BDCi NBA Playoffs 5.16.14
(BDCi) — What a week it has been in the NBA playoffs. The week started with eight teams and now it is down to four. In the West, the Spurs closed out the TrailBlazers in Game 5 on Wednesday night despite playing most of the second half without Tony Parker. He strained his hamstring but will be fine for the Western Conference Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder took down the Los Angeles Clippers on the road in Game 6 on Thursday night. That was a very physical series with many fouls and some difficult calls. In the East, the Miami Heat took care of the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 on Wednesday night as the Nets just ran out of gas and could not extend the series. Also a man named Ray Allen hit a crucial 3 late in the game to clinch the series for the Heat. The Indiana Pacers bounced back from an embarrassing home loss in Game 5 to close out the Washington Wizards in Game 6. The Pacers have been inconsistent in the playoffs and it remains to be seen which team will show up. Now on to the Western and Eastern Conference Finals.
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (2) Oklahoma City Thunder
This is going to be a terrific series pitting the youthful Thunder against the ageless Spurs. The point guard matchup is going to be one to watch with the steady Tony Parker against the energizer bunny in Russell Westbrook. In this series, for the Thunder they rely heavily on the scoring of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. They hope to get a third scorer but that is usually different every night whether it is Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler or even Serge Ibaka. When they don’t get production from a third scorer, it puts more pressure on Durant and Westbrook and they tend to struggle. For the Spurs, in the regular season no starter played more than 30 minutes a game. The Spurs get scoring from a variety of people and their bench is crucial. In their previous series, the Thunder had some trouble on defense as the Clippers have a similar team to the Spurs in that they can get scoring from a variety of people. Defense is going to be key for the Thunder as they really cannot zero in on any one player except for maybe Tony Parker and even that might not be enough to win. This series could easily go the full seven games. The slight edge goes to the Spurs as they execute better on the offensive end than the Thunder but it will be fun to watch.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (2) Miami Heat
This is a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals when the Heat crushed the Pacers in Game 7 with their stifling defense, energy and crashing the boards. The Pacers got the number one seed this time and if this series goes to seven games they will be the home team. For the Pacers, it has been up and down since the end of the regular season. They were pushed to a full seven game series against the Atlanta Hawks. Then, they faced the Wizards with an opportunity to close out the series in five games instead of six and were embarrassed on their home floor. The big question for this series will be which Pacers team will show up? The Pacers were terrific last year and gave the Heat all they could handle before Game 7. Can they get back to that form? So, far it has not shown itself consistently in these playoffs. For the Heat, they have had a relatively easy playoffs after sweeping the Bobcats in the first round and pushed some in the second round against Brooklyn. The Heat have been here before and they know how to win and even when they are struggling, they can get in done in crunch time from a lot of sources. This series really squares the pressure on the Pacers as they get the rematch that they wanted. They need to prove that they belong because so far in the playoffs, they have not shown that they are the number one seed. If they play the way they played against Atlanta and the Game 5 with the Wizards, this is going to be a very short series. If they cannot get motivated to play the two-time defending champions then they do not belong.
Brazilian Player Watch
Nene-Forward-Center, Washington Wizards. 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
In his playoff game of the season, he scored 15 points,grabbed six rebounds and had two assists in 31 minutes of play. Nene was up and down in the series with the Pacers. This is a typical game for Nene but his best games were earlier in the series when he scored 15 points in Game 1 and 14 points in Game 2. He really struggled to find his shot in Game 3 and Game 4. In Game 5, it really was about his teammate Marcin Gortat who had a terrific game and Nene was the offensive decoy. Nene had a terrific season and he is a big reason why the Wizards made it this far in the playoffs. Hopefully, next year he can come back with the same production.
Tiago Splitter-Center, San Antonio Spurs. 9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. In his last game, Splitter scored four points, grabbed seven boards and had a steal in 28 minutes of play. He also committed four fouls. For Splitter, he had a tough assignment having to guard LaMarcus Aldridge and handled it quite well as Game 1 was the only other game he had four fouls. So, defense is what the Spurs need from him as well as boxing out and occasionally getting some shots. The next round will be much more difficult as he will try to stop the MVP Kevin Durant. So, he certainly will have his work cut out for him.