2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Sunday's 1st-Round Action

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Sunday's 1st-Round Action

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    Let the NBA playoffs continue.

    Upset Saturday was a great start to a much-anticipated postseason, with three away teams bilking higher seeds of home-court advantage from the jump. Sunday has the potential to be just as good, if not better.

    The remaining four first-round matchups will all commence with absolutely pivotal Game 1's, setting the tone for and possibly shifting the outcome of each series. 

    Here's what Sunday's slate of games looks like:

    • Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs: 1 p.m. ET, TNT
    • Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
    • Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls: 7 p.m. ET, TNT
    • Portland Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT

    Keep it locked here to track updated final scores, recaps, highlights and stats, along with what's next for each series. 

    Meaningful, high-stakes basketball is here.

    Bring it on.

West: No. 8 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 1 San Antonio Spurs

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    San Antonio Spurs 90, Dallas Mavericks 85—San Antonio leads series, 1-0



    It wasn't the prettiest game, but the Spurs were able to hold home court against the Mavericks, overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit to nab a win. 

    Offense was hard to come by for the Mavericks early, as they missed 15 of their first 20 shots. Their defense wasn't much better either. Fourteen of the Spurs' first 15 points came in the paint, fueling a first quarter that allowed San Antonio to take a nine-point lead into the second.

    Dallas eventually settled in on offense, shooting nearly 67 percent from the floor in the second quarter, and outscoring the Spurs by 10, to take a one-point edge into the half.

    The third quarter looked a lot like the first quarter. Neither team shot better than 36.4 percent, and while the Mavs flirted with blowing their lead open, the Spurs kept clawing back despite Tim Duncan leaving midway through after banging knees with Monta Ellis.

    Duncan would return for the fourth quarter in a big way, scoring nine points. Dallas would once again threaten to run away, but the Spurs never quit. Their defense suffocated the Mavs' dribble-penetration, forcing them into contested, low-percentage looks that stalled their offense.

    Dallas' inability to come up with big stops down the stretch sealed their fate. In the end, the Spurs escaped AT&T Center with a much-needed, hard-fought win.


    Notable Performers

    • Tim Duncan, Spurs: 27 PTS, 12-20 FG
    • Devin Harris, Mavericks: 19 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST
    • Tony Parker, Spurs: 21 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
    • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 11 PTS, 4-14 FG
    • Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 17 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST


    What's Next?

    The Spurs will host the Mavericks for Game 2 on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on NBATV, on FSSW in San Antonio and on KTXA in Dallas. 

    San Antonio is going to need more from its three-point shooters. Ginobili was the only Spurs player who put in a three-pointer all game. The team led the league in three-point shooting this season, so it's imperative that guys like Danny Green, Marco Belinelli and Kawhi Leonard knock down their deep balls.

    Expect Nowitzki and Monta Ellis to have a better Game 2 as well. They combined for 22 points on 8-of-28 shooting Sunday. The Mavs will need both of them to get in a groove if they wish to rebound in time to knot the series up at one game apiece.

East: No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats vs. No. 2 Miami Heat

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    Miami Heat 99, Charlotte Bobcats 88—Miami leads series, 1-0



    You know things are going well for the Heat when Dwyane Wade hits a three-pointer. On Sunday against the Bobcats, things were going well.

    The Bobcats started off hot, drilling 57.9 percent of their first-quarter shots and jumping out to a 23-19 lead. Al Jefferson suffered a plantar fascia strain early, but the Bobcats had momentum after the Heat came out sluggish, converting only 38.9 percent of their field-goal attempts.

    Roles reversed in the second quarter. The Heat rebounded from their slow start, outscoring the Bobcats 30-19 to bring a seven-point lead into halftime. While Jefferson returned to action, his mobility was off. He was clearly favoring his foot, and could often be seen limping up and down the floor.

    Fortunes didn't turn much in the second half. The Bobcats stayed within seven through the third quarter, but, like they often do, the Heat became too much. They blew the game wide open, leading by as many as 19 points.

    Though the Bobcats made one last push, the Heat ended all hope of them staging a successful comeback in the waning minutes. Wade and Chris Andersen were on in the fourth, forcing the Bobcats to fold against a healthier and superior team.

    Credit the Bobcats for spending most of the game within striking distance, but "almosts" aren't good enough. They don't win playoff games.

    The Heat win playoff games. 


    Notable Performers

    • LeBron James, Heat: 27 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST
    • Al Jefferson, Bobcats: 18 PTS, 10 REB, 2 BLK
    • Dwyane Wade, Heat: 23 PTS, 10-16 FG
    • Kemba Walker, Bobcats: 20 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST
    • Chris Andersen, Heat: 8 PTS, 10 REB, 1 BLK


    What's Next?

    The Heat will host the Bobcats for Game 2 on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on TNT, on Sun Sports in Miami and on Sports South in Charlotte. Everyone should be asking the same question: Can the Bobcats do anything to steal a game in Miami?

    Jefferson needs to heal if the Bobcats are ever going to make a game, let alone this entire series, competitive. If he's limited in any way or forced to play through pain, the Bobcats are in serious trouble. In the event Big Al is off, Gerald Henderson needs to step up his offensive game. Shooting 33 percent from the field on a regular basis isn't going to cut it.

    For the Heat, Wednesday is just another playoff game—another chance for Wade and James to show they're on the same page, another opportunity to silence those who doubted they would be anything but ready when games started to matter.

East: No. 5 Washington Wizards vs. No. 4 Chicago Bulls

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    Washington Wizards 102, Chicago Bulls 93—Washington leads series, 1-0



    The Chicago Bulls love to play ugly basketball. That is how they win. Well, the Washington Wizards proved that two can play at that game, taking Game 1 in a bruising, foul-filled contest.

    At the beginning of the game, the postseason-neophyte Wizards made a concerted effort to run their offense through veteran Nene Hilario. And the power forward did not disappoint, hitting four of Washington's first five field goals as the Wizards jumped out on top early.

    But the Bulls closed out the quarter strong, thanks to a pair of buckets from Jimmy Butler and Carlos Boozer.

    The tide began to turn in the second quarter, as Washington failed to take advantages of multiple opportunities at the free-throw line. The Wizards shot an embarrassing 12-of-21 from the charity stripe in the first half.

    Meanwhile, the Bulls started to find their offense the traditional Chicago way...via the offensive glass. Taj Gibson was particularly effective, scoring eight points, most of which came off missed shots. Chicago went into the half leading, 54-48.

    The Bulls threatened to run away from Washington early in the third quarter, jumping out to a 13-point lead on the strength of the long-range shooting of Mike Dunleavy. But the Wizards answered back quickly, upping the pace and bringing the deficit back to within a manageable three points by the end of the quarter.

    Both teams started making shots in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards were boosted by a standout performance from wily, old point guard Andre Miller. Once Miller went to the bench, the Wizards relied on the playmaking of Nene, who carved up the Bulls with his shooting.

    On the defensive end, the Wizards shut down Chicago's offense down the stretch, limiting the Bulls to only 18 fourth-quarter points.



    Notable Performers

    • Joakim Noah, Bulls: 10 PTS, 10 REB, 4 AST

    • Carlos Boozer, Bulls: 11 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST

    • Jimmy Butler, Bulls: 15 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL

    • John Wall, Wizards: 16 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST

    • Bradley Beal, Wizards: 13 PTS, 2 REB, 7 AST

    • Nene, Wizards: 24 PTS, 8 REB, 3 AST


    What's Next?

    The Bulls will host the Wizards in Game 2 on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

    The Bulls are what they are at this point in the season—a tough, defensive-minded team that struggles mightily to score the basketball.

    Well, the Wizards showed on Sunday that they can match Chicago defensively, and have far more upside on offense. And John Wall and Bradley Beal didn't play their best in their postseason debuts.

    If Washington's dynamic backcourt can pick up their play in Game 2, the Wizards could be even more dangerous.

West: No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers vs. No. 4 Houston Rockets

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    Portland Trail Blazers 122, Houston Rockets 120, OT - Portland leads series, 1-0



    Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge sunk a pair of ridiculously clutch shots to send Sunday night's game into overtime, where the Portland Trail Blazers held on to beat the Houston Rockets in one of the wildest games in recent playoff history.

    The first quarter was a real chess match, as Rockets coach Kevin McHale and Blazers coach Terry Stotts tried out interesting schemes on both ends of the court.

    Portland made a concerted effort to attack James Harden on offense in the early going, pushing the ball to his mark, Wesley Matthews, in the post. McHale responded by trying out Harden on Nicolas Batum for stretches, and matching Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge/Robin Lopez front court by bringing in center Omer Asik to play along Dwight Howard.

    Nobody could guard Aldridge in the first frame, however, as he put up 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

    The Rockets heated up in the second quarter, as Chandler Parsons put in 10 points while Howard got more active on defense. In the span of about eight minutes, Houston turned a seven-point deficit into an 11-point lead. But the Blazers stormed right back to take a two-point lead in the waning seconds. Harden sank a clutch three at the end of the half to give Houston a 49-48 advantage.

    Portland did a good job of keeping the Rockets within reach in the second half, but Houston appeared to have the game well in hand with 4:30 remaining. Then Portland went to the "hack-a-Dwight" strategy," fouling Howard every time down the court. Howard missed four of his six free throws, and Portland stormed back with an 11-0 run to tie the game.

    And just when the game couldn't get any more strange, Portland sent Howard to the line with 32 seconds left...and Howard hit both, giving Houston a three-point lead.

    Lillard responded with a three to tie, and, after Harden hit a pair off free throws, Aldridge knocked in a put-back bucket to send the game into OT.

    The extra period turned into a war of attrition, as Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Howard and Beverley all fouled out. In the end, it was Lillard who hit an and-one layup to give Portland a one-point lead they would not relinquish.


    Notable Performers

    • LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers: 46 PTS, 18 REB

    • Damian Lillard, Blazers: 31 PTS, 9 REB, 5 AST

    • James Harden, Rockets: 27 PTS, 5 REB, 6 AST

    • Dwight Howard, Rockets: 27 PTS, 15 REB

    • Chandler Parson, Rockets: 24 PTS, 6 REB


    What's Next?

    The Rockets will host Portland for Game 2 on Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

    The Rockets will be looking to bounce back from a massively disappointing loss. They had three or four chances to put Portland away, but didn't. Look for Houston to come out angry in Game 2.

    The Blazers will have to learn to ignore the antics of Pat Beverley, who really seemed to get into his opponents' heads in the second half. Mo Williams hit Beverley on a drive and was assessed a technical foul, as Beverley skipped away laughing.

    Beverley is a pest; his job is not only to defend, but to psych out his opponents. If the Blazers can keep their heads, they will have a chance to go back to Portland up 2-0.