, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 4: Mon., April 25 in Memphis, TBD
Game 5: Wed., April 27 in San Antonio, TBD
Game 6: Fri., April 29 in Memphis, TBD
Game 7: Sun., May 1 in San Antonio, TBD
Western Conference Playoffs
Two of the fiercest competitors in basketball will face off in the first round when Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul go at each other in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs. Unfortunately for CP3, who has been by every measure the best pure point guard of the past four years, his team will be at a distinct disadvantage at almost every other position.
March 27th: LA Lakers 102, New Orleans 84: As this is the only game without David West and with Carl Landry, this the one we're interested in the most. Paul had a pedestrian game (10 points, 9 assists, 2 steals), and although Landry (24 points, 8 free throw makes, 10 rebounds) & Emeka Okafor (14 points, 8 offensive rebounds) tried to make up for it offensively, it was just not enough to match the output of the two best Lakers. Pau Gasol dominated with 23 points and 16 rebounds, Kobe tossed up his usual 30, and the two stars hit 12 free throws combined to distance themselves from New Orleans.
February 5th: LA 101, NO 95: No Okafor or Trevor Ariza in this game, which meant domination inside for Gasol (34 points and 10 rebounds on 13 of 17 shooting); Kobe chipped in 32 in support. The big difference was at the charity stripe: Gasol and Bryant shot 16 of 17 from the line, and the Hornets shot only four free throws on the night.
December 29th: LA 103, NO 88: Bynum returns to the Laker starting lineup, notches up 18 points. Odom picks up 24 points off the bench.
Prediction: Lakers in 5. Well, LA got the tough draw in the West last year by getting Oklahoma City; this year they end up with the team they're probably the happiest to see. Although Okafor could give Bynum and Gasol some trouble on the defensive end and Landry is a bit of an oddity for Gasol/Odom to deal with defensively, Ariza has no chance of stopping Bryant one-on-one, the Lakers have the bigs to keep Paul from doing damage anywhere but outside, and Odom is a nightmare matchup for the Hornets against an underwhelming second unit.
That being said, LA has never made things easy for themselves this season, so Laker fans can expect to have a few teeth-gnashing moments before they advance safely to the second round.
Western Conference Playoffs
Essential reading on this series: Rob Mahoney gives his preview over at the Two Man Game. Must-read, must-read, must-read. Also check out these great features from Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus and Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated.
Pick: Dallas in 7. Portland is a trendy pick these days because of their perimeter strength and the emergence of LaMarcus Aldridge, but the biggest question is whether this team can nail their shots to win a road game. I'm going to guess no and roll with Dirk Nowitizki and Dallas to do just enough to get to the second round.
Game 1: Sat., April 16 in Dallas, 9:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Tue., April 19 in Dallas, 9:30 p.m., TNT
Game 3: Thu., April 21 in Portland, 10:30 p.m., TNT
Game 4: Sat., April 23 in Portland, 5 p.m., TNT
Game 5: Mon., April 25 in Dallas, TBD
Game 6: Thu., April 28 in Portland, TBD
Game 7: Sat., April 30 in Dallas, TBD, TNT
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Essential Reading on this series: Three part preview on Eight Points Nine Seconds (Pacers ESPN blog) on why Indiana can win, an overall analysis of both teams, and a look at more advanced statistics on both teams. Also check out SB Nation's storystream on the series.
Pick: Bulls in 6. Everything points to an easy Bulls victory that'll send them on to the second round. However, there is one thing that might hold back Chicago from sweeping their way to the semis; previous playoff success. Chicago has won as many playoff series in the Derrick Rose era as Indiana has won in the Danny Granger era--zero. There's no doubting the Bulls are the better team, but they could take time to gel and adjust as a group and pick themselves up to playoff speeds.
Certainly, Chicago's defense will win the series, but Indiana is a pretty good offensive rebounding team and very good at getting to the free throw line. Those two factors seem to always ramp up in the NBA playoffs, and can win you basketball games every now and then.
I'm guessing Indiana pushes them a lot further than people think they'll go before Chicago applies the clamps and moves on.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Essential reading: Matt Scribbins of Magic Basketball with some great analysis on Pythagorean wins and win profiles for both squads, plus team tendencies. Sebastian Pruti of NBA Playbook wrote a five part breakdown on this series (offense, defense, X-factors, key matchup, key sets). Here is the SB Nation official storystream.
Prediction: Orlando in 6. The Magic are going to have their slog their way through this series, particularly because of the trouble Dwight Howard has with Jason Collins. The Hawks have slumped their way to the playoffs, but Orlando hasn't really played that great this year either and is inconsistent outside of Howard. Expect some long-slogging, and some routs. Just don't be prepared for interesting basketball.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Essential reading: Good stuff from Matt Moore of CBS Sports. Also check out Sebastian Pruti's excellent breakdowns at NBA Playbook of the strengths and weaknesses of the Heat & Sixers on both the offensive and defensive end.
Prediction: Heat in 5. Philadelphia has had a great season and has overachieved, but LeBron James and Dwyane Wade have generally made lunch meat out of overachievers and heavy underdogs all season. Miami is going to face a lot of obstacles down the road if they plan on winning a title this season, but the first round of the Eastern Conference isn't going to be the place they meet their demise.
For those who want to see a bracket of the 2011 NBA Playoffs, SB Nation has handily provided their own. To view the PDF, click here. The first page displays the bracket. The second page displays the URLs of the team sites in the playoffs. The bracket will be updated as each series completes.
Here are the matchups, both actualized and potential, in the Western Conference Playoffs.
San Antonio/Memphis winner vs. Oklahoma City/Denver winner
Los Angeles/New Orleans winner vs. Dallas/Portland winner
SA/Mem/OKC/Den vs. LA/NO/Dal/Por
People may think the Lakers drew the favorable matchup when they ended up with New Orleans instead of Portland, but they still have to face the winner of the Portland-Dallas series in the second round, and both of those matchups could definitely drag on. Meanwhile, the top half of the bracket is a total minefield, with two potential underdogs looming as sleepers in Memphis and Denver, the cagey vets in San Antonio, and the emerging power in Oklahoma City.
In the Eastern Conference,
Chicago-Indiana winner vs. Orlando-Atlanta winner
Miami-Philly winner vs. Boston-New York winner
Chi/Ind/Orl/Atl vs. Mia/Phi/Bos/NY
Other than Philly dragging Miami a few games, only the Boston-NY series has any compelling value in the first round. But the second round has some intriguing matchups. The two leading MVP candidates will probably face off in Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose in a Chicago-Orlando series, and of course Boston-Miami will be the main attraction.
Should be another long and exciting playoff run for all the fans. Strap in.
The NBA TV schedule for the first few games of the NBA Playoffs has been released, and this weekend will start with the team with the best record in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. ABC will of course be broadcasting the two games featuring the biggest market draws, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Saturday, April 16
Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls, Game 1, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, ESPN/ESPN3D
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat, Game 1, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 1, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, ESPN
Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks, Game 1, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, ESPN
Sunday, April 17
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs, Game 1, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, TNT
New Orleans Hornets at L.A. Lakers, Game 1, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
New York Knicks at Boston Celtics, Game 1, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, TNT
Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 1, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, TNT
Monday, April 18
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat, Game 2, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, TNT
Indiana Pacers at Chicago Bulls, Game 2, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, TNT
Tuesday, April 19
New York Knicks at Boston Celtics, Game 2, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, TNT
Atlanta Hawks at Orlando Magic, Game 2, 4:30 PM PT/7:30 PM ET, NBA TV
Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks, Game 2, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, TNT
Wednesday, April 20
Denver Nuggets at Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 1, 5 PM PT/7:30 PM ET, TNT
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs, Game 2, 5:30 PM PT/8:30 PM ET, NBA TV
New Orleans Hornets at L.A. Lakers, Game 2, 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET, TNT
Thursday, April 21
Chicago at Indiana, Game 3, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, NBA TV
Miami at Philadelphia, Game 3, 5 PM PT/8 PM ET, TNT
Dallas at Portland, Game 3, 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET, TNT
Friday, April 22
Boston at New York, Game 3, 4 PM ET/7 PM PT, ESPN
Orlando at Atlanta, Game 3, 5 PM ET/8 PM PT, ESPN2/ESPN3D
L.A. Lakers at New Orleans, Game 3, 6:30 PM ET/9:30 PM PT, ESPN
Saturday, April 23
Chicago at Indiana, Game 4, 11:30 AM PT/2:30 PM ET, TNT
Dallas at Portland, Game 4, 2 PM PT/5 PM ET, TNT
San Antonio at Memphis, Game 3, 4:30 PM PT/7:30 PM ET, ESPN
Oklahoma City at Denver, Game 3, 7 PM PT/10 PM ET, ESPN
Sunday, April 24
Miami at Philadelphia, Game 4, 10 AM PT/1 PM ET, ABC
Boston at New York, Game 4, 12:30 PM PT/3:30 PM ET, ABC
Orlando at Atlanta, Game 4, 4 PM PT/7 PM ET, TNT
L.A. Lakers at New Orleans, Game 4, 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET, TNT
Monday, April 25
Oklahoma City at Denver, Game 4, 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET, TNT
Times to be determined
San Antonio at Memphis, Game 4
Portland at Dallas (*), Game 5
Tuesday, April 26 (times to be determined)
New York at Boston (*), Game 5
Atlanta at Orlando (*), Game 5
Indiana at Chicago (*), Game 5
New Orleans at LA Lakers (*), Game 5
Wednesday, April 27 (times to be determined)
Philadelphia at Miami (*), Game 5
Memphis at San Antonio (*), Game 5
Denver at Oklahoma City (*), Game 5
Thursday, April 28 (times TBD)
Chicago at Indiana (*), Game 6
Orlando at Atlanta (*), Game 6
LA Lakers at New Orleans (*), Game 6
Dallas at Portland (*), Game 6
Friday, April 29 (times TBD)
Boston at New York (*), Game 6
Miami at Philadelphia (*), Game 6
San Antonio at Memphis (*), Game 6
Oklahoma City at Denver (*), Game 6
Saturday, April 30 (times TBD, games on TNT)
Indiana at Chicago (*), Game 7
Atlanta at Orlando (*), Game 7
New Orleans at LA Lakers (*), Game 7
Portland at Dallas (*), Game 7
Sunday, May 1 (times TBD)
New York at Boston (*), Game 7
Philadelphia at Miami (*), Game 7
Memphis at San Antonio (*), Game 7
Denver at Oklahoma City (*), Game 7