Monday , Apr , 23 , 2007 Oly Sandor

NBA Wrap-up For April 23, Playoff Edition

Breaking down the day’s top NBA playoff stories … Upsets, upsets, and more upsets in Texas … We’ve got Baron Davis getting his on the Mavericks …AI and Melo shock the Spurs … King James’ supporting cast comes to his aid and much more … So click here for all your playoff analysis

NBA Wrap-up for April 23, Playoff Edition

Top 3 Stories

1) Warriors shock the world…
2) And the Nuggets also shock the world
3) King James and the Cavs gets an injury scare, but recover

1) A not-so-Golden surprise for Dallas.

What Happened: Don Nelson still has a few tricks up his sleeve.  His unorthodox small-ball helped the beat his old team, the , in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
scored 19 of his 33 points in the third quarter. But his best work was on defense, where the Warriors as a team frustrated the Mavericks’ offense.

This result is not surprising. Golden State went 3-0 against Dallas in the post- season.

Reaction of Golden State Coach Don Nelson
on gaining experience through the win:
”We don’t expect to be world champs at the end of the playoffs, but every time we play in a high-intensity game like these are going to be, we gain experience. I’m really happy about that.” (CNNSI.com)

Reaction of Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki
on the implications of losing:
“Obviously the pressure is on us all the way. Nobody expects them to win. Shooting 35 percent on our home court won’t get it done. We’ve got to get better shots and go from there.” (CNNSI.com)

Reaction of San Francisco Chronicle reporter Bruce Jenkins on the win:
"Who knows where it goes from here? The story lines, rich to begin with, only deepen. It’s safe to say the Mavericks’ confidence is shaken, and that Nelson’s pregame quote — saying all three of the Warriors’ wins over Dallas this season were "flukes" — was yet another misdirection play from the master. They weren’t flukes at all. Nor was this. Enjoy your night, Warriors fans. There hasn’t been one like it in a long, long time.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

 My Take: I think Golden State deserves credit. They suckered Dallas into tinkering with their starting line-up and got the Mavericks to play small ball. This is surprising. We’ve seen the Mavericks struggle with small, up-and-down teams. So I’m a bit perplexed as to why Dallas’ coaching staff chose to go small.

The Warriors defense, yes defense, also limited to just 14 points. And Jerry Stackhouse was completely shut-out.

Baron Davis had an amazing all-round game. B-diddy tallied 33 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists. And he also played solid man-to-man defense.

2) The Nuggets take The Alamo by storm.

What happened: Don’t tell they’re the underdog. The Nuggets used a 12-0 fourth quarter run to beat the 95-89 in game one of the Western Conference quarterfinals.

and led the way combining for 61 points in the victory. Denver also got some stops on defense, holding superstar to just 14 points.

There’s a sense history is repeating itself. In 2005, Denver upset the Spurs in game one of their playoff series, but then lost the next four games to San Antonio. So the Nuggets weren’t putting too much stock into the victory.

Reaction of Denver forward Carmelo Anthony on his team’s expectations:
“Two years ago we probably were just happy to be in the playoffs. Now we ain’t just happy to be in the playoffs. We know we’re a good team and when we play good we can play with the best of them." (NBA.com)

Reaction of Denver guard Allen Iverson on the importance of defense:
“It was important to come out and play defense. We understand that we can score points, we’ve been saying that all year long. We can score points, that’s not our problem. We’ve got to be able to stop people. When we needed the stops, we got it." (NBA.com)

Reaction of San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili on the road ahead:
"So now we really got to step up. Now we know we have to go to Denver and take one or two games. First of all we have to focus on the next one because it’s going to be a huge one for us." (CNNSI.com)

My Take:
I wasn’t shocked Denver won. However, I was shocked by the way they won-through defense. Camby and Nene did a great job limiting Duncan to 14 points in 40 minutes. The Nuggets also contained Ginobili, holding him to 9 points.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony did a great job on offense. Yes, they combined for 61 points. But, most importantly, they shot over fifty percent from the floor.

Denver should be concerned with their lack of bench scoring. J.R Smith, Linas Klieza, and Eduardo Najera combined for just 5 points off the bench. The Nuggets will need more from their second unit.

3) Injury can’t stop LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

What Happened: The were supposed to walk all over a banged-up squad. But the Cavaliers received their own injury scare in game one when rolled his ankle during the third quarter.

James remained in the contest, helping the Cavaliers to a 97-82 victory in game one of this Eastern Conference series. He ended up with 23 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, while Larry Hughes added 27 points and 7 rebounds.

The Wizards, who are currently without all stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, were supposed to be easy prey for the Cavaliers.

But Antawn Jamison and Jarvis Hayes kept the game respectable for Washington, combining for 46 points.

Reaction of Cleveland guard LeBron James on spraining his ankle:
"I had no intention of not coming back. First game of the playoffs, we’ve got to set a tone. If I was able to limp on it, I was going to be in there." (NBA.com)

Reaction of Cleveland Coach Mike Woodson on James going down:
"That made everybody’s heart jump a little bit. You don’t want to see that happen to any of your guys, let alone LeBron” (ESPN.com)

Reaction of Washington forward Antawn Jamison on Larry Hughes’ performance:
"We were worried about LeBron, we were worried about the big fella down low and trying to box out Drew Gooden. Larry did a great job of getting in the teeth of the defense." (NBA.com)

My Take: I don’t think Washington can win this series. When Arenas and Butler went down with injuries, the Wizards were forced to change their identity as an offensive team and become more defensive-minded. This is not an easy thing to do. The Wizards deserve credit for trying to change their identity and staying competitive in games, but they lack the personnel and time to complete this difficult transition.

During the season, James has often looked out of sync with teammates. It’s almost like they don’t know how to play with him. This, however, wasn’t a problem in game 1. Larry Hughes punished his old team, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas contributed after James’ injury.

If Cleveland continues to get big contributions from the supporting cast, the Cavaliers suddenly become a much more dangerous team.

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