NBA Playoffs: First Round Over, Second Round Starts Tonight

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2nd round of the playoffs is set, and it begins with two games tonight. Hopefully the 2nd round is as compelling as the first.

Our Weekend of Game Sevens came to a rather disappointing end yesterday afternoon when the Spurs put on a vintage performance and blew out the Mavericks to become the final team to advance to the 2nd round, where they will meet the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Spurs shot the ball incredibly well yesterday, with Tony Parker proving to be an unstoppable force getting into the lane, and Danny Green from the perimeter and Tim Duncan inside were the beneficiaries, getting wide open looks time and time again, especially in the first half, when the Spurs shot roughly 160% from the field. It was nuts. They built a 29 point lead in the 2nd quarter and cruised from there, as the Mavs just had no consistent answer for an offense that was humming on all cylinders.

In the early game, the Nets appeared in control most of the way, after opening up a lead behind the shooting of Marcus Thornton and the play of Joe Johnson, who the Raps simply couldn't find anyone to guard. However, a late run behind Kyle Lowry got the Raps back in it, and a forced turnover with six seconds left gave them a chance to win it.  However, Lowry's attack of the basket against three defenders was unsuccessful, swatted away by Paul Pierce at the buzzer, and the Nets hung on for the series win. They now face off against the Miami Heat, who they swept in the regular season. I would expect a different outcome in the playoffs.

The second round gets underway tonight with two games:

Wizards at Pacers
6:00 pm Central
TNT

The Wizards looked terrific in beating the Bulls in round one: quicker and stronger then the Bulls. Their shooting, however, can be a mixed bag, and they can have wild swings where they look pretty bad.  Meanwhile, the Pacers barely escaped the Hawks in seven games, and will need to play much better if they want to continue.  Roy Hibbert seemed to find a little bit of his game in game seven, and the Pacers will need him and their other bigs against a fairly potent offensive duo of Marcin Gortat and Nene up front.

It will be a size (Pacers) vs. quickness (Wizards) in the back court, and for the Wizards to win, they will have to take advantage in transition. John Wall will need to use his speed to get early opportunities before the Pacers defense can get set.

Randy Wittman coaching in the 2nd round of the playoffs. Will wonders never cease.

Clippers at Thunder
8:30 pm Central
TNT

A star-laden matchup, with Chris Paul going head to head against Russell Westbrook, while Blake Griffin will try to have his way underneath. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant finally heated up late in the Grizzlies series, and will look to carry that over.  This is probably the headline matchup of the 2nd round, with the fact that the Clippers emerged from the Donald Sterling debacle adding spice.  Looking forward to this one.

NOTES

  • League sources indicate that Kevin Durant will be this season's MVP.  The awards announcements were postponed while the league dealt with Donald Sterling.
  • They also indicate that Michael Carter-Williams will be named Rookie of the Year. Ack.  Not a good rookie class, but plenty of guys played better then MCW.
  • Kevin McHale will return as Rockets coach despite their loss to the Blazers.
  • The NBA is planning to appoint someone to run the Clippers while they work on getting the team sold. Might we suggest David Kahn for the job?
Today in history

1260: Kublai Khan becomes leader of the Mongol empire
1780: American Academy of Arts and Sciences forms
1891: Canegie Hall opens in NYC with Tchaikovsky as guest conductor
1893: Stock exchange panic of 1893
1912: Communist paper Pravda begins publishing in Russia. 
1925: John Scopes arrested for teaching evolution in Tennessee. 
1944: Gandhi released from prison
1955: West Germany granted sovereignty by occupying powers
1961: Alan Shepard first American in space

There are a few good musical birthdays to choose from today: Blind Willie McTell was born on this day in 1901, Tammy Wynette was born on this day in 1942. We'll go with the more contemporary Adele, who was born on this day in 1988.



Monday. Get stuck in.










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