NBA Playoffs: A Review Of Sunday And Preview Of Monday

Sunday was a fun day for NBA basketball.

The Knicks missed J.R. Smith in game four.

The Knicks missed J.R. Smith in game four.

The Celtics and Knicks started things off with a wild game at the TD Garden.

Boston, trailing 3-0 in the series, looked like a team in desperation mode early, leaping out to an early lead. The Celtics’ lead quickly ballooned to 19 by halftime, as the C’s dominated the second quarter and finished the half strong. A tightly officiated second half, however, was dominated by the Knicks and New York looked in control going into the final 1:19 of regulation. But, then, Kevin Garnett knocked in a huge J with 1:07 left in the fourth that tied the game at 84. Neither Paul Pierce nor Carmelo Anthony were able to win the game in the final minute and so overtime commenced. Unlike the second half, the overtime session was all Celtics, as the C’s pushed past the Knicks to get their first win in the series.

The Celtics enjoyed solid offensive outings from Pierce, Jason Terry, and Jeff Green, which was huge. They also forced Carmelo Anthony into a horrific 25 missed shots.

The Knicks were playing without indefatigable scoring machine J.R. Smith and the Celtics turned in another awful second half offensively, but the big thing here is that the series is heading back to Madison Square Garden and that the C’s avoided elimination. With the Celtics’ collective backs still against the wall, expect game five to be intense.

In the second game of the day, the Heat continued to make my prediction that Milwaukee would give them a little bit of a fight look foolish, beating the Bucks without much of a problem to take the series in four games.

Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings both played poorly, as they did the entire series, and Bucks head coach Jim Boylan continued to looked well over his head. Boylan was promoted to the position half way through the season when Scott Skiles resigned.

The Bucks were a mess at both ends of the court the entire series and Boylan’s attempts to nullify the talent gap between his team and the Heat were at best ineffective and, at worst, invisible. I can’t imagine Boylan will still be roaming the sidelines in Bradley Center next season, nor do I think the Bucks are still clinging to the dream that the tandem of wildly inefficient guards in Ellis and Jennings can be effective. Expect big changes from Milwaukee in the offseason.

Don’t however, expect the Heat to change anything in the near future. The Heat are on the warpath and whichever team comes out of the Pacers-Hawks series is going to have the unenviable of taking on (by far) the world’s best basketball team.

The third game of the day–game four between the LA Lakers and San Antonio Spurs–was the one that nobody cared about. While I was indulging in a delicious buffalo chicken salad, the undermanned Lakers were getting punished by the Spurs. About the only thing I would like to say about this game is that Dwight Howard apparently got ejected.Oh Dwight! You so silly.

Having now swept the dreadfully outmatched Lakers, it will be interesting to see how the Spurs look against an actual, healthy, stable playoff team in the second round.

Steph Curry has been sniping in the playoffs.

Steph Curry has been sniping in the playoffs.

The late night game was another offensive outpouring between the Golden State Warriors and the Denver Nuggets.

In game four of the series where defense is optional, the Warriors shot 56% to take a 115-101 victory and send another nicely color coordinated Oracle Arena crowd home happy. With the win, the Warriors took a 3-1 lead. Steph Curry continued his astonishing shooting tear, dropping 31 points on 16 shots.

The Nuggets are certainly in trouble as the series heads back to Denver. Who knows, maybe its Iggy time! Or even defense time! (nah….)

With sunday over, today we head into another Monday in the world of the NBA playoffs.

The sad news is, however, that Nets-Bulls game will be happening at the same time as the Hawks-Pacers game (OH NO!). Both games are huge.

The Nets are facing elimination at home in Brooklyn after losing a heart-stopping thriller in game four. (Read about it here.)  I don’t think anyone doubts that Nets are capable of staving off elimination for at least one more game, but the Nets will need to win the next three against the Bulls or coach P.J. Carlesimo (another coach who was an assistant at the start of the season) and the Nets’ stars will come under some serious fire.

Personally, I am most excited about the Pacers-Hawks game tonight. The fact that game four of this series, which the Pacers lead 2-1, has been relegated to NBATV is a crime against humanity. The Hawks rolled to a 90-69 win in game three and, with another quality performance, could well send the series back to Indianapolis tied 2-2. The Hawks’ defense was vexing to the Pacers in game three, with the Pacers shooting 28% from the field. Game four will be great!

The late game tonight pits the Thunder and Rockets for the fourth, and possibly final, time in this year’s playoffs. I am most excited about the matchup between former Boston College Eagle Reggie Jackson (starting in place of Russ Westbrook) and former Harvarder (DEFINITELY a word) Jeremy Lin. The two faced each other in game three as well, but Lin was injured and a non-factor. Here’s hoping these two represent beantown college basketball well tonight!

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