NBA Playoffs: No. 1 Seeds Top and Flop

Joe WillettSenior Writer IApril 29, 2008

The Boston Celtics were supposed to have a bye week for their first series against the Atlanta Hawks, rolling on with an easy sweep to head into the second round.

The Los Angeles Lakers were supposed to have a slightly difficult time against a team that has a great coach and two All-Star caliber players.

Neither of those predictions was exactly accurate.

The Boston Celtics, after tearing through the first two games of the series, are now in a 2-2 draw with the Hawks, a team that has won back-to-back home games in impressive fashion.

The Los Angeles Lakers just completed a series sweep, quite handily might I mention, against the Denver Nuggets, a team thought to have completely given up.

Atlanta, much like the Philadelphia 76ers—also locked in a battle against a strong team—is behind in nearly every major statistical category. But the Hawks, led by Joe Johnsons, Al Horford, and Mike Bibby, have now made a series out of what was supposed to be a cake-walk.

The Lakers, on the other hand, have completely dismantled the Nuggets in every way, shape, and form. They scored at least 100 points every game, something that no team should allow.

Kobe Bryant nearly put up 34 points a game and was completely in control of every aspect of his game. Pau Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds through the four games that this series lasted.

On the Nuggets side, selfishness was a large part of the game plan. Allen Iverson scored 24.5 points a game, but he consistently took shots that didn't need to be taken. Add that to the fact that he led the team in assists with only 4.5 a game, and the Nuggets didn't exactly play team basketball.

If somebody did try to pass it to the open man, they weren't able to score points. When they took any shot they wanted to, they were able to score more than anybody else.

In Game 4, Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and J.R. Smith combined for 69 points, which would be fine if they didn't combine for only eight assists. Also, the rest of the team combined for only 32 points in that game.

The Lakers had four players score in double digits. Of the players who actually got in the game, the Lakers only had one who did not score at least five points. The Nuggets had four.

In total, the Lakers played more team basketball. That was the reason for the series sweep. If the Nuggets were able to spread the ball around to more people, opposing teams wouldn't be able to only pinpoint Carmelo and AI as players to cover. The Lakers have a ton of different players who get good game action.

Until that happens, the Nuggets will be perennial first-round knockouts.

I'm Joe W.