The much-awaited and much, much more fought about National Elections is at our fingertips. We’re practically just, as the kids say these days, a "tumbling" away from actually choosing our country’s next leaders. It sounds like a daunting task, doesn’t it? Well, none of it matters once we hoop junkies zone everything out for the NBA.
A lot happened in the Association in the past seven days: a couple of Game 7s, a controversial finish in San Antonio, incredible performances, down-the-wire games, and a few other stuff that got us all pumped up for the rest of the postseason. But before anything else, including casting your votes, get yourselves in the right disposition for the pulsating second round action.
Texas-sized showdown, SAS-OKC: series tied 1-1
Game 1 buzzkill
The collision between these two Western conference powerhouses, the Spurs and the Thunder, is undeniably the most thrilling and most intriguing match-up of the playoffs, so far. The battle between San Antonio’s excellent team play versus Oklahoma’s two-pronged superstar offense makes this duel as inviting as Arci Muñoz’s Instagram. Unfortunately, Game 1 was a dud.
The home team Spurs put their foot down early and it was over from the get-go. San Antonio was up 43-20 by the end of the first period, for crying out loud! Behind yet again the Silver and Grey’s crisp passing (39 total assists) and 38 efficient points (72 percent FG) from LaMarcus Aldridge, the five-time champs demolished OKC, 124-92. To be honest, it was painful to watch.
OKC wins wild Game 2
In Game 2, a vengeful Russell Westbrook and a vindictive Kevin Durant brought out the heavy artillery and together with their teammates, held the Spurs down to a lowly 42 percent shooting night, which ultimately resulted in a 98-97 road win.
Although Oklahoma was in the driver’s seat for most of the tiff, things got really interesting when Aldridge and his 40 points spearheaded a furious San Antonio rally towards the end. It wouldn’t be enough, though, as the other Spurs were well defended plus Westbrook (27 pts, 7 rebs, 10 asts) and KD (28 pts, 7 rebs) were clicking. Then there was the dubious non-call on a clear Dion Waiters offensive foul in the final inbound play.
All hell broke loose in this sequence. A fan grabbed Thunder center Steven Adam’s arm to prevent him from making a play at the ball. Kawhi Leonard was seen pulling on Westbrook’s jersey. The helter-skelter scenario prompted one of the craziest endings in NBA history. But you know what? Let’s have more of it on Game 3 this Saturday!
The Champs are here: GSW lead series 2-0 over POR
It looks like the defending NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors, are out to devour the Trail Blazers. The Dubs have gone up 2-0 in the series without their main man Steph Curry and they’ve basically done it showcasing two contrasting but equally impressive ways of whooping Damian Lillard and company.
Bay Area Beatdown
In Game 1, still beaming from their three straight victories over the hobbling Clippers, the chirpy Blazers ran into a Warriors crew who would play close to perfect up until it was garbage time. Highlighting the Bay Area ballers’ scintillating show were Klay Thompson who exploded for 37 buckets and Draymond Green who served up his first triple-double of the postseason with 23 pts, 13 rebs and 11 asts. The final score, 118-106, may make it appear that Portland didn’t take a severe beating but it was only those meaningless Blazers points in the dying minutes that aided the Rip City squad in covering up all their lumps and bruises.
Game 2 handicap
Portland ended the third quarter of Game 2 with an 11-point lead off a Lillard buzzer-beater from beyond the arc. Pleased with their early success, Dame and his boys were already celebrating, body slamming each other and yelling at the crowd. But before the Dubs went out for the 4th period, Steve Kerr told his charges these magic words, “Oh, game na.” What followed in the final 12 minutes was an absolute destruction of the Blazers.
Golden State outscored the visitors, 34-12, en route to a 110-99 come-from-behind win. Thompson once again stepped up on offense, pouring in 27 points, but what was more astonishing was the Warriors defensive effort. Portland's fourth quarter was riddled with wayward passes, turnovers, and humiliating blocks. After taking their adversary’s best shot and still coming out victorious, it seems that the Dubs have already got the Blazers’ number.
Amid all the positives, however, a very important Warrior made a relatively crucial mistake: Curry accidentally tweeted a porn account as he congratulated his teammates. The MVP's still human, after all.
Eastern Conference mismatch: CLE up 2-0 vs ATL
The Hawks can’t take flight
Google it, Youtube it, and put on the E’heads or Oasis as background music while you’re at it. Go back to the '90s and see how the Patrick Ewing-led Knicks were repeatedly turned away by Michael Jordan and the Bulls. You’ll see that it didn’t matter how hard they tried, New York just couldn’t beat Air Jordan in the playoffs.
That’s exactly the situation that the Hawks are in as they once again face LeBron James and the Cavs. After losing Games 1 and 2, Atlanta has now dropped 10 straight playoff games to Cleveland, which includes the sweep 'Bron smacked them with in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
In the series-opener, Atlanta, headed by German wunderkind Dennis Schröder (27 pts,) fought valiantly till crunch time, even taking the lead a couple of times. But just as we were beginning to entertain the thought of the Hawks stealing one on the road, LBJ, Kyrie, and the Cavs blasted them with 10 unanswered points to eventually pull away, 104-93. The King (25 pts, 7 rebs, 9 asts) broke ATL’s heart again and he didn’t even need more than one free-throw to do it.
Raining 3s in Cleveland
The Cavs are hard enough to beat on a regular day, so what more if they were shooting the three-ball like the Korean Basketball Team? Well, they’re virtually unstoppable. In Game 2, The Cavaliers collectively hit 55 percent of their shots from deep; Atlanta never stood a chance. Top billed by J.R. Smith's 7-13 clip from long distance, Cleveland broke the playoff record for most threes in one half by draining 18 and surpassed the Warriors’ record-setting 21 triples from the first round versus the Rockets by sinking 25 long range bombs of their own. But more importantly they stayed undefeated in the playoffs as they buried the Hawks, 123-98.
With the Cavs’ play ascending in the same pace as Mr. Space Jam 2 is climbing up the all-time playoffs scoring ladder (he’s currently fifth), we strongly feel that Cleveland will remain unscathed for the rest of this series.
Game 7 survivors clash, TOR-MIA 1-1
To come out of the first round, Miami had to defeat Charlotte in the decider behind the heroics of D. Wade and Goran Dragic while Toronto had to fend off the defiant Indiana Pacers in their sudden death encounter. Now, the victors are squaring off, looking like they’re still hung over from their Game 7 stints as they’ve given their first two games that do-or-die feel. In the curtain-raiser, the Heat, on several occasions, seemed to have the W in the bag only to see the Raptors claw their way back into contention. The last hurrah from the Raps came in the form of Kyle Lowry hitting a 50-foot heave to send the game into overtime.
That was a shot that forced the T-dot fans back into their seats and the televiewers to delay gobbling up their Tapsilog. But that miracle basket eventually amounted to nothing as Wade picked Drake’s homies apart in OT to take the win, 102-96.
Two days later, it was Toronto’s turn to shine in overtime as they outlasted Miami, 96-92. The Raps survived another poor shooting night from Lowry (32 percent FG), thanks to the solid inside contribution of Jonas Valenciunas (15 pts, 12 rebs) who has really been the most consistent Raptor in the playoffs.
It was a relief for T-dot to see their team tie the series but we still think they looked pretty shaky against the Heat despite the win. For the East’s No.2 seed to thrive in South Beach, their all-stars: Lowry and DeMar Derozan must shoot the ball a lot better. And their play should resemble a vicious, attacking Velociraptor, not that singing purple dinosaur.
For those who can’t quite distinguish the favorite from the underdog in this series, a good barometer would be the backcourt output. It’ll probably boil down to the great Wade and Dragic, who’s averaging 23 ppg (56 percent FG) in the past two games, versus the talented but unpredictable partnership of Lowry and DeRozan.