Post Up: Statement Game

by May 07, 2014

Nets 86 – Heat 107 (Miami leads series 1-0)

It was a tale of two halves. The Heat and Nets played to a near draw in the first half, with Miami heading back to the locker room with a tenuous three-point advantage. But the Heat turned up the energy in the second half, their extra week off very apparent.

The best player on earth, LeBron James, muscled his way into the paint, throwing missiles to wide open cutters, playing shut-down defense, dropping an efficient 22 points. The attention to LeBron opened things up for guys like Jesus Shuttlesworth, who put on an absolute clinic. In 26 minutes off the bench, Allen dropped 19 points with 4 threes, 4 boards and 3 dimes against his former teammates in Brooklyn.

James and Allen sparked a 24-9 third-quarter run which opened up the game, and Miami was able to keep D-Wade (14 points, 5 assists) on the bench for the final quarter. Chris Bosh was automatic off the pick and roll, finishing inside and out for 15 points with 11 rebounds in just 31 minutes.

The Heat shot 56.8 percent on the game—which is what happens when 52 points come in the paint—but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. The Heat looked like they were playing in one of their scrimmages from the past week. Nearly every set was executed without obstruction. Nearly every play resulted in a good shot.

The Nets were led by Joe Johnson and Deron Williams, who dropped 17 points each, but Brooklyn’s hired guns struggled mightily. Kevin Garnett recorded his first scoreless playoff game in his career. Paul Pierce put up just 8 points in 29 minutes. The team had more turnovers (13) than assists (11).

It was Miami’s first win in five meetings with Brooklyn this season, but clearly, the Heat are a different team in the Playoffs. The win was their fifth in as many post-season games, and they may just extend the streak when the series shifts to BK for Games 3 and 4. They looked that good in Game 1.—Ryne Nelson

Spurs 116 – Blazers 92 (San Antonio leads 1-0) 

With an epic first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs in the history books, this week officially started the next chapter. The second round, aka the Conference Semifinals, are now underway. 

And the San Antonio Spurs rocked it, as usual.

The Texas team blew out the visiting Portland Trail Blazers in the series opener at home. Tony Parker ran the floor for his Spurs, recording a near double-double with his 33 points and nine assists, one of which you can see dished out to an all-time great in Mr. Timmy D., below:

It started right from the first quarter—the Spurs outscored the Blazers 29 to 16. Portland managed to cut the deficit to single digits early in the second quarter, but San Antonio rallied to go on a 15-3 run and finished the half with a more-than-comfortable 26 point lead. Portland never caught up.

Bench game had much to do with the final score. San Antonio’s reserves outscored Portland’s 50-18—props to Marco Belinelli, who finished with 19, as well as Aron Baynes and Patty Mills, who each scored 10.

LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 32 and Damian Lillard with 17 for Portland, a team that moved on from Round 1 of the Playoffs for the first time in 14 years. The Spurs have quite a different history in the past 14-15 years, what with their advancing from the first round in all but two series and—oh yeah—winning the NBA Championship four out of five times.

Game 1 of this Western Conference Semifinals matchup followed the pattern one would expect if all he or she read about these two teams was their past decade and a half of Playoffs history. 

But the rest of us know better. We know there is more to this story—that there will be more to this series—than the veteran Spurs’ spanking of the Trail Blazers in the first 48 minutes of play.

Those next few pages of the Spurs vs Trail Blazers story are set to unfold tomorrow night at 9:30 EST in Portland.—Habeeba Husain