The Bulls and Heat are tied at 1-1. So are the Knicks and Pacers, Thunder and Grizzlies, and the Warriors and Spurs. Which means this is the first time in the current playoff format that each of the four conference semifinal series is tied at 1-1. If you’re not buckled up, now is as good a time as any, because the second round of the NBA playoffs is going to be a bumpy ride.
Let’s be clear, the Bulls-Heat series is a mismatch of epic proportions (as I explained here). But, if the Bulls’ win in game one in Miami was any indication, they are taking things quite seriously. The Bulls again fought resiliently in a physical and contentious game two, although the Heat proved too much, winning in blowout fashion. The rest of the series still appears a mere formality, but the Bulls need to feel happy taking the series back to Chicago locked in a draw.
The first couple of games in the Knicks-Pacers series were both terrific to watch. The Pacers pulled out a win in game one, as the Knicks defense looked a bit out of sync against the loaded Pacers. Game two was a different story. A close game through three quarters, the Knicks scored the first 20 points of the fourth as the Pacers’ offense went awol and Carmelo Anthony started hitting threes from Queens. A hugely positive sign for New York is that they somehow managed to outrebound the Pacers in game two. With the series tied, things here shift to Indianapolis. There likely will be a boatload of Knicks fans in Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Knicks can use all the help they can get because the Pacers are a very good team at home.
Out west, Kevin Durant has been fantastic for the Thunder in games one and two. Unfortunately for OKC, he has not been enough for the Thunder to take a 2-0 series lead. After the Thunder pulled out game one, a game in which Kevin Durant dropped 35 including a huge J with 11 ticks left, the Grizzlies controlled game two. Mike Conley was awesome in the second game, putting in 26 points and finishing an assist short of a triple double. For OKC, Durant was again phenomenal and was also an assist shy of a trip-dub. KD finished the game with 36 points, but he needs to get more help from his supporting cast. Kevin Martin and Reggie Jackson were a combined 5 of 19 from the field in game two. Their production will likely be an indicator of how well the Thunder do in Memphis.
The Warriors are the toast of the town, the flavor of the week, the…ummm…that’s all I’ve got. Everybody is talking about Golden State and for good reason. The Warriors are firing on all cylinders and could easily be up in their series 2-0 if not for a valiant comeback effort from the Spurs in a thrilling game one. Game two was less of a barnburner, as the Warriors took a big halftime lead and never looked back. Steph Curry is shooting the lights, the candles, and everything else bright out. He has 66 points already in the series. Also huge for Golden State has been the play of suddenly healthy big man, Andrew Bogut. For San Antonio to take back the lead of the series, they need to find a way to slow down Golden State and their electrifying offense. It will be an even tougher task with the series shifting to what will be a bonkers Oracle Arena.