May 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) reacts on the court against the Miami Heat during the second half of game four in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden. Knicks won 89-87. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Playoffs: Round 1 – Day 9


You know, I felt pretty beat after that Jazz loss yesterday, but imagine what Denver fans must be feeling like after blowing a Game 4 opportunity against LA? I picture several fans wearing used Melo jerseys clamoring about Colorado in search of something to kill – perhaps a Grizzly bear draped in Lakers attire?

Day 9 offered little to get excited about. I should apologize for my increasing disinterest in the first round. By now all but one series is locked. Before today even started we knew LA, Boston and Philly would win their games (Miami should have too, but I guess New York needed a moral victory) – and even now, despite whatever the “surprisingly close” outcomes may tease, those teams will advance to the second round. The other teams may prolong the inevitable, but at the end of the day the usual suspects prevail.

Game 1:
Philly vs. Chicago
Final Score: 89-82 (Philly)
Series: 3-1 Philly

Give Chicago credit: they fought hard despite missing two of their best players (Rose, obviously, and Noah). CJ Watson scored 10 points in the fourth quarter and kept his team within inches of the 76ers, but couldn’t get over that last hurdle. Those back-to-back Jrue Holiday 3-pointers (which pushed the 76ers’ lead to 80-73) turned the tide, in my opinion. And even though Chicago managed to pull within two on a quick 7-2 spurt with only a minute remaining, the Bulls looked downright spent – both physically and mentally. And why shouldn’t they? Imagine sitting on the brink of a championship facing a team that really wasn’t worth your time and suddenly your best players begin dropping like flies. Now you sit, just a week and a half later, watching that same team trample all over yours while thousands of fans mercilessly cheer on.

Welcome to the NBA Chicago. I’d call it sweet justice, even karma, but damn it all I like Rose. I like Deng. I like Noah. I like Watson. Korver, Brewer … I like em all (well, except maybe Boozer). They didn’t deserve this, and neither did Coach Thibbs who did a bang up job this season with a (ahem) banged up squad. Maybe next year boys, once they’ve figured out how to surgically implant mechanical legs to Rose’s body to ensure the man stays healthy.

Does Chicago still have a chance to extend the series? Absolutely. If Noah returns, I think the Bulls could pull an upset in Game 5, if only because Philly will fail to close out down the stretch. But Philly’s all but got this thing wrapped up. Too bad.

Game 2:
Miami vs. New York
Final Score: 89-87 (New York)
Series: 3-1 Miami

John Barry said it best: “All New York did was make it so they have to get on a plane and lose in Miami.” (I’m paraphrasing, of course.) Indeed, while NY’s win proved they carry a smidgeon of pride, I’m not sure they needed to do it. Everyone likes NY and wants to see them win, but who wants to watch another Miami Heat slaughter, during which Wade and James will take turns high fiving after EVERY play, throw their arms in the air in godly arrogance, and beat their chests as though they had just taken down Muhammad Ali after only two quick rounds? I sure don’t. And none of the Knicks players do either.

I’m betting Melo shows up, plays for two quarters and then pretends to have a cardiac arrest in the middle of the court. Stoudemire will follow suite by grabbing his hand while screaming in agony after a botched dunk (utilizing fake blood to sell the scene). Tyson Chandler will rip off his clothes to reveal a Dallas jersey and Mark Cuban’s failed master plan: infiltrate who he believed to be the most dominant team in the East and then wait for the finals. Baron Davis would naturally reveal himself to be James Harden from the future; and Jeremy Lin would completely vanish. Oh wait.

Miami did the same thing last year to the 76ers – went up 3-0, then let them enjoy at least one victory before defeating them in Miami. NY obviously lacks the necessary firepower to take on James, Wade and The Other Guys. Melo had to drop 40 points tonight and NY just barely ESCAPED with a victory on their home court … that won’t happen in Miami, although it’d be pretty cool if it did.

Game 3:
Atlanta vs. Boston
Final Score: 101-79 (Boston)
Series: 3-1 Boston

Now that everyone is alive and well on Doc Rivers’ squad (including Ray Allen who posted 12 points off the bench tonight), the Celtics finally look like the team I thought they were entering the post-season. There’s not much to say: all five Celtics starters scored right out of the gate, landing a tremendous blow to Atlanta’s front line – Boston went up 32-19 and never looked back. Atlanta pulled within 10 after Jannero Pargo’s 3-pointer in the second quarter, but Boston went on a 30-17 run to close out the first half … wow. I think even the Spurs were impressed by that one.

I’m not a huge Boston fan, as Garnett drives me to the deepest levels of anger not seen since the Beatles split up, but I want anyone who can take down Miami to win. If Boston can close out this series against Atlanta, they face a relatively simple second round against Philly (while Miami will get tested by Indiana). I’m really curious to see how this whole thing plays out. Can we just end round one right now?

Game 4:
LA vs. Denver
Final Score: 92-88 (LA)
Series: 3-1 LA

I only watched the ending to this game, as I expected a Lakers victory and didn’t want to watch Kobe smug and hug his teammates at mid-court while acting as though he didn’t know a camera stood less than five feet away. Truthfully, I didn’t expect Denver to play this close … and they almost pulled off the (ahem) upset, but of course the refs got in the way (gotta protect their investment). With less than a minute remaining (and the game tied 86-all), Pau Gasol leveled Danilo Gallinari who failed to close out on Ramon Sessions who in turn dropped a clutch 3-pointer from the right side of the court. Denver panicked at the other end of the court and Al Harrington forced a layup, which Miller tapped into the basket – offensive goaltending. Right. Miller walked away from the play with a smile on his face – yeah, welcome to Lakers-basketball buddy, where you must face seven opponents at any given time.

Steve Blake hit a 3-pointer that put the game out of reach for good, after which the aforementioned Kobe scene transpired and Oscars were handed out to everyone wearing a Lakers jersey. I am curious to see how LA fares against OKC this year. The Thunder looked kinda shaky against Dallas in Games 1 and 2, but then transformed into a friggin juggernaut in Dallas on route to a sweep. You don’t beat the Mavs like that unless you’re good … well, maybe that’s not true. But still, that was pretty convincing. Hopefully they can do the same against LA.

Tags: 76ers Atlanta Boston Carmello Anthony Chicago Dallas Denver Nuggets Jazz Knicks Okc Lakers Miami NBA New York Philly Playoffs Round 1 Spurs