2014 NBA Conference Semifinals: Spurs and Heat register convincing wins in Game 1
In a big way, the second day of the Conference Semis were different from day one, as the home teams in both encounters were victorious at the final horn. However the Semis have been disappointing in terms of competitiveness as three out of four winning teams have beaten their opponents by 17 or more.
That said, here’s an analysis of the two games from the second round on Tuesday night:
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs (5) Portland Trailblazers (San Antonio won 116-92, leads series 1-0)
Tony Parker made a statement in Game 1 of this new series by picking up from where he left in Game 7 of the first round against the Dallas Mavericks. Parker scored 33 points and dished out 9 assists in 36 minutes of floor time, notching up back-to-back 30 point playoff games for the second time after having previously done so in 2008.
The entire Spurs team seemed ready for this game as it was a healthy team showing with Head Coach Gregg Popovich receiving as much as 50 points from his bench, which happens to be the highest scoring bench in the league. Marco Belinelli contributed 19 points while back up point guard Patty Mills also pooled in 10. Veteran Tim Duncan recorded one more of his many career playoff double-doubles with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
But as much as it was the Spurs’ balanced performance on both ends of the floor which got them the win, it was also Portland’s struggles offensively that led to the game being the blowout that it was. The Blazers were not able to knock down shots from the field, only scoring 16 points in the first quarter on 5 of 23 team shooting, their lowest first period total of the post-season.
In a team effort, it was not just Parker who stole the limelight. Second year player Aron Baynes got some serious game time as Popovich sought to exploit Portland’s short bench and he answered his coach’s call. In 14 minutes, he had 10 points and 7 rebounds, of which 3 were off the offensive glass.
On the other hand, despite the loss LaMarcus Aldridge still came up big recording his fifth double-double of these Playoffs with 32 points and 14 rebounds, but received no support from his teammates. Center Robin Lopez also had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Highlights from Parker’s game:
(2) Miami Heat vs (6) Brooklyn Nets (Miami won 107-86, leads series 1-0)
The Miami Heat did not let their regular season series (they were swept 4-0) with the Nets and the extra rest days prior to this series affect their play in Game 1. They came out strong for the third quarter outscoring the Nets by 10 on the back of a 15-2 run after they went into the break with a slender three point lead.
The Nets looked fatigued in this encounter as no player on their team totaled more than 20 points, but the most disappointing of them all was Kevin Garnett, who had no points and only 4 rebounds and a steal to show in his box score after playing 15 minutes. There was no noticeable stat that might have lost the game for the Nets, but after watching the footage it was clearly the Nets’ poor defense that cost them the game.
LeBron James led the Heat with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in a game which was a sort of coming out party for forward Chris Bosh. Bosh has been consistent with his shooting this season as compared to the previous couple of years, but his performance has been overlooked. Bosh finished the game with a strong double-double display of 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Another notable contribution for the Heat was Ray Allen who scored 19 points coming off the bench on a 6 of 10 shooting night from the field and 4 of 7 from three-point land.
In the first quarter of the game, courtesy a driving layup to the basket, LeBron James became the youngest player in the history of the league to score 4,000 career Playoff points. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Chris Andersen left for the locker room with a reported right knee contusion.
Tony Parker leads the Top 5 plays for the night: