Unexpected: Not expected or likely to happen.
Unexpected: Also not a word to be used when describing the opening weekend of the NBA playoffs.
Not much strayed from normalcy in the NBA this weekend. Upsets were not had, the better teams won, LeBron James was phenomenal. Although it wasn’t the most exciting of weekends basketball wise, there were still a lot of takeaways that need to be discussed. Below are some thoughts from a few games that were played this weekend. Not anything too statistical, but just some things to keep an eye on.
The Knicks Offense
A lot of people expected a long drawn out series from these teams and game one gave us some evidence to back those claims up. The Knicks really strayed from everything that’s made them so successful over the past month. Instead of great ball movement, and utilizing the pick and roll, they went to a ton of isolation and struggled on offense for most of the game. Probably the biggest story from this game is the health of Tyson Chandler. He obviously wasn’t healthy and therefore wasn’t moving well. He opens up so much outside shooting with his hard rolls to the basket. Saturday was he rolling without much authority and it wasn’t creating many open looks for shooters on the perimeter. Kenyon Martin played down the stretch for Chandler and was actually moderately effective in his place. We’ll see how healthy Chandler is down the road because without him being effective, the Knicks might not even have much chance of making the Eastern Conference Finals
The Warriors Without David Lee
News broke early Sunday that David Lee would miss the rest of the postseason with a torn right hip flexor. This obviously becomes a big problem for Mark Jackson and the Warriors. Lee may not be a positive on defense, but his offense and the way he’s able to pass on the dribble out of the pick and roll with Curry opened up so many good looks for shooters. It’ll be interesting to see if Mark Jackson turns to playing either Carl Landry or Draymond Green at the starting four position or if he opts to play small ball and move Barnes to power forward. The latter could possibly match up better against George Karl’s decision to start Wilson Chandler at power forward.
Blake Griffin’s Back
No, he didn’t go anywhere. I’m talking anatomy here. The Clippers broadcast said that Griffin’s back was only about 70 percent, which would explain why he had a below average performance by his standards. The Clippers were able to easily win this one without him being 100 percent, but it’s something to keep an eye on going forward.
The Lakers Offense
The Lakers offense without Kobe is plain horrendous. They don’t really have any perimeter options scoring-wise outside of Steve Nash, who has had to take epidurals to even be able to play in this game. He didn’t look all that great either, only shooting 6-15 and racking up only two assists. His shot was a bit flat to start out the game, but looked better as the game progressed. The Spurs elected to give Gasol that mid-range 18 footer all game, and it worked. Pau shot only 3-11 from that range. If the Lakers want any chance in this series they are going to have to knock down those outside shots. They missed a number of looks in this game, but that’s somewhat to be expected from a team who doesn’t have many good shooters. Jodie Meeks, who was supposed to help L.A.’s shooting, has shot just 31% from beyond the line since March 1st. Plus, Metta World Peace and Darius Morris aren’t exactly sharp shooters.
Miami and Oklahoma City Are Still The Best Teams In Their Respective Conferences
The Heat and Thunder showed Sunday why they were the 1 seed in their respective conferences and why they deserve to be considered favorites to make it to the finals once again. Both teams put their dominance on display against clearly less talented teams. LeBron James continued to be a freak of nature, putting up 27 points on just 11 shots. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook proved to be just too much for a mediocre Houston defense. Serge Ibaka was showing off his range. Everything went according to plan for Miami and Oklahoma City.
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