Saturday Playoff Update

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Two very different games saw both road teams victorious on Friday night. Two more games on the slate tonight.

The less said about that Wizards-Pacers atrocity the better, probably. An absolute clank fest, especially in the first half, when neither team could hit the broad side of a barn. The Pacers were extremely physical, and got away with establishing a style that could just as easily resulted in arrests.  It was a scintillating 34-33 game at the half, and things continued in the same vein for the Wizards in the third quarter, when they managed to score only 12 points. The Pacers finally found something of a range midway through the quarter, and pulled away behind some baskets by Paul George, David West, and Roy Hibbert, who had his 2nd effective game in a row.

The final score was 85-63, which pretty much sums up the entertainment value of this fiasco.  Bradley Beal, who had been so effective in the playoffs, had an off night shooting it, as did most of the Wizards.  Hopefully we won't be subjected to something like that again.

The second game, however, was fantastic.  The Thunder outlasted the Clippers in L.A. in a back and forth duel between superstars. This game is why we watch the NBA-playoff drama, fantastic individual and team play, and big shots at the end. I actually managed to stay mostly awake throughout, which is indicative of how good the game was.

It was a back and forth game as the Clippers got out early behind aggressive play from Blake Griffin. The Thunder answered, however, behind Kevin Durant, and the game was off and running. The stars took turns dominating the game, and there were 13 ties and 19 lead changes. Durant led the way with 36, while Russell Westbrook had 23 and Serge Ibaka 20 on 9-10 from the field, almost all elbow jumpers that open up off defensive rotations. Griffin was fantastic for the Clippers with 34, ably supported by Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford who had big scoring nights as well.

The key sequence came with about two minutes left and the Thunder up one after two straight Griffin baskets. Westbrook pulled up off the dribble and made a three to push it to four. It was a shot that, if you are the Clippers, you live with, but this time it was a back breaker. Chris Paul missed a contested three at the other end, Durant made a two point jumper coming back, and the Thunder were up six and were able to hang on from there.

A terrific game that gave us everything we could want in an NBA playoff contest. I want this series to go on and on and on.

Two games tonight:

Heat at Nets
7:00 pm Central
ABC

The Heat won both games in Miami and look to put a strangle hold on the series as it moves to Brooklyn. The Nets have just appeared a couple of notches below Miami through the first two games (which they are), and poor nights from Deron Williams and Paul Pierce haven't helped. The Nets really need contributions from everyone if they are going to compete with the two time defending champs, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen.

Spurs at Trail Blazers
9:30 pm Central
ESPN

The Blazers return home after being shell shocked in game one and beaten again in game two by the Spurs ruthlessly efficient offense, their incredible depth, and their contesting defense.  While the Blazers were able to make game two at least vaguely competitive at times, the Spurs have just been shooting it too well to keep up with. 53% in game two, and 60% from three point range. When the Spurs shoot like that, you are not going to beat them. The Blazers have to hope that the Spurs miss some shots tonight, while they can find a way to get good looks from behind the arc, which is what their offense has done all year.  Damian Lillard really needs to take control and create offense by getting into the lane. The Spurs have done a good job of keeping him quiet so far.

This is a weekend open thread.  Hope things are going well. I'm getting a sandwich. What's going on with you?

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