Back at Ya! – Playoff Pondering: May 8, 2011

Zach Randolph rebounded from a sub-par Game 2
and put the Grizzlies in front again
(image by the AP)

Memphis and Boston lost their respective Game 2s. Today was payback.

MEM over OKC, 101-93 (MEM up 2-1)
Mike Conley performed solidly as the quarterback of
the Memphis offense
(image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

I hate this game for three reasons:

1) Memphis now has a 2-1 series lead going into Game 4.
2) Memphis has regained the confidence I thought they should’ve lost after Game 2.
3) It was a won game for OKC, or at least it should have been. No I’m having my doubts, and I hate having doubts.

I love that Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both finished with double-doubles, but consider the following:
Kevin Durant was "just" okay
against the Grizzlies
(image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

-       - Their combined Game 3 scoring output of 45 points is almost 10 points lower than their playoff average of 54.5.
-       - It took them 46 shots to make that total, making just 17.
-       - KD missed a potential game-winner in regulation.
-       - Westbrook fouled out late in overtime.

As great as these two guys were, they just weren’t enough to tow the Thunder past the Grizz. Scott Brooks has to find other guys who can be consistent third or fourth scorers to counter the balanced attack Memphis has displayed throughout the postseason. If not, then Memphis might make more history by being the first 8th seed to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Come on Thunder, don’t make me doubt even more!

Marc Gasol had another strong game:
16pts, 7rebs, and 3blks
(image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
OJ Mayo sparked the Memphis bench mob,
and limited Russell Westbrook in the 2nd half
(image by the AP)

BOS over MIA, 97-81 (MIA up 2-1)
Ray Allen and the rest of the Cs put
the Heat in their place
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)
 Boston saved my day. Thanks to Kevin Garnett.

When was the last time he put up a stat line like this: 28 points, 18 boards, 2 steals, and 13-20 from the field? When he was still in Minnesota perhaps?

KG reprised his vintage self to school Miami's frontline
(image by the AP)
He’ll need to continue playing like that, or at least approximate it, if the Celtics want to sustain the momentum that has shifted their way after Game 3. They’re poised to tie the series in Game 4, but if they lose that then Game 5 in Miami will be an elimination game – a situation no team, save for the Heat, wants.

Other Cs played true to form too. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen combined for 7-12 from rainbow country. Delonte West and Jeff Green provided great minutes off the pine. Shaq made all 8½ minutes of playing time count, and, of course, Rajon Rondo provided 11 assists and all the inspiration Boston needed to nail this win.

After two games where Miami just seemed to run a little bit quicker, jump a little bit higher, and bump a little bit harder, Boston made sure they’d compensate by outshooting, outrebounding, and out-assisting the Heat.

No squad can compete with Erik Spoelstra’s wards in terms of pure athleticism, but if there’s any team that can counter that with grit, experience and hustle, it’s these Celtics.

Chris Bosh seems to have left his game back in South Beach
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)
Rajon Rondo's recovery from the dislocated elbow
inspired his team and their fans
(image by the AP)
Dwyane Wade and the Heat finally falter against the Big Green
(image by Elsa/Getty Images)

Rajon Rondo's injury (watch at your own risk!):

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