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Tuesday, May 1st, 2012 at 9:52 am  |  73 responses

Post Up: More Heat

2-seeds Miami and Oklahoma City take 2-0 leads, plus Indy gets even with Orlando.

Heat 104, Knicks 94 (MIA leads 2-0)

Miami turned in another suffocating defensive performance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Knicks. While LeBron put together a 19-point, 9-assist, 7-rebound performance, it was DWade who gave the Knicks fits. Without Iman Shumpert in the lineup, New York’s lack of a perimeter defensive presence was glaring, as Wade got to the lane with ease against the likes of Landry Fields (who was a complete non-factor) and J.R. Smith. Flash finished with 25 points on 11-18 shooting and it could have been much more if it weren’t for the contributions of Chris Bosh, who scored 21.

New York played the Heat to a standstill for much of the first half thanks to a hot start from Melo and the presence of Tyson Chandler (13 points, 7 boards) who was ineffective in Game 1 due to the flu. Melo came out hot, scoring 21 (and finishing with 30 on 12-26 shooting) in the first half while the combination of Chandler and Jared Jeffries hit the offensive glass, making for second-chance opportunities and slowing the Miami break. But, despite the Knicks best efforts, the Heat built a 10-point lead heading into the half thanks to a late scoring barrage led by LeBron.

In the second half, New York reverted to their “All-Melo Everything” offensive scheme that consists of one pass to Anthony while the rest of the team stands around and watches. Unsurprisingly, Miami had no problem defending the Knicks “offense” in the second half and ran away with the gam—they led by double-digits for much of the third and fourth quarters. To add insult to injury, STAT suffered a deep laceration in his hand after punching through the glass that held the locker room’s fire extinguisher, which will likely keep him out for at least the next game. —Peter Walsh (@goinginsquad)

Pacers 93, Magic 78 (Series tied 1-1)

The writing was on the wall. The signs came alive. Another offensive misery awaited the Pacers in the first half. The same song from Saturday night’s loss was sung in the first half in Indianapolis. Another loss and an 0-2 home stand against the Magic seemed like the fate of Indiana until an explosion of offensive flurry from George Hill set off a run that put the Pacers in the lead for good. He poured in 12 third-quarter points and ignited a 30-point outburst for the Pacers in the frame. Hill, Danny Granger, and David West all scored 18 for the game, while Paul George went an efficient 7-10 from the field en route to 17 points. The atmosphere in Indiana was much different than Saturday night, and it all stemmed from the attitude of the players. “We knew how important this game was,” said Granger. “We couldn’t lose two games in a 7-game series on our home court.”

The Magic had trouble putting the ball in the hole again, but this time they came away on the wrong side of the win column. Ryan Anderson ignited the Magic’s quick start with 8 first-quarter points but only scored 3 in the next three quarters. Glen Davis, the Magic’s most consistent performer in the series, put together another double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Another positive sign for Indy fans is the fact that the Pacers still haven’t put together one good game from start to finish. Granger may have finished with 18 points, but he shot 33 percent from the field. West went 5-14 but sank 8 free throws. Barbosa took 10 shots off the bench and only hit 4. The only two players who had efficient offensive nights for the Pacers were Paul George and George Hill. If Granger’s shot starts falling, this team could have a new look in a few games.

On the other side, the Magic came out of Indianapolis with the series tied 1-1 heading back home while scoring only 81 and 78 points. That itself is a huge step for the Magic. Most fans and basketball heads saw the Magic as an easy sweep or a 5-game series for the Pacers, yet they head home with the series back to square one. The second half proved to be a building block for the Pacers, but they are a ways away from taking full control of the series. If the Magic can win one of the next two games, they will really shift the momentum in their favor. Like I said in the series preview, I see a dogfight in Orlando! —Dave Spahn (@DaveSpahn)

Thunder 102, Mavericks 99 (OKC leads 2-0)

Living up to a classic can be a tough business. Other than Godfather II and Empire Strikes Back, rarely do sequels live up to or exceed the original. The inaugural installment of the first-round NBA series between Oklahoma City and Dallas was a classic. A Godfather-like game with twists and turns and quality play from the opening whistle with a Star Wars-A New Hope ending that put the Thunder up early in the rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals.

Last night’s Game 2 back in OKC was hard-pressed to come up with a virtuoso encore performance, but, like the excited fan, a guy can hope.

Thus, “A New Hope” went off again and grateful hoops fans were treated to another thriller that, once again, went down to the last possession. Yes, again, no one was ever able to grab control of the game during the game’s key minutes. And again, each team took turns with the lead. In just two games played in the series, the lead has changed hands an astonishing 32 times.

On this night, the Thunder held the lead last and now own a 2-0 series advantage after a 102-99 win. Again, the NBA’s leading scorer, Kevin Durant, struggled doing what he does best, but (last time) again, the Thunder are much more than just KD.

While Durant was struggling from the field (5-17), his scoring equal from Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki, found his form early and was an offensive monster all night, especially in the second quarter (his play even prompted OKC head coach Scott Brooks to say he was the most amazing player that he had ever seen.) However, the big German missed two shots (a wide-open three, a 13-foot fadeway on baseline) in the last minute that are generally considered lay-ups for Dirk.

Much like Game 1 (sorry, I know I said I was done) Russell Westbrook played another really compelling game. Surely not his best performance, but he has been forcing the issue at the right time, taking care of the ball and dominating from the mid-range. Dirk was pretty adamant when he pondered being down 2-0 in a series he could be up by the same margin—he noted that Westbrook was the guy that was killing his team.

But, unlike Saturday night, the game lacked the up-tempo flow with exemplary offense and defense. Yes, this was still an enjoyable watch, but a consistent whistle, which sent both teams to the free-throw line a combined 71 times, continually stunted the pace.

The benches played a key role again, as the Mavs did not get the usual production from their talented allotment of reserves. On the other hand, the Derek Fisher Springtime Reunion Tour was in full-bloom. 11 points, a big fourth-quarter 3-pointer and a +11 for the man with 5 rings. And James Harden was his usual self, going for 15 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while also hitting some key free throws down the stretch.

OKC is up 2-0; could be down 0-2. The series shifts just a couple hours south to Dallas and the Thunder should feel confident, but surely a bit fortunate that this series on paper looks so one-sided to this point. Deep down, though, each team knows the next game back in OKC, things could be evened up at two games each.

I wonder what they’ll do for an encore. —Cub Buenning (@cubbuenning)

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  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    I’m loving how Dirk handled Perkins.

  • T-Money

    allen – told you, man. ny ain’t built for this. / jason terry committed perhaps the most stupid foul i’ve ever seen last night. up 1 with about 35 seconds to go, thunder taking the ball out with 2 on the shot clock and he just bumps kd on the catch near the sidelines with his back to the basket.

  • Mo

    Not sure how far the thunder can go when everything they do on offense is either a 3 pointer or a long jumpshot. Crazy.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    T-Money
    You were right. I clearly thought New York was a different team. Unless they show me something in Game Three, they will likely get swept.
    But, you also said Dallas was going to beat OKC.

  • T-Money

    i like that closing 5 of wade, miller, battier, bron, bosh. bron really thrives when he is able to find shooters in the corners.

  • T-Money

    allen – oh, i’m not close to being always right but i still think dallas has a good chance. they were in a position to win the game with less than a minute to go in both games on the road. of course, they have to come back to okc 2-2…

  • http://www.twitter.com/hurstysyd Hursty

    Re. sequels – I have to throw in LoTR: The Two Towers in there as well. Same goes for ‘Aliens’, Terminator II, and Mad Max II.
    Also, do NY fans realise they’re a 7th seed? They’re SUPPOSED to loose the series. Maybe not sweep, but really…

  • http://nba.com GP23

    The Heat will sweep the first three series like the Lakers did in ’01. In the Finals, they may lose a couple, but still win it all.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Yeah, now that Miller has gotten over his habit of passing up open shots and is shooting with confidence he’s great for them. Does everything James Jones does, but also can pass and rebound. I still thought Jones could have gotten some minutes during the year though.
    And Battier has found his shooting touch too. I’m a little surprised Joel Anthony hasn’t lost his spot to Turiaf though.
    Also, New York could have pushed the Heat more if Shumpert wouldn’t have gotten hurt, but only if they played better defense. Their help defense is sorry. They do okay on the ball, but their team does not move together like it should. It will be interesting to see what Woodson can do with an offseason.
    Dirk needs to take it to another level if they Mavs want to win. That level he was on last year. And the Pacers are looking like a really easy out for the Heat right now. They need to get it together.

  • T-Money

    there’s an interesting article on the heat index this morning saying that spo basically told mike miller and shane battier to shoot from 3 whenever they see day light. he doesn’t even care about the percentages, the mere threat of the deep ball opens up boulevards for wade and james.

  • T-Money

    i think the biggest difference for miami right now is that spo has adopted coach k’s philosophy of playing your best players the most minutes. it seems like a given but that approach is rarely followed in basketball where coaches feel the need to have two bigs, two wings and a pg on the floor. look at the minutes distr from last night (in descending order): lebron, wade, bosh, chalmers, miller, battier, haslem, anthony.

  • http://nba.com/celtics lights out

    ^smart.

  • http://nba.com/celtics lights out

    that was directed at Spo’s encouraging Miller and Battier to shoot freely, btw.

  • 23

    I believe Durant is the one who started the whole “fake tough guy” thing with Bosh. But is there anyone in the NBA who fits that description better then Perkins?

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Read something on ESPN where they said Durant had a “rare” off night last night. As if the first game of the series wasn’t an off night.
    People are only giving Westbrook lukewarm praise for carrying the Thunder with Harden right now. But you can bet that if he starts to struggle, the blame will come gushing down upon like a waterfall.
    T-Money
    Many coaches, in every sport, feel like they have to justify their massive contracts by “coaching”. That doesn’t involve motivation and strategy, as it should, but instead involves making sure everyone can see how they put their stamp on the gain. Plus must coaches are ridiculously risk averse and therefore change averse. It stunts innovation.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    One thing that I think is important, the Knicks are actually better without Amar’e Stoudemire. They might steal a game in New York. At most.

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    I was going to write the same thing nbk just said. If Amar’e is out then Melo can thrive at the 4. nbk what are the chances Amar’e is traded in the off season?
    The Heat are going to lose 1 game at most in the ECF.

  • http://www.dimemag.com biggavelia

    I second GP, the heat canlikely sweep the east..Right now the east is weak sauce. They might get tested in the finals it depends who makes it out west. & also it depends on Bosh finding it stride again but who is sayin NY has the better foward NOW???lol NBK i dont see it.. Lebron has big games @ the sqaure and with no shump dwade can get what he wants, it a sweep…

  • 23

    Btw anyone catch Reggie millers rant on LeBron? About seeking advice from former players. Reggie kept saying, there supposed to go to LeBron. Ummmm why would mj or hakeem or magic go to LeBron??? Its not like LeBron was going to active players for advice. And who is Reggie to tell anyone what to do to win a championship!????? Btw I’m the rare dude who actually enjoys Reggie as a commentator!

  • T-Money

    Allen – I totally agree with coaches needing to put their stamp on the game. I also like how Ty Corbin played Millsap, Jefferson and Favors at the same time vs San An. Millsap is quick enough to guard most 3s and Utah’s wings are weak sauce.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I don’t know if they can trade Amar’e his contract is not insured and still has over $60M left. Unless Atlanta would take him for Joe Johnson i’d say the chances are slim to none.

  • http://fjklsf.com Jukai

    James Jones and Norris Cole are still in the lineup. He’s got a ten man rotation going in the playoffs, which is kind of weird.
    One thing I LOVE what Spo is switching Lebron/Battier off the best players… Lebron guards Melo, but when Battier is in, Lebron guards someone else and Battier takes him up. This will probably happen throughout the playoffs and allow Lebron to have a helluva lot more energy.

  • MUBWAR

    So heat will probably sweep the knicks. But can we really say sweep the pacers in the second round. sweeping the ECF that might have either Boston or ATL. I don’t see it

  • T-Money

    jukai – cole played 2 mins in the first half. jones played 5 minutes. they’re not in the rotation. that’s like saying wiltjer and vargas were in coach cal’s rotation this year.

  • http://sdfklf.com Jukai

    They’re not getting end of game garbage minutes though, they played during the flow of the game. I just find that weird. Why not play Chalmers two and a half more minutes and Miller six more minutes?

  • http://www.dimemag.com biggavelia

    @ mumbar are we talking about pacers team that got beat at home game one and was lossing most of the game to the d12 less magic, its a sweep homie.boston is not Boston ray ankle if f up. and these are the hawks they can win by 10 but loose by 30 at home easily. A sweep through the playoffs by Mia Can happen homie

  • http://www.dimemag.com biggavelia

    I ment Mubwar

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Okay, now that we’ve established that M.I.A. is coming out of the East, who’s your pick to make it out of the West?!

  • Fat Lever

    Knicks amnestied the wrong contract. Should have amnestied Stoudamire. Too bad for them, you only get one chance to fix a f*ck up in the new CBA.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    I wish someone would say something controversial today, i’m looking to argue. lol

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Been there.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Carmelo Anthony is hand and shoulders above LeBron and gets the better of him in every match up including game one and two.

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    my bad Allenp, must’ve missed that convo

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Scalbrine>>LeBron….
    Bring it on!

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    I can really see the Mavericks taking games 3&4 and possibly an OT win in game 5. I’m dead serious. They have shown that they can hang with OKC and have exploited their flaws. This series could easily be like last year against LA(who were heavy favorites) up 2-0.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    LOL – thanks for the old college try guys. T-Ray, you really think Marion can force Durant into more bad games.

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    nbk I got one for you. You said Indiana would not improve with out drastic roster changes, and you think D West is vastly over rated and does not win games for his team. Explain their season..

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    I think he can honestly. As much as Durant’s numbers have looked Marion has made him work really hard for them. I think the only thing the Mavs have to do is capitalize down the stretch and the series is there for the taking. Yesterday Terry fouled Durant with his back to the basket with 2.5 seconds on the shot clock with a 1 point lead. Pathetic you have to be smarter than that.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    It is agony watching JR Smith try to play the point sometimes. In Denver, when inspired, he could create fairly well off the dribble. Maybe it’s the Heat defense. I lost count of how many turnovers he has from horrific passing.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Allball I would like to argue about that, but I was wrong :( about them improving. Seems that confidence and adding to that guard rotation was all they really needed. As for David West, he really didn’t provide any semblance of top 50 player production, he supplied much needed veteran leadership, but it would be foolish to say he was the reason they improved so much.

  • http://bulls.com airs

    Contraversial….hmm contraversial.
    Uhmm.. Next season, bulls will need a point guard for at least until december.
    Steve nash is a free agent looking for a contender. Go!

  • http://slamonline.com AllBall

    D West had a below average year, I don’t think he was an improvement in terms of their wins and losses. They have a lot of players who have equal amounts of talent, I think thats what carried them through this condensed schedule. They will struggle to steal a game against the Heat.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I don’t think anyone in the NBA plays better D on KD than Marion. Even though KD has improved his ball-in-hand skills by leaps and bounds, he still has a hard time getting past Marion and scoring on him majority of the time.
    Also, Battier has no business guarding Melo one-on-one. Melo makes Battier look like Kevin Love on defense.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Yeah, you can absolutely see Melo’s demeanor change when Battier is guarding him. Like putting a hungry dog infront of a bowl of chow. LeBron is like a bowl of lettuce.

  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    I imagine Darksaber is still fuming from that stupid stupid foul by Jet. I just shook my head when he did that.

  • http://www.soundcloud.com/tray-5 T-Ray

    Amen JT I was noticing that last night. I think LeBron plays better defense on him than Shane only because Bron seems to be more physical and bumps him away from his sweet spots.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    Megatron, Dark was so steamed. I can tell you that with 100% certainty.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    JR Smith only played the point well against bad defensive teams. And “well” is relative.
    He has never been able to go left. Ever.
    That makes it hard to play the point.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    I think per JR’s skill set, he plays the point very well. He is in no way a point guard. Would you put Ray Allen at PG? No. JR has better PG skills than the average SG. It’s not like he is suppose to play PG. He is doing it out of necessity. He is a better player to have playing PG than Mike Bibby IMO.

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Not really. Bibby still makes point guard decisions. He understands spacing, shot selection. JR Smith can just go one on one

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    If Miami had a PG worth defending I would agree with Lakeshow, but they don’t. And JR Smith just has no idea how to set up an offense as a PG. He can make plays, but that is when scoring becomes an after thought. Melo would punch a fire extinguisher if JR Smith ran the offense.

  • http://www.fiba.com Darksaber

    Game 1 soundbites:
    “JET didn’t shoot get enough touches in the 4th”
    “He was en fuego, give him the ball, Dirk can’t do it all alone”
    Cut to the 4th of game 2 where Terry was 1-5 on 3′s, attempting 3 rushed ones and committing YET ANOTHER STUPID FOUL THAT BOGGLES THE MIND. (really, rewatch last playoff’s LA series, he was having brainfarts left and right)
    Fuming does not even begin to cover it.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    ^ certainty.

  • Da-Meat-Hook

    Jose Calderon has made a living off of playing pg without being able to go left. Ever!

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    It’s crazy how the arrival of Melo and now Woodson, has turned Amare into a 100 million dollar role player. The few times he got the ball yesterday, he had his way against MIA’s frontcourt players but too many times he stood around watching Melo go one-on-one against a defense that is tailored made to stop one-on-one shenanigans. Amare must be crying himself to sleep every night thinking of the days when he was the “king” of NY’s offense not a glorified role player.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    In the 30ish minutes Amar’e played in the game that the Knicks still had a chance in, Amar’e attempted 5 shots. In that same time frame, Melo had 19 attempts. lolol

  • T-Money

    interesting stat: the knicks are 50-50 in melo’s first 100 games in new york. i’m starting to think that melo’s a bum – albeit a very talented one.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    The Knicks tied the record for most consecutive playoff losses last night. 12

  • http://slamonline.com Allenp

    Nah, Calderon can go left better than JR.
    Come on, please tell me y’all haven’t noticed this about him.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    Rick Santorum goes left more times than JT Smith.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Slick Ric

    Knicks are going to win with amare out for the 1st round.

  • http://slamonline Brion

    Odds of my dream finals matchup Heat vs Lakers?

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    30%

  • davidR

    i say 20%. lakers gotta get passed okc, then the spurs

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Brion, 100%.
    Quote me.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Nice BTW Nick. LMAO

  • LA Huey

    Nick Tha Quick with a lefty zinger. How appropriate.
    Funny how LeBron or Kobe have been present in the past 5 NBA Finals but have yet to meet there.

  • davidR

    huey, that’s an interesting stat. never thought about that

  • http://slamonline.com charliewinning

    Tyson Chandler Defensive player of the year folks

  • MUBWAR

    we are due. it’s about time. Like Jordan, when he took down Magic in his first Finals. Lebron should take down another Laker HOF to capture his 1st ring. I can picture that…

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Brion, I give the Heat a 60% chance of making the Finals and the Lakers a 20% chance. Thus, I’d say your dream matchup is 12% likely to happen.

  • http://Slamonline.com nbk

    I got the heat at 80% (Celtics 12% Bulls 4% Other 4%) at this point. Lakers at 15% (Thunder 35% Spurs 35% 8% Clips 7% Memphis)

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    nbk, mathematically, that puts you at the same percentage I have: 12%

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