Playoffs Update, MVP Vote, Mark Jackson Fired

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Both home teams, the Heat and Spurs, won with relative ease in their second round openers last night. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant was named MVP, and Mark Jackson lost his job.

The Miami Heat were too much for the Brooklyn Nets in game one of their second round series. Once the Heat found their rhythm offensively, they were able to move the ball crisply and create a balanced attack that the Nets couldn't contain. After a back and forth first half in which the Nets closed to within three with a late 2nd quarter run, the Heat came out with a purpose in the third quarter and outscored the Nets by 10. They were never challenged in the fourth,a nd cruised to a win.

The Heat showed off their versatility in this one, as Shane Battier, who played all of two minutes in the entire Charlotte series, started and played 26 effective minutes, making a couple of threes scoring eight points while helping to keep Paul Pierce in check.  They had five players in double figures, led by LeBron's comfortable 22, shot 55% from the floor and only committed nine turnovers. It was an efficient Heat performance that featured plenty of good looks in the paint coming off drives, pick and rolls, and basket cuts.  They looked like the best team in the conference.

The Nets, meanwhile, had trouble getting anyone going besides Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, who each scored 17, but were the only Nets in double figures. Paul Pierce had a very quiet eight points, and never seemed to get into the ball game.

In the late game, the Spurs just eviscerated the Portland Trail Blazers, starting the game on an 8-0 run and never challenged. It was a shockingly efficient performance, starting with Tony Parker running the pick and roll.  He was unstoppable early, getting to the basket and making jumpers. That opened things up for everyone else, and the Spurs got open look after open look.  They are also incredibly smart about taking advantage of mismatches: Damian Lillard on Kawhi Leonard?  Straight to the post, layup.  Dorrel Wright trying to guard Boris Diaw? Post up. Layup.

Even on a quiet night for Manu Ginobili, the Spurs were able to take advantage of their depth.  Marco Belinelli, Aron Baynes, and Patty Mills combined to go 9-10 in the first half for 25 points. By that time, the Spurs had built a 65-39 lead, and the game was effectively over.

For the Blazers, a nightmare. Not only could they not figure out how to stop the Spurs, but their offense disappeared as well. Tiago Splitter was able to effectively guard LaMarcus Aldridge without help, and the Spurs did not allow Damian Lillard easy drives.  As a result, the Blazers offense stagnated, and they could not find the open three pointers that are the bread and butter of their of wing players. They have a lot of things to figure out between now and Thursday night's game two.

Two more games tonight

Wizards at Pacers
6:00 pm Central
TNT

The Wizards were terrific in game one, showing off their quickness and athleticism, making threes, and dominating the offensive glass. The Pacers looked moribund, much like they did for much of their first round series against Atlanta. They must have Paul George play more efficient offensive basketball.  The Wizards have won all four of their road playoff games so far.  It's fun to see a team find a new level like this.

Clippers at Thunder
8:30 pm Central
TNT

The Thunder will try to rebound from a disastrous game one where they simply could not stop the Clippers from getting whatever they wanted offensively. It helps when Chris Paul makes 8 of 9 threes, but the Clippers ball movement and team-wide shot making ability was just too much for the Thunder. Hopefully game two will be more competitive.

Notes:

  • Mark Jackson was fired as head coach of the Golden State Warriors yesterday, opening up another appealing job out there.
  • I would be shocked if the Wolves showed any interest in Jackson as coach.
  • Kevin Durant was named the MVP, with LeBron James finishing second.
  • Kevin Love finished 11th in the voting, with two 3rds, two 4ths, and 10 fifth place votes
  • The Iowa Energy signed an agreement with the Memphis Grizzlies, meaning the Wolves will have to find a new D-League affiliate. At this rate, there will have to be D-League expansion, as all of the teams are being gobbled up by NBA franchises. Hopefully there will be discussion of developmental contracts for players beyond the 15 player NBA roster limit soon.
Today in history

1429: English siege of Orleans broken by French troops and Jean d'Arc
1727: Jews expelled from Ukraine by Catherine I of Russia
1765: Admiral Nelson's HMS Victory launched 
1789: First inaugural ball held in New York
1824: Beethoven's 9th Symphony premieres in Vienna
1832: Greece wins independence from the Ottoman Empire
1888: George Eastman patents the Kodak Box Camera
1913: British House of Commons rejects women's suffrage
1946: TTE, (later Sony) formed in Tokyo
1954: French surrender to Vietnamese at Dien Bien Phu

Today's musical birthday is Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky, born in 1840. A good date for classical music, as Johannes Brahms was also born on this day in 1833.



Happy Wednesday.














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