This playoff has had its ups and downs. The big downer is that many of the teams are nursing injuries and injured players. And you can’t say enough about injury, because that is the difference between a series win or early golfing. The remaining eight have weathered the storm of being down some key guys and look to keep moving forward. Because of two Game 7s in the West, the East got the elite eight playoff ball rolling.
Boston Celtics (92) vs Philadelphia 76ers (91)
Celtics lead 1-0
If the Big Three (or four depending on who you ask) were significantly more healthy, they maybe the most dangerous team in the playoffs. Why? Because they’ve got that championship experience and the toughness to grind it out. Well, what about Kobe and the Lakers, you ask. Well, yes Kobe has that championship experience (more than these three combined) but his teammates aren’t as tough mentally (or physically if you ask Pau on a bad night and this is all minus MWP who just is nuts). They didn’t show up and didn’t pick up the slack when Kobe was down with the flu. But just as dangerous those Big Three can be, they can just be as vulnerable. Look at Game 1. Most of the game it was Sixers’ pace. Sixers dominated the game and only cause of their lack of experience let them down. They were up by 10 with about 10 minutes left in the game and had at one point a 13 point lead. But Kevin Garnett made the biggest play of the night and a block on Andre Iguodala’s sure path to the bucket for a monstrous jam. Just like that, the Celtics were racing the other end, and what you know, Garnett finishes at the bucket. Old Garnett finished the night wit 29 points and 11 boards. Rajon Rondo, who looked dis-interested in the first half, ended up with another triple double (his eighth) (17 assists, 13 points and 12 boards) and out-ran Philly’s guard at the end of the game. For the Sixers, it is no reason to hang their heads. They were in the game and basically could have won, if the Celtics didn’t make the bigger shots. Guard, Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner and Lou Williams did whatever they wanted against Rondo, while Iguodala had another great game finishing with 19 points. Spencer Hawes, who ultimately is not the player they focused on, kept converting easy baskets and had 15 points. Turner had 16 points and 11 boards.
This series is far from over. While the Celtics may have stolen Game 1, the Sixers look to negate home court advantage with a win tonight. Tip off time is 7:00pm EST.
Miami Heat (95) vs Indiana Pacers (85)
Heat lead 1-0
In my ideal world, Lebron never wins any rings with the Heat. If he wins one when he is 35 and is relegated to the bench, then so be it. But he should never be able to smile and lift another trophy besides the MVP award with the Heat. Why do I disklike LBJ so much? I think he’s a great player who shies from big game moments. He doesn’t deserve to be in that elite category of championship winners, when better players, like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, John Stockton or Karl Malone never got one. And I certainly don’t respect Dwayne Wade either. I think they both are babies in a sense that they couldn’t win by themselves or with complimentary players and had to go get another all-star to make that happen. Good, elite players don’t do that. They want to play against the best, not team up with the best and run over everybody. Hello!? That is what the Olympics is for.
So I was super excited when the Pacers were up and they were competing. In a sense, the Pacers were in the game and outworking the Heat for most of the game, until the fourth quarter. That is when LBJ took over and dominated. Now that is the difference. The game wasn’t, essentially on the line, so if he didn’t score enough points, he couldn’t have “failed.” His only “failure” then would be he wasn’t engaged in the first half. This didn’t come down to a last second shot, that he had to make. We all know he isn’t a closer. And he didn’t close this game. He just scored more points than the Pacers did (with help from Wade).
For the Pacers, their star players didn’t show up so to speak. David West and Roy Hibbert had 17 points apiece while Darren Collison and George Hill only had 10 points combined. And their MVP, Danny Granger only had seven points. That’s just not going to cut it for the Pacers. In order for them to beat Miami, they need all their guys to contribute. They did the right thing though, staying close and kept the Heat at bay. Miami only had 18 fast break points, but the Pacers themselves had 12. They also may have caught a break with Chris Bosh now out indefinitely. Bosh had 13 points and the Heat did get more scoring from Wade and LBJ after Bosh went out, but now that is one less guy to focus on. Now Hibbert may be able to impact the game even more, without having to worry about guarding some guy, who can hurt you if you leave him open long enough.
Game 2 is back in Miami. Tip off is on Tuesday, at 7:00pm EST.