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NBA Playoff Notes

Last night we saw a couple of pivotal games in the NBA playoffs and tonight has a couple of key games to examine.

  • Dallas absolutely beasted Portland last night.  Do not let the final score let you believe that this game was close at all.  The Mavericks manhandled the Blazers in every aspect.  They flat out wanted the ball more than the Blazers and it showed in the rebounding numbers.  The Mavs outrebounded the Blazers 49-37, damning to the Blazers cause of stealing a game in Dallas.  And if that were not bad enough, the Blazers gave up 20 offensive rebounds, and 13 to Tyson Chandler alone.  The last player to have that many offensive rebounds was Ben Wallace, with 11 in the 2004 ECF.  And go figure, the Blazers had their highest +/- when Chris Johnson and Marcus Camby were both on the floor.  Grabbing rebounds.  I rest my case.
  • Portland fans on the message boards and on Twitter were quick to point out the free throw differential in this game.  Well take a look at the shot chart and you will understand just why the Blazers took fewer free throws than the Mavs.  In the first half, the Blazers were aggressive and driving to the basket, racking up 28 points in the paint in the first half.  In the second half they only had 18, about eight of which came in the last two minutes when Wallace padded his stats.  The Blazers turned iso and jump shot happy once again, making life significantly easier on the defensive end for the Mavs.
  • Can Portland extend this series to seven games?  Definitely.  But a win in Portland is not a guarantee, far from it actually.  If the Blazers play the same game that they did last night on Thursday, I do not care how loud the Rose Garden is, they will get stomped.  And if they do extend it seven games, does it really matter?  Portland looks lost in Dallas and I am not sure that game seven's pressure would really change that.
  • Nothing much to say about the Denver-OKC series other than it looks like I overestimated the Nuggets (or underestimate the Thunder).  The Nuggets had to grab at least one game in this series, but this one is effectively in the books.  And with OKC slated to play the Grizzlies (more on that in the next bullet), their road to the WCF just got much easier.  It appears that OKC's championship window is open now, which is not good for the rest of the league.  Should the NBA just hand over the Larry O'Brian trophy for the next decade to Oklahoma City?  Good thing I am not anywhere near sharp objects because the thought of Kevin Durant holding that trophy and his MVP trophies pretty much sickens me as a Portland fan.
  • Well, I do not like to admit when I am wrong, but I was way wrong on San Antonio and Memphis.  The critics all called for a close eye on this series, but I figured there was no chance that the same San Antonio team that dominated the past decade would lose a series to Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies.  I mean, come on, Zach Randolph has never won a playoff series.  Tim Duncan has been winning them for a decade and a half.  But Memphis has throttled the Spurs in this series.  And the Spurs looked like they have accepted their fate already.  Last night's performance was pretty abysmal, showing the signs of a team that has given up on the series.  Buford better have some tricks up his sleeve for the offseason or things might turn bad in San Antonio.
  • I owe an apology to Chris Wallace.  I never thought the day would come when he would assemble a playoff team that actually resembled a real basketball team.  But credit him for extending his players at the right time, signing Tony Allen in the offseason, trading for Shane Battier and stealing Sam Young in the draft.  None of that cancels out the Pau Gasol trade, but he certainly doesn't appear to be the incompetent buffoon I always thought he was.

Tonight: Hawks close out the Magic and I look like an idiot again.  Although in my defense, the Magic are posting seemingly against-all-odds shooting numbers right now and providing absolutely no support for Dwight.  Is there any chance that he resigns in Orlando?  I don't think so.

Chris Paul almost doubled the second highest rebounder on the Hornets in game four (Okafor had seven).  He grabbed more rebounds than Gasol and Bynum combined.  He posted a 27-15-13 in easily the most impressive performance of the playoffs.  Wonder why his knees hurt?  Because he has to carry the weight of this entire team.  Without Chris Paul, that Hornets team doesn't win more than 30 games.  He is another candidate to bolt his team when free agency rolls around and at that point, the NBA may as well move basketball out of New Orleans.

Chicago beats Indiana to close out the series.  But unless Carlos Boozer starts playing like an NBA player instead of a WNBA player, the Bulls will not make it past the ECF.  They have had to rely far too heavily on Derrick Rose.  An incredible one-trick pony, but one trick none the less.  They will handle the Hawks with no problem, but will not beat the Heat or the Celtics without more support for Rose.


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