Episode 36: NBA Playoffs Coverage

DeMario and Chevy return to talk more NBA Playoffs. The duo recaps the Monday and Tuesday games while checking in their predictions. Are they still sticking with the Celtics to win the series at this point? Find out why DeMario has Isaiah Thomas on his bad list.

Clippers tie series with Jazz 1-1

The Staples Center was the scene of game two between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night. The Jazz were looking to take what would be both a shocking and commanding 2-0 lead in their best of 7 series with Los Angeles. The Clippers on the other hand, were looking to bounce back from their last second loss in Game 1, and even up the series before heading on the road, to what will no doubt be a ruckus crowd in Utah. The main story going into the game was the health of Utah’s star center Rudy Gobert. Gobert, who led the NBA in block shots this season (2.64 per game), sat out Tuesday nights game after suffering a bone bruise and hyper extended left knee on the first play of Saturday’s game one. Derrick Favors would get the start in his place, and end up having a decent game with 13 point and seven rebounds, but he couldn’t match Gobert’s presence on the defensive end. The Clippers took the lead on their first bucket of the night, a CP3’s jumper, and never really looked back. They ended up with a 99-91 win, and a series split, but in a game where Utah was missing it’s best player, it felt like they should have been a bit more dominant.

The Game kicked off with a made jumper by Chris Paul, a blocked shot by DeAndre Jordan, and another bucket by Blake Griffin, as Los Angeles came out hot, looking to get the bad taste of Game 1 out of their mouths. The first quarter, and basically the entire first half was the all Clippers. Los Angeles lived in the paint, with Jordan and Griffin having their way in there all night. It was an all around solid performance from the Clippers big three. CP3 put 21 point and 10 assists, Griffin had 24 points and 5 rebounds, while Jordan chipped in with 18 points and 15 rebounds, clearly feasting on a Jazz team that had no inside defensive presence. However Utah never quit, and stayed relatively close to L.A. throughout the entire game. They didn’t get the best performances out of Joe Johnson, who followed up his 21 point game 1 performance with only 13 in game two, or Gordon Heyward, who scored 20 points on 5-15 shooting (33.3%). The first half was dominated by The Clippers’ bigs, as Chris Paul was in a bit of foul trouble, but he’d make his presence felt in the second half.

The third quarter saw Utah go on a bit of a run and cut into the Clipper lead, getting it to as close as 3 points (55-52) at the 7:31 mark. Every time Utah went on a run though, The Clippers had answer. After a quiet first half, Chris Paul took charge of his team in the third quarter. When Utah got close, it was CP3 who bumped the lead back up to eight with a three point basket, a steal, and the ensuing lay up. The Clippers would keep the lead at around 10 points from that point forward and end the quarter up 79-70.

The fourth quarter was more of the same story. Despite cutting the lead to six at one point, Utah just couldn’t protect the rim. Gobert’s absence was made even more abundant in the 4th quarter, as Utah failed time and again to secure defensive rebounds that could have shifted the momentum in their favor. Still though, the Jazz just wouldn’t go away. Not til a big three point shot by Blake Griffin with 1:33 to go did the game feel truly out of reach for Utah. As satisfied as the Clippers should be about evening their series, it has to be at least slightly concerning that they didn’t dominate the Jazz in a game that seemed tailor made for them to dominate. Los Angeles was in control throughout, but this should have been a 20 point blow out. At times it felt like we were on the verge of it happening, but Utah just kept sticking around.It’s still unclear if Rudy Gobert will be available to play in game three. If he doesn’t, The Clippers might just dominate the paint again and find themselves up 2-1.

Game 3 will be Friday at 10 PM ET on ESPN 2 in Utah.

Wesly Avendano
Baseline Times Staff Writer

Bulls stun Celtics to go up 2-0

The Chicago Bulls continued their trail of success, handily beating the Boston Celtics, 111-97. It was an impressive showing from Chicago, as they now have a 2-0 series lead over the Eastern Conference’s number one seed, and momentum heading back home.

Chicago got off to a great start in the first quarter, opening up a 31-26 lead. Although the first seven points of the game went to the Celtics, Chicago turned it on, scoring 14 points in the paint. Isaiah Thomas was assessed his second technical foul of the young series, shoving Robin Lopez a little under two minutes into the game. It was a confusing situation as it looked like he slightly antagonized by Lopez, but he ended up with the punishment. Chicago also won the second quarter, outscoring Boston 23-20 and taking an 8-point lead into halftime. Rajon Rondo finished the half doing what he does, scoring eight points with seven rebounds and nine assists. Lopez and Nikola Mirotic ended the second frame with 10 points and six boards a piece. Thomas ended the half leading all scorers with 11, while Jae Crowder had nine.

The Celtics started out hot in the second half. Although they came out firing, Chicago managed to keep up. Even with Boston scoring 29 in the quarter, Chicago ended up taking a 86-75 into the fourth. The Bulls did not stop there. They won the fourth quarter as well, outscoring the Celtics by three. Rondo finished one rebound shy of a triple double, ending with 11 points, 14 assists, 9 rebounds and 5 steals. Jimmy Butler finished with 22 points, eight boards and eight assists. Dwyane Wade scored 22, while Lopez and Paul Zipser had 18 and 16 respectively. Isaiah Thomas scored only nine second half points, finishing with 20. Jae Crowder tacked on 16, while Marcus Smart had 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.

It is relatively clear that the death Isaiah Thomas’ sister is not only affecting him, but it is throwing off the mojo of the entire team. Boston is not the same team as the one that beat out the Cavs for the one seed. The Bulls are out rebounding the Celtics and protecting the ball much better. Three-point shooting, especially late in games, is also something Boston needs to improve upon, as they were 3-11 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were 3-4 in that same stretch. Boston will have to spend the next few days game planning because they cannot afford to lose game 3 in Chicago.

Game three is in Chicago on Friday night. Tip-off at 8 PM EST on ESPN.

Calder Hill
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BT_Calder

Spurs go up 2-0 as David Fizdale lashes out on officiating

In an expecting bounce-back game after losing by 29 points the Memphis Grizzlies showed some resilience to compete with a better effort in the 96-82 loss. Spurs All-Star Kawhi Leonard scored a new career in game two as he poured 37 points (19-of-19 from the free-throw line) and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was all San Antonio all game long as their biggest lead at one point was 26 points. At one point in the early fourth quarter the Grizzlies were able to pull within four points.

The Grizzlies were led by Mike Conley Jr. who scored 24 points on 8-of-18 shooting and dropped in eight assists. Zack Randolph also played a better game two with 18 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Memphis in 35 minutes of action. Defensively, the Spurs held the Grizzlies to 38-percent shooting from the field (26-percent from three). The already depleted Grizzles were searching for answers as David Fizdale only played JaMychal Green and Wayne Seldon less than 20 minutes in game two which they started in.

The talk of the game came from Fizdale’s postgame interview, who lashed out to the media his frustration of his team not getting the respect of the officials. “It’s unfortunate that I’ve got a guy like Mike Conley that in his whole career has got zero technical fouls and just cannot seem to get the proper respect from the officials that he deserves,” Fizdale said after Memphis fell to a 2-0 series deficit. “It was a very poorly officiated basketball game.”

Fizdale’s argument is that Leonard shot 19 free-throws which equated to more than the entire Grizzlies team attempted (13-of-15). “We don’t get the respect that these guys deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy. He has class, and he just plays the game,” Fizdale said. “But I’m not gonna let them treat us that way. I know Pop’s got pedigree, and I’m a young rookie. But they’re not gonna rook us. That’s unacceptable. That was unprofessional. Our guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game. And they did not even give us a chance.”

Prior to ending his postgame interview, Fizdale slammed his hand on the table and stood up. “Take that for data,” he said as he walked out of the interview.

The Spurs will head to Memphis for game three Thursday night. Tip-ff is 9:30 PM EST on TNT.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Cavs go up 2-0 in 117-11 win

After Paul George passed up on a game one game winning shot the Pacers and their star needed a bounce back victory to avoid a 2-0 deficit before taking the series back to Indiana. Most of the night the Cavaliers lead by double-digits that amounted to an 18-point lead however, the Pacers would make a late run in the fourth quarter again to close the gap.

The big three of the Cavaliers had a strong showing in game two as Lebron James scored 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists. Kyrie Irving lead all scorers with 37 points and Kevin Love chipped in 27 points. That is a combined 89 points between the trio. The offensive outburst carried the Cavaliers to 55-percent shooting from the field (42-percent from three).

While it was a successful night for the Cavaliers main core, J.R. Smith appeared with a slight limp and slowness in his movement during halftime and coming out of the locker room. He was diagnosed with a hamstring injury. Smith would be held out of the second half and sat near the bench with a disgruntled look. His status for game three is questionable but he is optimistic he will play.

“If they let me play, I’ll play,” Smith said, via ESPN. “My leg ain’t broke.”

James believes the Cavaliers are rounding the turn of the switch. “We’re right there of what we know we can become, and we’ll figure it out. So, like I told you, I’d much rather have an 18-point lead than not have a lead at all. And we make plays down the stretch to win a ball game in the postseason, and that’s all you can ask for. But we’re right there on turning the switch on what we really can become.”

On the Pacers front Nate McMillan questioned some of the defensive decisions made such as placing George on Irving and Lance Stephenson on Love. “They do a great job of recognizing matchups and taking advantage of it. I thought that was huge. Defensively, we just didn’t play that right. The reason for it was just trying to get control of Kyrie by putting [a] bigger defender on him. We had to try to deny entry to anyone who was in the post, but we really did a bad job of allowing Love to catch it. We didn’t work to deny or front that post shot.”

Paul George also was not pleased with the body language of his teammates as some of the frustrations set in. The All-Star Forward logged 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists which lead all Pacer players in game two. “He’s got to learn to control himself and be in the moment,” George said. “Lance, in our locker room, is looked upon as a leader. His body language has to improve — just for the team. We all know that Lance is an emotional guy. A lot of it is his heart and his competitiveness. That emotion comes out of him. He’s got to channel that toward making effort plays on the court and doing whatever he needs for us to succeed.”

The Pacers being led by George were able to keep on par on shoot 51-percent from the field while only turning over 14 times opposed to the Cavaliers 19 times. McMillan will need to readjust the defense scheme in game three and jump out ahead defensively. Indiana will have to avoid playing from behind against the defending champs as they’ve lost the first two games by an average of three points.

Game three is in Indiana on Thursday night. Tip-off at 7:00 PM EST on TNT

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Raptors tie series as Kyle Lowry hits clutch jumper

The Raptors needed a win to avoid a 2-0 deficit before hitting the road against the Bucks. A better game offensively from their backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan helped propelled the Raptors to a 106-100 win. With a two point lead Lowry knocked down a 19-foot jumper with 8.6 seconds left. The duo would go in to score 45 points on 15-of-30 shooting from the field, a whole 50-percent which is better than game one’s 24-percent shooting.

Not only did the backcourt have a better offensive night for the Raptors but the front court help from Serge Ibaka lifted the Raptors in the second half. Ibaka would score 13 of his 16 points in the second half while shooting 4-of-7 from the three. The Raptors biggest lead would get to 13 points but not before the Bucks fought back and cut the lead down to two points with under a minute left in the game.

For Milwaukee to follow-up game one, Giannis Antetokoumnpo scored 24 points accompanied by 15 rebounds and seven assists, which would lead all Bucks players. The Greek Freak however, did not record a block in game two something he was able to make a statement of in game one. One of the questions for the Bucks would be the supporting cast and how well they can consistently play. Greg Monroe, who logged 18 points and and only grabbed four rebounds, was coming off a solid double-double in game one.

The Raptors found success with their big men as Jonas Valanciunas scored 10 points but was also able to grab 10 rebounds. Meanwhile, Ibaka and his 16 points were accompanied by seven rebounds, six assists and two blocks.

While it was a better effort from the third seed Raptors in game two Milwaukee still found a way to remain in the game until the end. Going home for the next two games with a tied series can still give them the confidence of pushing the series longer than expected. With a younger team the home court advantage create a bit more of a comfort zone. The veteran Raptors will have to weather the storm and stay ahead to avoid a game one scenario over again.

Game three is Thursday night in Milwaukee. Tip-off at 8:00 PM EST on NBA TV.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Episode 35: NBA Playoffs Opening Weekend Recap

Previously Recorded via live stream: Chevy is joined by Billy, an NBA Staff writer of Baseline Times, who makes his first appearance on a Podcast. The two talk the first round series game one reactions via live stream on Facebook. Predictions are established and a special Cavs fan joins to give his two cents. Listen and share!

Rockets rain on Thunder for decisive game one victory

Ouch. Game 1 of the MVP series sees Houston routing Oklahoma City by 31 points to take commanding control of the series at home.

In what started out as a close contest at the end of the first quarter (OKC-29 HOU-27) quickly started to get out of hand in the second half as Houston took over on both sides of the ball. Houston’s backcourt tandem of Beverley and Harden dominated the night going for a combined 58 points on 21-of-41 shooting on the night. Beverley also played a beautiful defensive game against Westbrook forcing the MVP candidate to nine turnovers and helping to hold him to near 25% shooting on the night.

This is not how OKC wanted this series to start. Houston already can match them physically and athletically, and tonight it just seemed Houston was the better team in every way. Oklahoma City was out-rebounded, out hustled, and abused in the paint all night. Oklahoma City had no answer for Houston’s high pick and roll attacks and there were many sets that Oklahoma City’s defense was just motionless as Harden took them apart.

The surprising start to the series is that the Rockets only connected on 10-of-33 from the three-point line and managed to still win by 31 points. A team that is accustomed to making 14 three-point baskets while shooting 40 a game in the regular season found success in the paint in game one. The Rockets outscored the Thunder 62-38 in the paint. The rebounding effort was also won by Houston as they outrebounded OKC by 62-48, 14 of the Rockets boards were on the offensive end.

Moving Forward

Oklahoma City is going to have to do better on offense. Besides Westbrook, only two other Thunder players scored in double figures. Oladipo was a non factor this game and if Oklahoma City hopes to have any chance in this series he’ll have to put up more than 6 PTS on 1-of-12 FGs. I would like to see Oklahoma City try to run a lineup of Westbrook-Grant-Roberson-Sabonis-Adams and maybe try to go small ball on Houston and generate some quick offense. Defensively it’s going to be a struggle for Oklahoma City, so it might just be in their best interest to try to score in bunches when they can. Take their chances to slow down the pace with Gibson and Kanter when they need to, and maybe adapt a more pick and roll game to expose Harden more on defense.

Game two is on Wednesday in Houston. Tip-off at 8:00 PM EST on TNT.

Markus Murden
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@MXMurden

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Bulls win nail-biter in Boston

The first person out of the tunnel, Isaiah Thomas rushed out onto the court at TD Garden with a heavy heart. The emotions were clear as Thomas was seen crying before the game. He had just lost his sister due to a car accident on Saturday morning, yet decided to fight through the pain for his teammates and the city of Boston. A moment of silence was held before the game to honor Chyna Thomas. Though Isaiah gave all he had, the Chicago Bulls pulled out the victory in suspenseful fashion, winning 106-102.

Going into the game as the number one seed, it was a tough loss for the home team Celtics. Although Boston got off to a hot start and finished the first quarter with a 28-23 lead, the Bulls never went away. Jimmy Butler led the way with 30 points and 9 rebounds. Robin Lopez was crucial for the Bulls in the first 12 minutes, scoring 10 points and pulling down 4 boards to keep them close. Chicago held the Celtics to only 18 points in the second quarter, taking a two-point lead into halftime. In the second half, it was the Jimmy Butler show. He went 7-12 shooting for 23 points, helping the Bulls get the lead and never looking back. Thomas finished the game with 33 points on 10-18 shooting, to go along with 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Al Horford flirted with a triple double in 40 minutes, finishing with 19 points, 8 assists and 7 boards. Bobby Portis had 19 points and 9 rebounds off the bench for Chicago.

The emotions got the best of Thomas as he was called for a technical foul at the 6:33 mark in the fourth. He was called for a kicked ball turnover, and he had some words for the referee. It was clear that the death of his sister certainly toyed with his emotions, but IT2 still managed to play a solid game. Having a day off to clear his mind should work to his advantage as the number one-seeded Boston will look to get back on track in game 2.

The teams face off again in Boston on Tuesday at 8:00 PM ET.

Calder Hill
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BT_Calder

Warriors take game one behind Draymond Green’s defense

The Golden State Warriors are back in the playoffs to avenge what was lost in last summer’s NBA Finals. This time they are equipped with All-Star Forward Kevin Durant. A game that was tied at 56 a piece at the half did not appear to be one that would end up in a Warrior 121-109 victory. Unless, of course, you are familiar of what can potentially happen in the blink of the eye watching the Warriors.

The backcourt of C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined for 24 of the 27 points the Trailblazers as a team scored in the first quarter. The dynamic scoring duo continued to keep their team in the game into halftime by eventually scoring 48 of the 56 points for the Blazers. Meanwhile, Myers Leonard, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, and Alan Crabbe all combined only for a total of seven points at the half. The lack of a balance attack is a concern for the Blazers in the series but through three quarters it certainly did not appear so as the third quarter ended 88 a piece for each team.

The fourth quarter would start without Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the line-up. The questionable factor of the Warriors this would be how good can their bench be with the loss of Leonardo Barbosa, Maurice Speights or the supporting cast of Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli. Third year guard Ian Clark was the boost off the bench as eight of his 12 points came in the fourth quarter stretch he covered in Curry’s place. Big hustle plays from JaVale McGee also accounted for the Warriors ability to have second chances on the offensive end.

In his first playoff game as a Warrior, Kevin Durant scored 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting accompanied by 10 rebounds. With under seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, Durant would return to score eight points while shooting four-of-five from the field. The ease of shooting a 19-foot jump shot over the undersized C.J. McCollum made KD’s return to the playoffs look all but unfamiliar.

It was an all-around Warrior effort and one that included Draymond Green. 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assist and 5 blocks would be the final numbers under Green’s name on the stat sheet. However, as usual it was the few things that do not show up such as the contested shots and passionate defensive leadership that drove the Warriors in the fourth quarter. The impact was holding the Blazers to 21 points opposed to the 31 point fourth quarter the Warriors achieved. One of the defensive adjustments from Steve Kerr in the second half was showing two defenders on Lillard and McCollum to force the role players of the Blazers make plays.

Game two is in Golden State on Wednesday night. Tip-off on TNT at 10:30 PM EST/7:30 PST

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy