Wow. Now the playoffs are beginning. While there were obvious questions and answers, no one thought so clearly on how bad the Knicks were going to be and how the Bulls couldn’t find a way to win without their star player (even though they’ve done it all regular season.) And here is a recap of last night.
Philadelphia 76ers (109) vs Chicago Bulls (92)
Series tied 1-1
Wow. If you were to ask me that of the two teams missing their star point guard, I would put money down (kidding on the betting of course) that the Bulls would be the team to come out on top and not the Celtics. But just like everything else (and this is why you don’t bet!) my belief was badly mistaken. The Bulls were unable to find a way to back these young 76ers into a corner and take control of the series with a commanding 2-0 lead. While leaning on an emotional crunch, the Bulls did everything right in the first half. Problem was, so did the 76ers. They didn’t play a great game in the first half, but they stuck around. They were only down 55-47 going into the second half. All the time, color analysts comment about how teams let weaker teams stick around. It might come back and bite you in the butt later. And it did for the Bulls. While dominating in the first half, the second half was a completely different team. In the third quarter alone, the Bulls just managed one offensive rebound, while collecting eight in the first half. And the 76ers poured on the points. Just alone in the third, the dropped in 36 points to the 14 the Bulls put in. That was enough to hold the lead, as the Bulls fought to come back in the fourth. To top it all off, Carlos Boozer (who they dropped a pretty dime for) only had nine points and Luol Deng had eight. Deng was also made into a poster by Andre Iguodala, who had a highlight slam that ended up being an And one. Game 3 shifts to Philly on Friday, May 4th. Tip off is 8:00 pm EST.
Boston Celtics (87) vs Atlanta Hawks (80)
Series tied 1-1
Everybody thought the Hawks were going to take a 2-0 lead against the Atlantic Division season winners. Well, looks like the men in green do better without Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Plus the injury to Josh Smith didn’t help the Hawks cause. And this was the team that had a weaker bench, didn’t have two of its All-Stars and the two they did have are looking like old men in a retirement home. Except, Paul Pierce looked like Tim Duncan has been all year. Vintage players. Pierce did everything and anything the Celtics asked of him. And he did this with the Hawks knowing what he was going to do. The stats are a bit mis leading. Pierce disappeared a little in the second and third quarter, but when his team needed him the most, he showed up. Down the stretch, Pierce himself outscored the Hawks 18-13 to help the Celtics erase an 11 point deficit. 13 of those points came in the fourth, when the Celtics needed them the most. After winning a “must win” game, the home court advantage the Hawks had gained, is no longer an advantage. As we saw in the Bulls and 76ers game, anything is possible. Game 3 is set to be at the Garden on Friday May 4th at 7:30 pm EST.
LA Lakers (104) vs Denver Nuggets (100)
Lakers lead series 2-0
While everyone is ooing and ahhing about Paul Pierce’s 36, another old face scored 38 himself. Of course I’m talking about Kobe Bryant. The guy who wants you to remember that he is still king of basketball. Andrew Bynum had another dominating night with 27 points and nine boards. They were able to hold off Denver’s comeback to take a commanding 2-0 lead after their 19 point lead was dwindled to four. One big time play by Kobe, who hustled after the loose ball and then dumped it to Bynum for a dunk help hold off the Nuggets.
I’m going to link an interesting article from JA Adande, a writer for ESPN. He wrote and that is what is so fascinating is that the difference between Kobe and Michael and all the greats is that Kobe has gone through more adversity than many his peers but is still standing at top of his game. While I may not personally like Kobe, you gotta give the man the respect he’s earn on the court. No doubt, he will go out as one of the greatest basketball player of all time.