NBA Playoffs 2014: Teams That Will Bounce Back from Early Deficits

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NBA Playoffs 2014: Teams That Will Bounce Back from Early Deficits
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Fans of the NBA teams that were talented enough to make the playoffs have been anxiously awaiting the postseason for quite some time, and it may feel like the sky is falling if your team lost its first contest after so much anticipation.

We’re here to tell you that isn’t necessarily the case, at least not for a few teams.

With that in mind, here is a look at three squads that will come back from early deficits.

 

Indiana Pacers

Yes, the narrative now is that the Indiana Pacers are doomed for an early exit, and that mindset exists for a reason.

The Pacers were downright terrible down the stretch of the season and got blown out on their home floor against the No. 8 seed Atlanta Hawks in Game 1 of their series. For all that early tough talk and pounding of their chests because they were the Eastern Conference runners-up last year, the Pacers may never get the chance to challenge the Miami Heat.

Lynne Sladky

Atlanta poses a matchup problem for Indiana because Pero Antic and Paul Millsap can stretch the floor and hit the three. It forces Roy Hibbert and David West to stray from the paint and outside their comfort zone (although West is capable of leaving the paint) and opens up the middle of the defense for penetration and offensive rebounding.

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However, the Pacers will find a way to turn the tables around down low. 

Hibbert and West may have trouble guarding Antic and Millsap outside the paint, but the Hawks will have trouble guarding the Pacers big men on the block. In the last couple of minutes of Game 1 (after the game was well in hand), Indiana gave it to Hibbert on consecutive possessions, and he scored with relative ease.

That was foreshadowing for Game 2. As long as the Pacers ball-handlers can get the ball down low, Indiana will muscle its way to a tighter-than-expected first-round victory.

 

Houston Rockets

Pat Sullivan

The Houston Rockets lost at home in overtime to the Portland Trail Blazers, but they were the better team for the first 44 minutes.

Houston held a double-digit lead with only a few minutes remaining, but Hack-a-Dwight reared its ugly head. The Houston big man missed some critical free throws down the stretch, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard crawled back into the contest.

Ultimately, it took a historically great game from Aldridge, as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com pointed out, and a ton of missed free throws just for the Trail Blazers to win in overtime:

What’s more, superstar James Harden shot an abysmal 8-of-28 from the field. He is too talented of an offensive player to let that happen on more than one occasion in this series and already was looking ahead to Game 2, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN.com), saying, "I've got to play better. I didn't shoot the ball well ... I've got to shake it off, but it will be better in Game 2."

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Houston fans should take solace in the fact that it took a terrible game from their team’s star and an historical one from the opponent’s star for Portland to squeak out an overtime win in Game 1.

 

Chicago Bulls

Nam Y. Huh

Much like the Houston Rockets, the Chicago Bulls controlled the majority of their first playoff game only to lose down the stretch.

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The Bulls held a double-digit lead in the second half but appeared to ease up in the final 15 minutes. What’s more, they let the pace of the game speed up, which played into the athletic Washington Wizards’ hands.

D.J. Augustin, who was so important for Chicago this year, finished a disappointing 3-of-15 from the field. Considering how effectively he played in the season’s second half, don’t expect a repeat performance from the backup point guard the rest of this series. 

The Bulls lost Game 1 of the first round last year to the Brooklyn Nets and found a way to win the series. They will do the same again this time around against the Wizards.

 

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