2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Saturday's First Round Action
The 2014 NBA playoffs tip off with a first round full of intrigue.
Acting as both the culmination of and beginning to career- and season-long storylines, the opening slate of hardwood contests has a little something for everyone. Rematches, upstarts versus old hands, title contenders trying to get started on the right foot; it's all there.
Here's what Saturday's games have to offer:
Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors - 12:30 p.m. ET - ESPN
Golden State Warriors vs. LA Clippers - 3:30 p.m. ET - ABC
Atlanta Hawks vs. Indiana Pacers - 7:00 p.m. ET - ESPN
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - 9:30 p.m. ET - ESPN
Keep it locked here to track updated final scores, recaps, highlights and stats, along with what's next for each series.
It all starts now. Let the games begin.
East: (6) Brooklyn Nets vs. (3) Toronto Raptors
Brooklyn Nets 94, Toronto Raptors 87 - Brooklyn leads series, 1-0
The shot clocks stopped working at Air Canada Centre, but there was nothing wrong with the Nets. In a game with a pace that favored Brooklyn’s methodical half-court execution, Paul Pierce’s big shots down the stretch proved pivotal—he had nine points in the fourth quarter.
Despite an initial surge by the Nets, the game remained tightly contested throughout with Toronto consistently counter-punching after Brooklyn runs. But the Nets outlasted the Raptors with sound defense and experience.
Jonas Valanciunas established Toronto’s size dominance early, scoring the Raptors’ first eight points out of the gate and dominating the game on the glass.
Ultimately, though, the Raptors struggled to keep up with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson in the first half. They combined for 30 by halftime. Meanwhile, Toronto’s best player, DeMar DeRozan, got off to a rough postseason debut, starting the game 0-8 from the field until finally hitting a jumper late in the third quarter.
And it was all about Pierce in the fourth, proving postseason experience in close-game situations counts for something.
- Deron Williams, Nets: 24 Pts, 8-20 FG
- Joe Johnson, Nets: 24 Pts, 8 Reb, 4 Ast
- Kyle Lowry, Raptors: 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 8 Ast
- Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors: 17 Pts, 18 Reb
- DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: 14 Pts, 3-13 FG
The Raptors will host the Nets for Game 2 on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on NBATV, on TSN in Toronto and on the YES Network in Brooklyn. The big question will be whether the Raptors can regroup at home and make a series out of this.
Toronto will need more from DeRozan. He’s an emerging star whose athleticism was supposed to pose problems for Brooklyn’s defense. That didn’t happen on Saturday. We are due for big bounce-back games from DeRozan and Terrence Ross, who saw limited action with first-half foul trouble.
Look for Paul Pierce to have a big Game 2. His jumper was off early on Saturday, but he’s been solid since the All-Star break, and he looks to be getting in a groove at the right time.
West: (6) Golden State Warriors vs. (3) L.A. Clippers
Golden State Warriors 109, LA Clippers 105 - Golden State leads series, 1-0
What we already suspected is now a certainty. The third-seeded L.A. Clippers and sixth-seed Golden State Warriors’ series is shaping up to be one heck of a playoff matchup.
The Warriors pulled out a squeaker in Game 1 on the road, but both of these teams clearly showed up to play.
The big story was fouls, with stars on both teams seeing limited action due to quick whistles.
Blake Griffin’s minutes were limited in the first half by almost-instant foul trouble, and Andre Iguodala similarly struggled, picking up four quick fouls before halftime. Griffin fouled out after just 19 minutes of playing time, with 48.3 seconds remaining in the game.
Still, the Clippers gave themselves a chance.
Chris Paul’s three-pointer with 2:10 remaining tied the game at 102 apiece. His own offense made a difference down the stretch, but proved to be not enough. Paul grievously dribbled the ball out of bounds with under 19 seconds remaining.
The Warriors finished the game better than they started it.
The Warriors went 0-8 from the field early in the first before cashing in on some jumpers and a fast-break dunk by Iguodala that cut L.A.’s early lead to five. The Clippers led by as many as 11 in the first, but finished the quarter ahead by five after a successful half-court heave by Jamal Crawford.
The tightly contested game was tied at halftime at 52 points apiece.
- Chris Paul, Clippers: 28 Pts, 8 Ast, 7 Reb, 4 Stl
- Blake Griffin, Clippers: 16 Pts, 19 Min
- DeAndre Jordan, Clippers: 11 Pts, 14 Reb, 5 Blk
- J.J. Redick, Clippers: 22 Pts, 8-11 FG
- Stephen Curry, Warriors: 14 Pts, 7 Ast
- Klay Thompson, Warriors: 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast
- David Lee, Warriors: 20 Pts, 13 Reb
The Clippers will host Golden State for Game 2 on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The action will be nationally televised on TNT and CSNB in the Bay Area.
The Warriors’ shooting and late-game execution proved problematic for Los Angeles, so look for Golden State to continue trying to get guys like David Lee and Jermaine O’Neal involved. That should open the game up for shooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
Also, keep an eye on Griffin. After seeing so little action in Game 1, he’ll be motivated to have a big game and prove he deserved the MVP consideration he garnered during the regular season. Chris Paul can’t handle the scoring load on his own through a seven-game series.
J.J. Redick also proved he’s a potential X-factor in the series, scoring a playoff career-high 22 points.
East (8) Atlanta Hawks vs. (1) Indiana Pacers
Atlanta Hawks 101, Indiana Pacers 93 - Atlanta leads series, 1-0
The Indiana Pacers continued their recent stretch of abysmal play into the postseason.
Grabbing the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference didn't mean much on Saturday night, as Indiana was blown off its home court in the second half by the one sub-.500 team in the NBA postseason, the Atlanta Hawks.
If the Pacers planned to making a statement by imposing their will on the road team in the first quarter, the Hawks quickly put any such notions to rest. Instead, it was Atlanta who came out on fire, blitzing the Pacers' top-ranked defense to the tune of 28 first-quarter points. Indiana needed a buzzer-beating three from C.J. Watson just to keep the Pacers' deficit at six.
Indiana climbed right back into the game in the second quarter thanks to the dynamic duo of Paul George (11 points) and Lance Stephenson (nine points).
George had a chance to expand Indiana's two-point lead heading into halftime but got a little sloppy with the ball in the final seconds, allowing Jeff Teague to strip the ball and take it to the rim. He missed, but Korver cleaned it up before the buzzer, and the Hawks went into the half tied at 50.
Atlanta jumped out quickly in the third, with separate runs of 8-0 and 14-0. The Pacers' D—particularly Evan Turner and George Hill—simply could not stop Teague in the period, as the Hawks point guard was able to get into the paint and draw fouls with ease. Roy Hibbert, meanwhile, struggled at both ends of the court, committing three fouls and three turnovers in eight minutes of playing time. Both Teague (14 points) and Paul Millsap (13 points) nearly outscored the entire Pacers team (16 points) in the third.
Atlanta stretched its lead to 20 points in the fourth quarter, as the Indiana fans showered the frustrated Pacers with boos.
- Paul George, Pacers: 24 Pts, 5 Ast, 10 Reb, 4 Stl
- Lance Stephenson, Pacers: 19 Pts, 1 Ast, 7 Reb
- Roy Hibbert, Pacers 8 Pts, 8 Reb
- Jeff Teague, Hawks: 28 Pts, 5 Ast
- Kyle Korver, Hawks: 12 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast
- Paul Millsap, Hawks: 25 Pts, 8 Reb
The Pacers will host Atlanta for Game 2 on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. The action will be nationally televised on TNT.
It might be time to push the panic button, Indiana. Not only are the Pacers in free-fall, but they will now have to win a game in Atlanta to take this series. Indiana has traditionally struggled against the Hawks on the road, with a record of 2-8 in Atlanta since 2010-11, including a 1-2 mark in last year's playoffs.
Of course, the Pacers still have the talent to beat the Hawks in any arena, but they have to get their heads on straight. If they lose Game 2, there is a very real chance the No. 1 seed doesn't even make it back home for Game 5.
West: (7) Memphis Grizzlies vs. (2) Oklahoma City Thunder
Oklahoma City Thunder 100, Memphis Grizzlies 86 - Thunder leads series, 1-0
Basketball may be a game of runs, but this is ridiculous.
The Oklahoma City Thunder nearly blew a 22-point halftime lead by stepping off the gas pedal in the third quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies. Then, just as quickly, the Thunder turned up the intensity in the fourth quarter and cruised over the last few minutes to a 100-86 win.
Oklahoma City stepped on Memphis' throat from the opening tip, starting the game on an 8-0 run. The Big Three of Russell Westbrook (15 points), Kevin Durant (14 points) and Serge Ibaka (13 points) demolished Memphis in the first half. Meanwhile, the Thunder held Memphis to 5-of-29 shooting in the first—the worst shooting quarter in the history of their franchise, according to the ESPN broadcast.
The Grizzlies' first-quarter shot chart (via SB Nation) looked like a tic-tac-toe game gone haywire, hemorrhaging x's all over the place.
Oklahoma City stretched its lead to 22 points at halftime thanks to more stifling defense. The Thunder blocked eight shots in the first half—three from Steven Adams, two apiece from Ibaka and Nick Collison, and one from Reggie Jackson. The Thunder hounded Memphis shooters all the way out past the three-point line in an impressive display of swarming perimeter defense.
But the Grizzlies came out like a whole new team after the break. They quickly brought the deficit back to within single digits with a 17-4 run to open the third quarter.
As the Grizzlies charged, the Thunder tightened, particularly on offense. They managed a scant 13 points in the third quarter as Memphis closed to within four.
Memphis did manage to get that deficit down to two, but the Thunder seemingly flipped a switch down the stretch. Ibaka, Jackson, Derek Fisher, Westbrook and Durant all hit shots midway through the fourth quarter as Oklahoma City quickly got their lead back into double digits.
Kevin Durant, Thunder: 33 Pts, 7 Ast, 8 Reb
Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 23 Pts, 5 Ast, 10 Reb
Serge Ibaka, Thunder: 17 Pts, 9 Reb
Zach Randolph, Grizzlies: 21 Pts, 11 Reb
Mike Conley, Grizzlies: 16 Pts, 5 Reb, 11 Ast
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: 16 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast
The Thunder will host Memphis for Game 2 on Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET. The action will be nationally televised on TNT.
If anything, this Game 1 might have been helpful for the Thunder. They received an important reminder that no playoff game can be taken for granted, while at the same time coming away with the victory.
As for the Grizzlies, they now understand that Oklahoma City is far too explosive of an opponent for them to come out of the gate so flat. They must bring that third-quarter intensity for 48 minutes, or the favored Thunder will make quick work of them in Game 2.