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Tag:2011 NBA Playoffs
Posted on: April 17, 2011 10:50 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:57 pm
 

Chauncey Billups (knee) 'expected to miss' Game 2

New York Knicks guard Chauncey Billups is day-to-day with a strained knee and doesn't know whether he'll be able to play in Game 2. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Monday update: The Associated Press reports that New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said that Chauncey Billups is not likely to play in Game 2 on Tuesday due to the knee injury suffered during Game 1, 
Chauncey Billups is expected to miss the second game of the New York Knicks’ playoff series against the Boston Celtics because of a left leg injury. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Monday the starting point guard was “very questionable” for Tuesday night’s game in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.

Original post:

With just minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of New York's Game 1 loss to the Boston Celtics, Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups left the court for the locker room with an injured left knee. Replays showed that Billups fell to the ground awkwardly after attempting a driving lay-up attempt that was challenged by Celtics center Jermaine O'Neal

The MSG Network reported that Billups suffered a "strained left knee" on the play and there there would be an "update [Monday] from practice." Game 2 of the series is scheduled for Tuesday night in Boston.

CBSSports.com's Ken Berger reported on Twitter that "Billups says when he took off on his left leg, it 'buckled. ... It just kind of gave out on me.' He has 'no clue' whether he'll play Game 2."

On the season, Billups is averaging 16.8 points and 5.8 assists. If he isn't able to go in Game 2, the Knicks will have to turn to reserve guards Anthony Carter and Toney Douglas. As Billups (10 points, two rebounds, four assists) was already losing his match-up with Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (10 points, nine rebounds, nine assists), that would take things from bad to worse for New York. 

Here's a look at the play. 
Posted on: April 17, 2011 9:57 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 10:02 pm
 

Celtics G Ray Allen hits game-winning 3 video

Celtics guard Ray Allen hits a game-winning three-pointer to send Boston past the New York Knicks in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first round series. Posted by Ben Golliver.

It's been an incredible opening weekend of NBA playoff basketball, filled with plenty of incredible performances, but Celtics guard Ray Allen takes the cake with his game-winning three-pointer to close out Game One for Boston over the New York Knicks.

With the Celtics trailing the Knicks at home 85-84 with less than 20 seconds left, Boston forward Paul Pierce began his team's final possession with the ball near halfcourt. After sustaining a bump from Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Pierce waited for Ray Allen to set a pick on Anthony and then flare to the three-point line, where Celtics forward Kevin Garnett set a second pick on Knicks guard Toney Douglas. Douglas went crashing to the court, which freed Allen for an open look from the left angle. He buried it, giving Boston an 87-85 lead with 11.6 seconds remaining.

The Knicks, who were out of timeouts, pushed the ball up the court and found Anthony, who settled for a deep three-pointer with Allen and Celtics guard Rajon Rondo contesting. Anthony's potential game-winner was short, giving Boston an 87-85 victory in Game One of the first round playoff series.

Here's a look at the bang-bang sequence.

Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:42 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Hornets-Lakers: The return of CP3

Chris Paul returns to prominence in an incredible performance against the Lakers in Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore




Derrick Rose. Rajon Rondo. Russell Westbrook. Great point guards all. But after a season where he looked indecisive at times, inconsistent and passive, Chris Paul stepped onto the biggest stage and showed everyone why he's considered the best "pure" point guard in the game. 

(Before we get started, Derrick Rose is the presumptive MVP of the league. Bulls fans, let's not start a fight about who's better. They're both great. Let's leave it at that.)

After the Hornets' win over the Lakers, here were some of the trending topics on Twitter: "#cp3" was No.1, and "#chrispaul" was No.3. The world took notice. It was easy to see why. Paul blistered the Lakers the entire game, drowning Derek Fisher in ISO and pick and roll situations. Late in the game, to show the amount of confusion on the Lakers' side, Pau Gasol was put on an island against one of the quickest players in the NBA. Paul calmly crossed him over and nailed a dagger fadeaway jumper. 

The praise was unanimous for CP3, and it really put him back on the map. For most of the season, Paul played extremely well at times, and extremely passive at times. He would let others take the lead. But without David West, Paul became the intiator, and took the team on his back. That's the Hornets' best option of attack in a series where they are woefully overmatched in size and ability. But as long as the Lakers continue to attempt to guard Paul with Fisher and be lazy on their help, Paul will have opportunities. 




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Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 3:10 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hornets-Lakers: perfectly upsetting

The New Orleans Hornets delivered a stunning Game One defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers. How worried should LA be? Posted by Ben Golliver.

hornets-lakers

The New Orleans Hornets beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 109-100, in Game One of their first round playoff series, and coach Monty Williams couldn't have drawn it up any better. Everything he could have wanted to go right did go right, and even some things that no one could have expected fell in the Hornets' favor. The "Can lightning strike twice?" question hangs over this result like a thundercloud, but its worth cataloguing New Orleans' many triumphs before turning our attention to Game Two adjustments.

All-Star point guard Chris Paul, of course, leads any breakdown of this game. In the fourth quarter he was as unstoppable as he's been at any point in his career, scoring 17 points in the final quarter on a variety of jumpers, drawing fouls seemingly at will. You can't blame Lakers guard Derek Fisher too for the explosion, as he generally played textbook defense and made Paul work. The Lakers did switch a few high screen-and-rolls and Paul exploited mismatches with Lakers bigs -- particularly Pau Gasol -- to create space for jumpshots. But this was about an All-Star being locked all the way in, finishing with 33 points, 14 assists, seven rebounds, four steals and just two turnovers in 41 minutes, commanding New Orleans' offense with intelligence and using his quick hands and excellent instincts to full effect on defense. Los Angeles has made a habit of getting behind early and digging itself out late: Paul's two-way play made sure there would be no comeback.

It would be a mistake to call this a one-man show, though, as New Orleans' role players came up huge. Who could have expected the Hornets bench -- one of the weaker groups in the playoffs -- to combine for 39 points on an amazing 72% shooting from the field, led by a perfect 5-5 from reserve center Aaron Gray and 5-6 from guard Jarrett Jack. Every man on the Hornets bench finished with a positive +/- for the game, with Gray posting a whopping +25 in his 20 minutes. Will they play as well as a group again in this series? Probably not.

As big as those contributions was New Orleans' overall defensive effort, which can only be described as excellent. Trevor Ariza frustrated Kobe Bryant down the stretch, New Orleans' undersized bigs did an excellent job of managing Los Angeles' long frontline and the Hornets scored 17 points off of 13 Lakers turnovers, a critical difference-maker given that the Hornets turned the ball over just three times (!) the entire game. By comparison, New Orleans' season-low for turnovers in the regular season was five.

Again, everything went right for the Hornets. They dominated the possession game. Their bench badly outplayed LA's. Chris Paul won the match-up of superstars against Kobe Bryant (35 points, four rebounds, five assists, five turnovers). Improbably, both Carl Landry (17 points, five boards) and Aaron Gray (12 points) scored more than Pau Gasol (eight points, six boards).

That last sentence, more than any other reason, is why it's difficult to believe New Orleans' Game One stunner will be sustainable. The Hornets lost Gray in the game's final minute to a nasty ankle injury, and getting more from Gasol will be at the top of the list of Lakers adjustments. Gasol's face was cut and bloodied early in the game and he was an absolute non-factor down the stretch, attempting just two shots in the fourth quarter (one was a lay-up with the game out of reach). Without Gray, who looked like New Orleans' most capable one-on-one post defender aside from Emeka Okafor, the Hornets' frontline will be stretched to an even greater degree, with Carl Landry, D.J. Mbenga and Jason Smith called into greater service. If that trio winds up getting the best of Gasol over a seven-game series, he might need to consider entering the Witness Protection Program.

The Lakers can also get more from center Andrew Bynum, who scored easily around the basket, playing over the top of New Orleans after Okafor got into some early foul trouble. Bynum finished with a respectable 13 points and nine rebounds and the Lakers would do well to pound it into him more than they did on Sunday. Mbenga resorted to desperation hard fouls on Bynum multiple times and there's no reason the Lakers shouldn't be parading to the free throw line throughout the rest of this series.

Given how many breaks went New Orleans' way, it's not panic time yet for the Lakers. They'll need to re-think their defense on Paul, paying him extra attention and perhaps using Kobe Bryant to defend him more often. They'll certainly need to turn to Gasol more often and he'll need to show up. More than anything, Los Angeles simply needs to realize they likely took New Orleans' best punch. The same match-up advantages that made them prohibitive favorites entering the series are still there. And, pending Gray's availability, could be even more pronounced. 

Internal motivation remains the biggest issue for the Lakers, who played flat through stretches, particularly in the first half, on Sunday. New Orleans delivered a wake-up call to a team that's lacked focus for a few weeks now. LA needs to respond in Game Two. And, given their talent advantages and enhanced motivation following the loss, it would be shocking if they didn't.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Aaron Gray suffers ugly looking ankle injury

Posted by Royce Young



I don't think the Hornets could've pictured a more perfect result in Los Angeles Sunday. They walked in to Staples without anyone giving them any kind of a chance and upset the defending champs 109-100 behind a huge day from the best point guard in basketball, Chris Paul. (Yeah, remember him?)

But with a minute left, the Hornets perfect day got a small smudge put on it as center Aaron Gray went down with a nasty looking rolled ankle. Gray had to be helped off the floor and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Obviously he'll have X-rays and all the like, but I'm assuming he's doubtful for Game 2, and potentially the rest of the series. The way he grabbed high up on his leg said high ankle sprain and those are no fun.

This is a bigger blow than you might initially think. Yes, I realize we're talking Aaron Gray here, but the seven-footer was very productive Sunday for New Orleans scoring 12 points on 5-5 shooting in 20 minutes. His value inside on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol definitely didn't show up in the box score. And with the Hornets already missing David West, they're very thin on the interior already. So subtracting Gray will definitely hurt them going forward.

It's an injury though that's a lot more important than it seems at first glance but when Chris Paul plays like Chris Paul, the Hornets can pretty much plug in anyone. Jason Smith and D.J. Mbenga will be called upon in bigger ways now to back up Emeka Okafor.

But the Hornets lead 1-0 though and if you'd have handed them at least a split in L.A. a week ago, they probably would've said, "OK, we'll trade a win in Game 1 for Aaron Gray, straight up."
Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:35 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:14 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

Memphis wins first playoff game in franchise history as unlikely heroes come full circle. Oh, yeah, and there's a whole series in front of them.

Posted by Matt Moore




Joy comes in the morning . The Memphis Grizzlies entered the postseason 0-12 in postseason play. They walked out of the AT&T Center in San Antonio with a 1-0 series lead and their first ever franchise playoff win. 

It would be really easy to put this win in terms of the culmination of questionable moves the franchise has made, the history of failure and how far the team has come in getting one measly win in a playoff series. A win in series in which they are a considerable underdog to the very model of a small-market franchise that has won four NBA championships in the past ten years. 

I will do so now. 

The Grizzlies won behind two huge efforts from their frontcourt. Zach Randolph led the way with 25 points. Randolph was acquired ina  trade from the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. At the time, it was considered terrible, since Randolph was known as a locker room cancer who never won anything. Instead, he became the Grizzlies' first All-Star since Pau Gasol, and, on Sunday, did what he does: create shots underneath the basket where there's seemingly no room to create one. Without a legit player with length underneath, Randolph was able to create slight tip-ins. Throw in some poor defense by DeJuan Blair, and you've got a big day for Randolph.

In one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, the Grizzlies traded their All-Star Pau Gasol for the expiring contract of Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and the rights to Gasol's brother Marc who was playing in Spain. Randolph gets all the attention, and rightfully so. But Marc Gasol is as big a part of what the Grizzlies do as any player. He's a tremendous defender, both down low and on pick and rolls. He shows hard on screens and recovers, runs off mid-range Js (as he did Sunday), and has a wide offensive repertoire. While Tim Duncan was taking him one on one in the post in the first half, Gasol was getting his own, and wound up outscoring Duncan 24-16.  Anyone have that figured to start the day? 

Memphis made a series of terrible decisions in trading a first-round pick for Ronnie Brewer last season, then renouncing his right as a restricted free agent. They then used that money to acquire Tony Allen, another player with questionable skills and reputation, who wound up with a huge fourth quarter. Allen was plagued by foul trouble, but still managed to have an impact on the game with a series of gritty late-game defensive plays and some key buckets. 

The Grizzlies nearly traded O.J. Mayo at the deadline before the deal fell through and they got the trade request in too late. Mayo had 13 points off the bench. 

Memphis signed Mike Conley to a 5-year, $40 million contract, and were blasted for it. Mostly by me . (I made amends later after Conley continued to show his improvement, though the decision at the time was still irresponsible). Conley had 15 points and 10 assists and actually held his own offensively against Tony Parker (defensively, it was a different matter). 

The list goes on and on.

Then there's this. The Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet, one of the biggest busts of the decade with the No.2 overall pick in 2009. They had to send Thabeet along with a pick just to get rid of him. Houston took him on, in exchange for an expendable veteran defender who can hit the occasional 3-pointer. The Grizzlies got Shane Battier


Seems like a lot to make out of a Game 1 win when Memphis is just as likely to get blasted in the next four games, especially considering Manu Ginobili's absence. But, for a franchise trying to establish some level of legitimacy and momentum, it's a big deal. They won that first playoff game, and now have stolen homecourt advantage from the No.1 overall seed. This series looks long, it looks physical, and it looks exciting. And for the first time in franchise history, Memphis fans have to feel like they actually have a shot. 

You want some perspective on this? How about Manu Ginobili's absence? The Spurs' best element today was drawing fouls against a perimeter Grizzlies' defense that couldn't stop a drunken toddler from getting into the lane and resorted to just beating them up. The Spurs shot 15 more free throws than the Grizzlies, and hit 15 more. When Ginobili returns in Game 2, as he probably will, that number may actually increase. Ginobili and Parker are two of the best at drawing fouls (and some would say flopping). There may actually be dents in the AT&T center hardwood if the pattern from Game 1 keeps up.

The Grizzlies won despite only forcing 10 turnovers and losing the turnover battle. The Spurs were deliberate with their attack, and while the Grizzlies did succeed in forcing the Spurs off the 3-point line, outside of a handful of Richard Jefferson threes and two Matt Bonner bombs late to make everyone forget how terribly, terribly awful he was in guarding Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies outshot the Spurs by 12 percent, holding the Spurs to 40 percent from the field... and only won by three. That's a bad sign. 

If the Grizzlies don't figure out how to keep the Spurs out of the paint on the drive, or not foul them every single time they do enter, they're going to go down in flames. They gave up 29 free throws to George Hill and Tony Parker. That may seem like an outlier that won't hold. Given Memphis' style, it's likely not an outlier. 

But at the end of the day, Memphis did what they've done all season. Find a way to beat a better team by grinding it out, making big shots, and playing remarkable defense. For a day, it was good for a win, the biggest in franchise history. 
Posted on: April 17, 2011 5:35 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:14 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Grizzlies-Spurs: The joy of one

Memphis wins first playoff game in franchise history as unlikely heroes come full circle. Oh, yeah, and there's a whole series in front of them.

Posted by Matt Moore




Joy comes in the morning . The Memphis Grizzlies entered the postseason 0-12 in postseason play. They walked out of the AT&T Center in San Antonio with a 1-0 series lead and their first ever franchise playoff win. 

It would be really easy to put this win in terms of the culmination of questionable moves the franchise has made, the history of failure and how far the team has come in getting one measly win in a playoff series. A win in series in which they are a considerable underdog to the very model of a small-market franchise that has won four NBA championships in the past ten years. 

I will do so now. 

The Grizzlies won behind two huge efforts from their frontcourt. Zach Randolph led the way with 25 points. Randolph was acquired ina  trade from the Clippers for Quentin Richardson. At the time, it was considered terrible, since Randolph was known as a locker room cancer who never won anything. Instead, he became the Grizzlies' first All-Star since Pau Gasol, and, on Sunday, did what he does: create shots underneath the basket where there's seemingly no room to create one. Without a legit player with length underneath, Randolph was able to create slight tip-ins. Throw in some poor defense by DeJuan Blair, and you've got a big day for Randolph.

In one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history, the Grizzlies traded their All-Star Pau Gasol for the expiring contract of Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and the rights to Gasol's brother Marc who was playing in Spain. Randolph gets all the attention, and rightfully so. But Marc Gasol is as big a part of what the Grizzlies do as any player. He's a tremendous defender, both down low and on pick and rolls. He shows hard on screens and recovers, runs off mid-range Js (as he did Sunday), and has a wide offensive repertoire. While Tim Duncan was taking him one on one in the post in the first half, Gasol was getting his own, and wound up outscoring Duncan 24-16.  Anyone have that figured to start the day? 

Memphis made a series of terrible decisions in trading a first-round pick for Ronnie Brewer last season, then renouncing his right as a restricted free agent. They then used that money to acquire Tony Allen, another player with questionable skills and reputation, who wound up with a huge fourth quarter. Allen was plagued by foul trouble, but still managed to have an impact on the game with a series of gritty late-game defensive plays and some key buckets. 

The Grizzlies nearly traded O.J. Mayo at the deadline before the deal fell through and they got the trade request in too late. Mayo had 13 points off the bench. 

Memphis signed Mike Conley to a 5-year, $40 million contract, and were blasted for it. Mostly by me . (I made amends later after Conley continued to show his improvement, though the decision at the time was still irresponsible). Conley had 15 points and 10 assists and actually held his own offensively against Tony Parker (defensively, it was a different matter). 

The list goes on and on.

Then there's this. The Grizzlies drafted Hasheem Thabeet, one of the biggest busts of the decade with the No.2 overall pick in 2009. They had to send Thabeet along with a pick just to get rid of him. Houston took him on, in exchange for an expendable veteran defender who can hit the occasional 3-pointer. The Grizzlies got Shane Battier


Seems like a lot to make out of a Game 1 win when Memphis is just as likely to get blasted in the next four games, especially considering Manu Ginobili's absence. But, for a franchise trying to establish some level of legitimacy and momentum, it's a big deal. They won that first playoff game, and now have stolen homecourt advantage from the No.1 overall seed. This series looks long, it looks physical, and it looks exciting. And for the first time in franchise history, Memphis fans have to feel like they actually have a shot. 

You want some perspective on this? How about Manu Ginobili's absence? The Spurs' best element today was drawing fouls against a perimeter Grizzlies' defense that couldn't stop a drunken toddler from getting into the lane and resorted to just beating them up. The Spurs shot 15 more free throws than the Grizzlies, and hit 15 more. When Ginobili returns in Game 2, as he probably will, that number may actually increase. Ginobili and Parker are two of the best at drawing fouls (and some would say flopping). There may actually be dents in the AT&T center hardwood if the pattern from Game 1 keeps up.

The Grizzlies won despite only forcing 10 turnovers and losing the turnover battle. The Spurs were deliberate with their attack, and while the Grizzlies did succeed in forcing the Spurs off the 3-point line, outside of a handful of Richard Jefferson threes and two Matt Bonner bombs late to make everyone forget how terribly, terribly awful he was in guarding Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies outshot the Spurs by 12 percent, holding the Spurs to 40 percent from the field... and only won by three. That's a bad sign. 

If the Grizzlies don't figure out how to keep the Spurs out of the paint on the drive, or not foul them every single time they do enter, they're going to go down in flames. They gave up 29 free throws to George Hill and Tony Parker. That may seem like an outlier that won't hold. Given Memphis' style, it's likely not an outlier. 

But at the end of the day, Memphis did what they've done all season. Find a way to beat a better team by grinding it out, making big shots, and playing remarkable defense. For a day, it was good for a win, the biggest in franchise history. 
Posted on: April 17, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Lakers G Kobe Bryant injures neck during Game 1

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant went down with an apparent neck injury just before halftime of Game 1 against the New Orleans Hornets. Posted by Ben Golliver.

In the closing seconds of the first half of Game 1 against the New Orleans Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant hit a fallaway jumpshot in the left corner to cut New Orleans' lead to 52-44. His momentum carried him to the floor, where he slid backwards into the courtside seats. Bryant's neck contacted one of the seats with some force and he lay facedown on the ground, motionless, as the Hornets went up the court for their offensive possession.

After Hornets guard Chris Paul hit a three pointer, Lakers forward Ron Artest hit a halfcourt heave to close out the first half, 55-47. Bryant remained on the ground as the half ended and, once the buzzer sounded, Lakers staffers rushed to attend to Bryant, who was slow to get up but eventually walked off under his own power. 

During halftime, the Orange County Register reported that Bryant was diagnosed with a "bruised neck, according to Lakers PR." ABC reported that Bryant is "pretty sore" but that he did not undergo any X-Rays or further testing. Bryant is expected to play in the second half.

Here's video of what was a heart-stopping scene for Lakers fans.

 
 
 
 
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