Tuesday, May 3, 2011

NBA Playoffs Second Round: Night Two

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks (5) @ Chicago Bulls (1)
5/2: Game One--Hawks 103, BULLS 95 (1-0, Atlanta)
A microcosm of Carlos Boozer's
Game One against the Hawks
For the entirety of Round One, I wrote that the Bulls looked incredibly vulnerable against the Pacers, and that Indiana would get at least one win in the series.  I also said that Chicago's inability to play well against the Pacers meant they'd have trouble in later rounds--and that showed last night against the Hawks.  In fact, the Bulls suffered from many of the same problems that led them to play such close games against the under-.500 Pacers.  They got very little support from the bench (only 22 points, compared to 37 for the Hawks), Carlos Boozer (see right) failed to become a significant factor (only 14 points, compared to his pre-2011 playoff average of 20.3 ppg), and Derrick Rose took too many shots yet again (27, compared to a high of 18 for everyone else).  Against Indiana, the Bulls could get away with these troubling trends because they were the far more talented team and had far more playoff experience.  Against the Hawks, though, they were unable to do so because the Hawks have been battle-tested in the playoffs each of the past four season.  The big difference for Atlanta last night was Joe Johnson, who had the breakout performance that Indiana's Danny Granger never could against Chicago.  He had 34 points on 12-18 shooting (66.7%) while also hitting all five of his three-pointers and all five of his free throws.  In contrast to Rose, who hit 40.7% of his field goals, Johnson's remarkable efficiency meant he could score more than D-Rose while also getting his teammates involved.  Johnson had a huge Game Six against the Magic, and he's continuing his strong performances in Chicago.  The Bulls better watch out.

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks (3) @ Los Angeles Lakers (2)
5/2: Game One--Mavericks 96, LAKERS 94 (1-0, Dallas)
In the most exciting game of the Second Round so far, Dirk and the Mavericks edged Kobe's Lakers in the final minute.  They have a 1-0 lead in the series, and home court advantage now belongs to Dallas.  Though the officiating was somewhat questionable down the stretch, Dallas managed to hit the big shots that they needed, while Kobe missed his last-second attempt to tie. Jason Kidd (see left) played superb defense on Bryant in crunch time, proving that he has value well beyond his seven points scored. For most of he night, though, Kobe was phenomenal, scoring 36 points on 48.3% shooting, while also pulling down five rebounds.  The problem for the Lakers last night was the lack of scoring depth. Only Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were in double-figures scoring (15 points each) to complement Kobe. Andrew Bynum--who looked fantastic against the Blazers--and Ron Artest combined for only 10 points on 4-16 shooting (25%).  In addition, the Lakers bench outside of Odom only provided 10 points and one assist while committing three turnovers.  The Mavericks, by contrast, had five players in double-figures scoring, including Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry off the bench.  Dirk Nowitzki was stellar like always (25.7 career ppg in the playoffs), scoring 28 points on 50% shooting to go along with 14 rebounds.  If Dirk continues to score at will and J-Kidd manages to keep playing solid defense on Kobe down the stretch, the Mavs might actually surprise some people in this series.

No comments:

Post a Comment