Nightly Grades: Nets stomp the Bulls
Grades for Game 1s, featuring the Knicks-Celtics, Warriors-Nuggets, Bulls-Nets and Grizzlies-Clippers.
Just a splendid end-to-end performance. Deron Williams was far and away the best player on the floor, with his only competition coming from his own teammate as Brook Lopez chewed up Chicago inside.
But games don't carry over and all the Bulls are looking to accomplish is one of two in Brooklyn. And although Game 1 was a dud for them, the Nets have to lock in and bring that same kind of intensity in Game 2. Kick the Bulls while they're down, or Tom Thibodeau will make you wish you had.
New York used an 18-8 fourth quarter to flip around a three-point deficit to start the final frame, and did it by completely eliminating Boston's offensive options. Jeff Green couldn't find anything and outside of Paul Pierce isolating and making hero shots, the Celtics didn't know where to go.
Give a gold star to Kenyon Martin, though. In 28 minutes, he put up 10 points and nine rebounds, including five offensive rebounds. Tyson Chandler appeared limited, and in his place Martin stepped up to provide a major interior presence. The Knicks don't win this game without him. Period.
You can't downplay going up 1-0 in a series. Playoffs aren't about aesthetics. They're about winning. By any means, by any way.
But it's unavoidable to look at the way the Nuggets played the Warriors in Game 1 and not raise an eyebrow. Denver's high- octane offense struggled to find any kind of second-half footing, and couldn't hold off any kind of pushes by the Warriors.
Andre Miller bailed them out with 28 off the bench on 11-of-16 shooting, including the game-winner with 1.3 seconds left. That's the Nugget way, to get a new man to step up any given night. Still, 48 total points from your starters isn't a normal playoff winning formula. Especially the deeper you go.
They won, but it wasn't pretty. Or encouraging. All's well with a Game 2 win, but that game definitely appears to be up in the air.
You can look at this two ways: The Warriors missed a major opportunity to get the one needed road win to pull out the series, OR, the Warriors proved that they're game.
David Lee's injury is a major concern and this series becomes a massive uphill battle without him, but still, the Warriors showed some serious resiliency in the fourth quarter. Coming back from a fourth-quarter deficit punctuated by Curry's tying 3 gave the Warriors a chance to win. It also made the statement that even in the Pepsi Center fortress where Denver has been near unbeatable, the Nuggets can be got.
I look at it as a somewhat encouraging loss, depending on Lee's status. The Warriors just have to win once in Denver. They missed a great chance to get it out of the way early and take control of the series, but it seems to me they should be right in it again for Game 2.
The Celtics missed their opportunity. Jeff Green was excellent with 20 first-half points, Carmelo Anthony struggled shooting the ball (36 on 13 of 29), and J.R. Smith wasn't able to get going offensively with just 15 points on 19 shots and the Knicks went just 9 of 25 from 3.
They were exactly where they needed to be heading to the fourth quarter, up three, but the Knicks put the clamps on. The Celtics didn't help themselves much, scoring just eight points in the fourth. For the second half, Boston managed only 25 points.
It's only Game 1 and the Celtics' aim is really just to win one of the first two, but by all appearances this was their best opportunity to pull off that mission.
It's never good when your coach laments the team's lack of energy and effort during his between-quarter interview during a playoff game. Energy and effort should already be taken care of by default. It's the playoffs! I mean, come on!
The Bulls dug an early hole by failing to score, but more importantly, they couldn't even rely on their typically stingy defense. Brooklyn got whatever it wanted and just rolled up the Bulls. With Joakim Noah obviously hobbled and Kirk Hinrich banged up, the look of this series dramatically changed. It went from being a likely six- or seven-game slugfest, to a potential sweep.
|F||Extra grade here, specifically for Boston's bench. Because it was terrifyingly bad. Jordan Crawford, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry combined to go 0 for 7 for four total points. That's awful.|
|A-||The Clippers absolutely demolished the "Grit Grind" Grizzlies in Game, with a 24 rebound advantage. They played great defense to clog the lane and keep a poor shooting team from getting to the rim. They executed their offense, made the right plays, and abolutely outworked the Grizzlies possession by possession. A brilliant performance from the Clippers Saturday.|
|F||Well... they weren't more talented than the Clippers, shooting 47 percent in a fast-paced game where the opponent shot 55 percent. They weren't smarter than the opponent, with only a four-turnover lead. And they weren't tougher, didn't work harder than the opponent, getting crushed on the glass, played even inside, and generally outworked for loose balls. Saturday was absolutely the worst kind of start for Memphis.|
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