Led by MVP candidate Tony Parker, the Spurs are showing no signs of slowing down, keeping up the tempo offense exhibited by Parker’s 28 points and eight assists to to defeat the Jazz, 106-91, in the series opener on Sunday.
Tim Duncan isn’t just withstanding the test of time at age 36 for the Spurs, but simply retooling the physics and style of his game. He’s a renaissance man, and his 17-11-5 line on Sunday has validated his nomination for most voters' All-NBA First Team ballots this season, potentially the 10th in his defining career.
Utah, in many ways like the Spurs, have multiple options to get to the rim. Second-year forward Gordon Heyward scored 17 points for the Jazz in 37 minutes, going 12-for-12 at the line in the loss.
The Spurs, although they can score, rely on their defense starting with Tim Duncan. His ability to move without the ball has been one of the more surprising nuances of his game in this shortened season. With the ball, he also finds the open man, as he displayed Sunday with his five assists.
Look for San Antonio to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
How the Magic stole a playoff victory in Indiana last weekend without Dwight Howard is one of the most surprising dynamics of this year's NBA Playoffs.
However, the Pacers rebounded nicely in Game 2 of the series by outlasting Orlando 93-78, containing the Magic from beyond the arc and forcing them to shoot just 8-for-25.
With the absence of Howard in the middle, who Orlando relies on heavily for shot blocking and rebounding, the Magic will have no chance if they don’t shoot well from three-point land.
After suffering an early blow, Indiana looks back to form with a deep rotation and plenty of guys who can put the ball in the bucket at any point. Danny Granger and David West, two integral parts of the offense, are both logging over 40 minutes per game in the series. Don’t look for those minutes to go down; Granger and West are averaging 17.5 and 18.5 points per contest during the series.
Look for the Pacers to move past Orlando, who will not see the return of Howard for the remainder of the playoffs after he opted to have season-ending back surgery.
What a wild finish to Sunday’s Game 1 in a series most pundits predicted the Grizzlies would win easily.
Game 1 proved that the Clippers may not be the easiest out, after they overcame a 27-point deficit in the fourth quarter to steal a 99-98 victory on the road in the series-opening matchup.
It wasn’t just Chris Paul’s leadership and two clutch free throws to give Los Angeles the win, or Nick Young’s three long shots to inch the Clippers closer and closer in the waning minutes of play or Blake Griffin’s three steals and free-throw conversions down the stretch.
It was everyone as a whole (including Reggie Evans, DeAndre Jordan and Randy Foye) that helped bring Los Angeles back on Sunday.
However, it was just the first game of the series, and Memphis is just too good to have this game bog down a promising season.
Most have the Grizzlies advancing as far as the Finals, believing that the well-rounded team with Marc Gasol, Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph cannot be overthrown by an LA team that has no options in crunch time beyond Paul.
Despite the loss, look for Memphis to rebound nicely tonight and for the series to head back to LA with the series tied at one game apiece.