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NBA Playoffs: First Round Hits and Misses

Here are the highlights I have drawn from the first round, if you think I’ve missed anything please add it in the comments section.

Hits

Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies were written off before the playoffs even started and they are now in the second round. They are not the team we thought they would be!

Dwight Howard

This man did everything he could to keep the Magic in the playoffs, if his team mates did the same Howard wouldn’t have to be killing the rumors about being traded or free agency.

CP3

Chris Paul showed the world that he is well and truly back. If the All-Star point guard carries this form into next season I’m sure his name will be mentioned in the MVP conversation.

Brandon Roy

Those unstable knees of his didn’t keep him grounded for too long. B-Roy came up big in Game 4 and made it clear that the Blazers could still depend on him.

Kevin Durant

Always a beast on offense, averaging 32.4 points in the series, including two 41 point performances. No one can guard KD.

Serge Ibaka

More like Serge I-Blocka! He had 9 blocks in Game 5… 9! And averaging 4.8 in the series, Ibaka is turning into a key player within that OKC defense.

Miami’s Big Three

I’ll have to that this was expected, playoffs are the time for stars to shine and that’s exactly what Miami’s Big Three did, proving to be too much for the 76ers.

Boston’s Big Four

Boston was the only team to sweep in the first round. The old guys look very fresh and will be trouble for the Heat in the next round.

Indiana Pacers

The 8th seeded Pacers showed a lot of fight against the Bulls, they showed that they weren’t going to be a push over like any regular eight seed. Interim coach Frank Vogel can take all of the credit for getting these guys to come out and compete every night.

Misses

San Antonio Spurs

They had the best regular season record but this meant nothing to their first round opponents. The Spurs looked old and battered, Z-Bo had his way with their bigs and Manu wasn’t Manu after that elbow injury. It’s rebuilding time for the Spurs this offseason, happy fishing!

New York Knicks

It would be very optimistic to say that the Knicks had a chance to beat the Celtics in this series. But getting swept is very disappointing, I thought they had at least two wins in them. It will be a very eventful offseason for them too.

Pau Gasol

I think his parents fed all the tough pills to Marc when they were little. Pau struggled against the New Orleans big men, his numbers were way down from what they were during the season.

Any Orlando Magic player not named Dwight Howard

If your name is not Dwight Howard and you play for the Orlando Magic watch out because the guys upstairs will do anything to keep Dwight happy. After their performance these playoffs I don’t think anyone’s job is safe within Orlando.

Hit and Miss

Russell Westbrook

He is an NBA All-Star and one of the leaders on that team. But if you have Kevin Durant on your team you can’t be taking more shots than the best scorer in the game. Westbrook will have to make better decisions when it comes to the next round.

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Chauncey Billups, the Smart Option.

The New York Knicks have decided to stick with Chauncey Billups for the 2011-12 season, picking up a team option for the final year on his contract.

Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Donnie Walsh, said the following:

“We have made a decision to keep Chauncey Billups for the upcoming 2011-12 season. Chauncey, Amar’e and Carmelo are a great nucleus, as we continue to look to improve our team going into the off-season. Chauncey is an extremely talented and experienced point guard — we are very happy to have him back.”

A lot of questions arose about what direction the Knicks would head this offseason after their dismal performance in the playoffs. Most of those questions have been directed at Mike D’Antoni’s coaching philosophy, how it is not an effective way to win championships and how an up-tempo point guard is needed to run that sort of offense. With all due respect to Chauncey, his game doesn’t really complement the run and gun style of this system which leads me to believe that there could be a possible coaching change in the near future or a trade.

This is why bringing back Chauncey is a very good move by New York, it gives them a number of options in what they can do in the future and he is possibly the best point guard available in this year’s free agent class. One is to stay with D’Antoni and trade for a high-octane point guard or other pieces needed to run that system, another is to make a coaching change to complement their star players or New York’s management could do a combination of both, bring in a new coach that will compliment new players. I don’t want to read too far into Walsh’s statement but it doesn’t sound like the Knicks are done with making changes just yet.

Personally I don’t think Billups or Carmelo are a good fit for the D’Antoni seven second offense, both have had more success in the half court rather than in transition and getting up quick shots. Therefore when Walsh looks to continue to improve his team I’m picking that it will be to compliment his star player’s style of play.

I am very interested in seeing what happens next.

Until next time..

D.B.

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Celtics Sweep, 76ers Extend Series

New York’s return to the playoffs was brought to an end today, Boston was able to complete their sweep over the injury stricken Knicks. The Celtics were too strong tonight holding their opponents to 34% shooting from the field. Carmelo Anthony was the game high scorer with 32 points, however it was no match for the Celtics even attack with five players in double digits lead by Kevin Garnett, 26 points 10 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo, 21 points 12 assists. Boston now has a week off and will be waiting for Miami Heat in the next round.

The Heat, unlike the Celtics, weren’t able to conclude their series in Philadelphia today. The 76ers were up early in this game, with their lead extending to 16 points in the second quarter. Powered by LeBron and Dwyane Wade the Heat charged back and were up by one, 47-46 at the main break. From there on the game went back and forth with either team not able to take a commanding lead. 76ers had possession and a one point lead with seconds left and the shot clock running down Lou Williams pulled up for a three to give them a four point advantage with 8.1 to go. The series moves back to Miami for Game 5 where he Heat will look to close it out and meet Boston in the next round.