Well, most went to plan within round 1 of the NBA playoffs. Most… So much for quite a few people telling me that Detroit will beat Boston in the Conference Finals. Might still happen, but but the Pistons need to focus on beating Philadelphia first.
In a wrap-up of today’s games…
- Gasoline Pauer in LA
Pau Gasol has never won a playoff game… but he was – quite literally – the center of a winning team today. Kobe Bryant had an off first-3-quarters, but Gasol was in fine form – scoring 36 points, along with 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocked shots.
If it was Gasol who carried the Lakers, it was Kobe who finished the Nuggets off… #24 scored 18 of his 32 points in the last 8 minutes. Unsung in this was Lamar Odom – who almost always scores a double/double (17 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists).
Denver decided early on they weren’t going to let Kobe beat them (and they did stop him from scoring much in the first 3 quarters), but with these Lakers that just means you’re going to die by the rest of the roster. LA’s now well-equipped to beat teams without Kobe having a big night, especially with Odom playing so well as a third option.
From looking at Denver, they looked undisciplined – 1 flagrant, and 4 technicals (two of which shouldn’t surprise if they get upgraded to flagrants). And even tho’ Iverson & Melo scored 30 a piece, with Linas Kleiza added a handy 23 off the bench… they’ll need a lot more from their bigs if they’re going to have any chance of stopping LA.
- Dwight Howard did everything that was expected of him in the opening match between the Orlando Magic and the Toronto Raptors… and a lil’ bit more. 25 points, 22 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Godzilla’s got nothing on Howard – guy was a monster.
Not since Shaq have Orlando looked quite this good, but unlike Shaq – no respite if you foul Howard: he went 9-11 at the charity stripe.
Toronto got within 5 in the 4th, but never really looked like seizing the game. Jameer Nelson provided ample support to Howard with a handy 23 points.
- No surprises that Boston were able to put away Atlanta as the roster shared the scoring duties – 6 players finished in double figures.
Ray Allen scored 18, and Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett scored 16 a piece. Largely underrated Rajon Rondo was pretty handy with 15, and 9 assists.
It’s a difficult situation for the Hawks, who have had a pretty long stretch without a drink at the playoff-tap… and now that they make it, they’re running into a buzzsaw named Boston.
My pick for RoY Al Horford had a 20/10 night at the office.
- Boston’s closest counterpart, Detroit, seemed to lack the focus they need for the playoffs. With all the talk of them playing Boston in the Conference finals, they seem to have forgotten that they have to win two series prior to even making that point. I still see them getting there, and this game will probably merely serve as a wake-up call. However… Detroit can get lackadaisical, as we saw in last year’s Conference Finals. It’s not enough to just turn up.
Two games tomorrow:
- Utah at Houston
- Washington at Cleveland
If Houston see themselves as contending this, they must win this one. Washington are the visitors at the moment, and are a little more competitive vs Cleveland, so not as desperate as Houston. If they can steal this one tho’, the Cavs are in trouble – just as Arenas said…