Day One Recap: Boring!
Okay, that headline is a lie. Day one was anything but boring. In fact, it managed to live up to the fantastic regular season that preceeded it. We expect a lot from each matchup, and every one delivered.
San Antonio 117 – Phoenix 115 I think everybody is looking to this series for the lion’s share of first round fireworks. It’s the West equivalent of Cavs/Wizards, where the teams have crossed paths repeatedly and no series has been without caveat. If you haven’t seen it yet, go YouTube (verb like Google?) Tim Duncan’s 3 pointer. It came on a play seemingly designed for the 7 footer to get open at the top. And that play alone should explain why Game 1 went to the Spurs and why Game 7 will come for us fans.
New Orleans 104 – Dallas 92 Chris Paul is great. Jason Kidd can’t stop him. This might be the worst possible matchup for the Mavericks (though I still picked the upset…. but I’m an idiot). The Mavericks were doomed by poor shooting and relatively high turnovers. No shock on the road facing the #2 seed. I’m curious to see how Avery Johnson adjusts. Is he scared, after last year, to tinker with his lineup? Will he be forced to keep Jason Kidd on the floor for 40 minutes? Why not put Kidd on Mo Pete or Peja and have Jason Terry or Josh Howard on Paul? Wouldn’t it be funny if Avery Johnson shot himself in the foot with adjustments last year and was too stubborn to try anything this year?
Utah 93 – Houston 82 Houston, we have a problem. I crack myself up! But seriously, depending on how you look at it, this could be the first upset of the playoffs, with the higher seed Jazz going on the road to beat the Rockets. I expect this to be the highest scoring game of the series and I expect it to be the least watched series of the first round.
Cleveland 93 – Washington 86 I posted some quick thoughts on the Cavs game yesterday. Now that I’ve had a night to fantasize about Lebron, I want to add in a few nuggets about what went wrong.
- Antawn Jamison. He’s the toughest matchup for the Cavs. Arenas will get his, Caron is good, but Antawn is the dealbreaker, and until he decided to settle on jumpers late yesterday, he was killing us. Especially if the physical play continues, the Cavs will protect Lebron by keeping him out of the post, and sliding him to the 4 hurts our rebounding, especially with his back trouble, but slotting Lebron onto Jamison is probably our best bet.
- Anderson Varejao. When he wasn’t getting worked by Jamison, he was trying to match him basket for basket at the other end. That is never a good thing. I love that the kid worked on his 15 footer all off-season, but a single dribble is a dribble too many.
- Wally Szczerbiak. Whether he did well or Caron is just hurt is debatable. The result was enough to keep him on the floor despite his poor shooting. Sooner or later, he’ll come through with a hot shooting game; I just hope it’s not too much later.
- Foul shooting. Take Lebron out of the mix and the Cavs shot a stellar 87% from the line, but LeBron’s struggles were highlighted by a missed pair in the last few minutes. He easily could’ve shot 25 free throws, and sadly, that might have worked out better for the Wizards. Fortunately, Delonte West is cold blooded.
- Joe Smith. 9 minutes? Every Cleveland fan has been calling for minutes for Mr. Reliable. I’ve argued that Mike Brown knew exactly what he was doing resting Smith’s knees for a playoff run. Maybe Mike Brown still knows what he’s doing, saving Smith for when he needs him. However, the way the offense goes ice cold settling for jumpers, especially when Lebron goes out, Smith is the perfect remedy. He’s the smartest player on the Cavs in terms of knowing what play needs to be made.
Other than those few things, the Cavs really played great. They played their pace, protected the ball and attacked. With ball movement and a healthy Lebron, that combination will beat anybody, especially the Wizards. Today’s games get rolling in about 40 minutes, so let’s put on our basketball hats (mine is a Cavs colored beanie) and find a spot in front of our TVs.
12:30 – Toronto @ Orlando (TNT): Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh always deliver against one another and with these shooters, anybody can win.
3:00 – Denver @ LA (ABC): Highlight of the day. Both these teams are just fun to watch, as long as you’re a fan of seeing the ball in the basket.
6:00 Philly @ Detroit (TNT): No way should Detroit lose this series, but Philly has the athletes to give the Pistons more of a game than they’d like.
8:30 – Atlanta @ Boston (TNT): If you have to work tomorrow, just go to sleep early.
[top image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattwright/]