Wizards led by John Wall to game one victory

The Washington Wizards are back in the playoffs and victorious with a 114-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The return of John Wall in the NBA Playoffs included 32-points (12-for-24 shooting) and 14 assists. His 14-point scoring outburst in the third quarter shifted momentum of game one to the Wizards. It was all the starting five leading the Wizards as each starter scored in double-digits behind their leader in Wall.

Marcin Gortat got the better of the match-up between Dwight Howard, his former teammate in Orlando, with 14-points and 10-rebounds. Howard would eventually finish with seven points and 14-rebounds in the loss while only connecting on two of the six shots he managed to take. The bright spots for Atlanta was Dennis Schroder who scored 25-points on 8-of-16 shooting alongside nine assists. All-Star Forward Paul Millsap added 19-points on 5-of-8 shooting.

After the game Millsap had concerns about the way the game was officiated and the style of play allowed from the Wizards. “The difference in the game was we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA,” Millsap told reporters. “They were physical. When the game is like that, we have to match their physicality. But again, we’ve got to go get some moves and bring them back to the court.

The Hawks never had an answer to contain the John Wall outbursts and get a handle of the ball as they had a game high 21 turnovers. Taking advantage of the turnovers the Wizards were able to capitilize on 16 points off turnovers and pour in 25 fast break points. After the third quarter Atlanta could never recover from the double-digit deficit.

Some of the aggression that Washington showed alongside their All-Star Guard John Wall is the result of the 114-107 win in game 1. Atlanta will have to come out and match the intensity in game two or they will find themselves in a similar situation.

Game two is Wednesday night in Washington D.C. Tip-off at 7:00 PM EST on TNT.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Spurs roll behind career night from Kawhi Leonard

A competitive game in the first-half turned into an absolute beating in the 2nd half as the San Antonio Spurs took game one in the best of seven in their first round series against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies were without starting Shooting Guard Tony Allen who was out with a calf injury suffered in the final regular season game. The Grizzlies were also without Chandler Parsons who they paid to be a big part of this team. Persons had a season ending injury due to a torn meniscus. Head Coach David Fizdale said they are not expecting Allen to be available during this series. The 111-82 victory included Kawhi Leonard matched a playoff career high with 32 points. Leonard was 11-for-14 from the floor and 9-for-9 from the foul line. Tony Parker looked fresh and ready for playoff basketball, added 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 points. The Grizzlies were lead by Marc Gasol who also had a playoff career high with 32 points, 25 came in the first-half which was a franchise playoff record. Mike Conley added 13-points all of which came in the first-half. Conley would go scoreless after the 8:40 in the 2nd quarter.

The Grizzlies started off hot hitting their first five shots and started 4-4 from the three-point line. Memphis would open up a 13-point lead in the first quarter .Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr. lead  the Grizzlies as Conley started the 1st quarter hot going 4-4 from the floor including 2-2 from the three-point line. The Spurs would go on to hit seven of their last eight shots to close the quarter to trim the lead to five by the end of the period. Kawhi Leonard started 5- for-5 in the first quarter to help keep the Spurs in striking distance.

The second quarter Gasol and Conley started off very aggressive with only Gasol putting points on the board. The Spurs took their first lead 32-31 at the nine minute mark. LaMarcus Aldridge got it going in the quarter as he hit 5-of-9 shots. Memphis would go on to shoot 29-percent from the floor in the second as well as no other player besides Gasol and Conley scoring over four points and lost the lead by quarters end trailing 52-49.

The start of the second half started slow for the Grizzlies as they took bad shots and had very little ball movement. They also went away from the one thing they had working the first half which was Marc Gasol. Memphis missed their first four shots of the third quarter but managed to only be down by seven. The Spurs shut down Mike Conley and slowed down Gasol to completely change the game. Parker, Leonard and Aldridge were the only Spurs players to score up until 6:40 left in the quarter. These three on the offensive end along with the Spurs great defense held the Grizzlies to 28-percent shooting in the quarter and a 84-64 lead.

The Spurs opened the 4th quarter with a 9-0 run to take a 93-64 lead and after that there was little to talk about as the final score was 111-82.

Mike Conley finished the game missing nine of his final 10 shots. Gasol only scored seven points in the second half and was held in check. The other three Memphis starters combined for just 12-points on 5-of-17 shooting. Zach Randolph who is a candidate for Six Man of the Year finished with just six points on 3-of-13 shooting.

With the win the Spurs continue to dominate Memphis in the playoffs as of late. The Grizzlies last postseason win over the Spurs came on April 29th, 2011 when they won 99-91. Leonard is a strong candidate for MVP after a career year where he averaged 25.5 points 3.5 assist 5.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals the first season since Tim Duncan retired. Tony Parker after a down season looked great in game one. He attacked the basket and knocked down jumpers. If he continues to play this well this is going be a short series for the Grizzlies. Danny Green only scored two points but had a great game defensively finishing with four blocks as he was the primary defender on Mike Conley the 2nd half.

Allen who is their best on ball defender was missed as he wasn’t available to cover Leonard or Parker. Fizdale played nine players in the opening quarter of play. Maybe look for him to shorten his rotation in game two. Also, look for Vince Carter and Zach Randolph to be more involved offensively in game two.

Game two is Monday in San Antonio at 9:30pm CT

Nate Ledsinger
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer

Jazz edge Clippers on Joe Johnson buzzer beating lay-up

The Los Angeles Clippers were only able to hold on to their home court advantage for a few days until the Utah Jazz decided to change the narrative with a 97-95 buzzer beater win at the Staples Center Saturday night.

The game started with a scary moment for the Jazz in the first 10 seconds, where defensive player of the year contender Rudy Gobert went down with a knee injury. Gobert went to set a screen for Gordon Hayward when he collides knees with the Clippers Luc Mbah a Moute and seemingly crumbles to the ground. At first glance it looks like a nasty injury considering he needed a considerable amount of help to get off the floor, but the MRI on Sunday reveals only a hyperextension of the knee and a bone bruise. This is a huge break for the Jazz, but could still mean that will have finish this series out without Gobert guarding the paint. This means Derrick Favors will definitely need to step and provide some great defense against one of the NBA’s best paint scoring teams. Regardless, Quin Snyder’s team still managed to not let the injury phase them and were able to edge the home team with a late 4th quarter lift and eventual buzzer beater by veteran Joe Johnson. Johnson in his post game interview speaking about having the ball in this hands at crunch time said “I’m very comfortable in those situations, that was one of the reasons that made them come after me this summer. I’m glad to be apart of this great young team”.

With the loss in Game 1, the Clippers end the 7 game win streak that got them the home court advantage in the first round. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both put up some great numbers with 26 and 25 points respectively, and DeAndre Jordan put up a nice double-double, but past that the team had little help from anyone else. The poor shooting night overall was nearly saved with some late game heroics from Chris Paul, but ultimately it was the defense lapse that did the Clippers in. Mbah a Moute did a great job the whole game defending All Star scorer Gordon Hayward to under 40 percent shooting, Joe Johnson on the other hand dominated the floor going 9-14 from the field including 3-4 from downtown. It was clear Doc Rivers was frustrated in his post game press conference when a reporter asked why he didn’t let more time go off the clock before Chris Paul tied the game up with 13 seconds left. “If you miss the game is over, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard”. Ultimately the remaining time allowed Joe Johnson to put a make a floater in the lane, with no time left on the clock for the Clippers to answer.

This seems to be a trend when it comes to the Clippers in the post season and if Doc Rivers wants to get rid of the label of being an inconsistent team, he’s got to get his guys on the same page defensively if they want any chance at regaining control of this series. I still feel the Clippers can grab this series in 7 games, especially if Gobert misses more than one game, but the Jazz have the momentum going into Tuesday’s game two.

Stay locked into the Baseline Times for updates on the Gobert Injury as well as post game analysis after each matchup in these opening rounds of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.

Game two is Tuesday at the Staples Center. Tip-off on TNT 10:30 EST/7:30 PST

Derrick Daughtry
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@d_daught

Cavs squeeze by Pacers in game one on last play

Cleveland, Ohio – The Cleveland Cavaliers squeak out a game one victory over the Indiana Pacers in the opening round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs.  The Cavaliers entered the postseason a bit vulnerable to some after dropping six of their last ten. The defense remains a problem for the Cavaliers as they were late closing out to shooters letting the pacers score anywhere on the court. The Pacers weren’t much better defensively as the Cavaliers repeatedly used the pick and roll to exploit Jeff Teague in the lane as James and Love overpowered him to score easy buckets. Tristan Thompson was also a force down low gobbling up offensive boards to keep the Pacers at bay.

Paul George had the hot hand early in the game to the tune of 29 points but was quiet in the second half nevertheless; the Pacers took control in the 4th as Lance Stephensen provided an offensive spark handling backup point guard duties. Stephensen finishing the game with 16 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He also neutralized the Cavaliers pick and roll schemes on the defensive end with his size compared to Teague.

After a late game three-point bucket by George and a couple of misfires by the Cavaliers, the Pacers found themselves down one with the ball for the last shot. George got the ball at the top of the key but was quickly double teamed by Smith and James as he passed out to Miles hoping to get the ball back. Miles hoisted up a desperation shot that missed off the left side of the rim. The Cavaliers escaped game 1 with the victory as James finished the evening with 32 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds.

Game two is in Cleveland on Monday night April 17th on TNT.

Gabe Lloyd
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@GabeXL

Bucks take game one in Toronto

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks steal one on the road in the series opener of their first round series. Out scoring Toronto by 19-points overall in the 2nd half. The Greek Freak certainly was on display as he threw down a couple of monsterous dunks followed by an impressive block on DeMar DeRozan.

One of the most questionable factors of this series is the shooting of Kyle Lowry alongside DeRozan. The pair shot a combined 9-of-38 from the field overall which is only good enough for 24-percent shooting for the Raptors starting backcourt. The woes of last postseason’s struggles are still showing signs of life despite Lowry shooting a career high this season.

Giannis finished with 23 points, eight rebounds and, three assists however, the up lifting bench support came from Greg Monroe who scored 14-points (5-of-11 from the field) and pulled in 15 rebounds.

With just under six minutes in the fourth quarter The Raptors were within ten points only to have Antetokounmpo come down and post up P.J. Tucker for a basket and the foul. This seemed to be a deflating moment of the Raptors momentum as Lowry would drive to the basketball a couple possessions later and miss a lay-up.

The size and ability to defend on the perimeter for Milwaukee is definitely a sign that Toronto must make adjustments to free up their back court for better open looks. Malcolm Brogdon, Antetokounmpo, Kris Middleton and Tony Snell are all capable of switching on and off the backcourt of Toronto. Dwane Casey certainly has his adjustments cut out in order to get his All-Star starting guards some better looks.

Game two is in Toronto on Tuesday night April, 18th on NBATV.

NBA Staff Western Conference Predictions for Round 1

Check out our NBA Staff’s predictions for the first-round series of the NBA Playoffs for the Western Conference.

NBA Staff Eastern Conference Predictions for Round 1

Check out our NBA Staff’s predictions for the first-round series of the NBA Playoffs for the Eastern Conference.

 

Clippers (4) vs Jazz (5)

Oh boy, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets, Westbrook vs. Harden, what happens when the unstoppable force meets the unstoppable force? This is the marquee first round matchup of the playoffs. The storylines heading in couldn’t be better. The two top choices for MVP slugging it out in a best of seven series. We’re all so lucky. So how does this series play out, let’s look at the season series to base our prediction on.

During the regular season Houston took the series 3 games to 1. Oklahoma City took the first game of the season with Houston sweeping the final three games. All the games were high scoring and fast paced contests. However, Oklahoma City’s defense just never seemed to be able to control Houston’s spread out attack. Oklahoma City has not been able to find an answer to Houston’s ability to spread the floor while also having the high pick and roll game of Harden and Capeli. On the other end at times, Westbrook can do what he wants to a mediocre Houston defense, but there’s no one to back up the one man show to help spread the threat of their offense. Which brings me to the x-factors for each team going into the series.

Houston is going to need to keep Patrick Beverly healthy and out of foul trouble. The lone game Oklahoma City won was with Beverly out of the lineup for Houston. We can expect Westbrook to dial it up to 12 for this series and Beverly is going to need to at least stay on the floor for a high percentage of that time. With Houston being shallow on defense, Beverley’s play on Westbrook will be vital for their chances.

The same can be said on the opposite side for Andre Roberson. Roberson is holding Harden to 20.5 ppg during their meetings, much below his average. However, Oklahoma City’s biggest x-factor will be Victor Oladipo. So far he’s shown signs that he can be special throughout the season. But he needs to come up big in this series. With Beverley’s duties on Westbrook, Oklahoma City will need another scorer to step up from the backcourt and this could be Oladipo’s chance to breakthrough. A solid 12-14 ppg, numbers he was already above in Orlando, from Oladipo could make a huge swing in how this series turns out.

This series will come down to who can slow down the other team’s juggernaut the best. And looking on paper, Houston would seem to just have the better overall team. The front courts of both teams can bang, so this series will come down to who ca be most efficient with their shots and scoring. Houston’s ability to shoot threes in high volume might be too much for Westbrook and co. to keep up with. My prediction is Houston takes the series in 6. Westbrook’s sheer force of will can give OKC a fighting chance in this series and I can see them edging out some close victories. However, Houston’s super-efficient offense will be too much for Oklahoma City to match every night. I hope I’m wrong.

Series Prediction: Rockets in 6 games

Markus Murden
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@MXMurden

(3) Rockets vs Thunder (6)

Oh boy, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets, Westbrook vs. Harden, what happens when the unstoppable force meets the unstoppable force? This is the marquee first round matchup of the playoffs. The storylines heading in couldn’t be better. The two top choices for MVP slugging it out in a best of seven series. We’re all so lucky. So how does this series play out, let’s look at the season series to base our prediction on.

During the regular season Houston took the series 3 games to 1. Oklahoma City took the first game of the season with Houston sweeping the final three games. All the games were high scoring and fast paced contests. However, Oklahoma City’s defense just never seemed to be able to control Houston’s spread out attack. Oklahoma City has not been able to find an answer to Houston’s ability to spread the floor while also having the high pick and roll game of Harden and Capeli. On the other end at times, Westbrook can do what he wants to a mediocre Houston defense, but there’s no one to back up the one man show to help spread the threat of their offense. Which brings me to the x-factors for each team going into the series.

Houston is going to need to keep Patrick Beverly healthy and out of foul trouble. The lone game Oklahoma City won was with Beverly out of the lineup for Houston. We can expect Westbrook to dial it up to 12 for this series and Beverly is going to need to at least stay on the floor for a high percentage of that time. With Houston being shallow on defense, Beverley’s play on Westbrook will be vital for their chances.

The same can be said on the opposite side for Andre Roberson. Roberson is holding Harden to 20.5 ppg during their meetings, much below his average. However, Oklahoma City’s biggest x-factor will be Victor Oladipo. So far he’s shown signs that he can be special throughout the season. But he needs to come up big in this series. With Beverley’s duties on Westbrook, Oklahoma City will need another scorer to step up from the backcourt and this could be Oladipo’s chance to breakthrough. A solid 12-14 ppg, numbers he was already above in Orlando, from Oladipo could make a huge swing in how this series turns out.

This series will come down to who can slow down the other team’s juggernaut the best. And looking on paper, Houston would seem to just have the better overall team. The front courts of both teams can bang, so this series will come down to who ca be most efficient with their shots and scoring. Houston’s ability to shoot threes in high volume might be too much for Westbrook and co. to keep up with. My prediction is Houston takes the series in 6. Westbrook’s sheer force of will can give OKC a fighting chance in this series and I can see them edging out some close victories. However, Houston’s super-efficient offense will be too much for Oklahoma City to match every night. I hope I’m wrong.

Series Prediction: Rockets in 6 games

Markus Murden
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@MXMurden

Spurs (2) vs Grizzlies (7)

DeMario Jackson and Jason Tyson team up to cover this series.

Spurs outlook

20 straight winning seasons, five titles, one Hall of Fame player, another one in 2021, the best coach in the association and a current player who looks like he will have a Hall of Fame career vs. a franchise with four total playoff series wins. The San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies both closed out the season losing four-of-five games and in the regular season they went 2-2. This is a massive David & Goliath first round matchup because of the “The Klaw” aka Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi is a game changer who can win you games with his offense and defense and there isn’t one player on Memphis who can match his play on both ends of the floor. Kawhi also put himself into the top five players in the league conversation because he averaged career highs in points, assists, PER, free throw percentage and led San Antonio to 61 wins and the second best record in the association for the second straight season. Look for San Antonio to come out firing on all cylinders to put the rest of the league on notice.

Prediction: Spurs in 5 games

Demario Jackson
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@demariojackson_

Grizzlies outlook

Redemption, the name of the game for this matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies. This series marks the fifth incarnation of this postseason match up since the 2003-04 season.

A team that’s often praised for its defensive mindedness and commendable performance but ultimately lost series .The Grizzlies core is a make-up of aging vets. Still lead by Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Marc Conley who hope to turn up an upset.

Rewind to this time last year the Spurs swept the Grizzlies in the postseason series that left then head coach Dave Joerger in tears . The reliability in leadership by both coach Gregg Poppovich and Kawahi Leaonard along with the soon to be retired Tim Duncan showed to more than Memphis could handle . This year the Grizzlies are a little younger and healthier with the addition of younger players like for Chandler Parsons who suffered a season ending injury months into his new deal with the Grizzlies . Despite the changes this series appears to be a new year same outcome fueled by Leonard’s MVP caliber season. The Grizzlies managed to spilt the season series with the Spurs 2-2 however, will be pushing for an upset in the Playoffs.

Jason Tyson
Baseline Times NBA Staff Writer
@tandrew_3