Can the Grizz bound back?

NBA Playoffs Schedule: Spurs Vs. Grizzlies, Game 6...FUN!!!

The 2011 NBA Playoff have already delivered some great Round 1 games. Expect that to continue as teams battle to win their series and advance.

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NBA Playoff Schedule: Friday Night Fight In Memphis, Can The Spurs Be Beat?

The 2011 NBA Playoffs featured three elimination games on Thursday and all three teams that had a chance to close out their first round series did so. Friday night we will see if that trend continues as the young Memphis Grizzlies get another chance at eliminating the mighty top seeded San Antonio Spurs

You will recall that the Spurs were home for Game 5 down 3-1 to the Grizzlies and in the final seconds of the game needed to huge shots to tie things up in regulation. Tony Parker came alive in overtime and the Spurs pulled off yet another in a long line of miracle playoff comebacks. We've seen the impact these heartbreaking losses can have on teams that aren't mentally tough.

The Game 1 defeat in similar fashion destroyed the will of the Phoenix Suns in 2008. It will be very interesting to see if the Grizzlies do a better job of bouncing back. One positive sign that we never saw from the D'Antoni Suns was an immediate focus on the future. After the Game 5 defeat, coach Lionel Hollis talked about washing away that game and focusing on the future. He, and subsequently his players, didn't want to talk about what went wrong. Unfortunately, that's not something the Suns ever did. They always got stuck in the internal blame game and it killed them.

Game 6 of this wonderful series between the Spurs and Grizzlies tips off at 6:00 p.m. Arizona time on ESPN. Don't miss this one.


NBA Playoff Schedule For Thursday: 'Win Or Go Home' For Hornets, Blazers And Magic

If you survived watching Wednesday's three elimination games and your heart is still in tact, and if you have no desire to watch the NFL Draft, then Thursday's NBA Playoff schedule is for you. While the NHL Playoffs first round action has been thrilling as well, nothing compares to and NBA elimination game in the playoffs. Thursday's schedule features the Portland Trail Blazers fighting for their playoff lives against Dallas; the Orlando Magic trying to avoid a humiliating defeat at the hands (beaks) of the Hawks; and the poor New Orleans Hornets who have no chance against the L.A. Lakers' playoff machine.

First up is Game 6 of the Orlando Magic vs. the Atlanta Hawks at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time on NBA TV. The Hawks are up 3-2 in the series and blew their first chance to eliminate the Magic on the road. Now they return home and hope that Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson can continue dominating their wing match ups. The Magic finally saw their long balls go through the hoop in Game 5 and they are praying that will continue for them. Dwight Howard's shoulders are only so big.

Next up is Game 6 of the the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the New Orleans Hornets at 5:00 p.m. Arizona time on TNT. The Lakers are up 3-2 in the series with Game 6 in New Orleans. Chris Paul has been the best player in the playoffs so far but the Lakers have won 10 of their last 12 chances to eliminate their playoff opponent. Kobe's big dunks in Game 5 proved he's healthy and when the Lakers smell blood, it's all but over.

Game 6 of the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Portland Trail Blazers is in Rip City at 10:30 p.m. Arizona time on TNT. The Mavericks took a 3-2 lead but haven't yet been able to win on the road in this series. It's highly likely that trend will continue tonight. Look for this series to go to a Game 7 back in Texas where the Mavericks should be able to close it out and finally face the Lakers and give us the first-ever Dirk vs. Kobe playoff series.


NBA Playoff Bracket Results: Spurs Rose From The Dead (Again), 76ers And Nuggets Eliminated

Three NBA Playoff elimination games on Wednesday's bracket schedule and wouldn't you know it, the San Antonio Spurs were the team that escaped defeat by once again calling upon their dark powers. Instead of Sean Elliot, Mike Finley or Tim Duncan (!) hitting a big three to save their hides, it was Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal. David Stern should be on the phone this morning calling for an investigation to determine if in fact the Spurs have sold their souls to the Devil.

Unlike the black and silver zombies of Texas, the Denver Nuggets were knocked off by Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Durant had a slow start but when it mattered most, he was incredible. All the man-child did was drop 41 points on the Nuggets. Boom! ASU Sun Devil alum James Harden had 12 in the game and hit a huge three in the final minutes. 

The Thunder await the winner of the San Antonio vs. Memphis series. Game 6 is Friday in Memphis. It will be very interesting to see how the young Grizzlies respond to blowing a game they had in the bag. Many teams, including the Phoenix Suns, were not able to mentally recover. The Thunder would probably prefer to face the older Spurs even if it means giving up home court advantage. But an OKC - Memphis series would be a blast.

In the East, LeBron James referred to the Philadelphia 76ers as "breakfast" before the game and the slam definitely got the attention of the young and feisty team from Philly. Unfortunately, being pissed off wasn't enough to beat the Miami Heat and stay alive in the playoffs. Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 26 points but it was 20 from Mario Chalmers that pushed them over the hump in the 97-91 win. The Sixers got Elton Brand 17 field goal attempts, the most on the team, but went away from him late and instead opted for jump shots.

The Heat now advance to face the well-rested Boston Celtics in their bracket match up. The series tips off Sunday. Here's the full schedule, with all times Arizona:

Game 1: Sun., May 1 in Miami, 12:30 p.m., ABC
Game 2: Tue., May 3 in Miami, Time TBD, TNT
Game 3: Sat., May 7 in Boston, 5:00 p.m., ABC
Game 4: Mon., May 9 in Boston, Time TBD, TNT
Game 5: Wed., May 11 in Miami, Time TBD, TNT
Game 6: Fri., May 13 in Boston, Time TBD, ESPN
Game 7: Mon., May 16 in Miami, 5:00 p.m., TNT

A few months ago, Boston would have been everyone's favorite, now it seems that Miami is the team to beat.


NBA Playoff Schedule: Elimination Wednesday For Spurs, 76ers And Nuggets

Three games are on the schedule for Wednesday evening NBA Playoff action. All three games have the potential of sending one of the teams home to play golf, watch the NHL Playoffs, attend the royal wedding, or go fishing. The elimination process claimed a victim (the Pacers) Tuesday night when the Chicago Bulls behind 25 points from Derrick Rose finally won a game with a big enough margin to avoid questions from moronic pundits.

In Wednesday's action it's the San Antonio Spurs facing a humiliating upset by the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies. The Oklahoma City Thunder blew their chance to sweep the Denver Nuggets in Game 4 and now go home and try to finish their business. The Philadelphia 76ers needed two huge threes from Lou Williams and Jrue Holliday to avoid the sweep and now they get to go to the home of the best (worst) fans in the NBA, Miami. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and some other Heat "players" will try and close out the series and prepare for the Celtics.

The evening's first game features LeBron James' "Super Friends" team at 4:00 p.m. Arizona time on TNT. The 76ers have got to get more offense from Elton Brand and take advantage of his mismatch with whatever schlub of a center the Heat roll out. Brand is averaging 14 points and nine rebounds per game in this series. Good, but not good enough. Brand needs far more attempts than the 11.25 he's getting so far.

At 5:30 p.m. Arizona time on NBA TV the Memphis Grizzlies attempt to shock the known universe by beating the San Antonio Spurs in a one vs. eight upset. The formula for the Grizzlies is simple and shouldn't change tonight. They will look to take advantage of the aging Tim Duncan and his undersized, under-talented front court mates. Play solid defense on Manu Ginobili and get a close to even result from Tony Parker vs. Mike Conley and the Grizzlies can get it done. But don't count out the heart of an evil, soulless, black and silver former champion.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reportedly had a heated exchange during Game 4 that mostly likely consisted of Durant explaining to Westbrook that the point guard's job isn't to shoot the ball 30 times and to follow the advise of Charles Barkley who said, "Just pass the ball, dude." Game 5 starts at 9:30 p.m. on TNT and we full expect the Denver Nuggets to get run out of the gym.


NBA Playoff Surprises Abound In First Round Action...Or Do They?

There's plenty of playoff surprises in the NBA Playoffs so far in the first round action we've witnessed. The Indiana Pacers have pushed the Chicago Bulls in all four games. The top seeded San Antonio Spurs are down 3-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies who entered the playoffs without a franchise playoff win. After getting destroyed in their match up last year, the Atlanta Hawks were not supposed to be up 3-1 on the Orlando Magic. And the mighty Los Angeles Lakers find themselves ties to a New Orleans Hornets team they were supposed to steamroll. 

But when look deeper at each situation the flaws exposed in postseason play were there from the beginning. 

San Antonio got swept by the Phoenix Suns last season because their front line couldn't defend the pick and roll and were killed in the paint and on the glass -- by Phoenix. Tiago Splitter was thought to be the answer to the Spurs lack of quality bigs but he's taken longer to adapt to the NBA than some expected and hasn't been enough of a factor against the talent Memphis Grizzlies front court. 

The Spurs added depth in their back court and on the wings and Richard Jefferson's improvement helped them secure the best regular season in the West but their front court flaws have exposed them as a regular season paper tiger. They kind of remind you of Phoenix Suns' teams from a few years back. All flash, no size.

The Oklahoma City Thunder failed to sweep the Denver Nuggets, which isn't a shock but with the game on the line it was Russell Westbrook jacking up threes instead of giving the ball to Kevin Durant. Hopefully, this is a lesson the young point guard has learned in a fairly harmless situation. Westbrook's lack of true point guard abilities have been exposed, however, and will likely be an issue in later rounds.

Many picked the Portland Trail Blazers to upset the three-seed Dallas Mavericks in that series but what we've learned about Portland is that without Brandon Roy having a rare hot game, their offense stagnates under the predictability of Nate McMillan's system. It's a shame really, that the Blazers with all that talent can't find a way to score as many points as they should.

The Orlando Magic being down 3-1 to the Atlanta Hawks isn't a huge surprise either. They've lost their identity as a great defensive team on the perimeter and simply haven't been able to stop Josh Smith, Jamal Crawford or Joe Johnson. Dwight Howard can't make up for all that on his own. 

Probably the least surprising surprise is the Indiana Pacers pushing the Chicago Bulls in all four of their games. The Bulls lack of outside shooting has been exposed and the Pacers are better than most people gave them credit. In the end, this first round test will help the young Bulls. They are still my favorite to win the East.


NBA Playoff Schedule Resumes Tuesday With Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant And Dwight Howard

The NBA Playoff schedule today features three games with two of the series at the brink of elimination and the Los Angeles Lakers surprisingly tied 2-2. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were expected to steam roll Chris Paul's New Orleans Hornets team who is missing David West. That didn't happen thanks mostly to Paul's individual brilliance which has out-shined anything Kobe could muster (so far). Derrick Rose will try and push his team to the next round while Dwight Howard is leading his team's fight for playoff survival. 

The Orlando Magic return home down 3-1 in their series against the Atlanta Hawks. Dwight Howard's inside dominance against single coverage hasn't been enough as the Magic guards and wings lack the defensive talent to slow down Hawk's threats Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. This game starts at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time on NBA TV.

Derrick Rose is expected to play despite an ankle sprain. The question the Chicago Bulls have to answer is if the rest of their guys can step up and not put the game in a position where Rose has to be the fourth quarter hero again. Carlos Boozer needs to play better or the Bulls should consider going back to Taj Gibson. The Pacers have shown plenty of fight but are simply out-matched by the Bulls. It's only a matter of time for Indiana down 3-1 in the series. Game tips at 5:00 p.m. Arizona time on TNT.

The Los Angeles Lakers return to Staple Center tied 2-2 in their series with the New Orleans Hornets for a game that starts at 7:30 p.m. Arizona time on TNT. Kobe Bryant is expected to play despite his ankle sprain but the bigger concern for the Lakers is slowing down Chris Paul. Paul put up a brilliant triple-double in Game 4 and has torched Los Angeles in this series. LA's inability to defend point guards continues to be their biggest weakness.


NBA Playoffs Schedule For Monday Features Three Western Conference Showdowns

The second week of the NBA Playoff action and things are starting to get fun. Don't worry if you missed a few of the early games because the schedule is just now getting good. Monday features three Western Conference series that have all been both entertaining and on occasion surprising. The San Antonio Spurs kick things off in Memphis against the upstart eighth-seed Grizzlies. That's followed by the another round from the outstanding Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks battle. The evening schedule is capped off with a little Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder.

We sincerely hope you are able to leave work early or ignore your school assignments and find four or five hours to sit on the coach and enjoy some NBA Playoff action.

The Spurs are down 2-1 in their series against the Grizzlies. As predicted, San Antonio simply doesn't have the inside muscle to match up with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. And if Randolph is going to also hit game-winning threes then you have to wonder if destiny is on their side as well. This game starts at 5:00 p.m. Arizona time and will be broadcast on TNT. 

The Blazers and Mavericks have each held home court and the series is back in Dallas for Monday's pivotal Game 5. Dallas has to be pissed about blowing a huge fourth quarter lead in Saturday's Game 4 at the Rose Garden. As brilliant as Brandon Roy was, they know their reputation of being playoff chokers is starting to be thrown around again. Dallas absolutely needs this game if they want to win the series. The game starts at 5:30 p.m. Arizona time on NBA TV.

The final game of the evening will be Oklahoma City's chance at sweeping the Denver Nuggets. The series might be 3-0 in favor of Kevin Durant's team, but that hasn't taken away from the excitement of this match up. Somehow it's hard to imagine George Karl letting his team be swept out of the playoffs on their home floor. 7:30 p.m. Arizona time on TNT is the scheduled tip for this one.


NBA Playoffs Deliver First Sweep, Boston Celtics Dismantle New York Knicks

This match up really wasn't fair to begin with for the New York Knicks who went into the postseason still trying to figure out how Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups could be function on the court. Take Billups out of the mix due to injury and through in a back strain for Stoudemire and all the media in the Big Apple couldn't will the Knicks to a win over the Boston Celtics.

Game 4, the final of the series, went about as expected. The Celitcs were able able to drop 101 points and shoot 49 percent against the porous Knicks defense. On the other end of the floor the Boston defense might not be as good as they were last season but they were certainly good enough to prevent any other Knicks player from stepping up and saving the day. The Celtics on 101-89 and are now guaranteed to get more rest than the Miami Heat who will at least play a fifth game against the 76ers.

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points on 24 shots. Amare Stoudemire only was able to go 5-20 from the field against Kevin Garnett who had an effecient 26 points of his own. 

The Knicks had a lot of work to do on their roster to make sure Stoudemire and Anthony aren't playing two-on-five basketball. As good as those guys are, that's not going to win many games in the postseason.


LeBron James, Dwyane Wade And Heat Can't Sweep 76ers Out Of Playoffs

The Miami Heat looked like they were on their way to sweeping the Philadelphia 76ers out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs but Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each hit huge three-points shots in the final minutes to give the 76ers the home win and make the series 3-1 Miami. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade did exactly what super stars are supposed to do in the post season, they played big and scored 53 points but the young Sixers showed why the Philadelphia fans should be excited about the future.

The 76ers out-scored the Heat 9-0 in the final 1:35 to win the game 86-82. LeBron James had a chance to tie or win the game in the final seconds. With his team down two points he caught the in-bounds pass and had a wide open chance at a game-winning three but passed that up to drive the lane. Andre Iguodala cut off the path to the basket and Elton Brand got a finger on the Jame's floater. The 76ers secured the rebound and rookie Evan Turner hit both free throws to seal the game.

The Philadelphia 76ers once again jumped out to a 28-16 first quarter lead before the Miami Heat woke up. The Heat defense ramped up the pressure and trapped the ball forcing five turnovers and scoring 12 fast break points. D-Wade had 14 of the Heat's 31 points in the second quarter and Miami took a one-point lead into the half.

The first half of the game featured each team dominating for 12 minutes but in the second half things were much more even. The third quarter was a tightly contested affair as neither side was able to find an offensive rhythm. Both teams shot 30 percent from the field.

That trend continued into the fourth and final quarter as the scrappy, young 76ers showed no signs of being ready to start their offseason. Big shot by Williams and Jrue Holiday, who the Phoenix Suns passed on in favor of Earl Clark, forced a Game 5 in Miami on Wednesday.


NBA Playoff Schedule Promises Exciting Results For Easter Sunday

Saturday provide another thrilling day of NBA Playoff action. The Saturday schedule featured four games with the largest margin of victory only five points and in true NBA playoff tradition, scoring was below 100 points in each of the games. There were unlikely heroics like a game-winning three from Zach Randolph and either an epic comeback or spectacular collapse depending on which team you root for.

Easter Sunday has another full slate of games and there's no reason to think we won't be treated to more of the same. So as we like to say, drop the ham and pick up the remote, there's sports on TV.

10:00 a.m., ABC: NBA, Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat lead this series 3-0, and they will go for the sweep today. The Heat have looked dominant during the three wins: don't expect the Big Three to slow down today with the incentive of several days of rest on the line.

12:30 p.m., ABC: NBA, Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks. After making a statement in a 113-96 Game 3 victory, the Celtics (like the Heat) are up 3-0 and will be looking to sweep. A few days of rest could be particularly beneficial to this veteran Celtics squad ahead of their (probable) second-round series against the Heat.

4:00 p.m.TNT: NBA, Orlando Magic @ Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks pulled out a gutsy 88-84 win over the Magic in Friday's Game 3 to take control of the series 2-1, and they will try to put a stranglehold on the Magic with a win tonight. The Magic, meanwhile, can reclaim home-court and (literally) swing the momentum back into their court if they can steal this game in Atlanta.

6:30 p.m.TNT: NBA, Los Angeles Lakers @ New Orleans Hornets. The Lakers asserted their dominance in a 100-86 win over the Hornets on Friday, and they lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. The Hornets will need a big game from CP3 to even the series today.


NBA Playoffs Just Not The Same Without Phoenix Suns Vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The 2011 NBA Playoff feature all of the Phoenix Suns old foes. The San Antonio Spurs are there in black and silver battling the Memphis Grizzlies for a Round 1 win. The Portland Trail Blazers, who fell victim to the Suns in 2010, are back at it against a rival from a couple years past, the Dallas Mavericks. And of course, there's the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Phoenix Suns have squared off with the Los Angeles Lakers more times than any other NBA team in the playoffs. In fact, the very first playoff series the Suns ever had featured these two teams in a 1970 best of seven series the Lakers won 4-3.

The Suns were led by Gail Goodrich, Paul Silas and Connie Hawkins. The Lakers featured Jerry West, Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt averaged 20.2 rebounds in that series and started a pattern of Laker big man domination that would repeat itself.

In the 80's it was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the middle against the undersized Alvan Adams. In the 2000's it was Shaquille O'Neal owning the paint and of course, last year it was Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.  

The two teams have played a total of 38 playoffs games in 12 different series since that first in 1970. The Spurs are second on the Suns list of playoff foes with 10 series. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly to any of the long-suffering Suns fans, Phoenix is 24-38 against the Lakers in the playoffs and 4-8 in those 12 series.

Despite the clear advantage held by the Lakers, however, the two teams have long provided entertaining postseason basketball.

Last season's contrast in styles with the Suns playing zone and shooting the three ball was simply a continuation of the long history between these two squads. The record shows that in the end, size and defense matters and for the Suns this offseason those are the stated priorities of the team's new front office.

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