Sunday, April 29, 2012

HOSS Thoughts On Day 1

1. LeBron James Has Resurrected His 2007 Self

Everyone remembers where they were when LeBron James went into Super Human mode against the Pistons in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007.  In that shocking display of offensive brilliance, LeBron poured in 48 points -- including his team's final 25 and 29 of its final 30 -- and singlehandedly carried the Cavs within a win of the NBA finals against a much more talented Detroit Pistons team.   

The stakes were not quite as high in yesterday's Round 1, Game 1 match-up against the New York Knicks.  But yesterday was the closest I've seen James -- in the playoffs -- replicate his 2007 self.  The game was over by the end of the second quarter due in large part to James.  I'm convinced that in the 2nd quarter LeBron could have played 1-on-5 against the Knicks.  He went for 23 in the first half on a ridiculously efficient 6-for-7 shooting from the field and 10-for-13 from the line.  He also dominated the defensive side of the ball, taking charges, blocking shots and helping embarrass Carmelo Anthony into a very poor performance.

2. Magic vs. Pacers

This was the only game yesterday that I did not DVR.  I should have.  Who would have thought that the Dwight Howard-less Magic would steal Game 1 on the road against new darlings of the NBA?  I love this game.

3. Thunder vs. Mavs

This will be a GREAT series.  Rarely do we get such a treat in the first round.  Forget the seeding.  The Mavs are the defending champs with about 560,000 games of combined playoff experience among Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd.  It's the consummate battle of the old guard against the new kids on the block.  Talent vs. experience.

And how can one not root for OKC?  The nucleus of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka is not only insanely talented, but also seem like a very classy and unselfish bunch of young men.  

All that said, I agree with my brother-in-blogging Bhel Atlantic that the Thunder were very fortunate to escape Game 1 with a victory.  I expect each game of this series to be just as exciting.

4. Bulls vs. Sixers

Ouch.  Sad day for the NBA when one of its most exciting young players is taken out of the playoffs due to injury.  JPO wishes Derrick Rose a speedy recovery.

Thoughts on Day 1

Some thoughts on the first day of the NBA playoffs:

* Joakim Noah was a French-Swedish-Cameroonian-Yankee-Gator terror for Chicago, grabbing every board in sight and jamming home dunks with a ferocity that must have scared Spencer Hawes, his fellow 2007 draftee.  Sadly, Derrick Rose suffered a devastating injury in the final two minutes of the game.  Rose's body has been unsturdy all season, and poor muscle alignment may have contributed to his ligament tear.  With Dwight Howard and Rose out of the Eastern playoffs (and Ray Allen hobbled), the Miami Heat should have a relatively easy team breezing through the first three rounds.

* For the skipper of a battered team, Orlando's Jameer Nelson appeared oddly confident in the TV interview closing the first half, and this joie de vivre carried through the whole game.  With Hedo Turkoglu back in action, the Magic have their whole squad intact without injured center Dwight Howard.  Forward-sized Glen Davis put up big numbers in the middle for Orlando, and Indiana's smallish guards could not conjure any offense in the closing minutes.

* Save for the Western finals of '09, this is the biggest series of Carmelo Anthony's career, yet he allowed his longtime friend and rival LeBron James to repeatedly outplay him yesterday afternoon, capped by a long straight-on three-pointer that James drilled in the fourth with Anthony attempting to face-guard the bigger man.  With Iman Shumpert also tearing a knee ligament, sadly, in yesterday's game, Knicks are now down two talented young guards.  Still, Baron Davis and J.R. Smith are gamers and can at least match the combined scoring output of Wade and Chalmers.  The Knicks' front line should be able to dominate Chris Bosh and company; let us see if they can vindicate their fat contracts.

* The Thunder were fortunate to pull out a victory in the day's final contest.  Jason Kidd, who has looked remarkably slow and ineffective all season (this was his first season without a triple-double), was just as spry as he looked last spring while defending Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and James on the Mavs' path to a championship.  Recall his hustle play late in the fourth quarter last night to beat James Harden to a loose ball, then fling it cross-court to a teammate from a seated position before Thunder defenders could swarm him.  The Thunder's top four players put up 19, 22, 25, and 28 points on the ticker, but the team still needed a lucky bounce with 2 seconds left to put away the Mavericks.  An early loss could have deflated the Thunder; Dallas's moral victory may propel them to more success.