I'm going to keep this one short - (a) because I'm REALLY tired and (b) because it's Saturday morning and you probably aren't reading this right now. After last night's results there is only one first round series remaining and it's one that I really wish had been finished off last night. For all my bluster about the Western Conference, the only 7 game series out of the entire NBA first round will be between Atlanta and Milwaukee.
Friday April 30th Playoff Results:
Atlanta Hawks 83 Milwaukee Bucks 69 (Recap): Although you can definitely say the Bucks have been playing with house money, this is still a tough loss. Milwaukee led by the relatively pathetic score of 34-31 at the half but the Hawks used a 29-11 third quarter to pull ahead and stay that way. The guys that usually carry the Bucks - Brandon Jennings and John Salmons - shot 2/13 and 4/15 respectively. Atlanta got 22 from star Joe Johnson but their leading scorer was recently crowned NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford. This was a pretty devastating loss for the Bucks as they now have to attempt to win a Game 7 back in Atlanta.
Los Angeles Lakers 95 Oklahoma City Thunder 94 (Recap): Oklahoma City really gave this series a valiant effort - hell they had the thing tied through four games- but it wasn't enough to overcome a bit of sloppy play down the stretch. The Thunder trailed by as many as 7 with 5:09 left in the game but fought back but used a late 10-0 run to grab a 3 point lead with 2:30 left. But a Kevin Durant layup at said 2:30 mark was the Thunder's final points of the game as they missed their last 5 shots. With the Thunder up 1 late in the game, Kobe Bryant attempted a fall away jumper for the win. Fortunately for OKC he missed the shot....unfortunately for them nobody decided to put a body on Pau Gasol. Thus with just .5 seconds remaining in the game, Pau Gasol tipped home the Bryant miss and thrust the Lakers into the second round of the playoffs. Kevin Durant shot 5 of 23 from the field in the final game of his first playoff appearance.
Utah Jazz 112 Denver Nuggets 104 (Recap): Denver looked like crap for the first 17 minutes of this game and trailed by 15 into the later parts of the second quarter. However with their season on the line, the Nuggets used a 15-3 run before half to help cut the Utah lead to just 2 points. The Nuggets actually grabbed the lead by as many as 8 points in the early going of the third quarter but didn't have the ability to pull out the win on Utah's home floor. Deron Williams failed to reach 20/10 for the first time in this series but Wesley Matthews picked up the scoring slack - leading Utah with 23 while Carlos Boozer had a 22/20 game. Denver got 20 from Carmelo Anthony but he went 6/22 from the field to get there. Chauncey Billups led Denver with 30 and failed to reach the conference finals for the first time since 2002.
Saturday May 1st Playoff Games:
Game 1 - Celtics @ Cavs: And after roughly 9 weeks of playoff basketball, the second round begins and this is our first game. LeBron James is suffering with what appears to be a severe bout of pretendinitis (thanks to Rod Benson) but I somehow seem to think he'll pull it together in time for a Cavs win.