The Los Angeles Lakers have won the West three straight years...but dropped Game One of their second round series with Dallas. Boston has faced those Lakers two of the last three years...but has fallen behind Miami 2-0 while auditioning for a remake of "M*A*S*H." Oklahoma City re-established itself as a rising force in the West with an intense 48 minutes against Memphis. We may be amdist a changing of the guard in both conferences, which means these next two weeks are going to be very interesting...
MIAMI 102, BOSTON 91
2-point pct: Boston 41%, Miami 46%
3-pointers: Boston 6/11, Miami 7/16
Free Throws: Boston 17/22, Miami 27/36
Rebounds: Boston 38, Miami 44
1's and 2's: Boston 73, Miami 81
Funny how two games between the same teams can have similar final scores but be so different.
Game One: Miami 99, Boston 90
Game Two: Miami 102, Boston 91
Among the differences:
*Rajon Rondo didn't get into foul trouble, and played most of the game (42 minutes) despite a sore back.
*Paul Pierce hurt his foot in the first half and wasn't much of a factor in 33 total minutes.
*Ray Allen went from shooting lights out to going just 2 of 7 in 34 minutes(he also missed some time after getting banged up).
*James Jones of Miami only took one shot in 19 minutes, after scoring 25 points on 7 shots in the opener.
*Tempo was slower, with our expanded boxscore showing 89 possessions down from 92. That means Miami's offensive efficiency went UP from 107.6 to 114.6 even though Jones was erased from the offense.
*LeBron James was the alpha dog for the Heat instead of Dwyane Wade, though both took a few big bites out of the Celtics through the evening.
*The teams combined for 13 made treys rather than 21, but it didn't hurt scoring at all.
The biggest similarity is in the free throw category. Miami attacks the basket and Boston works for jumpers generally speaking.
Game One: Boston 14/18, Miami 26/32
Game Two: Boston 17/22, Miami 27/36
That's plus double digits in both makes and attempts in the two games...and you have to assume we're likely to see repeats in any remaining games on this floor. If Boston keeps getting out shot at the line by that much at home, then this series is over already.
Well, given all the injuries Celtics players are dealing with, that might be the case now. The good news for Boston fans is that there are no more games until Saturday night. If ever a team needed a few days off to recuperate, it's the Celtics. The latest rumblings are that Shaquille O'Neal is expected back for Game Three. Though, he seems to be an injury waiting to happen even when he's healthy.
There's not much more to say until we see what Boston brings to the table next time out. It's very tough to win four games in five in the best of times. These aren't the best of times.
OKLAHOMA CITY 111, MEMPHIS 102
2-point pct: Memphis 46%, Oklahoma City 52%
3-pointers: Memphis 4/11, Oklahoma City 8/14
Rebounds: Memphis 38, Oklahoma City 34
Turnovers: Memphis 16, Oklahoma City 16
1's and 2's: Memphis 90, Oklahoma City 87
Bradford Doolittle at Basketball Prospectus said something the other day about Lionel Hollins and Memphis that really stuck with me:
"In many ways, Hollins has crafted a squad that reminds me of the 1977 NBA champion Trail Blazers, on whom he was a starting guard. The team plays inside-out, with big men that can pass the ball. (And, yes, I can't believe I'm writing that about Zach Randolph 2.0.) They have a deep rotation, share the ball, play defense and, especially, are rising up from obscurity to make a stunning postseason run."
I've typed a at least a dozen times that Memphis doesn't do much from three-point land. Their per-game average during the regular season was 3.8. Most other playoff caliber teams are around six or higher...or can get there if they need to (Boston was at 5.0 for the season but they've averaged 7.7 in six playoff games). The artistic basketball Portland played in the Bill Walton mini-era came before the three-point line. What we're seeing from them is very much a "turn back the clock" style.
There's not a physical resemblance between Marc Gasol and Bill Walton. But, both have soft hands, great vision, great instincts, and a nice shooting touch from a little further out than most 7-footers. Both have the respect of their teammates, as they're being supportive of their teammates.
I tried to dig up youtube footage of those Blazers tonight. Found a short clip that shows you how well they passed in traffic (more of that toward the end of the clip). Very reminiscent of how well Memphis passed in traffic this past Sunday. This clip also happens to show Hollins scoring (on a fast break after his team forced a turnover fittingly)...and has the side benefit of featuring a fantastic fast break pass from Pete Maravich of the then New Orleans Jazz. It's only 1:24 in length... 90 seconds that all basketball fans would enjoy.
ESPN...you're showing Game Three of Memphis/OKC Saturday afternoon. You have Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning to put together a package showing the similarities between this current Memphis team and those fondly remembered Trailblazers. You can intercut footage of passes from Walton and Gasol to teammates for buckets...shotmaking from both guys...and team wide passing in traffic (inside an arc that didn't exist back then). Hollins is listed at basketball reference as 6'3", 185. He was ages 22-26 when playing with Portland. Anyone on the current Grizzlies match that description? (I'm coughing the words "Mike Conley" into my hand)
The networks will be showing John Havlicek in the Boston crowd...Dominique Wilkins, near courtside in Atlanta...Magic Johnson in the Lakers crowd when that series is back in LA. Memphis doesn't have a historic backdrop that will resonate in the same way. The connections between this team and the championship Blazers shed light on this series while celebrating a highlight in the history of the league. Let's hope that connection is made (and that Bradford Doolittle is credited with getting that connection in print). TNT...get ready for next Monday if ESPN decides to go with a bunch of Elvis stuff instead (heaven forbid).
Since tonight's game was one-sided, figured that digression was more worthwhile. OKC evens the series at a game apiece thanks mostly to better internal defense (46% allowed on 2's instead of 51%) and more forced turnovers (16 instead of 7). The expanded boxscore is here.
DALLAS 96, LA LAKERS 94
2-point pct: Dallas 49%, Lakers 43%
3-pointers: Dallas 9/20, Lakers 5/19
Free Throws: Dallas 9/11, Lakers 17/20
Rebounds: Dallas 40, Lakers 44
1's and 2's: Dallas 69, Lakers 79
*Joe Treutlein tweeted last night that Kobe Bryant didn't make any forays to the rim. He was shooting great from further away. But, he didn't fly at the basket in the way you'd normally expect. This suggests that ankle is bothering him to a degree that could loom large over the series in the games where his jumpers are less en fuego.
*We're looking at a series that could easily boil down to the treys of Dallas vs. the 1's and 2's of the Lakers. You can see above that the Lakers were +10 points inside the arc, while Dallas was +12 outside of the arc. Normally, this favors the inside team unless the outside team is abnormally consistent. Dallas has shown consistency relatively speaking (10-8-9-10-3-6-9 through seven games, for a median of 9). And, Dallas has a variety of long range shooters who can keep the Lakers defense spread out. Six different guys made the nine treys Monday. This could become an interesting dynamic.
*Andrew Bynum posted great stats in his last two regular season games against Dallas. He might have been a point of emphasis in the Mavs' preparation here. Bynum was just 3 of 8 from the floor in 29 minutes, and posted a stunning plus/minus of -16 for the night.
*We know that Dallas was hoping for its bench to get the best of its time on the floor. Non starters all had postive plus/minuses Monday. From highest to lowest: Brewer +11, Barea +8, Stojakovic +6, Haywood +6, Terry +2.
*I mentioned a few times in the last series that Dallas had a very consistent edge over Portland outside of a horrible quarter. Monday night, Dallas basically had another horrible quarter though it didn't last the full 12 minutes. From the 6:33 mark of the second quarter to the 9:56 mark of the third quarter, Dallas was outscored 29-8. That's only eight-and-a-half minutes. But, it was more ore less a replay of that fourth quarter nightmare in Portland. The Mavericks rallied to win a naibliter here, after losing a nailbiter in Portland.
Back late Wednesday with the next playoff report. Expanded boxscores have now been posted for the full playoffs. You can grab the first round summaries by going to the team stats page...clicking on your team of interest...then using the pulldowns right above the team name to request this year's playoff summaries. Click on any final score to get the boxscore for that game. There may be other navigation pathways too.
See you late Wednesday...