The 2014 NBA playoffs get underway. Join me throughout the day as a liveblog the action!
The Thunder have jumped out to a huge lead. Memphis doesn’t seem to have a puncher’s chance in this game as they continue to throw the ball down to Zach Randolph expecting him to rekindle his magic touch from 2011, and that’s simply not going to happen. I’ll be cutting off the liveblog now and focusing on my recaps. I’ll be back at it with another liveblog tomorrow four another quarter of games.
I’ll have more on the Hawks-Pacers game later tonight. Now we are on to the Grizzlies and Thunder. I don’t think Memphis has a shot in this series and I’ll be surprised if the Thunder can’t pull off a sweep.
The Hawks are in a prime position right now. They’ll need to get good minutes from Shelvin Mack and Lou Williams whenever Teague goes to the bench. Indy made their run in the first half when Teague wasn’t on the floor and when Atlanta’s offense stalled.
Jeff Teague has been unstoppable in the second half. His quickness when coming off of picks is killing the Pacers, and he’s done a brilliant job splitting the big and getting to the rim.
We saw the Pacers switch a Teague/Antic pick-and-roll a moment ago. Teague couldn’t take advantage, but I’m sure Hibbert doesn’t want to have to guard on the perimeter consistently. Meanwhile, the Hawks have started the second half on an 8-0 run, leading to a timeout by Vogel. DeMarre Carroll has been fabulous in this game on both ends, and his three a moment ago made him 2-of-2 from deep on the game. When he’s hitting from deep, Atlanta has a true five out system with their starting unit.
Worked on a few videos for my recap during half-time. We’re tied at 50 to begin the second half. The Pacers seemed to put themselves in a great position heading into the lockerroom before a quick burst from Atlanta in the final minutes. The Hawks still have a great chance in this one. They’ve gotten some great looks, particularly for Korver off screens.
Lance Stephenson has gone on a run for the Pacers, and the Hawks are struggling to sore with Teague, Antic and Millsap on the bench.
Really like the way the Hawks have played to start the game. They’re just putting Indy’s bigs in pick-and-rolls and having Millsap and Antic pop to the top of the key. If the bigs stay back as Indy’s scheme calls for, the shots are open, and if the bigs chase to the perimeter, there’s space for Teague to exploit.
Tremendous win for the Warriors. At the end of the day, nobody will care how this game was won, and now they are going back to Oracle with homecourt advantage. That’s beyond huge. I’ll more on this game in my recap later tonight. Next up is Pacers-Hawks in about 30 minutes. and I have the Hawks pulling off the upset in six games. See you back here then.
Draymond Green with two huge free throws, and the Warriors are 24 seconds and a defensive stop away from pulling off a big upset. It’s tough to tell if this game is a sign of things to come or if the foul plague muddied up the result. Nonetheless, this was a really fun game.
We had a large string of misses for both teams before the Clippers got a couple of baskets on the move. The Warriors have had a ton of success with Steph Curry high screen-and-roll but they’ve gone to Klay Thompson on the block against Chris Paul on the last few possessions, likely because Paul is in foul trouble. They need to stick with Curry running pick-and-rolls, getting LAC to trap the ball and then breaking their rotations with quick passing. On the other end, the Clippers should be giving the Warriors a heavy dose of Blake Griffin once he returns to the game.
The Warriors were out of their minds in the third quarter, surging to an eight point lead while shooting 14-of-20 from the field. Curry was spectacular, David Lee was great, Jermaine O’Neal owned DeAndre Jordan on both ends. A bizarre performance, but it at least partially be explained by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul being in foul trouble.
Things have picked up in Los Angeles. Foul trouble is still having a big impact, but the flow of the game has been much better in this third quarter, especially over the past few minutes. Chris Paul, Steph Curry and J.J. Redick are going back and forth with their own unique brand of offensive brilliance, although the Clippers have had some pretty bad breakdowns on the perimeter that have led to wide open looks for Thompson and Barnes from three. The pace of the game has picked up, and if the fouling slows down we are in for a heck of a finish.
We’re tied up at 52 at the half. Blake Griffin played just four minutes because of foul trouble, Andre Iguodala played a bit longer but at the cost of picking up his fourth foul, Steph Curry was incredible, Chris Paul played well and there was a whistle every half a minute. Golden State is doing a great job of exploiting Los Angeles’ hard hedge on Curry pick-and-rolls buy swinging the ball around to open shooters, but Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson are just 2-of-8 from deep.
DeAndre Jordan was the best player on the floor for the Clippers. There were a couple of defensive breakdowns mixed in, but otherwise he was a monster in the paint, protecting the rim, pulling down rebound and getting himself easy chances with cunning cuts to the rim on offense. The Clippers needed Jordan to step up with Griffin in foul trouble and he did. With the game tied, you’d think that Los Angeles would have the edge in the second half with a fresh Griffin ready to attack the Warriors frontline, although Mo Speights played surprisingly well in the first half.
Four fouls now on Iguodala. Didn’t look like he got Barnes, but Mark Jackson has always risked it in these situations and it may come back to bite him in this game. The Warriors are doing very well defensively while the Clippers try to tread water with Griffin on the bench. As always, Steph Curry’s work on offense is having a big impact on this game, even if he’s just drawing attention to himself so that the Clippers defense cracks somewhere else.
The story of the first quarter was foul trouble. The Clippers established a couple of double digit leads, but Blake Griffin’s two quick fouls allowed the Warrior defense to ramp up on the perimeter, leading to a few easy buckets in transition. Andre Iguodala now has three fouls, though, so Mark Jackson will be relying on Harrison Barnes to shake off his season long funk to give good minutes in the second quarter. DeAndre Jordan played the entire first quarter and Glen Davis played nine minutes, so Griffin is going to have come back in soon, likely as the smallball center while playing with LAC’s bench unit.
The Warriors have cut the Clippers lead to one. Not coincidentally, this all started when Blake Griffin went out of the game with two fouls. With him out of the game, the Warriors have been able to swarm around the perimeter to slow the Clippers offense. On the bright side for Los Angeles, Iguodala now has three fouls.
I’ll have more on the Raptors-Nets game in my recap later tonight. Now we move on to Warriors-Clippers. This series would have been the most entertaining series of the first round were in not for Andrew Bogut’s unfortunate injury in the second to last game of the regular season. His fractured rib will keep him out of the post-season, leaving Golden State without their second best player and their defensive anchor in a matchup against the best offensive team in the league. Any basketball game involving Steph Curry is bound to be fun, but I can’t see the Warriors overcoming the loss of their defensive giant in the middle. I have the Clippers advancing in five.
After Garnett hits a fadeaway in the paint, Pierce nails a three to push Brooklyn’s lead to six with three minutes to play. The Nets’ defense has been tremendous over the past couple of minutes. Length on the perimeter stifling everything the Raptors try to do.
A big stop for the Raptors and an even bigger shot by Lowry at the buzzer to cut the Net lead to five going into the fourth. Toronto has to win this game. As poorly as they’ve played, Brooklyn is not going to shoot worse at any point in this series, and if Toronto doesn’t get going offensively, the way that the Nets have locked down their offense and shut down DeRozan will certainly hamper their confidence going into game two, especially if they lose the opener on their home floor. I expect the Nets to milk Johnson again and to force the Raptor defense into rotations. Lowry may have to have a huge quarter if the Raps are going to pull off a comeback.
The Nets cannot buy a basket from deep right now, and it’s letting Toronto stay in this game even though DeRozan has yet to get anything going. Joe Johnson has started to get going on the block yet again, and he’s finding open guys when Toronto sends the double; the Nets just aren’t hitting those outside shots. The Raptors really need to put a run together soon before the Nets get back on track.
The Raptors have to be happy that they are down just four at the half after they got nothing from Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan. Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez have helped keep them in it by being aggressive going towards the basket and by being comfortable launching shots from the perimeter. If they can get anything out of DeRozan, who was out of sorts in the first half, and Ross, who sat for a long time with three fouls, the Raptors may have a chance to steal this game despite their awful start.
Brooklyn has gotten good production from Deron Williams, but he did take 17 shots to get his 18 points. The Nets were getting a ton of good shots off of Joe Johnson post-ups in the first quarter, but the Raptors ramped up their defense on him in the second quarter, pushing him further away from the basket on his catches and sending quick doubles to get the ball out of his hands while rotating well to make sure the Nets didn’t break their defense with their quick passing. They’ve gotten nothing out of their quartet of bigs: Garnett, Teletovic, Mason Plumlee and Andray Blatche are a combined 1-of-9 from the field.
The difference in the game so far has been turnovers. The Nets have been super protective of the ball, turning it over just three times, while the Raps have as many team turnovers (12) as they do field goals. Brooklyn could come out of the gates strong to widen the gap in this game, but they’ve shot poorly from three in this game, so there’s still a chance for the Raptors to overcome their poor start if they can calm down and play a little more freely in the second half.
Dwane Casey will have to think about getting Hansbrough some extra minutes here and there in this series. His mobility has made a difference in the way Toronto’s defense has covered the spread floor that Brooklyn has. Patterson’s ability to stretch the floor has given the Raps some space on the other end and they are starting to look more comfortable offensively. This should be a good one the rest of the way.
Greivis Vasquez has been solid for the Raptors. He’s the only guy on the team with actual playoff experience and it is showing. He’s been comfortable, as has Lowry, and they’ve been able to slow down the Nets’ offense with Johnson, Pierce and Williams off the floor. Patrick Patterson has also given Toronto something as well. Jason Kidd should be going back to Joe Johnson here soon.
Big issue for the Raptors is how they will get DeRozan going. He was 0-of-5 in the first quarter, including a miss on a wide open corner three. He’s had trouble getting anything going to the rim. Look for the Raps to start running him off of curl screens so he can get some momentum going to the basket.
Kyle Lowry helped keep the Raptors in the game with a nice spurt to end that first quarter. When the Raptors are able to get up and down the floor they should be able to fair better against the older Nets, mostly because it will allow them to flow into their actions rather than getting stagnant like they did during the first 8 minutes of that quarter. Brooklyn has played some sound ball to start the game, and you have to imagine they will keep attacking with Joe Johnson on the block.
The Nets defense is really stifling the Raptors so far. Jason Kidd and his staff have done a great job preparing for this game and Toronto’s sets just aren’t getting them any separation. They are also getting an incredible individual effort from Shaun Livingston, who is forcing DeMar DeRozan into a ton of tough shots. Meanwhile, Brooklyn is milking Joe Johnson in the post. Really good start for the Nets, who just got back-to-back threes from Deron Williams to get their lead up to 12.
Amir Johnson did a great job of disguising which side he was setting that last screen for Lowry on. Allowed Lowry to step into an open three off the pick-and-roll, which is his favorite thing to do. Nets have to be really careful about jumping the screen to the right side in order to take that space away from him. Otherwise the Nets have been pretty decent defensively. They’re forcing the Raps through every option on their sets and making them post up Jonas Valanciunas late in the clock. Luckily for the Raptors, Valanciunas has been tremendous in the early going.
Welcome everybody! Thanks for joining me today. The first game of the day is between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors. I was really hoping that these two teams would avoid each other in the first round because I thought they both had the potential to pull off upsets on the way to the conference finals, but instead they are battling for the right to face Miami in the second round.
This is a really interesting matchup. The Raptors have been playing tremendous basketball ever since they traded Rudy Gay and the Nets have found themselves after some early season turmoil. I’ll have more on the series as the game gets closer.