Two series are all knotted up after Wednesday's action in the 2014 NBA playoffs.
The Indiana Pacers opened up the night of basketball with a turnaround Game 2 against the Wizards, taking it 86-82 in a showdown that was tight throughout—tying the series at one game apiece.
Roy Hibbert has been the butt of many a joke throughout the postseason, but was laughing after his game Wednesday. The struggling center shook off his recent issues with 28 points and nine rebounds, channeling the dominance he used to show and proving to be a force in the paint:
As the highlights show, Indiana out-willed Washington down the stretch:
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City tied up its series with the Clippers in emphatic fashion in the night cap. The Thunder bounced back in Game 2 at home, winning 112-101 to send the series back to Los Angeles.
Russell Westbrook was the story in OKC. He finished with yet another triple-double—31 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds—and knocked down an efficient 13-of-22 shot attempts.
Wednesday's action only set the stage for Thursday, as two more Game 2's are on the slate—this time with the road teams looking to even up their respective series. Let's break it all down.
|2014 NBA Playoffs: Conference Semifinals|
|Team 1||Team 2||Game 3 Time (ET)||TV|
|No. 1 San Antonio Spurs: 1||No. 5 Portland Trail Blazers: 0||May 8; 9:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder: 1||No. 3 Los Angeles Clippers: 1||May 9; 10:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|No. 1 Indiana Pacers: 1||No. 5 Washington Wizards: 1||May 9; 8 p.m.||ESPN|
|No. 2 Miami Heat: 1||No. 6 Brooklyn Nets: 0||May 8; 7 p.m.||ESPN2|
Game 2: Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat
After the Heat dominated the paint 52-28 en route to a blowout Game 1 win, it was obvious what the Brooklyn Nets' main focus would be heading into the second game of the series.
“We have to do a better job with our defense. We allowed too many points in the paint. They got a lot of layups. There are some things we definitely have to clean up. You can’t give a team like Miami this many layups, this many points in the paint. We just have to do a better job with that.”
The Nets' problems ended in the paint, but they started with a third quarter in which they were outscored 33-23. It was just a three-point game at the half for Brooklyn before they were outscored by 18 in the final half.
With Brook Lopez out, Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee are the only real defensive threats at the rim for the Nets, and both play limited minutes. Jason Kidd will need to have something in his bag to combine the Nets' small ball with keeping LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company from getting to the basket at will like they did in Game 1.
If there's one thing that Brooklyn could take from the last game, it's three-point shooting. The Nets shot 10-of-24 from long range, which bodes well against Miami—the league's top three-point shooting team throughout the regular season.
Game 2: Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs
The Nets' outcome from Game 1 may have ended with a blowout on the scoreline, but the opening game of Blazers-Spurs was indeed a blowout in the purest of forms. Portland is licking its wounds heading into Game 2.
San Antonio led by 13 after one quarter and by 26 after two. Meanwhile, Portland shot just 37 percent from the field and a whopping 20 turnovers were too much to overcome against a disciplined Spurs team that had its offense firing on all cylinders.
LaMarcus Aldridge was a force as usual, with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while Damian Lillard added 17 points. But with Lillard only dishing three assists and no other Blazers shooters in double figures, it's apparent that the perimeter game needs to get going for Portland to have a shot in Game 2.
Nicolas Batum went just 3-of-12, Wesley Mathews was 2-of-6, and the duo of perimeter players—usually ripping the nets from outside—shot a combined 1-of-8 from downtown while the team went 4-of-16.
Portland isn't playing Houston anymore. It can't depend on its opponent to have extremely subpar perimeter defense, and the Spurs—with Kawhi Leonard and even Manu Ginobili—are far from that.
Head coach Terry Stotts and the Blazers will need to get the outside game back on track for even a chance at taking home-court advantage on Thursday night.