The Conference Finals are set to begin already, just a day after the Pacers finished off the Knicks in the only remaining series of round two. Will the Heat advance to their third straight NBA Finals? Will San Antonio get back to the promised land that Gregg Popovich knows so well?
This play is the epitome of Iverson’s career. Sick handles, clutch shot, finished with a taunt. Love him or hate him, he was one of the most talented players of the last 20 years, especially given that he was six-foot with platform shoes on. If you don’t pump your fist after watching this, then something is wrong…
Today is the NBA’s first day off since the playoffs began. So, in the spirit of an off day, let’s regroup and discuss the winners and losers of the playoffs so far.
Golden State’s backcourt: Stephen Curry is playing out of his mind and is capturing the attention of the nation’s basketball fans. He set records this season, but his coming out party is currently in session. Curry is averaging 26.5 points in the playoffs to go along with 8.9 assists and 2.0 steals. He is knocking down 46.3 percent of his shots and 43.1 percent of his three pointers. Curry has owned the third quarter, and not to mention, he led the sixth-seeded Warriors to a first round series victory over the Nuggets and has stolen home court advantage from the Spurs.
Klay Thompson’s value to the Warriors has been on display in the first two games of the second round. In game one, he fouled out, and then the Warriors collapsed. In game two, he notched 34 points including 29 in the first half. Thompson is averaging 17.6 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 47.9 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from downtown. His effectiveness allows Mark Jackson to play him at small forward late in the game, so Jarrett Jack and Curry can pair in the backcourt. This creates a much quicker lineup, which is much more difficult for San Antonio to contain.
Don’t forget Jack. He is shooting an even 50.0 percent from the floor in the playoffs, averaging 17.0 points, 6.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds. His veteran leadership and knowledge of when to slow down the offense has benefitted the Warriors all playoffs, especially Wednesday night when they almost collapsed again.
If not for the Spurs storming back from 16-down to beat the Warriors in double-overtime, the Bulls stealing game one in Miami would have been the biggest surprise of the beginning of round two.
Chicago is not scared of Miami. The team is 3-2 against the Heat this season. The Bulls do not put LeBron James on a pedestal. The defending champions banner in the rafters of the American Airlines Arena does not intimidate them.
The Knicks and Grizzlies head into tonight’s matchups facing a 1-0 series deficit. New York lost home court advantage when it laid an egg in game one against Indiana. Memphis lost on a Kevin Durant mid-range jumper with 11 seconds left, and put up much harder of a fight than did the Knicks. If either team wants to even the series up before traveling to a new venue, here is what they must do:
After it looked like nearly all the first round series were heading towards a sweep, the playoffs took a bit of a turn. Five series went to six games and one went down to the final minutes of game seven.
The second round features some potentially entertaining and high-flying matchups. It tips off in just a few minutes, so, with that, here is who I’m picking to move on and battle for a conference title.