2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Saturday, April 26 1st-Round Action

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor IApril 26, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Saturday, April 26 1st-Round Action

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    Get ready for a full day of NBA action.

    The first round of the NBA playoffs continues on Saturday afternoon and evening, as each squad is looking to make a definitive statement in their respective series.

    • Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks: 2 p.m. ET, TNT (Atlanta leads series, 2-1)
    • San Antonio Spurs vs. Dallas Mavericks: 4:30 p.m. ET, TNT (Series tied, 1-1)
    • Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN (Miami leads series, 2-0)
    • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT (Memphis leads series, 2-1) 

    The Pacers finally showed some late-game gumption on Saturday afternoon, holding off the Hawks to knot the series at two games apiece.

    In the second game, former All-Star Vince Carter channeled the glory days, sinking a buzzer-beating three to beat San Antonio.

    Can the Heat and Grizzlies build on their series leads in the two night games?

East: No. 1 Indiana Pacers vs. No. 8 Atlanta Hawks

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    Indiana Pacers 91, Atlanta Hawks 88Series tied, 2-2



    The Indiana Pacers got a pair of clutch threes from forwards Paul George and David West to hold off the Atlanta Hawks, 91-88.

    Though Indiana started the game well, the Hawks were once again able to go into halftime with a lead on the strength of a dominating 26-13 second quarter. 

    Hawks forward Paul Millsap devastated the Pacers in the first half, with 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Meanwhile, the best Pacers player might have been struggling reserve guard Evan Turner, who led Indiana with 11 points and four assists.

    George went ballistic in the third quarter, scoring 11 points and grabbing four rebounds, to give the Pacers a one-point lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

    The two teams traded the lead in the fourth quarter until George hit a three-pointer to give Indiana an 86-85 lead with 2:11 remaining. The Hawks turned it over on the ensuing possession, and West stuck another three to push the Pacers' lead to 89-85.

    Kyle Korver drew a foul on a three-pointer and hit all three free throws to bring Atlanta within one, but Pacers point guard George Hill hit a layup to push the lead back to three.

    The Hawks could not make another shot in the final minute, as Millsap turned the ball over and missed a jumper. Center Pero Antic missed a final desperation three at the buzzer.


    Notable Performers

    • Paul George, Pacers: 24 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST

    • Lance Stephenson, Pacers: 5 PTS, 9 REB, 1 AST

    • David West, Pacers: 18 PTS, 5 REB, 2 AST, 3 STL

    • Jeff Teague, Hawks: 14 PTS, 6 REB, 7 AST 

    • Paul Millsap, Hawks: 29 PTS, 7 REB, 2 AST


    What's Next?

    The series will shift back to Indiana for Game 5 on Monday at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on NBA TV.

    After the game, Millsap expressed belief in himself and his teammates moving forward, per The Associated Press (via ESPN): "We're still a confident group. We let one slip away, but we showed we can go out and compete in the games up there. That's where our mindset is now. We've got to let this one go and get ready for Monday."

    But the Pacers were able to take back home-court advantage, which means the Hawks will have to duplicate their Game 1 victory in Indiana if they want to take this series.

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

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    Dallas Mavericks 109, San Antonio Spurs 108Dallas leads series, 2-1



    Vinsanity is back.

    The Dallas Mavericks shocked the No. 1-seeded San Antonio Spurs on a buzzer-beating three from Vince Carter to take Saturday's Game 3, 109-108.

    The first half of this game was a shooting clinic from both teams, as Dallas and San Antonio both shot over 53 percent for the field.

    The favored Spurs started out strong in the first, but the Mavs turned the game around with a 32-20 second quarter to go into halftime with the lead. Tony Parker (17 points) and Tim Duncan (12 points) shined for the Spurs, while Dallas featured a more balanced offensive attack—all five starters scored at least eight points.

    San Antonio narrowed the deficit to three points in the third quarter, as Manu Ginobili started to heat up, with eight points in the frame.

    The final quarter was an instant classic, worthy of inclusion with the best of the Spurs-Mavs rivalry. Monta Ellis was a beast offensively, scoring 12 points, but the Spurs were able to pull even in the final minute.

    As the clock ticked down, the ball found its way into the hands of the crafty veteran Ginobili, who hit a tough layup that circled the rim three times before going down with 1.7 seconds remaining.

    The Mavericks called a timeout to advance the ball into their end of the court. Point guard Jose Calderon found Carter in the corner, and the 37-year-old splashed in a rainbow three at the horn.


    Notable Performers

    • Tim Duncan, Spurs: 22 PTS, 5 REB

    • Tony Parker, Spurs: 19 PTS, 2 REB, 6 AST

    • Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 12 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST

    • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 18 PTS, 7 REB, 3 AST

    • Monta Ellis, Mavericks: 29 PTS, 2 REB, 3 AST

    • Vince Carter, Mavericks: 11 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST


    What's Next?

    The series will stay in Dallas for Game 4 on Monday at 9:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

    If the basketball world didn't believe that this series would turn into an absolute dogfight, its eyes are now open.

    Before Game 3, Grantland's Bill Simmons revised his prediction for the series:

    I can’t believe I assumed (like so many others) that San Antonio would roll over Dallas and forgot the following things: too much history, too much Carlisle (here’s a good summary of his Jedi mind trick in Game 2), too much pride, too much Dirk, too much Cubes, too much Texas, too much Devin Harris, too much Joey Crawford. It’s going six or seven.

    The pressure is now on the Spurs, who need to bounce back quickly from this crushing loss and retake home-court advantage in Game 4.

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

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    Miami Heat 98, Charlotte Bobcats 85Miami leads series, 3-0



    The Charlotte Bobcats witnessed the full wrath of LeBron James on Saturday night, and the results were not pretty...unless you're a fan of the Miami Heat, that is.

    The two-time defending league MVP dominated the Bobcats on both ends of the court as the Heat soundly defeated Charlotte, 98-85.

    Bobcats center Al Jefferson—who has been fighting through plantar fasciitis through the series—gave the hometown fans something to cheer for in the first quarter, scoring 13 straight points for Charlotte.

    Unfortunately, neither Jefferson nor his teammates could hold of the Miami onslaught in the second quarter, as the Heat turned a four-point deficit into a 58-46 halftime lead. James keyed the Miami run with 16 points, four rebounds and five assists. Heading into the break, James demoralized the Bobcats with five free throws in the span of 3.3 seconds. After hitting two from the stripe, James stole an inbounds pass and drew a three-shot foul with 0.2 remaining.

    The third quarter was more of the same, as James scored 12 points while the Heat defense clamped down on Charlotte, holding the Bobcats to 19 points and a team.

    The Bobcats didn't even bother sending Jefferson out onto the court during the fourth quarter, as the game was already well in hand.


    Notable Performers

    • LeBron James, Heat: 30 PTS, 10 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL

    • Dwyane Wade, Heat: 17 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST

    • Chris Bosh, Heat: 8 PTS, 4 REB

    • Al Jefferson, Bobcats: 20 PTS, 5 REB

    • Kemba Walker, Bobcats: 13 PTS, 2 REB, 5 AST


    What's Next?

    The series will stay to Charlotte for Game 4 on Monday at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on TNT.

    Make no mistake: This series it over. Sadly to say, it was over the moment Al Jefferson hurt his foot. 

    The Bobcats have no reason to hang their heads. They played the Heat tough in Miami before the two-time defending champs turned up their game on Saturday.

    The Heat are a veteran team, and they understand the importance of rest, especially at this time of the year. look for them to close out Charlotte in Game 4 and turn their attention to their next opponent.


West: No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder vs. No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies

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    Oklahoma City Thunder 92, Memphis Grizzlies 89 (OT)—Series tied, 2-2



    Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Reggie Jackson had a career-high 32 points, many of them coming late, to hold off the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime.

    The Grizzlies started the game doing the same things they've been doing all series—disrupting Oklahoma City's high-powered offense. They held the Thunder to just 15 points in the first quarter.

    On the offensive end, Memphis center Marc Gasol controlled the game in the early going, with 10 points and three assists in the first quarter.

    The Thunder bounced back to take the lead at halftime by virtue of a 27-17 second quarter, but they did not rely on the usual suspects (i.e. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook). Instead, it was reserve point guard who carried the load for Oklahoma City, with 10 points.

    Durant seemed to get his game on track in the third quarter, scoring seven points as the Thunder stretched their lead to double-digits. 

    But the Thunder once again went ice-cold from the field in the fourth, and the Grizzlies steadily climbed back to take a five-point lead with one minutes left to play.

    Durant and Wesbtrook couldn't buy a bucket, so the Thunder were forced to turn back to Jackson. And the kid with Mr. October's name came through in the clutch, with a three and a floater to tie the game.

    Memphis had a chance to tie in regulation, but Gasol missed a jumper and Tony Allen's putback was blocked by Ibaka as time expired.

    Both offenses struggled in the overtime period, but Jackson and Durant hit just enough free throws to give Oklahoma City an extremely ugly road win.


    Notable Performers

    • Kevin Durant, Thunder: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals
    • Russell Westbrook, Thunder: 15 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists
    • Reggie Jackson, Thunder: 32 points, 9 rebounds
    • Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists
    • Zach Randolph, Grizzlies: 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists
    • Mike Conley, Grizzlies: 14 points, 4 rebounds, 10 assists


    What's Next?

    The series will head back to Oklahoma City, with Game 5 taking place on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

    The Grizzlies have executed better late in games with one key exception: at the free-throw line. Memphis was 13-of-23 at the line in this game, while Oklahoma City was 18-of-20. That's the difference, right there. They are not a great offensive team, so they will need to improve their efficiency from the charity stripe.

    As for the Thunder, it will be interesting to see if they continue playing Game 3's hero, Jackson late in the the fourth quarter of Game 5. He struggled in the Games 1 through 3, so the team can only hope this performance was the beginning of a playoff resurgence.