The NBA Playoffs: Day 15: Lakers to face the Thunder

Rajon Rondo dished out 17 assists and
served up a loss to the Sixers on Game 1
(Photo by the Associated Press)

#FirstBlood #TripleDouble
The Sixers threw the first punch early but the Celtics ended the fight with a fourth quarter knockout. The Celtics got the win after trailing most of the game in large part due to Rondo's playmaking (13 pts, 17 assts, 12 rebs) abilities. Kevin Garnett continued his hot shooting pace of late with 29 pts and 11 boards including a late jumper from a pick and pop. Pierce struggled all game long but hit jumpers in the clutch to seal the deal. Meanwhile, the Sixers had defensive lapses in the closing minutes and they threw up ill-advised shots. This boils down to the Sixers not having a closer and go-to-guy plus the team is mostly inexperienced. Still, the Sixers did a decent job putting pressure on the Celtics and showing that they can compete against them. A similar effort from the Sixers for Game 2 plus them learning from their mistakes could give the Sixers a split in Boston. They were that close to winning Game 1.

#FoulOrThree #GreatStrategy
With the Celtics leading by three points 92-89 with less than 10 seconds to go and the Sixers with the ball, Coach Doc Rivers instructed the Celtics to foul the ballhandler for the Sixers. Jrue Holiday made the two foul shots to cut the lead to one with 3.4 seconds left. On the last play of the game, the Celtics in bounded the ball to Rondo and he was able to waste the time without being fouled. The Celtics escaped with the win due to a great strategy by Doc Rivers. NBA coaches rarely (hardly) commit the foul in the closing seconds of the game when up by three. They prefer that a three-point shot be attempted for the tie. I have seen more threes made to tie compared to not having the chance to take a three due to a two-shot foul. Dont you think it's a safer route to foul before a player can attempt a three? But then again, i am NOT a NBA coach.

#WinOrGoHome #TeamWin
Great game by the Lakers and Nuggets. It was a game of runs and speed. Ty Lawson was a speed demon on the floor, running on every opportunity to bring the Nuggets back into the game after being down by 16 points in the 3rd quarter. Al Harrington had a great game as well despite his nose injury. Their efforts were not enough to defeat the Lakers on their home court. Kobe had a mediocre scoring game by his standards but his teammates picked up the win for him. Bryant did not need to force shots since his teammates were taking them and making them. The Lakers also put the ball in the hands of their frontline and they delivered the win. Can the Lakers muster enough effort against the OKC Thunder for Game 1 which starts Monday night? I cant wait to see that!

#CantTeachHeight #Blake&Artest
Bynum and Gasol showed up for Game 7 after disappearing in their last game. They combined for 39 points and 35 rebounds. The Big 2 dominated the paint and the undersized lineup of the Nuggets. In one play, Pau Gasol had maybe 5 or 6 offensive rebounds as he tried to tip in a missed shot which he eventually made. On the perimeter, Steve Blake and Ron Artest were just as great as they hit a total of 9 threes and scored 34 points between them. Artest played excellent defense on Gallinari who struggled and was a non-factor (3 pts, 1-9 shooting). Overall, Artest had a positive effect on the game as he finished with a game-high +17 which meant that the Lakers outscored the Nuggets by 17 points while he was on the floor. On this night, Pau Gasol showed that he was still the better Gasol brother. Let's wait and see if Marc Gasol can match him on Sunday afternoon.

#Tweet/Quote of the Night 
"I feel like I could out-quick him. That's what I did. We knew they had a foul to give. I told Doc (Rivers) to get me the ball and I could use my speed." - Rajon Rondo on the last play of the game when he ran out the clock for the win. 

#News #stats

  • Rajon Rondo has 8 triple-doubles in the playoffs (Magic has 30 for the all-time lead)
  • Kobe only took 16 shots while Gasol had 19 and Artest/Bynum 15 each
  • LeBron James is the 8th player to have at least three MVPs
  • Nuggets had 23 offensive rebounds while Lakers had 24
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