Tag:2011 NBA Playoffs
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:17 pm
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Glen Davis, Amar'e Stoudemire exchange trash talk

Boston Celtics forward Glen Davis calls out New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire. Posted by Ben Golliver.
davis-stoudemire


No one has ever accused Boston Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis of biting his tongue. Davis, as brash off the court as he is goofy on the court, has lobbed the first public volley in the big market battle between the Celtics and the New York Knicks.

In advance of Game 1 of the first round series between the two teams, Davis called out Knicks All-Star forward Amar'e Stoudemire, stating bluntly that he gives Stoudemire too much credit and that it's not all that difficult to defend him. Here's Davis' take as relayed by the New York Post.
"It's really not that hard," Davis said. "I don't know why. I've been tripping. I give him too much credit. I just have to make him react to me, not me react to him because it's too late. If he gets one step on you, he's too strong and too quick. You just have to make him play your game."
Stoudemire, meanwhile, provided a quick retort to the New York Daily News.
"That's all right," Stoudemire said after shootaround on Sunday. "Me and Glen Davis (are) on two different platforms right now. He's a solid player, does a great job for his ball club. But we are on two different platforms."
On the season, Stoudemire averaged 25.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Against Boston, he put up 24.0 points and 8.3 rebounds, virtually identical to his yearly numbers.

In other words, Davis and his teammates have not yet had any meaningful impact defending Stoudemire. Whether these comments will meaningfully motivate Stoudemire for the series, however, is a key storyline to watch as they open play on Sunday.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:44 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 6:02 pm
 

NBA Playoff Buzz 4.17.11

Posted by EOB Staff 

Continuing updates throughout the day on playoff miscelanea.  

  • The Hawks' Joe Johnson says that the Magic are a "totally different team" from when they faced them last year in the playoffs. That's true from a lot of perspectives, but that might be used as bulletin board material. They are, literally a different team in terms of roster, so, there's that. 
  • Wild sequence to end the first half in Los Angeles. Kobe went down and appeared to hit his head on a fan's knee, then Chris Paul drained a 3. THEN Ron Artest hit a halfcourt shot while everyone was looking at Kobe. Here's the video of it.
  • The Palm Beach Post reports that Mike Miller's thumb injury could be "worse than the team, or he, has been letting on." Miller only said “Not touching that” and "we'll make it through.”
  • During the first quarter of Game 1 between the Lakers and Hornets, Lisa Salters said that Kobe Bryant told her "I used to beat up a lot of kids even in high school who used to tease my friends because they were gay." This was a follow up to a recent controversy in which Bryant used an anti-gay slur in reference to a referee that drew a $100,000 fine from the NBA.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies secured their first ever franchise victory by downing the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Here's video of a clutch Shane Battier three that pushed Memphis over the top. The win comes much to the delight of Memphis Grizzlies fans who gathered at the FedEx Forum for a viewing party. Here's a picture of the group ... that appears to number about 40 people.
  • San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, always known for his zingers, says on the TNT broadcast that Kevin McHale, working the color commentary for Spurs/Grizzlies, "doesn't know what the hell he's talking about." 
  • Grizzlies-Spurs underway without Manu, as reported yesterday. Memphis with an early lead, but it's been really physical. 
  • Tony Allen suffered a calf strain against the Spurs in the second quarter. His return is probable . The Spurs' side of the floor has seen a ton of slips by both teams. They need towels.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:30 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:46 am
 

NBA Playoffs First Round Saturday Wrap-Up

Click on each photo for our coverage on Saturday's first-round playoff games. 





Posted on: April 17, 2011 2:26 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:45 am
 

NBA Playoffs Mavericks-Blazers: 3 surprises

The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first round NBA Playoffs series. Posted by Ben Golliver.
dirk-mavs-blazers

Stop me if you've heard this one before: Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki won a home playoff game by parading to the free throw line in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki's 13-13 performance at the stripe in the final quarter -- 12 minutes of perfection that sealed Dallas' 89-81 Game 1 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers -- was a familiar ending, but there were plenty of surprises that preceded it. 

By virtue of being one of the most evenly matched series, Blazers-Mavericks was also one of the most scrutized. Here's three game-changing factors that nobody saw coming.

1. Jason Kidd explodes from deep

Everyone assumed that Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd would step up his production above the numbers he put up during the season series against the Blazers. Twice in four games, Kidd failed to make a shot and he averaged less than five points a game over the four meetings between the two teams.

On Saturday, the Blazers simply lost track of him time and time again and he bombed away eagerly. Whether he was open in semi-transition, open because of slow rotation, open because Blazers guards went under high picks, one thing was for sure: Kidd was open. When the dust settled, he finished with 24 points on 6-10 from downtown. That's the most points Kidd has scored in a game in more than a year -- since April 3, 2010 -- and tied for the most three-pointers he's made this season. Talk about the perfect time to show up.

It's unlikely Kidd will have another explosion like this, but he probably won't need to. In Dallas' balanced scoring attack there are plenty of other offensive options who can put up bigger numbers than they did in Game 1. Jason Terry, in particular, is due for a game in which he gets more than five shots and 10 points (half of those coming on fourth quarter free throws) as he's also struggled against Portland this season. JJ Barea (1-7), Peja Stojakovic (2-7) and DeShawn Stevenson (2-4) are all also capable of more. Kidd, in a sense, called his own number tonight because it was required, especially with Nowitzki struggling with his efficency early in the game. Look for order and scoring balance to be restored as this series continues. 

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2. Brandon Roy plays down the stretch
The most head-scratching coaching decision of this game -- and arguably of Portland's season -- came when Nate McMillan opted to play guard Brandon Roy the entire fourth quarter instead of starting guard Wesley Matthews, fellow reserve Rudy Fernandez or center Marcus Camby.

Just once in the last month has Roy played more than 26 minutes -- a recent home win over the Lakers -- and nothing about his recent play suggests he should be playing the crunch time minutes in this series. Roy shot just 33% from the field in April and has looked tentative with the ball in his hands and reluctant to shoot. To be blunt, he's a half-step slow and regularly over-thinking; reactive rather than proactive. The role he's filled has been that of a drive-and-kick facilitator, yet his speed and quickness with the ball in his hands has not recovered from his most recent knee surgeries and he doesn't draw the off-ball attention he once did. The result on Saturday was a bogged down late-game offense that failed to generate free throws or clean looks and allowed Dallas to make a major run late in the final quarter.

What's even more confusing, though, is that McMillan has almost always turned to Matthews late in games when the Blazers have held the lead. Portland led 72-66 with less than six minutes to go, the perfect situation to swap Roy for Matthews and slam the door shut. Not only is Matthews a superior defender, he's also a superior outside shooter (Matthews has shot 40.7% from deep this season while Roy has shot 33.3%). As a team, Portland shot 2-16 from deep on the night , including 1-7 in the final quarter. While Matthews struggled early with turnovers, he certainly has shown this season that he deserves more than 19 minutes and three shots. If Matthews wasn't such a nice guy and team player, he should be seething.

Even if McMillan decided Matthews simply didn't have it going in the pressure-packed situation that is Game 1, he had other options. Rudy Fernandez, although not a true impact player on Saturday, had six points, two rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes. If not Fernandez, then going back to a larger lineup -- with Marcus Camby in the middle -- would have been another option. While that would likely have led to easier double teams and more congestion for LaMarcus Aldridge -- who was excellent on the evening, finishing with 27 points and six boards -- Camby, who 18 rebounds in 29 minutes, would have been a difference-maker on the boards late, as Dallas center Tyson Chandler's four fourth-quarter rebounds were huge in extending Dallas possessions and ending Portland possessions.

Really, the late-game strategy should have been simple: Anybody But Roy. He finished 1-7 on the evening for two points and played exactly how recent history suggested he would play: flat, late and not in tune with a flowing offensive team concept. What's more, McMillan's decision was a departure from his usual rotation, necessitating an adjustment from all of Roy's teammates. Why did he do it? And, more importantly, why now? 

3. Gerald Wallace is virtually invisble

Publication after publication touted Blazers forward Gerald Wallace as the X-factor in this series for plenty of good reasons: his defensive versatility, his array of offensive skills, his veteran leadership and his combination of experience and toughness. Wallace has told reporters in recent weeks that he's settled into his surroundings after some initial nervousness following a midseason trade that sent him from the Charlotte Bobcats to the Blazers. Tonight, we didn't see that.

Wallace was as invisible as he has been in a month, shooting a jittery 4-13 from the field, committing three turnovers and scoring just eight points and five rebounds in 38 minutes. To find a performance from Wallace that was that lacking, you have to go all the way back to March 15 which, incidentally, was a game against the Dallas Mavericks. That's an immediate red flag for Portland's upset hopes.

Wallace is McMillan's jack-of-all-trades, a player who is surely capable of defending multiple positions. But, on the offensive end, he struggled to find space against Dallas' veteran defense, a group that played a motivated and intelligent game all-around from start to finish. Dallas focused most of its team energy on Aldridge, and Wallace couldn't quite find the correct spacing and timing to get the points Portland needs from him. His ineffectiveness was arguably systematic, as this was a low-scoring, fairly ugly game in which Portland never found a solid offensive rhythm (except for Aldridge). Wallace surely has better nights in him, just as Portland's offense does. A few more made three-pointers from deep and everything else will open up. Wallace should be a key beneficiary.
Posted on: April 17, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:09 am
 

George Karl has had some words for OKC -- why?

Posted by Royce Young



George Karl has been talking a bit of smack about the Thunder talking smack. Him, and the Nuggets, have accused their first round opponent of being "cocky" and talking a larger-than-usual amount of junk.

Karl said this recently: "There’s no question there’s a cockiness to Oklahoma City ... We know what they were saying after the game here. We know what they were saying. We know. I’m not going to bring it to the public, but we know."

But Karl took it even farther, calling his former assistant and current Oklahoma City head coach Scott Brooks, "cocky." "He’s confident and his team is confident,” Karl told reporters in Denver recently. “At times when you get beat by him, you think they might be too cocky." Brooks, who is decidedly uncocky responded in a very Scott Brooks way.

“I’ve been called a lot worse. Trust me,” Brooks said Saturday. “My mom calls me a lot worse after we lose.

"You guys know me,” Brooks continued. “I worry about what we do with our team and focus on what we do. My job is to get our guys ready to play. We’ve done a pretty good job with that. … I care about what I do. I care about what our players do, and that’s where it ends. Denver, they can do the things they do. That’s on them. That’s on George, that’s on their staff. I focus on our team, our guys and I believe in what we do.”

I have a pretty good feel for Brooks -- and the Thunder -- because I live in OKC and cover the team up close. And I have never seen anything out of them that I'd call cocky. I do think there's a new confidence to them and maybe a bit of swagger since the Kendrick Perkins trade, but I wouldn't call it cockiness. Especially when it comes to Brooks. "Scott Brooks" might as well be the antonym for "cocky." He is easily one of the most humble coaches in the league.

So of course it makes me wonder: What is Karl trying to achieve here by going on the offensive? It almost seems like he's trying to manufacture bulletin board material for his team. Almost like he's trying to bait the Thunder into giving him some. Could he really be that desperate for motivation? Possibly. Especially when you consider that Karl went on record saying he wanted to avoid Oklahoma City, and with the Thunder beating the Nuggets rather solidly twice in the past two weeks.

So far -- if that is indeed Karl's intention -- it's failed. Kevin Durant wouldn't bite when Jim Rome asked him about it. "We just play basketball. We don't do any talking other than letting people know how good a team they are and how tough the series is going to be." Durant made it a point to say a number of times how tough he thought the series would be and how good he thinks the Nuggets are. If Karl's trying to bait the Thunder, he's going to have to take it up a notch.

A big reason for OKC avoiding it? They fall in step behind their soft spoken leader. Brooks has set a very humble, respect-your-opponent, turn-the-other-cheek tone with his group. When asked if he had a response for Karl's claims, Brooks once again took the high road.

“I don’t think we need to warn our guys,” he said. “Our guys are basketball players. We play basketball. We’re into our team. We’re into what we do on the court. That stuff off the court…why worry about that? That has no bearing on this series at all. Our guys love to play, they’re gym rats, they care about the game, they respect the game. They care about what they do. They represent themselves, the organization and the city well. That’s all I care about.

“I don’t get into going back and forth and I don’t tell our guys, because that’s not who they are. We don’t have to address an issue that’s not there. … I’ve been with George for a few years and he does his thing his way, and he’s very successful. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Karl no doubt has never been shy about speaking his mind and being candid with reporters, but this just feels forced to me. He's been around the block and has won a lot of games so I'm sure it's calculated. If he's pulling out all the stops to motivate his guys, that's his prerogative. He might be trying to get in the heads of the young Thunder squad. He might be trying to make them play with the wrong kind of emotion.

Whatever Karl is up to, I think he's got his reasons. Doesn't stop me from thinking it's probably a bad move, though. In trying to make some bulletin board material from scratch, I think he just gave some to the Thunder.

Posted on: April 17, 2011 12:22 am
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:29 am
 

NBA Playoffs Sixers-Heat: How Bosh got it done

Chris Bosh takes advantage of what should always have been his role with the Heat: cleaning up after the attention on Wade and James. 
Posted by Matt Moore
Chris Bosh does not have the same fanfare and attention that his two superstar teammates -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade -- possess.

And while James, a two-time league MVP, and Wade, a former NBA Finals MVP, will have a bright spotlight cast upon them throughout their first playoff experience together as teammates, they both know that Bosh, a six-time All-Star, will need to play at a high level if the Heat are going to be holding the championship trophy come June.

"C.B. is the most important player on our team," said James following the Heat's 97-89 win over the 76ers in Game 1. "When C.B. plays aggressive, when C.B. shoots the ball well, and when he rebounds, we are a very, very, very good team."
via Bosh's play could be determining factor in Heat's playoff run - NBA - CBSSports.com Basketball .

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Chris Bosh was key in the Heat's victory over the Sixers, and while he's caught the most criticism as a member of the Triad this season, he also holds huge potential to turn them into an entirely different team. Perhaps most interesting about his 25-point, 12-rebound performance against the Sixers Saturday was that his production came so much as an auxilliary player. In essence, it was more what the Heat had planned when they got together this summer. 

The idea was that with three of the top ten (at the time, five, but, let's be honest, not so much in retrospect) players in the league, the Heat would always have someone open. But their inability to create space or work in tandem effectively meant instead it was three great players going ISO a lot. Against the Sixers, Philadelphia keyed on James and Wade. The result was Bosh getting lots of looks off-ball.

Bosh scored six points on seven possessions in the post, but four of those came on drawn fouls. He put back two offensive rebounds, created both times by attention caused by James and Wade. He scored seven points on seven possessions in the pick and roll, and this was his bread and butter. Twice he benefited from a pick-and-pop situation involving someone other than himself as the screener. When James or Wade came off the pick, the defense hedged hard on them, opening up the screen man, and driving the defense to rotate to that man. Bosh would then leak out. Twice he got open looks on account of this set.

Sounds stunning, right? Hey, let's use the third best player on the team who is a top power-forward in this league and use him to get easy buckets considering he can score from anywhere! Magic! But this is the kind of play that eluded the Heat all season. Getting it going against the Sixers is a step towards getting themselves in a position to compete in the second round against (presumably) Boston. While the Heat offense was far from its best against a feisty Sixers team, it was good enough to show what it's capable of. 

Bosh drew fouls, worked off-ball, hit the glass (which cannot be emphasized enough), and helped the Heat walk away with a win. If the defense is forced to account for Bosh, that's going to create more opportunities for Wade and James. As long as the reserve players can provide anything, literally anything, the Heat are on track for where they want to go offensively in the playoffs. 


Posted on: April 16, 2011 10:54 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 2:47 am
 

NBA Playoffs Hawks-Magic: Howard not enough

Dwight Howard has a historic performance... and it wasn't enough as the Hawks take Game 1. 
Posted by Matt Moore




In 2007, Kobe Bryant scored the following point totals in the first round of the NBA playoffs against the Phoenix Suns: 39, 15, 45, 31, 34. The Lakers lost in five. They managed to push the Suns to seven games the year before, but still fell. And the strategy was more than apparent, and is what led the Lakers to become so aggressive the following year. And, it's what nearly cost them Kobe Bryant in a trade demand before Andrew Bynum developed and Pau Gasol was delivered for $1.50 and some lint. The strategy was simple: Kobe gets his, no one else does. They essentially surrendered bucket after bucket to Mamba (before he was called that) and shut down his underwhelming, unworthy teammates. It became a standard approach in the league in guarding Bryant, until he wound up with Pau Gasol, Andre Bynum at full strength, Derek Fisher came back and Lamar Odom's head got screwed on. Then everyone was just doomed (hence the two titles).

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On Saturday night, the Atlanta Hawks employed the same strategy on Dwight Howard, and the result was eerily similar in the Hawks' 103-93 win over Orlando . Howard scored 31 in the first half, and finished with 46. He had 19 rebounds. And the Magic lost. In the first half, the Magic went to Howard consistently. In part because the Hawks were helpless to stop him. You name the defender, we can show the highlight. Jason Collins. Zaza Pachulia. Even Etan Thomas got a turn (and a vicious block from Howard). Howard hit the whole array. Alley-oops. Offensive rebound put-backs. Hook shots. Jumpers. The works. But in part, the Magic went to Howard as consistently because the rest of the team was a bunch of popsicles. It was a truly terrible offensive performance for a team that relies on its shooting. 

So when the second half came around, the Hawks went to a different approach. They started fouling Howard more aggressively. Howard finished the first half 8-9 from the line. There was literally no way to stop him. Second half? 6-13. That's seven more points he left on the board. The Magic still would have lost, but it should be noted, because that was a subtle correction the Hawks made. Let Howard do whatever he wants for 24 minutes while you focus on getting the shooters out of rhythm. Then make him earn it at the line in the second half. Throw in some frustrating physical play that led to Howard's first technical, and it was one of the most disappointing 45-point playoff performances in NBA playoff history. Disappointing for Howard, not because of him. There wasn't much more Howard could have done. We can point out the missed free throws, but Howard still hit 64% of his shots from the stripe. But to have that kind of a performance and lose? Unheard of. 

As a matter of fact, in 20 years, no player has dropped 45 points and 19 rebounds in the playoffs. Howard was the first. And he still wound up with the L.




The loss was a complicated combination of the Magic's supporting players having an outright miserable performance, Kirk Hinrich having a better-than-expected game, and Josh Smith dominating a matchup we thought he would . The Magic have to improve on offense, defense, in transition, in the half-court and in terms of composure. Dwight Howard did everything he could, the Magic have to step up in support.

Oh, and one last thing before notes. In 2009, the Magic put themselves on the NBA map by downing the Celtics and then the best team in the East that season, the Cleveland Cavaliers. They did so by letting LeBron James go off for whatever he wanted, and shutting down all the rest of the Cavaliers. The Magic got a strong dose of that in Game 1 vs. the Hawks. 

A few other notes: 

  • Kirk Hinrich finished with a quiet 13 points on 6-10 shooting, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. But his impact was so much bigger. Even with Jameer Nelson going off for 20 points in the third quarter, Hinrich played excellent defense, knocked down shots, and prevented Nelson from dominating the matchup like he did against the Hawks in 2010. 
  • Jamal Crawford was 4-7 from the arc, including a dagger at the end of the game with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. 
  • Jason Richardson: 4 points on 2-8 shooting, 0-4 from the arc. The word there is: curtains. 
  • The Magic can survive Josh Smith abusing its forwards. They can handle Al Horford dismantling their forwards from range. They can't handle both. 

Posted on: April 16, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: April 16, 2011 9:51 pm
 

Magic C Dwight Howard draws Game 1 technical

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard drew a technical foul in Game 1 of his team's first round NBA playoffs series. Posted by Ben Golliver.

We've spent a good part of the second half of the season lamenting the fact that Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard just doesn't get it when it comes to technical fouls. Howard, enabled by his coach Stan Van Gundy, has convinced himself he's a target for hard fouls of opposing players and the recipient of some unfair whistles from unsympathetic officials.

That may be true, but Howard has a permanent blind eye to his own behavior, which alternates between baby-ish and unnecessarily physical. Howard's act earned him 18 technical fouls during the regular season -- costing him two games worth of suspensions without pay -- and, on Saturday, it was the same old story during Game 1 of Orlando's first round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks.

With his team trailing 68-54 midway through the third quarter, Howard lost contact with Hawks center Zaza Pachulia as he looked to provide help defense, and Pachulia smartly turned that into inside rebounding position once the shot went up. Howard, already with three fouls, decided the best course of action was to hack Pachulia from behind to prevent the putback lay-up attempt. Howard executed the hard foul but followed through with extra force -- for no apparent reason -- causing Pachulia to fall to the ground and leading the baseline referee to instantly assess a technical foul for the action.

Here's a look at the sequence.



The Hawks held off the Magic, 103-93.

It's unclear if anything or anyone will ever be able to get through to Howard regarding his on-court behavior and decision-making. As it stands, Howard is the league's most unstoppable force as he proved by putting up a playoff career-high 46 points and 19 rebounds. Imagine how good he would be if he didn't self-handicap so frequently.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com