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.