NBA Playoffs: Game 1 (Saturday Edition)

— Cavaliers 93, Wizards 86 —Photo credit: CBS Sports

<> The Cavs, the team with the better record, won at home. This is what was supposed to happen so anything ELSE would have been news.

<> The Wizards made a strong showing on the Cavs’ home floor. With 55 seconds left, it was a 4 point game. This could be a series.

<> Maybe Gilbert should have had more playing time.

<> The Wizards shot just 29.8% on their jump shots. The Cavs shot just 31.3% on their jump shots. With shooting like that, the win goes to the team with the most rebounds (Cavs), least turnovers (Cavs), most points off of turnovers (Cavs), and most points from the free throw line (Cavs by far).

<> It was hard not to look at Caron Butler and think, “Wow, if the Lakers had him instead of Luke Walton right now…” In addition to being a solid contributer offensively (14 pts, 4 rebs, 4 asts.), Butler led both teams in steals.

<> LeBron’s back scares me. Back problems are an old man’s ailment (Dan Majerle, David Robinson), not a young man’s.

<> Quote of the game goes to LeBron: “I was built for this. I’m not 6-9, 260 pounds to shoot jumpers all night. I go to the hole and I create contact. Don’t ever think I’m the only person feeling that.”

— Spurs 117, Suns 115 —Photo credit: CBS sports

<> I’m surprised by all the people crowing over the Suns loss. Had Tim Duncan not nailed a clutch three pointer, the favorited Spurs would have lost in their own building.

<> I would not say the Suns choked, I’d say Greg Popovich out coached Mike D’Antoni. The Suns didn’t lose, they were beat, and by a team with a lot of championship heart, very smart coaching, and a little luck.

<> Look no further than this series to see the affect international players are having on basketball at the highest levels: Tim Duncan (Virgin Islands), Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Fabricio Oberto (Argentina), Raja Bell (Virgin Islands), Steve Nash (Canada), Boris Diaw (France), Leandro Barbosa (Brazil), Gordan Giricek (Yugoslavia), and Sean Marks (New Zealand).

<> Just because Tim Duncan doesn’t shoot threes doesn’t mean he can’t make them. At the all star break, Tim Duncan surprised us all with his outside shooting as Duncan, David Robinson and Becky Hammon won the Shooting Stars competition. Duncan nailed three pointers and half court shots, and afterwards said at the post event press conference, said that it was luck, but on the other hand, he nails those shots all the time in practice and goofing off.

<> In this game, Tim Duncan was shooting 56% on his jump shots, and 67% overall from the floor. Considering what Greg Popovich may have learned about Tim’s 3-point abilities in practice over their 11 years (and 4 championships) together, and how hot Tim was that game, it was brilliant for Tim to have been the one to shoot that shot.

<> With 19 seconds left in the 2nd overtime, with the Suns down by 3, D’Antoni used his last time out, put Shaq in and a play to get a quick 3. Four seconds later, Nash hit the three and tied the score at 115, but rather than take a time out, Greg Popovich surprised the Suns by not using one of his 3 remaining time outs. Instead, Ginobli dribbled right past an unready Suns defense for the game winning layup. It appeared to me that from the timeout, Popovich told the Spurs, “If they make their 3, don’t worry about it, they just tied the game is all. Do a Suns trick and after the made basket, quickly push the ball down court and attack the basket before they are ready for it.”

<> I don’t know when I have ever seen a box score so close. Important differences: Suns were +7 on free throws, Spurs were +16 on points in the paint and +11 on points off of turnovers.

<> The quote of the game belongs to Shaquille O’Neal: “I just wanted to play aggressive, but the floppers prevailed today. Amare and myself are going to continue to play aggressive. Hopefully those guys will compete rather than just fall down.”

<> Shaq is right, the Spurs did put him on the bench by flopping, but still, it is hard not to be amused by a Phoenix Suns player complaining about flopping. These two teams, while I like them both, are the worst in the NBA about flopping. It would help if the NBA would serious and reform of their officiating.

<> These are two of the oldest teams in the NBA, and they just played an intense, double overtime game. What will game two look like?

<> That double overtime score looks like a normal Suns score for 4 quarters. Both teams played defense.

<> Given the Spurs ability to vanish offensively, and the Suns ability to play defense when it has to, this is anybody’s series still.

— Hornets 104, Mavericks 92 —photo credit: cbs

<> I wonder how reigning MVP Dirk Nowitski felt hearing “MVP” chants for Chris Paul?

<> Dirk showed remarkable restraint as West’s had made contact multiple times with Dirk’s face. It is a farce that a double technical was called, although it’s not like this was a pivotal moment in the game.

<> Dirk may have had 31 points, but he was 1 out of 4 in the 4th quarter. Rats. I was hoping his days of not stepping up at crunch time were behind him.

<> Chris Paul is the only player I know who can punch a player in the chest, and be rewarded with a foul call on the other player for it. Paul aggressively seeks and initiates contact, jumping into defenders on ever drive, and probably because of his diminutive size and baby face, he gets free throws for it — even when the defenders are trying to avoid his contact. Chris Paul is the most coddled player in the NBA by the officials.

<> Let’s compare coaching adjustments at half time. Dallas took a 12 point lead into the locker room, then Dallas went -16 in the 3rd quarter, and -8 in the 4th. If I were Mark Cuban, I’d have my secretary setting up separate lunch meetings with Rick Carlisle and Jeff Van Gundy before New York grabs them.

<> Byron Scott or Rick Adeilman are the only two serious coach of the year candidates.

<> The Hornets were -15 at the free throw line. Dallas can shoot free throws if the Hornets put them there.

<> Jason Kidd was one rebound and one assist shy of a triple double, but he didn’t play well. Yes, he had 4 turnovers, but his team was only shooting 33% and Kidd only had 5 shot attempts. He needs to make the Hornets guard him to make plays.

<> Quote of the game goes to Avery Johnson: “We’re going to have to be much more sound in our defense.” Yeah, but they defended fine the first half. In the second half, the Mavs game up too much, and gave too little. The Mavericks were 4 of 15 in the 3rd quarter and 5 for 18 in the 4th quarter, shooting 27% in the second half… but what is worse, they don’t look like they know WHY.

— Jazz 93, Rockets 82 —photo credit cbs sportsline

<> Andrei Kirilenko sure showed up ready to play on both ends of the floor, as did Luis Scola.

<> Jazz were +10 in points in the paint.

<> All stars Tracy McGrady had 20 points on 21 attempts, Deron Williams had 20 points on 12 attempts.

<> Mutumbo didn’t want to sit in the 4th quarter, and probably should not have. He had the highest player efficiency rating that game of any Rockets player.

<> The Rockets played all 12 players, but with injuries to Ming and Alston, they just weren’t deep enough, scoring -10 compared to the Jazz bench.

<> The Rockets are doing their best, but faced with needing to beat Utah in Utah in order to go on, the Rockets may well be exiting the playoffs in the first round for the 7th year in a row. That’s too bad; this is a good group of guys.

<> The quote of the game goes to Carlos Boozer: “You can’t replace Yao Ming.”

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