NBA Playoff Report: Monday Tuesday Previews
THE NBA PLAYOFF REPORT:
CAVALIERS, WARRIORS GET WINS BUT NOT THE CASH AS POST-SEASON GETS ROLLIN' PLUS THERE'S MONDAY/TUESDAY QUICK- HITTER PREVIEWS AHEAD
It's always good to do a little research when it comes to NBA Playoff time ... last year in this exact column space we detailed how the 2015 and '16 NBA finalists each won their Game 1 tilts to tip off the post-season but one year the Cavs didn't cover their opener and the other year the Warriors failed to cash the bet.
Fast forward to the here-and-now NBA Playoffs and there's the Cavs and Warriors each snagging a SU (straight-up) playoff win this past holiday weekend but neither grabbed the "green", if you will.
Hey, could it be that Cleveland and Golden State still are gonna get back to their appointed rounds - a/k/a The NBA Finals - and yet neither is gonna be a great money-maker here in the so-called "second season"? Stay tuned.
No doubt Cleveland's hang-on-for-dear-life 109-108 non-cover win against 9-point road underdog Indiana last Saturday was super-important because the defending champs nearly blew a 10-point lead in the final quarter and probably would have blown it providing the Pacers' Paul George had a crack to take the game's final shot which instead was a clank shot from C.J. Miles ... thus drawing George's ire and allowing the Cavs to hold onto the home-court advantage in this best-of-seven series opener.
One thing about Cleveland and whether or not the Cavs will be covering in future games - Ty Lue's club better drain some free throws after hitting on just 14-of-27 foul shots. Ugh!
LeBron James piled up the Game 1 stat sheet with 32 points, 13 assists and 6 rebounds but - let's face it - there was something definitely missing from the Cavs in Game 1 and we'll see if J.R. Smith (just one made triple) and fellow starter Kevin Love (only four rebs in 31 minutes of play) can amp up their game in time for Monday's Game 2 clash. Hey, anything less than "Cavs in 5" is a problem for this Cleveland team that's gone deep into June each of the past two seasons.
Meanwhile, turn your hoops attention to the left coast for a moment and check out the Golden State Warriors who banged out a 121-109 non-cover win in Game 1 against 15.5-point pup Portland. Sure, the Warriors had their usual in-game runs but don't you think Steve Kerr's crew feels it is rather fortunate to have bagged the Game 1 tilt in SU fashion after Portland's one-two backcourt tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum teamed up for a grand total of 75 points (that's 41 for McCollum, 34 for Lillard) while G-State needed a 33-21 fourth-quarter advantage to squash any/all upset hopes by "Rip City"?
In his first-ever playoff game as a member of the Warriors, there was scoring machine Kevin Durant registering a team-best 32 points on 12-of-20 field-goal shooting but it was a quiet day at the office for fellow All-Star Klay Thompson (6-of-16 FG shooting and just one made trifecta en route to 15 points in 35 minutes) plus 16 turnovers by Golden State - including a handful by Stephen Curry - made this one a whole lot tougher than it should have been for the two-time defending Western Conference champions.
On Monday, it's ...
INDIANA at CLEVELAND - Cavaliers lead series 1-0; Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET at TNT
Maybe TNT studio analyst Kenny Smith can conquer his laryngitis and maybe the Cavs can bottle up a second straight home win in this Eastern Conference set - but may we forecast some Love shots early and some fast-paced action for the Cavs who would like to get both James and G Kyrie Irving (see 23 points and 6 assists in Game 1) out into the open floor where Indy's clutch-and-grab tactics won't work.
MEMPHIS at SAN ANTONIO - Spurs lead series 1-0; Game 2 at 9:30 p.m. ET on TNT
When the series prices came out for this Western Conference set, it seemed a tad high with the Spurs at - 1100 and the Grizzlies at + 700 ... but, on second thought, maybe those Vegas number-crunchers knew what they doing! The Spurs gutted the 9.5-point underdog Grizz 111-82 in Game 1 - that was after Memphis surged out to a 30-25 lead following the first quarter - as Kawhi Leonard popped in a career-matching 32 points while veteran G Tony Parker was a major star with 18 points in just 21 minutes (and note the Spurs were a plus 12 points with Parker on the floor!). If Leonard/Parker provide such a potent punch here, the Grizzlies (an 11-point dog for Game 2 at last check) will be getting an early exit from this post-season. Hey, will San Ant be a major money-maker this playoff campaign?
On Tuesday, it's ...
MILWAUKEE at TORONTO - Bucks lead series 1-0; Game 2 at 7 p.m. on NBA-TV
Lots of dogs were barking in the playoff openers this past weekend (see Indiana, Utah, Portland and Chicago) but nobody sounded the alert quite like the Bucks who rode the stat line of 28 points/8 rebounds/3 assists from Giannis Antetokounmpo to the finish line North of the Border - and only 4 points for Raptors G Kyle Lowry on 2-of-11 FG shooting? Horrific even if the dude's rehabbing from relatively recent wrist surgery.
CHICAGO at BOSTON - Bulls lead series 1-0; Game 2 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT
Condolences to Celtics' mega-star Isaiah Thomas - how he was able to summon the strength to go out and play (and score 33 points with 6 assists and 5 rebs) is simply amazing but the proverbial bottom line is the East's top seed didn't get "mission accomplished" in that 106-102 loss as 6.5-point home favorites and if Boston doesn't keep Chicago off the offensive glass here (16 first-half offensive boards for the Bulls) than this Game 2 could get real scary for Brad Stevens' squad.
UTAH at LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - Jazz lead series 1-0; Game 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT
All eyes will be on whether or not Jazz C Rudy Gobert will get green-lighted for this tilt after his knee-knocking injury in the opening 20 seconds of Game 1. Okay, so Utah managed to squeeze out that buzzer-beating 97-95 win against the 6-point favorite Clippers in the opener but you're gonna tell us that the likes of Joe Johnson and George Hill will ring up 37 points between 'em again here in Game 2? We have our doubts!