We’re going to keep this short, as I’m having trouble concentrating in the wake of a devastating Bulls’ loss. But another day is gone, as are two more teams from the first round, the Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls. Only two more teams need be eliminated prior to the start of the second round. The Eastern Semifinal matchups are set: the 8th-seeded Philadelphia 76ers will face the 4th-seeded Boston Celtics and the 2nd-seeded Miami Heat will take on the 3rd-seeded Indiana Pacers. On the Western side, both matchups remain undetermined. The top-seeded San Antonio Spurs await the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies series, while the 2nd-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder will face the winner of the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets series.
Boston Celtics 83, Atlanta Hawks 80: Celtics win series 4-2
Much like Bulls-Sixers, this series was highly ugly, but at least it’s over. Unlike Bulls-Sixers, neither team will have to answer any injury-related questions going into next round. Both teams were more or less healthy by the end of the series, and no injuries appear to have made a significant difference in the final result. For that matter, the one high profile missed game by Rajon Rondo resulted in a Celtics win.
Kevin Garnett came out swinging in a vintage performance and slapped up 28 points, 14 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks. If he’s going to play like that anywhere near consistently, Boston will be a tough out and could easily threaten the Miami Heat in a potential conference finals. Paul Pierce added a ho-hum 18-5-7 and a pair of steals and Rondo chipped in 14 points and 8 assists. Atlanta got solid games from four of the eight players to log significant minutes for them, but virtually nothing from the other four as they flamed out in the playoffs once again.
Denver Nuggets 113, Los Angeles Lakers 96: Series tied 3-3
Well, I have to say that I didn’t expect this series to go seven games. In point of fact, I didn’t expect any series to go seven, but I didn’t totally realize that the Nuggets were capable of giving the Lakers this much trouble. After JaVale McGee went HAM on them in game five as the Nuggets withstood a late-game surge by Kobe Bryant to escape with their lives, the entirety of the Nuggets team decided to go HAM on the Lakers, led by Ty Lawson (32-5-6 on 13/18 from the field and 5/6 from three) and Corey Brewer (18 points on 8/12 shooting). Only Kobe seemed to show much of a fight for the Lakers, and he was playing with something resembling the flu and still threw up (sorry, no pun intended) 31 points. He ripped his teammates after the game, calling out their effort. It’ll be interesting to see how they respond in Saturday’s game seven at the Staples Center. Should be a good one.
Friday, May 11th:
Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers Game 6, 9 PM EDT, ESPN