2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Friday, May 2 1st-Round Action

Joe Flynn@@ChinaJoeFlynnContributor IMay 3, 2014

2014 NBA Playoffs: Recapping Friday, May 2 1st-Round Action

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    Each and every series played on Thursday night is going to Game 7 on Saturday. We could possibly see history repeat itself for Sunday.

    Here is the slate of games for Friday night:

    The Brooklyn Nets became the fourth team to force a Game 7 by dominating the Toronto Raptors at home in Friday's first game. Dallas also forced Game 7, holding off a late San Antonio rally to set a Sunday date with the Spurs.

    In the nightcap, Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the Houston Rockets in dramatic fashion.

No. 3 Toronto Raptors vs. No. 6 Brooklyn Nets

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    Brooklyn Nets 97, Toronto Raptors 83—Series tied, 3-3



    One of these teams came out playing as if there were no tomorrow, and the other came out playing as if they still had a game in hand. That was the difference as Brooklyn defeated Toronto, 97- 83, evening the first-round series at three games apiece.

    The Raptors once again fell victim to a problem that has plagued them throughout much of this series—nobody but shooting guard DeMar DeRozan could score in the first half. Toronto's lone All-Star was seemingly the only Raptor who showed up during the first two quarters, scoring 18 of their 41 points. No other player had more than six (Kyle Lowry).

    Brooklyn had no such problem. The Nets went into halftime with a 19-point lead on the strength of a balanced, efficient offense. Seven Nets scored at least six points in the first half and Brooklyn shot 59 percent from the field as a team.

    The Nets pushed that lead to 26 in the third quarter, as point guard Deron Williams stayed hot, pouring in eight points in the period.

    But this has been a series of runs, and Game 6 was no exception. Toronto cut the lead to 11 with 7:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, forcing Nets coach Jason Kidd to reinsert most of his starters. 

    The Raptors got no closer than 10, however, as Brooklyn veteran Kevin Garnett made the plays his team needed down the stretch.


    Notable Performers

    • Joe Johnson, Nets: 17 PTS, 3 AST

    • Deron Williams, Nets: 23 PTS, 5 REB, 4 AST

    • Kyle Lowry, Raptors: 11 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST 

    • DeMar DeRozan, Raptors: 28 PTS, 6 REB, 4 AST

    • Jonas Valanciunas, Raptors: 9 PTS, 9 REB


    What's Next?

    The series will head back to Toronto for Game 7 on Sunday. The time and network broadcast have yet to be determined.

    Backup Nets center Andray Blatche went the Joe Namath route, predicting a Game 7 win for Brooklyn in a post-game statement, per the New York Post's Tim Bontemps: "We're going to go (to Toronto), take care of business and go to Miami."

    Whether or not Blatche is correct will depend on what happens with the point guard matchup in Game 7. This series has often swung on the play between Williams and Lowry, and Game 7 won't be an exception. 

    Lowry didn't bring quite the same energy to Friday's matchup after igniting the Raptors with 36 points in Game 5 and Williams clearly outplayed him. Will Lowry turn the tables when the series shifts back to Canada? If he doesn't, the Nets could take Game 7 on the road.

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

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    Dallas Mavericks 113, San Antonio Spurs 111Series tied, 3-3



    Dallas came back in the fourth quarter Friday and withstood a last-second charge to hold off San Antonio and force a Game 7.

    The fourth quarter was a largely a battle between guards Tony Parker (13 points) and Monta Ellis (12 points), who dueled back and forth with tough drives to the rim.

    Ellis gave Dallas the lead for good with a three-pointer at the 4:57 mark, but the Spurs didn't make it easy, contesting the Mavericks every step of the way. A ton of credit should go to this veteran Dallas team for not wilting under the late-game pressure from the No. 1 seed.

    Vince Carter led all scorers with 28 points for the Mavericks.

    Dallas set the tone early by outscoring the Spurs 34-26 in the opening quarter that featured a magnificent display of offensive basketball. Both teams shot 55.6 percent from the field, but the Mavericks kept the lead thanks to committing three fewer turnovers. 

    Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked between quarters what the biggest problem was, and he curtly replied, "34 points."

    San Antonio managed to hold Dallas to 10 fewer points in the second quarter, but still went into the half trailing, 58-52. Dirk Nowitzki had 12 points in the half for Dallas and Danny Green matched him with 12 for San Antonio.

    The Spurs did take the lead in the third quarter thanks to their frontcourt of Tim Duncan (8 points), Kawhi Leonard (5 points) and Tiago Splitter (6 points), but Dallas eventually regained control. 

    Former Spur DeJuan Blair was particularly good in his return from a Game 5 suspension. Blair posted a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds, undoubtedly stinging Spurs fans who saw him underwhelm during his time in San Antonio.


    Notable Performers

    • Tim Duncan, Spurs: 16 PTS, 9 REB

    • Tony Parker, Spurs: 22 PTS, 6 AST

    • Manu Ginobili, Spurs: 6 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST

    • Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks: 22 PTS, 5 REB

    • Monta Ellis, Mavericks: 29 PTS, 2 AST


    What's Next?

    The series will head back to San Antonio for Game 7 on Sunday. The time and network broadcast have yet to be determined.

    Throw out the seedings, because this has been a street fight from the opening tip of Game 1. These are two smart, veteran teams coached by two of the best in the business in Popovich and Rick Carlisle.

    It will be hard to pick against the Spurs at home, but few people predicted the series to last this long, anyway. Dallas still has an excellent chance of moving on to Round 2.

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

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    Portland Trail Blazers 99, Houston Rockets 98—Blazers win series, 4-2.



    The Portland Trail Blazers ended their series with the Houston Rockets on a Damian Lillard buzzer-beating three-pointer as time expired.

    The Blazers started out red-hot in front of a raucous crowd in the Moda Center, scoring the first seven points of the game. But Houston quickly took back the lead thanks to the offensive brilliance of James Harden, who scored 13 points in the first quarter.

    Harden continued his hot shooting in the second quarter, pouring in 11 more points. But he was nearly matched by Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 21 points in the first half. Houston held on to a tenuous 58-56 lead at the break.

    The game stayed tight throughout the third quarter, as Harden and Aldridge continued to fill up te scoresheet. Houston went into the fourth with a one-point lead.

    The game then turned into the Dwight Howard Show. The big man went off in the fourth, with 13 points, six rebounds and one block. But the story with Howard in the fourth quarter is often the free throws, and he missed four of his nine attempts.

    The SB Nation Rockets site The Dream Shake came to Howard's defense after the game: "By the way, I refuse to hear anything negative about Dwight Howard after this series. Only guy who went 100% all 6 games for Houston."

    The Rockets had the ball in the final seconds, and Harden's isolation try missed...but the loose ball found its way to Chandler Parsons, who laid it in with 0.9 seconds remaining. The Rockets had a two-point lead, and this series looked set to go back to Houston.

    And then Damian Lillard happened.

    Series over.


    Notable Performers

    • James Harden, Rockets: 34 PTS, 4 REB, 6 AST
    • Dwight Howard, Rockets: 26 PTS, 11 REB
    • Chandler Parsons, Rockets: 16 PTS, 12 REB
    • Damian Lillard, Blazers: 25 PTS, 6 REB, 3 AST
    • LaMarcus Aldridge, Blazers: 30 PTS, 13 REB


    What's Next?

    For the first time since 2000, the Portland Trail Blazers are moving on to the second round of the NBA playoffs.

    They will face the winner of Sunday's Game 7 between the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks.

    For the record, Portland finished 2-2 against San Antonio and 1-2 against Dallas during the regular season.