“Let Burien Chevrolet make you a great deal!” - Elise Woodward
By Trenton Jocz, KJR Intern
(Home teams in all caps)
MIAMI 98, Milwaukee 86
Looking Back: Whereas Game 1 saw Miami coasting most of the way and never really getting worked up in the flow of the game, Miami was playing poor enough that LeBron James decided he needed to make a couple of statement plays to get his team going. Game 1 was mostly Miami just missing open shots, but last night they were getting beat on off ball cuts and getting outworked at times on the boards. Milwaukee got polar opposite performances from its key contributors, with Ersan Ilyasova and Marquis Daniels leading the Bucks as opposed to Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Ellis uncharacteristically took only 7 shots, hitting only 2, and after hitting some tough jumpers on Sunday, Jennings regressed rather sharply towards the mean, missing his first 7 shots and finishing 3-15 and a measly 8 points. Of course, the talent gap in this series is so huge that even with their lackluster play, Miami still led by 3 heading into the fourth quarter, at the start of which the defending champs slammed the door shut with a 12-0 run that essentially ended the game.
Going Forward: As with any game in this series, it will be over when Miami decides it’s over. Except for maybe San Antonio, Miami has mastered how to be efficient in today’s NBA. Even when their shots aren’t falling, they trust in their process of ball movement and open 3 pointers and this becomes all the more glaring watching the Bucks, a team dominated by the isolation play of Jennings and Ellis, both very inefficient players.
NEW YORK 87, Boston 71
Looking Back: A first half dominated by whistle-happy officials saw Boston up by 6 at the half, despite having Kevin Garnett buried on the bench due to foul trouble. A lot of that was due to Carmelo Anthony being just 3-11 from the field, though and once he and J.R. Smith started hitting in the second half, the Celtics just didn’t have an answer. Their miserable offense reared its ugly head again in the second half as they scored just 11 points in the third quarter and 12 points in the fourth quarter. Jeff Green continued his Jekyll and Hyde act, going just 3-11 for 10 points and only snagging 1 rebound. Every time Boston manufactured a basket, Anthony, 8-13 in the second half, would just respond by swishing a mid range jumper. The Knicks were so unthreatened by the Boston offense that they pulled Anthony with 3:20 left leading 85-71, a bit early for a star to exit in a playoff game. Their confidence was rewarded though as the Celtics would not score again.
Going Forward: I’ve always been a big believer in this Celtics team, so I’m not writing them off yet, but just as the gap in efficiency is glaring in the Miami-Milwaukee series, just as blatant in this series is the difference in how hard the respective offenses have to work. Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics lack a primary ball-handler as well as a player capable of carrying the entire team on his shoulders. While Rondo had his share of dud games, his absence severely lowered the ceiling for them. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett can still dominate, but only for small stretches. Garnett rarely even stays on the floor for longer 6 minutes at a time. That puts the burden on supporting players on Green, Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley and what’s left of Jason Terry to pick up the slack. Meanwhile for New York, even when Melo or Smith are jacking up bad shots out of isolation, it doesn’t require nearly the same effort out of the entire offense.
Golden State 131, DENVER 117
Looking Back: Now *this* was the game everybody expected. The Warriors put on a classic “play at our best after our star player goes down” performance in the wake of David Lee’s season-ending hip injury. Stephen Curry shook off his subpar Game 1 and his box score stuffing stat line (30 points, 13 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, just 1 turnover) was the type of game one might expect out of Kevin Durant and Chris Paul’s lovechild. He controlled the flow of this game from start to finish, shooting when he should shoot, not just driving into the lane, but probing just as far and long as necessary to kick out to an open Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack or Harrison Barnes. Speaking of Barnes, it’s a shame for him that Curry was so omnipresent, as this was the rookie’s coming out party. After Denver abandoned him on the perimeter to send help inside, Barnes was much more active last night. The criticism of Barnes in college was always that he didn’t play with enough fire. Compared to Kobe Bryant in high school, Barnes disappointed many during his stay at North Carolina. That was not the case in this game though, as Barnes was aggressive on the boards, a huge boost without Lee in the lineup, and punctuated his performance with a reverse jam in stride after blowing past the defender attempting to closeout. That Thompson, 8-11 from the floor and 5-6 from deep, was relegated to a footnote let’s you know how on fire Golden State was in Game 2.
Going Forward: The loss of Lee will probably sting more in future games, but much of that is mitigated by how limited Kenneth Faried is for Denver. He got blown by off the dribble multiple times and didn’t have his trademark tenacity or explosion. Also, Denver just isn’t getting much out of rookie Evan Fournier, so Andre Miller and Corey Brewer will likely continue to sap into his minutes. Miller is especially important in this series as Golden State often plays Curry, Thompson and Jack together, eliminating the size disadvantage Denver often faces playing Ty Lawson and Miller together.