Trouble at Home: Playoff Pondering for May 3, 2011

ATL over CHI, 103-95, (ATL up 1-0)

Tom Thibodeau wasn't able to enjoy his year-end award
(image by the AP)
Larry Drew did not win Coach of the Year honors, but his team had the higher score at the end of the ball game than Tom Thibodeau's Bulls.

These Atlanta Hawks just keep on coming don't they?

Soon after upending a troubled Orlando Magic team, Atlanta went to the WIndy City and disrupted what many expected to be Chicago's game to lose. And boy did Chicago lose this one.

D-Rose's started slow
(image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Even with the Coach of the Year on the sidelines, and, if rumor has it true, the MVP in tow.

In this game, nobody was more valuable than Joe Johnson. JJ scored 34 big ones en route to the Hawks shocking the world by taking a 1-0 series lead against the top-seeded Bulls. He hit all his 3-point shots and just refused to back down even as Chicago took a lead late in the 3rd quarter. Atlanta regained the upper hand and didn't relinquish it again.

Hawks are still flying high
(image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
So does this loss bring a grim outlook to what was supposed to be Chicago's coming out party?

The loss itself, no, but what happened at the end of the game could put a damper on any title hopes the Bulls still harbor. With Carlos Boozer hampered with turf toe injury, Chicago could ill-afford another injury to a key player, let alone their most valuable player. Rose will play through it no question, but will he be the same? He took a long time before his first shot went in, and with this new development, things might be a little tougher than he would've wanted.

It took 5 tough games for Chicago to drop Indiana, and it looks like it'll take a lot longer to get rid of these Hawks. In fact, Game 1 suggests it might actually be easier for the Hawks to get rid of these Bulls. 

I bet Chicago fans are now asking, "Will someone please tell Atlanta to just follow the script?"

Jeff Teague played big minutes
(image by the AP)
Boozer and the Bulls were hounded from the get-go
(image by the AP)
DAL over LAL, 96-94 (DAL up 1-0)

In the 1st playoff meeting of the 2 franchises in 23 years,
Dirk Nowitzki ended up with the W
(image by Harry How/Getty Images)
Andrew Bynum put up
mediocre numbers
(image by the AP)
After the bizarre end to the first half that saw LA's lead balloon from 5 to 9 points literally in a matter of milliseconds, coupled with the 16-point hole in the 3rd quarter, giving up would've been the path of least resistance for these Mavs. And the Laker crowd probably thought that would be the case.

Only these Mavs defied all that.

Often written-off for being a team that just can't conjure the kind of crunch time magic needed to clinch title runs, the Mavs were uncharacteristically poised down the stretch against LA.

The Mavs are now a major
stumbling block for LA
(image by the AP)
And what of the legendary Black Mamba? That fellow streaking around the court with #24 on his back? That guy who yearns for these moments to prove his supremacy over any and all opposition? He took the big shots he usually takes.

This time, however, Kobe Bryant missed.

And just like that, Mark Cuban can sleep soundly with a 1-0 series lead.

This is what wrecks our pre-manufactured expectations. This is what wrecks our brackets. For some of us, this is what gets us broke.

This is also the thing that makes the playoffs so damn fun to watch.

The Black Mamba couldn't snare victory
from the jaws of defeat
(image by Kevork Djansezian)
Mark Cuban and the Mavs just stole home court advantage
(image by Harry How/Getty Images)

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