Sunday , Apr , 22 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up For April 22, Playoff Edition

Breaking down the day’s top NBA playoff stories … Read all about Vince Carter’s rough ride in the T-dot … Deng and Gordon look like Scottie and Michael … Shaq complaining about defenses flopping … and T-Mac is oh-so nice in the victory …

NBA Wrap-up for April 22, Playoff Edition

Top 3 Stories

1) New Jersey’s other two stars win the game
2) Deng and Gordon upstage Shaq and Wade
3) Ah Houston…the Jazz have a big problem in Tracy McGrady

1) Carter receives a rough welcome, but Richard Jefferson leads the Nets to a game one win

What Happened: The boisterous crowd at Air Canada Center wanted one thing: to distract for game 1 of the and playoff series.

They succeeded in putting off their former franchise player-Carter starred for the Raptors for several season before requesting a trade three years ago.

Carter shot 5 of 19 from the floor and was mostly a non-factor due to foul trouble.

But New Jersey did just find without him. The Nets got huge performances from and to beat the Raptors by a score of 96-91.

Reaction of New Jersey guard Vince Carter
on the play of Richard Jefferson:
"RJ’s confidence has soared, he’s playing phenomenal basketball. Our team as a whole trusts each other. We’re playing off of each other and it’s great. The whole machine is well-oiled. We’re feeding off other, trusting each other and that’s really the big picture.” (

Reaction of New Jersey Coach Lawrence Frank
on the play of Jason Kidd:
"He’s a Hall of Famer. The Nets didn’t start winning until Jason Kidd came here six years ago, so obviously we are very fortunate. He’s a huge reason for our success.”   (

Reaction of Toronto forward Chris Bosh on the Raptors’ poor play:
"I don’t think we played our best basketball today.We have to take what we did from this game, learn from it and just remember that so we can come back in Game 2 and play a lot better. They were definitely more poised than we were. They came out a lot more calm. The things we didn’t do well they took advantage of.” (

My Take: I think there are few factors worth noting from this game. First, Toronto showed their lack of playoff experience. This is to be expected. The Raptors looked nervous and flat for most of the game. T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon, Toronto’s two-headed point guard monster, were the only players to produce. Still, the ‘dinos’ were right there and had a chance to win.

Second, New Jersey is much better than their regular season record indicates. Richard Jefferson is healthy and producing. For stretches of the second half, R.J. carried the entire Nets offense with his sweeping drives to the basket.

Third, the Nets have a nice supporting cast. Josh Boone, Bostjan Nachbar, and Eddie House bring energy off the bench, while Mikki Moore has the length to defend Chris Bosh. This will be a close series.

2) Deng and Gordon ‘un-bullievable’ in cooling the Heat

What Happened: had an off-night. But and picked up the slack, leading the Bulls to a 96-91 win over the Heat in game one of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Deng was the difference, hitting for 33 points, while Gordon connected for 24 points and 11 assists, including two late free throws to seal the win.

The Heat nearly won even though stars and sat for long stretches in the second half because of foul trouble.

Reaction of Chicago forward Luol Deng on the win:
"This game was really big. Now that we have the lead, most of the time the team that loses has to adjust. We did a lot of things today that worked for us." (

Reaction of Miami guard Dwayne Wade
on his sub-par performance:
"More and more as we’re going through the playoffs, I’ll continue to see my confidence come back in my game. There’s stuff I want to do that I’m not able to do, but I’ll continue to work on it before and after practice.” (

Reaction of Miami center Shaquille O’Neal
on the Bulls flopping:
“It’s just unfortunate that people fall for that. I’m used to just outplaying somebody and just playing hard, but I guess that’s what you got to do to stop Shaq."  (

My Take: Chicago used their trademark defense to suffocate Miami. I was impressed with Ben Wallace manning up on O’Neal, while rookie Thabo Sefolosha held his own against D-Wade.

The Bulls will be tough to beat if they continue to get scoring from perimeter players like Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, and Andres Nocioni.

Miami has been inconsistent for most of the season, so it’s hard to gauge their play on Saturday. However, the Heat looked out of sync with Wade on the floor. It’s like they developed a separate identity when he was injured.

One positive for Miami was the play of Antoine Walker. The small forward had struggled for most of the regular season, but tallied 20 points in the loss.

3) T-Mac’s second half help the Rockets soar to a game one win

 What Happened: It’s a good thing has a short memory. The Rocket forgot about his poor first half performance to score 22 of his 23 points in the game’s second half.   

 The seven-time All Star missed his first six shots and admitted to being nervous before the game.

Houston trailed by nine points at halftime. But the Rockets used McGrady’s hot shooting to take a third quarter lead and never looked back.

ended up with 28 points and 13 rebounds.

Reaction of Houston guard Tracy McGrady on calming down for the second half:
"I told myself at halftime to calm down. I had to take a couple of deep breaths and gather myself together because I was on a high … coming out in the third quarter I was more relaxed."  (

Reaction of Houston Coach Jeff Van Gundy on McGrady’s struggling early in the game:
"Sometimes when you want something so bad, it works against you a little bit. That’s what happened with him in the first half." (

 Reaction of Utah guard Deron Williams on the game’s grinding pace:
"We knew this would be a dogfight and a defensive battle. They made a nice run and we seemed to hang our heads a little bit." (

My Take: When McGrady’s rolling, Houston’s a tough, tough team to beat. Watching the second half, the Rockets’ complimentary players really fed off T-Mac’s moxy and swagger. Every time he hit a shot, the team’s confidence grew. 

I think Houston is dangerous. This group is feeling good about things and playing together. Even their body language was great in this game. Whenever a Rocket player got knocked to the floor, several teammates were there to physically pick each other up.

Utah is a solid team, but they’ve had problems defending the off-guard spot all season. McGrady and the Rockets exploited this on Saturday night.

Come back tomorrow morning for another edition of the NBA Wrap-up, Playoff Edition.  Click here for more of Oly Sandor’s NBA blog. Contact Oly at