NBA Playoffs 2011: The Top 10 Biggest Factors After Game One
We have witnessed eight of the most exhilarating games to start the 2011 NBA postseason.
There have been upsets, standout performances and overall, an intense level of basketball that many folks have been longing for.
The pieces are starting to fall into place, there is still a lot of basketball left to be played but after Game 1 there are some clear factors that stood about above the rest.
The intensity has been great, the quality of play has been excellent, and every game has been a battle where players give it all they have.
Just one game in, spectators have witnessed an electrifying atmosphere, career-high performances and very physical basketball.
Here are the top 10 factors that stood about above the rest after Game 1 of the NBA playoffs.
No. 10: Jason Kidd Still Has It
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The 38-year-old Kidd from the Bay Area still has it in him.
Without Kidd, the Mavericks would have lost Game 1. His aging legs carried his entire team and he was not afraid to take on the task.
Shooting 6-10 from beyond the arc, adding four assists and two steals, Jason Kidd was a huge factor in the Dallas Mavericks' win.
Playing in his 122nd career playoff game, Kidd made it seem like this was 1994. He was everywhere on the court, did not hesitate to take the big shot and was rewarded with a season-high 24 points.
He has not missed a step, and if his hot shooting continues, he will be a great threat for the Portland Trail Blazers for the rest of the series.
No. 9: The Referees Dictate the Outcome of a Game
The referees have a difficult job on the court and do not get enough credit for their nightly performance.
With that said, the referees dictated the outcome of the game between the Celtics and the Knicks.
With 21 seconds remaining in the game, Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul against Paul Pierce, who sold the call with what appeared to be an embellishment.
Both players were battling, and there was very little contact. However, Pierce flopped and the referee bought the act.
Bottom line, with 21 seconds left in the game, you let them play and let the players dictate the outcome of the game. By blowing the whistle on a call that changed the game, you take the game out of the players' hands.
The Celtics took Game 1 and both teams played a hard-fought game but they were bailed out by this one particular call.
On to Game 2 in this electrifying series.
No. 8: Chris Paul Takes Advantage of the Aging Lakers
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"The Lakers have gotten old, very fast." - Charles Barkley.
The Los Angeles Lakers have limped into this playoffs and nothing has changed.
Chris Paul, who has had a very streaky season, simply was unstoppable.
With 33 points and 14 assists combined with tremendous leadership skills, Paul was just too much to handle for the Lakers. Paul also managed to hit 9 of 12 from the free-throw line.
He simply deflated the Lakers in their own backyard. The Lakers trailed for most of this game and were outplayed by Chris Paul and Co.
Pau Gasol was ineffective, and the bench produced only 21 points.
If the Lakers want to turn things around, they will have to contain Chris Paul, get their bench involved, and find a way to slow the tempo of the game.
If their struggles from the interior continue, they will have a quick postseason exit.
No.7: The Memphis Grizzlies Get Their First-Ever Playoff Victory
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The Memphis Grizzlies went into San Antonio and played like a team possessed.
Most importantly, they played like a team.
Randolph, Conley, and Marc Gasol all had solid contributions, which led the Grizzlies to their first-ever playoff game win. Everyone got involved and despite being down by double-digits, they never quit.
This team fought. and Shane Battier sealed the deal with his game-winning three with 23.9 seconds remaining in the fourth.
The Grizzlies shot a spectacular 55 percent from the floor and shot 60 percent from beyond the arc.
The Spurs could have used Manu Ginobili, who was scratched just before tip-off with a right elbow sprain.
Going into the playoffs the Grizzlies' motto was "Let's Make History."
One game in and they have already accomplished that, now let's see if they can once again stun the Spurs, who will definitely come better prepared in Game 2.
No. 6: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook Carry the Thunder
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Led by Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder are 20-5 since the start of March.
Durant and Westbrook combined for 72 points and proved to be the deciding factor in a very close game.
The Denver Nuggets played exceptionally well by shooting over 50 percent from the floor, getting to the free throw line 33 times and adding 9 steals.
However, Westbrook and Durant shot a combined 25-of-45 and added 15 rebounds. They took control of the game and complimented each other on both ends of the floor.
The Nuggets will be happy with the way they played, a game that saw many lead changes and a hard-fought game all around, but they did not get the job done.
Limit the amount of touches between Westbrook and Durant, and the Nuggets will be right back in this one.
Easier said than done.
No.5: Dirk Nowitski Shows Up in the Fourth Quarter, Takes Control of the Game
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Mr. Fourth Quarter.
Dirk struggled all game and at time seemed very frustrated with both the referees and his poor shooting. However, Dirk Nowitski did not let his mediocre three quarters get the best of him.
While Jason Kidd managed to keep the Mavericks in the game, Dirk won them the game.
With 18 fourth-quarter points, adding to his game-high 28 points, Dirk took the game out of the Trail Blazers' hands and despite shooting only 7-of-20 from the floor, he managed to step up when it counted.
Dirk scored 13 points from the free-throw line and ignited the Mavericks' rally, which saw them take over the game in the fourth.
He was too much to handle, despite being frustrated most of the game, and the Blazers will need to keep Dirk quiet if they intend on winning this series.
No. 4: The TD Center Made a Difference
The Knicks led for most of the game and went into halftime with a 12-point lead.
However that did not quiet the folks at the TD Garden. The Boston Celtics fans never gave up and always held the belief that their team could get back into the game.
In return, they were rewarded with a Game 1 victory after Ray Allen continues to do what he has done his entire career: Sink the three that matters most.
Spectators were on their seats throughout the entire game and played a part in ignited the rally that saw the Celtics take Game 1.
The fans were simply electrifying and persistent, and this infectious attitude carried to the players who played a dominating second half.
Stay tuned for Game 2; this will be a terrific series, regardless of the outcome.
No.3: A Season-High 46 Points from Dwight Howard Wasn't Enough to Stop the Hawks
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Dwight Howard did everything his coach could ever want from him and so much more.
Tying a career-high 46 points, adding 19 rebounds and a respectable 14-22 from the free throw line, Dwight Howard did all that he could.
It simply was not enough. The Hawks were excellent at distributing the ball and getting everyone involved. Six Atlanta Hawks players contributed at least 13 points and gave the Magic trouble on the offensive end.
The Hawks shot an exceptional .514 from the field despite making only 36 percent of their shots in the first quarter.
The Hawks have won four straight against the Magic, who will need a solid contribution from everyone not named Dwight Howard.
Others will have to step up if the Magic intend on tying this series.
No. 2: The 14th Lineup Continues to Work for the Miami Heat
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With four games remaining in the regular season, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra created a new line-up that would see Mike Bibby and Ilgauskas support LeBron, Wade, and Bosh.
This new lineup is now 5-0 as the Miami Heat continue to roll. The Sixers played a very great game but they were no match for LeBron James and Co.
James, who had a quiet 21 points and 14 rebounds, got to the line, making 13 of 14 free throw attempts. Bosh picked up the rest with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
The Heat bench only contributed 16 points, but this Miami Heat team is unstoppable in its most recent form. Big Z opened up the floor and the Big Three were able to flourish on the open court in game one.
If the Sixers want to take this series, they will have to keep the ball out of LeBron, Wade or Bosh's hands and force others to get involved.
The Big Three averaged a combined 71 points per game this season, and the Sixers will have to lower that average if they stand any chance at winning the series.
No.1: Derrick Rose Proves That He Can't Be Stopped
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Rose poured in 39 points, 19 coming from the free-throw line.
He simply was unstoppable. The Pacers did everything they could possibly do to limit the Bulls but still came up short.
Derrick Rose continues to play out of this world.
Korver hit the big shot that sealed the deal, but Rose ignited a 16-1 run in the final 3:38 of the fourth quarter. Rose missed all of the nine three point attempts he took but was still too much for the Pacers.
The Bulls, who went 62-20 under Derrick Rose and company continue to find ways to win. The Pacers led and managed to force the Bulls into 14 turnovers but they could do nothing to stop Rose.
He simply took the ball and drove, making floaters, layups and jump shots. When his shot didn't go in, he found himself at the charity stripe making free throws.
For the Pacers, success has a simple formula. Contain Derrick Rose and you have a shot at winning this series.
Make him shoot three-pointers and limit his attempts at driving to the basket. Keep him away from the free-throw line and continue to run successful plays on the fast break.
However, with the way Rose is playing, it appears as though he cannot be contained.