Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NBA Playoffs Second Round: Night Eight

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (3) @ Miami Heat (2)
5/1: Game One--HEAT 99, Celtics 90 (1-0, Miami) 
5/3: Game Two--HEAT 102, Celtics 91 (2-0, Miami)
5/7: Game Three--CELTICS 97, Heat 81 (2-1, Miami)
5/9: Game Four--Heat 98, CELTICS 90 (3-1, Miami) 
For the first time in this second round series, the road team won a game.  That's bad news for the Boston Celtics, as they now are in a 3-1 hole, needing to win the final three games of this series to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.  To do so, they would need to win both games at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, a place where they are 0-2 in the playoffs and 1-1 in the regular season.  That does not bode well for the C's, since they lost by an average of 10 points in Miami during the first two games of this series.  Last night's loss was particularly troubling for Doc Rivers' squad because the key to their Game Three win, Kevin Garnett, looked overmatched in Game Four.  His dominance of Miami counterpart Chris Bosh led to a blowout win for the Celtics over the weekend.  Last night, though, Bosh had a bounce-back performance in shutting down KG--and putting up some pretty nice numbers himself.  In Game Three, Bosh shot 1-6 en route to an underwhelming six-point effort.  In Game Four, he shot 8-17 (47.1%), scoring 20 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.  Bosh was strong on the defensive end, as well.  He held Garnett to seven points on 1-10 shooting.  He also prevented KG, the two-time NBA rebounding champion, from grabbing a single offensive rebound.  By contrast, Bosh pulled down four on the offensive glass, which he promptly turned into six Miami points.  The news was not all bad for Boston, though.  Paul Pierce shot 10-20 (50%), going off for 27 points and eight rebounds.  LeBron James still outplayed the Celtics small forward, netting 35 points, 14 rebounds, and three steals on the night.  One more win, and the newer Big 3 are in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hit the jump to read about the Thunder/Grizzlies game!

Western Conference

Memphis Grizzlies (8) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (4)
5/1: Game One--Grizzlies 114, THUNDER 101 (1-0, Memphis)
5/3: Game Two--THUNDER 111, Grizzlies 102 (1-1, Tie)
5/7: Game Three--GRIZZLIES 101, Thunder 93 (2-1, Memphis)
5/9: Game Four--Thunder 133, GRIZZLIES 123 (2-2, Tie)
Russell Westbrook (0) and the Thunder got
the last laugh in Game Four
In arguably the most exciting game of the postseason thus far, the Thunder outlasted the Grizzlies in triple overtime to tie up the series at two games apiece. Now the series moves back to Oklahoma City, where the Thunder simply need to hold court twice in order to advance. That will not be an easy task, though, because the Grizzlies pulled off a 13-point upset at Oklahoma City Arena in Game One.  In last night's Game Four, all statistics were inflated because the teams played 15 extra minutes.  For example, the Grizzlies took 111 field goals (compared to 79 in their Game Two loss), and the Thunder took 50 free throws (compared to 33 in Game Two). Due to this inflation, looking at raw statistical data is quite misleading: Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 60 points and 37 rebounds, but their Grizzlies still lost.  Instead, looking at +/- ratings is a particularly effective way to assess a player's impact on a marathon game like last night's.  This method shows that Gasol's 26 points and 21 rebounds (10 offensive) didn't translate to team success--Memphis was outscored by nine when he was on the floor.  By contrast, Kevin Durant's similarly impressive 35 points, 13 rebounds, and four steals had a more positive impact--his +/- rating was +15.  Durant was particularly impressive in the third and final overtime, scoring six points.  The Grizzlies only scored four in that period, including none after the 2:40 mark.  Though they received a big shot from Mike Conley to force the first overtime and one from Greivis Vasquez to force the second, the Grizzlies came up way short in the third, and now the series is tied.

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