Thursday, April 24, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
Playoffs heating up
It was the “almost was” that almost was and then wasn’t.
There were four NBA playoff games to open the first weekend and there were three winners by the “road teams.” To this date there has never been a four-game sweep by road teams. After the first three went victorious, the Memphis Grizzlies had the fourth game on Saturday evening against the Oklahoma Thunder. Since the teams had split the two previous playoff outings (Thunder in 2012 and Memphis in 2013) and the Thunder had defeated the Grizz three of four times this season, it was almost logical to assume that the game would go Memphis’ way even on the road. Almost logical, but not practical nor probable.
It might have been some kind of omen that a Grizzlies player (Nick Calathes) was suspended (for 20 games) just prior to the trip to OKC. Or maybe not. What was very real was there was a team within a team awaiting the Grizz in OKC, the two-man powerhouse of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The latter wasn’t part of the equation in last season’s playoff when Memphis came out on top in five games. But this time Westbrook was completely healthy and aggressive. The duo effectively stifled the Grizz in the first quarter. Memphis made a much better showing in the second half, one time cutting a 25-point deficit to just two. They got a chance at redemption on Monday evening (April 21).
The teams representing the East are (1) Indiana and (8) Atlanta Hawks, the only sub-.500 team in the entire playoffs, (4) Chicago and (5) Washington, (3) Toronto and (6) Brooklyn Nets and the (2) Miami Heat and the (7) Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats are making a second playoff appearance with a rookie coach (Steve Clifford).
In the West there are (1) San Antonio and (8) Dallas, (2) OKC Thunder and (7) Memphis Grizzlies, (4) Houston Rockets and (5) Portland Trail Blazers. Rounding out the eight are the (3) L.A. Clippers and (6) Golden State Warriors.
It isn’t unusual to hear of players interacting in negative fashion towards other opposing players but it isn’t the norm to hear coaches joining the fray, or flay. Doc Rivers, of late of the Boston Celtics and presently of the Clippers, has not been silent toward critics who attacked one of his stars (Blake Griffin). Mark Jackson of the G.S. Warriors has thrown in his critical remarks. It is well known that these two California teams are not especially enamored of each other. The current playoff climate is probably not going to add any positive improvements.
There was a funny aside during their game over the weekend. Blake Griffin was sitting on his bench drinking a cup of water when he jumped up to acknowledge a spectacular play by a teammate and splashed water in the face of a Warrior fan seated directly behind him. Griffin apologized after the game and all was apparently kosher, we think.
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