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Are we surprised the Los Angeles Lakers can't get their act together and use their advantages to play like (potential) champs are take care of the Denver Nuggets? No. The Lakers have a long history of underestimating opponents and without the Zen Master pulling the strings and controlling the egos it's even less shocking they are facing the first Game 7 of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
Thursday's schedule also saw former Arizona Wildcat Andre Iguodala sink key free throws to push the Philadelphia 76ers over the Chicago Bulls with a 79-78 win. They will face the Celtics who also advanced with yet another low-scoring Eastern Conference slug-fest. Boston beat the Atlanta Hawks 83-80. The gap between the quality of play in the East and the West is stark.
With just two series left in Round 1, Friday's schedule will have just one game.
The Grizzlies took advantage of a banged up Chris Paul (hip) to win at home and force a Game 6 on the road. Clearly, the Clips need to win this game and avoid going back to Memphis for a decisive Game 7. It will be interesting to see how both of these respond. At the same time, it doesn't matter much in the big picture since the Spurs are waiting to destroy whoever wins this series.
The New York Knicks managed to do something in the 2012 NBA Playoffs that they hadn't done since 2001, they won a game. Unfortunately for them, a combination of injuries and their roller coaster season meant that one game would be all they could manage against the Miami Heat. Miami now advances to face the Indiana Pacers in a second-round test that will be no calk walk.
The Memphis survived to fight another day by defeating the Clippers with a strong defensive effort in the 92-80 win. The Grizzlies inside presence with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph final did what we've been waiting for and took charge of the offense. Los Angeles still leads 3-2 in the series with Game 6 in L.A. on Friday.
There are three games on the playoff schedule for Thursday:
The Bulls aren't dead yet, but they are going to need another outstanding defensive effort to avoid that fate. The 76ers should be able to take advantage of the Chicago injuries and get the home win and advance.
Atlanta Braves at Boston Celtics at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT
Even though Al Horford is back and giving the Celtics fits inside, it's very hard to imagine an Atlanta Hawks team winning a big game on the road. Boston in a closeout game at home...can't bet against that.
Did the Nuggets find a recipe for beating the Lakers or was L.A. just slacking off? It's probably the later, but we'll find out soon enough.
Tuesday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule brought four games with four opportunities for 3-1 series to end. Fortunately for fans (in some cities), only one of those teams was able to get the job done and move on to the next round.
The Indiana Pacers, as very much expected due to a massive talent gap, finished off the Orlando Magic with a 105-87 win. Good bye, Magic, we look forward to seeing who wins the ego battle between Stan Van Gundy and Dwight Howard. The Pacers await the winner of the Miami Heat vs. New York Knicks series. In other words, they are waiting on the Heat.
In the other three games on Tuesday, the Denver Nuggets took advantage of a low-energy start by the Los Angeles Lakers to force a Game 6. This is not a big surprise from an arrogant Lakers team that has a history of overlooking opponents. Meanwhile, the Thunder are waiting for the Lakers to get their act together so they can meet in the next round.
The Chicago Bulls dominated the Philadelphia 76ers with defense in a 77-69 win to make that a 3-2 series. And a fully-manned Atlanta Hawks team executed better down the stretch to beat the Boston Celtics, 87-86, and force a Game 6 in that series. As is often the case in the East, neither game was pretty.
Here's the NBA Playoff schedule for Wednesday night:
New York Knicks at Miami Heat at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT
The Knicks have lost three point guards to injury and are down to Mike Bibby as their only option. That won't end well. The Heat should be able to cruise through this game, but it's Miami so you never really know if they will bring the killer instinct or just chill out and wait for the wins to roll in with the tide.
The Grizzlies were our pick to win this series but find themselves down 3-1 to the Clippers. Give L.A. credit for solid defense and for having the best player on the court in crunch time. Chris Paul has been unstoppable, despite the variety of good wing defenders the Grizzlies can throw at him.
The San Antonio Spurs are clearly the class of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. They breezed through the Utah Jazz and swept their first round series in one of the two games on the schedule Monday night. The Spurs are showing a potent combination of veteran execution with an infusion of young athletes. We can't wait to see them face the Thunder (if OKC can get by the Lakers).
In the other game on Monday's schedule, the Los Angeles Clippers took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Memphis Grizzlies. Overall, Memphis is the better team but they don't play well enough as a unit to overcome the star power of Chris Paul. The series heads back to Tennessee for Game 5 on Wednesday.
Here's a look at the four games on Tuesday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule. All four games feature a team with a 3-1 lead trying to close out their series:
The sooner this one is over, the better. We have to give the Magic credit for winning a game and forcing overtime in another. They've played hard but just can't compete with the Pacers. Indiana, for their part, should have been more dominant in the series which doesn't bode well for them moving forward.
Joe Johnson has been a virtual non-factor in this series which is not want you need from a guy making max-player money. The Hawks have some interesting decisions to making in the offseason, which will likely start very soon.
The 76ers are really showing something here and if they can close out the banged up Bulls on the road, they will have a lot of momentum heading into the next round. They are clearly the surprise of the playoffs so far.
The Lakers let one go on the road in the high altitude of Denver, but they won't let that happen again. The Nuggets simply can't run fast enough to make the Lakers bigs tired.
The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule was full this weekend. We had our first series end in a sweep and surprisingly, it was the Dallas Mavericks getting the early boot at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The New York Knicks dug deep and avoided the same fate by beating the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets extended their series with the Lakers with a home win.
In both cases, however, the favorite (Heat and Lakers) lead their series 3-1 so it's only a matter of time. The same 3-1 situation goes for the Boston Celtics who beat up the Atlanta Hawks and the Indiana Pacers who survived overtime with the Orlando Magic. The San Antonio Spurs lead the Utah Jazz 3-0 and will go for the sweep Monday night.
The only surprise series is the 3-1 lead the Philadelphia 76ers hold over the severely banged up Chicago Bulls. Credit the 76ers Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes for providing much-needed scoring. Oh, and the Grizzlies are finding the Clippers to be much stiffer competition than expected.
Here's what's on the NBA Playoff schedule for Monday:
San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT
The Jazz are going to lose this series, it's only a matter of protecting home court and avoiding the embarrassing sweep. History would have us believe the Spurs will drop this one and win at home, but then again, this Spurs team might be the best we've seen in a long time.
It's not entirely clear if the Clippers are better than we thought or if the Grizzlies are worse. Regardless, the Clips are up 2-1 in this series which making this game pivotal. It's hard to imagine the loser tonight moving on.
The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule rolls along and Friday night at least one series took an interesting turn. The Chicago Bulls are now trailing the Philadelphia 76ers 1-2 in their series. The Bulls suffered another injury blow when Joakim Noah went down with a turned ankle. On the flip side, Evan Turner is having a break out performance in this postseason.
On other games, the Lakers (not surprisingly) dropped a road game to the Nuggets but still lead 2-1 in that series. The Celtics had a tough time of it, but they still beat the Hawks and are also up 2-1 over Atlanta.
Saturday's NBA Playoff schedule brings us four games:
The Pacers will continue to roll. Watch this game if you must (or if you are related to one of the participants) but otherwise, use this time to take care of your weekend chores.
This is the game to watch. A lot of people think the Grizzlies have a legitimate chance at coming out of the West. If that's true, they are going to need to do what the Thunder did and take care of business on the road. This series has also gotten chippy already so when you combine that with the talent on the floor, this could be fun.
The Thunder are up 3-0 in this series. I would be a bit surprised to see them close out on the road, but you never know.
The Spurs will (likely) lose one of their next two road games before winning this series in five games. Will it be this one or the next one? Tune in to find out. Or just read a recap somewhere, either way.
For more NBA Playoff coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.
There's three games on the NBA Playoff schedule for Friday, but before we get to that, how about them Knicks. The New York Knicks are now officially the worst playoff team in NBA history and they are (almost) officially done in this series. New York was back home and desperately needed a win over the Miami Heat, but instead their defensive issues were exposed right along with their lack of alternate scoring options, cohesion, depth, and coaching. LeBron James took over the fourth quarter (gasp!) and the Miami Heat rolled to a 17-point win and are up 3-0 in the series.
Goodbye, New York.
We can also say goodbye to the Dallas Mavericks who also got whooped on their home court and are also down 0-3 in their series to the Oklahoma City Thunder. If you are a Thunder fan, you have to be encouraged that your team played its best game so far on the road. They won two close ones late despite playing poorly and stepped up their game in a hostile environment. Can we call this the Derek Fisher Effect?
NBA Playoff schedule for Friday, May 4:
It's not certain, but it sounds like Josh Smith (knee) will be able to go which is good for the Hawks who need every weapon they have to deal with the Celtics execution. Boston will also have Rajon Rondo back and he'll be pissed. You won't like Rondo when he's pissed (if you are Hawks fan).
The Bulls defense was MIA in game two and now they find themselves on the road tied 1-1. They can still win this series without Derrick Rose but not if they don't get their act together and get
some many stops.
Some people think that the Nuggets will somehow play better at home and make this a series. We'll see. Don't be surprised if Kobe and friends take a game one of the next two games off, but that doesn't mean Denver has a chance. L.A. will go home up 3-1, it's just a matter of which game they lose.
For more NBA Playoff coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.
The 2012 NBA Playoffs brought us another blow out. This first round is not shaping up all that well, but then again we are talking about the top seeded San Antonio Spurs easily dealing with a Utah Jazz team that was 11-22 on the road. We're also not surprised to see a good Indiana Pacers team take care of business on the road against the Orlando Magic who are simply not that good without Dwight Howard.
In a more competitive game and series, the Memphis Grizzlies held on to beat the Los Angeles Clippers and tie their series 1-1. The Clippers suffered another blow with an injury to Mo Williams after losing Caron Butler to a broken hand in Game 1 although Williams is expected back.
The real question in this series is Zach Randolph. We saw him dominate in the playoffs last year, but so far he's just 9-24 in two games. He did have 15 points in Game 2, but while that's an improvement, it's nothing close to the performance we saw last year. If he gets it back, the Grizzlies will roll the Clips. If not, this series will continue to be a grind.
Here's what's on the NBA playoff schedule for Thursday night:
Miami Heat at New York Knicks at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT. The Knicks will be without power forward Amare Stoudemire (lacerated hand) and the Heat will match by playing without Chris Bosh who flew back home to be with his wife for the birth of a child. Neither team has much front court depth so expect to see the LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony match up move from the three to the four position. Whatever, the Heat will roll.
Update: Bosh is now expected back in New York in time for the game. Whatever, the Heat will roll.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on TNT. The Thunder are extremely lucky to be up 2-0 in this surprisingly fun series. Now they go on the road and we'll find out what they are really made of. They were expected by many to come out of the West but so far look far from being a championship-ready team. Don't miss this game even if Community is on at the same time.
For more coverage of the NBA Playoffs, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.
Tuesday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule brought us one surprise that in retrospect isn't all that shocking. Of the three games played, two went as expected. Wednesday night we get three more and while we can't tell you which, we can virtually guarantee a surprise...or at least something worthy of a brief but intense Twitter Storm.
The Boston Celtics were supposed to lose the Atlanta Hawks without Rajon Rondo who took the night off to celebrate bumping an official. Instead, the Hawks predictably failed to get the job done and in the process lost Josh Smith to a knee injury of unknown severity.
In a slightly more surprising game, the Chicago Bulls defense decided to mourn the loss of Derrick Rose by not bothering to show up. The result was a home court
loss destruction by the Philadelphia 76ers. That series is now tied 1-1 and headed back to the land of the Liberty Bell where the Sixers will most likely crack under the pressure.
The only game out West featured the Los Angeles Lakers controlling tempo and beating the Denver Nuggets to take a 2-0 series lead. The Nuggets played well but are simply over-matched in this series unless they can crank up the pace to HIGH and hit a ton of outside shots.
Here's what's on tap for Wednesday night:
Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT. The Spurs were a bit rusty to start this game but still easily handled the Jazz. Utah is going to be hard pressed to get one win in this series and it isn't likely to come on the road where they don't play very well (11-22).
Indiana Pacers at Orlando Magic at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV. The Pacers woke up in the second half of Game 2 and tied the series. They should be able to cruise through the next three with no problem. If you need to pick just one game to watch, don't make it this one.
Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on TNT. This is the main show on Wednesday night. The Grizzlies blew their big fourth quarter lead despite being the better team. If they are for real, they will bounce back and take care of the Clips at home. They're for real.
Monday's 2012 NBA Playoff schedule gave use two so-so games and one really fun contest. Not surprisingly, the really good game featured the Western Conference Finals rematch between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. The Thunder took a 2-0 series lead with their win (102-99)
The game once again came down to the wire with Jason Terry having two shots at tying the game with a made three-pointer. He missed both attempts. The Thunder have yet to shoot the ball well and are showing flaws, but they've been good enough to beat the Mavs who lack enough punch. This series should go at least six games, however, unless the Thunder are able to find another level of play on the road.
The big story in the NBA from Monday's playoff action is the status of Amare Stoudemire's hand. He reportedly hit the glass door of a fire extinguisher case and caused himself some damage. Not the smartest thing Amare's ever done but we still don't have all the details. With the Knicks trailing the Heat 0-2 in the series, his availability for the next few games is unknown.
Here's Tuesday's schedule of playoff games.
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV. The Celtics will be without Rajon Rondo who is serving a one-game suspension for bumping an official. The Hawks will need to stay focused (never a strong suit for that team) and hopefully get better shooting from Joe Johnson. If they do, they can take a nice 2-0 lead in the series.
Philadelphia 76ers at Chicago Bulls at 8:00 p.m. ET / 5:00 p.m. PT on TNT. The Bulls will begin their post-Derrick Rose playoff run Tuesday, but they still should be fine against the offensively-challenged 76ers. Rose missed almost half the season with other injuries and back up CJ Watson is playing well.
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. PT on TNT. The Lakers killed the Nuggets in the paint and there's no reason to think that will change anytime soon. The Nuggets will need to play VERY fast and to try and wear down Andrew Bynum and they'll need a ton of threes to win. Possible, but not likely.
For more 2012 NBA Playoff coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA hub.
The 2012 NBA Playoffs kicked off with a bang. The story lines out of the Eastern Conference Game 1's were dominated by the ACL injury to Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert and a possible suspension for Rajon Rondo while on the court the level of competition was pretty miserable. Condolences if you sat through that ugly Boston vs. Atlanta game. What a mess.
In the Western Conference there were a few blowouts, but there were also the two best games of the weekend. The Battle of Clutch between Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant was epic and the Clippers fourth quarter comeback / Grizzlies fourth quarter collapse was one for the ages.
As always, you can find more about all of these series at SB Nation's NBA page.
Action continues on Monday, here's the full schedule:
New York Knicks at Miami Heat at 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT. The Heat blew the Knicks out of the water in Game 1 and hold a 1-0 lead in the series. Miami held Carmelo Anthony to 1-9 and LeBron James was dominate on both ends. The Knicks have a lot of work to do to avoid a sweep.
Orlando Magic at Indiana Pacers at 7:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. PT on NBA TV. The Magic shocked the Pacers to steal Game 1 on the road. They shot the ball well and delivered a wake-up call to the highly-favored Indiana team. It will be interesting to see how the Pacers respond.
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder at 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on TNT. This is clearly the game of the night and a rematch between Dirk's playoff greatness and Durant's growing legend. Frankly, the Thunder were damn lucky to escape with a Game 1 win. It will be interesting to see if they can do a little bit better in this game. If not, we're in for a long series.
The 2012 NBA Playoff schedule kicked off with a bang on Saturday. Unfortunately, that bang came in the form of ACL tears to Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert. What a blow for the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks (although the Knicks never had a chance anyway).
The second half of the playoff slate gets underway with Sunday's schedule. On Saturday we got three Eastern Conference games and one from the West so of course on Sunday that will be flipped. Here's the TV schedule and our predictions for the series (which don't ever assume major injuries).
TV Schedule: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET / 10:00 a.m. PT on ESPN
The young Jazz will have their hands full with the deep, powerful and rested Spurs. The series could be tough for San Antonio as their biggest weakness, lack of size up front, matches up poorly to the Jazz impressive set of bigs. In the end, however, the Spurs execution on both ends will be too much for Utah.
Prediction: Spurs in five
TV Schedule: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC
This series could get interesting with Denver's speed and talent on the wings against Kobe and the two bigs in the middle. The Lakers should be able to take care of business if they stay focused on take advantage of their size in the middle. Of course, the Lakers won't do that so this series will go longer than it should.
Prediction: Lakers in seven
TV Schedule: Sunday, 7:00 p.m. ET / 4:00 p.m. PT on TNT
The Celtics second-half resurgence was a thing of beauty but age caught up and Ray Allen is dealing with some bone spurs in his ankle. He's going to try and play through but it's not at all clear how mobile he'll be. The Hawks (still) have a lot of talent but (still) can't seem to figure out how to use it all. The Celtics defense will prevail and the Hawks don't have the size to take advantage of Garnett playing the five.
Prediction: Celtics in six
TV Schedule: Sunday, 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT on TNT
The Clippers have more talent than teamwork. Their defense is suspect and offensively they are predictable. Chris Paul can win games but the Grizzlies have options to throw at him defensively, and they play hard. The only chance for the Clips is if Blake Griffin can grow up fast and take advantage of Zach Randolph's suspect defense. That's not likely to happen.
Prediction: Grizzlies in five
Schedule and predictions for the first round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
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