Remember that one year where Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick were the kings of the college basketball world? I believe that is defined as a "down year" in college hoops. Morrison is now a human victory cigar for the Lakers, while Redick is a spot shooting bench player for Orlando. Crap, I've got to relate this back to something that matters....um....out of the All-Americans that year, the only one who has gone on to enjoy any measure of NBA success is Blazers guard Brandon Roy (Boom! You've done it again, Howard, you genius).
Consider this your daily reminder that the Eastern Conference is boring. With Boston and Cleveland winning their games, the Heat and Bulls join the Bobcats in the trash pile and the NBA field has been whittled to 13. Only one series remains in the East, while all 4 in the West will go on a minimum of 6 games each.
Tuesday April 27th Playoff Results:
Boston Celtics 96 Miami Heat 86 (Recap): Miami kept things relatively close throughout the game, but as was the story of the season, they got little or nothing from players outside of Dwyane Wade (31 points) and now they are headed into one of the most crucial off-seasons in franchise history. Former Amar'e Stoudemire trade target and light of my life Michael Beasley scored just 2 points on 0/3 shooting in 14 minutes. Boston was led by Ray Allen's 24 as they roll into the Eastern Conference semifinals to face.....
Cleveland Cavaliers 96 Chicago Bulls 94 (Recap): ...these guys. In another Eastern Conference result that surprised absolutely nobody, the Cavs sent the Bulls home for the summer. Chicago did actually keep this one respectable, trailing by just 1 with 1:10 to go, but it wasn't enough. The real story of the game was an apparent elbow injury suffered by LeBron James that caused him to shoot a late game free throw with his left hand (he missed badly). The Bulls may not have posed much of a threat for Cleveland, but a banged up LeBron certainly won't do them any favors in the coming rounds.
Dallas Mavericks 103 San Antonio Spurs 81 (Recap): Well, Dallas has some pride. Faced with what would have been an embarrassing 5 game elimination at the hands of the seventh seeded Spurs, Dallas got a playoff career high 35 points from mid-season acquisition Caron Butler and forced a Game 6 back in San Antonio. The Spurs trailed by 7 at the half, but a strong third salted the game away for the Mavs. Sensing the way the game was going, Gregg Popovich played Tim Duncan just 24 minutes and Manu Ginobili 18 minutes and the two combined for only 18 points. There's some sentiment that perhaps Ginobili is struggling with the broken nose he suffered in Game 3, but as soon as anyone thinks that, he'll be posting 40 in Game 6. Now there's a bit of pressure on the Spurs to finish the series off in 6 or face the idea of a seventh game back in Dallas.
Los Angeles Lakers 111 Oklahoma City Thunder 87 (Recap): This was never a game at any point. Perhaps hearing how much trouble they were in for the last few days motivated the Lakers, because they absolutely punished the Thunder from tip-off to the final buzzer in a 24 point rout. Oklahoma City missed their first 13 shots in the game and never had a chance to recover. LAL relied on their significant size advantage in the post -- getting 25 from Pau Gasol and 21 from Andrew Bynum (on a combined 18/26 from the field) -- to beat the Thunder into submission. OKC now returns home hoping to drive this one to a Game 7.
Wednesday April 28th Playoff Games:
Game 5 - Jazz @ Nuggets: The walking disaster area that is the Denver Nuggets will attempt to stave off elimination. Considering that they play well at home, I like their chances to stay alive -- in spite of Adrian Dantley.
Game 5 - Bucks @ Hawks: The hope of the Eastern Conference playoffs producing one interesting first round series rests solely in the hands of the spunky, undermanned Milwaukee Bucks. After taking both games in the Bradley Center, the Bucks will look to steal one in the ATL. If they can raise their game like our old friend Bango, they might be able to pull it off.