2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping 1st-Round Action from Monday

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping 1st-Round Action from Monday

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    This season has given us one of the wildest postseason rides in NBA history.

    Monday, the craziness continued, especially in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers laid another egg. The Eastern Conference's top-seed lost to the sub-.500 Atlanta Hawks, and they now trail 3-2 in the series.

    Earlier, the Miami Heat completed a four-game sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats. With all the upsets and road victories everywhere else, Miami was the only higher seed to really take care of business.

    Finally, the night closed with another down-to-the-last-buzzer showdown in the Western Conference. In Dallas, the Mavericks overcame a big second-half deficit, but fell just short against the San Antonio Spurs.

    All three winning teams got it done on the road, making the visitors 19-14 in this opening round. And with 15 teams still alive, it doesn't look like things are going to calm down any time soon.

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

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    Miami Heat 109, Charlotte Bobcats 98— Miami wins series, 4-0



    The only quarter Miami won was the third, but it was enough to secure a double-digit victory and the first round's only sweep.

    LeBron was dominant in that frame, scoring nine of his 31 points and dishing out six of his nine assists. He played all 12 minutes, as Miami outscored Charlotte 32-17.

    The other two members of the Big Three were solid for the Heat as well, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined to score 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting.

    According to Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick, Wade said, "I felt good, man. I like the progression I made in this series," following the game.

    If he remains sharp and healthy, the Heat could basically get through the Eastern Conference on cruise control.

    For the Bobcats, they were competitive without their leading scorer, thanks in large part do a huge game from Kemba Walker.

    With Al Jefferson sitting because of plantar fasciitis, Walker went 11-of-15 from the field for 29 points. He also handed out five assists and grabbed five boards.

    His passion and energy was enough to inspire his team to the extent that they kept the game close, but Charlotte simply lacked the talent and experience to ever truly threaten in the series.

    Four other Bobcats hit double-figures, including Gary Neal with 16 off the bench.


    Notable Performers

    • LeBron James, Heat: 31 PTS, 9 AST, 7 REB, 3 STL
    • Chris Bosh, Heat: 17 PTS, 8 REB
    • Kemba Walker, Bobcats: 29 PTS, 5 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL
    • Josh McRoberts, Bobcats: 10 PTS, 10 REB, 5 AST
    • Gary Neal, Bobcats: 16 PTS


    What's Next?

    The Heat now await the winner of the Brooklyn Nets-Toronto Raptors series. Facing either team would force the Heat to face a little history.

    According to Skolnick, former Raptor Chris Bosh said, "I'm over it, though," when talking about being booed in Toronto. The other possibility would be Ray Allen facing former teammates Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn.

    As far as the basketball goes, Skolnick reported Wade saying, "I don't think any of us know what to expect from that series. Two different styles."

    Meanwhile, the Bobcats are "goin' fishing," as Charles Barkley would say.

    They'll look to build on the momentum of this turnaround season by getting better over the summer, and hoping for a full recovery by Jefferson.

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

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    Atlanta Hawks 107, Indiana Pacers 97— Atlanta leads series, 3-2



    Things just keep getting worse for the Pacers, as they now trail the No. 8 seed in the East, a team that won just 38 games in the regular season.

    The Hawks jumped on the mentally-wounded Pacers early, winning the second quarter by a whopping 22 points. 

    Reserve forward Mike Scott scored 17 points in 10 minutes in that quarter, shooting 6-of-6 from the field and 5-of-5 from three-point range.

    His hot hand and the energy from the rest of the bench—Lou Williams and Shelvin Mack also played the majority of that quarter—seized momentum, and Indiana could never fully get it back.

    Mack was perhaps Atlanta's best player, taking it to both George Hill and C.J. Watson on the way to a team-high 20 points.

    He didn't keep all the fun to himself though, as six total Hawks hit double-figures in their shredding of the once-feared Indiana defense.

    The Pacers were anchored on that end by Roy Hibbert early in the season, but his collapse has been darn-near tragic in recent months.

    Monday may have been the low point, with Hibbert playing just 12 minutes despite starting the game. He finished with zero points and zero rebounds.

    The rest of Indiana's starters were solid offensively, but they failed to impact the game on defense. It's as if they somehow became the Bizarro Pacers before the postseason started.


    Notable Performers

    • Shelvin Mack, Hawks: 20 PTS, 5 AST, 2 STL
    • Paul Millsap, Hawks: 18 PTS, 8 REB
    • Paul George, Pacers: 26 PTS, 12 REB, 6 AST, 6 STL
    • David West, Pacers: 16 PTS, 7 REB, 7 AST
    • Lance Stephenson, Pacers: 16 PTS, 7 REB, 4 AST


    What's Next?

    The Pacers have to make some kind of adjustment if they're going to keep their season alive. According to Indiana's PA announcer Michael Grady, Frank Vogel said, "We'll consider everything at this point," following the game.

    He should start by benching Roy Hibbert. He's now averaging 4.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in the series, as Atlanta's more athletic big men are taking advantage of his slow feet.

    For the Hawks, continuing to attack the way they have could lead to a shocking first-round upset. It's cliche, but they really are playing like they have nothing to lose. Everyone looks loose, and the ball is moving and shots are falling because of it.

    Game 6 will be Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in Atlanta.

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

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    San Antonio Spurs 93, Dallas Mavericks 89— Series tied, 2-2



    The Western Conference side of the bracket is just plain bonkers. Game 4 of the Mavericks-Spurs matchup was further evidence of that.

    After coughing up a 20-point lead in the second half, the Spurs managed to recover and make all the big plays in the closing seconds, including three clutch free throws from Manu Ginobili that sealed the game.

    They put themselves in a position to make those big plays by blasting the Mavericks in the second quarter by a score of 32-13. It was the only frame they won, and it was enough to get the win.

    It may not have been, if not for a huge ejection in the fourth quarter.

    It looked like DeJuan Blair was going to single-handedly drag his team to victory, as he was hitting big bucket after big bucket in the second half. He scored all 12 of his points after the break, going 5-of-5 from the field.

    Then following a foul call Blair disagreed with, he got tangled up with Tiago Splitter on the floor. As he shook loose, Blair kicked Splitter in the head and got tossed.

    According to Mavs Insider's Earl K. Sneed, Blair said after the game, "It was clearly a reaction to the call. ... It’s real disappointing, because with me in the game our momentum was going great."

    The momentum shifted to the Spurs at that point, despite a few more big buckets from Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki.


    Notable Performers

    • Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 23 PTS, 5 AST
    • Boris Diaw, Spurs: 17 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST
    • Tim Duncan, Spurs: 14 PTS, 10 REB
    • Monta Ellis, Mavericks: 20 PTS, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL
    • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 19 PTS, 7 REB


    What's Next?

    The Spurs will look to take the lead in the series at home, and could use more big play from Ginobili. With Danny Green struggling, San Antonio's ageless sixth man has been brilliant. 

    According to Dan McCarney of The San Antonio Express-News, "Spurs off rating with Ginobili tonight: 117.6/100. Without: 69.7/100."

    A difference of 48 points per 100 possessions is nothing to scoff at, and the Spurs should continue to look to exploit that matchup against Monta Ellis and Vince Carter.

    As for the Mavericks, they still need a breakout game from Nowitzki. He scored 19 points Monday, but it took him 19 shots to get there.

    Splitter appears to have his number, and is one of the most important players in the series because of that.


    Andy Bailey covers the NBA for Bleacher Report.