NBA Playoff Nightcap: April 23rd Edition

Welcome to the most poorly read column on Bright Side of the Sun - stay a while....skim a little, maybe make a comment.  I'll probably respond and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you kept the lights on in my apartment for one more night.

Last night in the NBA could probably have been nicknamed "Last Stand of the 8 seeds" - as both Chicago and Oklahoma City got behind their home crowds and took steps towards making their series' more competitive.  WIll they pull it off?  Probably not - both will more than likely be gone in 5. 

Thursday April 22nd Playoff Results:

Chicago Bulls 108 Cleveland Cavaliers 106 (Recap)I'm gonna have to give it up for Chicago. Considering their performance in the first 2 games of this series I, like many others, tended to assume that the Bulls were headed on the first train to sweeps-ville (passes through LeBron-city).  The story of the win for Chicago was the performance of it's backcourt of Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich.  The pair combined for 58 points (on 22/38 shooting) to lead the Bulls.  Luol Deng added 20 of his own and Joakim Noah went all double-double on Cleveland's asses.  The Bulls needed just about every point they got as the King was his usual MVP self - scoring 39 points, pulling down 10 rebounds, and dishing out 8 assists.  I can't really sum this up any better than the headline from Blog-a-Bull:  Not to say "it's a series" but it's not going to be a sweep.  

Oklahoma City Thunder 101 Los Angeles Lakers 96 (Recap)I didn't get to catch a whole lot of this game due to the Suns game overlapping with it, but the crowd looked phenomenal.  Everyone was decked out in these blue shirts which gave the game a helluva look.  Fortunately for the Thunder they followed the fans lead and won the damn game - the first playoff victory in Oklahoma City.  OKC was down 7 at the half and by as many as 11 in the middle of the third but stormed back behind 27 from Russell WestbrookKevin Durant again struggled from the field, shooting just 8/24 - they'd probably be able to pull off another game in this series if they get both Durant and Westbrook going in the same game.  The biggest bitching point for Laker fans from this game was the free throw disparity where OKC shot 34 to LAL's 12.  Expect that to change after a few calls from the league office (nudge nudge).

Phoenix Suns 108 Portland Trail Blazers 89 (Recap): Boris Diaw and a banged up Raja Bell.  In case you don't follow the Suns (and if you don't...why are you reading this?) you know that those were the two players the Suns dealt to Charlotte to get Jared Dudley...oh and Jason Richardson.  That Richardson fellow absolutely exploded last night, going for a playoff career-high 42 to lead the Suns to a blowout win.  In the first half of the game the Suns offense was working on all cylinders, but when J-Rich really took over was in the second half where the team was struggling.  Seemingly every time the Blazers would draw close, Richardson would stroke a huge three.  Awesome win.  Phoenix has re-gained home court advantage in the series and will have a shot to go back to AZ up 3 games to 1.

Series Standings:

(1) Lakers v. (8) Thunder: 2-1 Lakers

(2) Mavericks v. (7) Spurs:  1-1 tie

(3) Suns v. (6) Trail Blazers: 2-1 Suns

(4) Nuggets v. (5) Jazz:  1-1 tie

(1) Cavaliers v. (8) Bulls:  2-1 Cavs

(2) Magic v. (7) Bobcats: 2-0 Magic

(3) Hawks v. (6) Bucks:  2-0 Hawks

(4) Celtics v. (5) Heat:  2-0 Celtics

Friday April 23rd Playoff Games:

Game 3 - Celtics @ Heat: After the ass-kicking that Miami took in Game 2 it remains to be seen whether they will have anything to offer at home.  Reason would tell you that a team will be able to muster a good effort in returning back home behind a good crowd - but we're talking about Miami, there won't be a crowd.

Game 3 - Mavericks @ Spurs:  Remember that portion of the regular season where we had to quasi-root for the Lakers to help the Suns for seeding purposes?  This series is kind of like that for me.  If the Suns are fortunate enough to reach the 2nd round I'd much prefer they do so against San Antonio - mainly predicated on the idea that we'd have home court.  So...go Spurs?  Yuck.  

Game 3 - Nuggets @ Jazz : Should be yet another good one in what seems to be one of the best first round series.  Look for Utah to use the raucous Joseph Smith inspired crowd to their advantage and a Game 3 win.  

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