Its playoff time so it's time to focus on our potential roadblocks to Banner 18. Every day we'll bring you what's making news in enemy territory. This way we know what they're up to when it comes time to take 'em out.
FIRST ROUND OPPONENT
Miami Herald: The crowd — clad in all white — was a storm of excitement; the Heat’s defensive effort was a blizzard of domination. Miami allowed just 31 points in the first half, set a playoff record for opponent’s shooting percentage and seemingly turned a once competitive first-round series into an unfair matchup of vastly different teams. “I think [Monday] was so far our best of the season,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said of his team’s defense. “That’s how we want to play our defense. If they do score we want them to score outside the paint with a hand in their face.”
Peninsula is Mightier: The game started with the Heat outscoring Philly 13-5 in a pretty defensive 1st quarter. The Sixers scored just 13 points and were lucky to just be down by 6 heading into the 2nd. Similar to the opening quarter, Miami came out in the next one with a nice little 7-2 run, and this time the Heat would find it a little easier to score while still putting the clamps down on D. By the time halftime rolled around it was Miami holding a nice 49-31 lead, closing the half on an 11-4 run. It was an ugly 2nd quarter for the Sixers as their starters were outscored by Joel Anthony 2-0. They just couldn't get anything going offensively against the Heat, and after the game Andre Iguodala even admitted that he hadn't had an open look in either of the first two games.
Blog a Bull: It's been two games and not four, but maybe we're simply seeing how the Bulls will win in these playoffs. A stout defense that keeps games close, and Derrick Rose to take them over. By the time Rose had his amazing 3-point play and then kicked out to Korver for a three on the next possession, it was tough to muster more than a polite clap. Especially after seeing it happen in game one, this result seemed inevitable, no? And when the Bulls got the lead, I couldn't envision it going away: The Bulls have Derrick Rose on every possession, and it seems like in the NBA when you don't have a star like that, you pretend you do. Though they did try and run a real offense including a Roy Hibbert post-up late (he committed an offensive foul, and if that was a bad call, he traveled too), the Pacers response was a lot of Danny Granger pretending he was as good as Rose, with predictable results. This is a different story than the regular season team that would use 48 minutes of consistent pressure from a deep team to get the second-highest point differential in the league. But we've been told the playoffs are different, and maybe this is is all of Thibs' grand plan? Clearly he can't care too much about offense when Keith Boganscontinues to start, Kurt Thomas is the first big off the bench (though he was great again, maybe there is something to veteran savvy), and the Bulls clearly-best lineup (Korver with the starters) is rarely in the game until the final stretch. But maybe it's just about keeping it close, and having that lineup (and Rose) win it out in the end.
ESPN Chicago: Rose scored 36 points in leading the Bulls to a 96-90 win and 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. “We knew it was going to be tough. They’re a good team,” Rose told TNT after the game. “They finished the regular season strong, and we’re just happy that we won tonight. We almost lost because of turnovers, just blessed to get this one.” Rose committed six of the Bulls’ 21 turnovers.
Orlando Pinstriped Post: The Orlando Magic's 103-93 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Game One of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series continued a disturbing trend of Magic losses when Dwight Howard, their star center, has a brilliant offensive night. Howard scored a career playoff-high 46 points on 16-of-23 shooting, but his teammates combined for 47 points while shooting 18-of-52 from the floor. Take out Jameer Nelson's output (27 points, 10-of-18 shooting) and Orlando's seven other players had 20 points on 8-of-34 from the floor. Perhaps this game is simply an extreme example. Few teams with as much one-through-eight offensive talent as Orlando will struggle so mightily at that end over a sustained period, especially against a mediocre defensive club like Atlanta's. Then again, it's hard to ignore the fact that, this season, Orlando had some rough goes of it as a whole offensively even when Howard got his points. Counting the Game One loss, the Magic went 2-5 in Howard's top seven individual scoring games this season. What gives?
Orlando Magic Daily: There really is nothing more productive Orlando can do than get stops. The Hawks shot an efficient (for them) 51.4 percent from the floor and 55.4 percent effective field goal percentage, way up from their 46.2 percent shooting and 50.1 effective field goal percentage. In all likelihood the Hawks will shoot worse in Tuesday's game as they fall to their mean. However, even though Atlanta hit some very difficult shots the majority of the team's looks were largely uncontested. Orlando just got beat whether it was Atlanta trying to get Jamal Crawford free off a curl or Al Horford or Joe Johnson working the post. The Hawks got where they wanted with little resistance.
OC Register: Here's what Phil Jackson should've done when the Lakers gathered at 11 a.m. Monday for practice after losing their playoff opener the day before: Bring in a live chicken, throw it out a midcourt of the gym and let each Laker take a turn trying to show the ability to hustle and pursue a goal that they all failed to show Sunday.
ESPN LA: Most days, it's good to be Pau Gasol. Not Sunday. The Lakers went down in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals to New Orleans, and central to the result was a horrible afternoon for Gasol, who mustered only one field goal through the first 47 minutes, finished with seven misses in nine tries, and only eight points. He managed six defensive rebounds, but none on the other end, Gasol's first bagel in the ORB category since February 22nd against Atlanta, and only his fourth this season. Add his share of responsibility for the team's problems defensively against Chris Paul, Jarrett Jack, and the Hornets' pick and roll- "Our bigs have to play better help defense for our guards," Phil Jackson said of Gasol and Andrew Bynum- and at best the Spaniard's performance Sunday can be described as ineffectual.
MY SA: In taking advantage of their size advantage in the low post, the Grizzlies hit 55 percent of their shots en route to a narrow 101-98 victory over the Spurs in Game 1. But in Monday’s film session at the AT&T Center, Memphis coach Lionel Hollins preferred to focus on his team’s 16 turnovers and defensive lapses. “We made a lot of mistakes,” Hollins said. “We didn’t have the greatest discipline on defense. The times that they scored coming down the stretch was because we gambled and we over-helped, and we gave up the key threes when we didn’t need to be in a position to give up threes.”
My SA: Gregg Popovich can be a stubborn man, the type to talk the sky out of being blue, but even he can’t argue with fact. Yes, Popovich has been forced to acknowledge, ever since upstart Memphis swiped Game 1 of this first-round playoff series Sunday, his Spurs team has a habit of turning postseason-opening 0-1 deficits into NBA championships. It happened in 2003. And in 2005. And again in 2007. Turns out, there’s a good explanation for that. “Because we were better than the team we were playing,” Popovich said
ESPN Dallas: Dirk Nowitzki is the leader of the Western Conference's best road team. He has no desire to go to Portland with the series all tied up. "This win means nothing if you lose Game 2," Nowitzki said. "That's what we did last year here." The Dallas Mavericks lost Game 2 at home to the Spurs after a Game 1 win and never recovered, losing in six.
ESPN Dallas: Apparently having the team owner and the head coach dote all over you doesn't guarantee playoff minutes. Corey Brewer understands that. Mark Cuban said he hoped to see Brewer's enthusiasm and energy on the floor. Coach Rick Carlisle has said Brewer plays like his pants are on the fire. Unfortunately for the fourth-year small forward, Brewer is still waiting to play in his first NBA playoff game. "He said stay ready, anything can happen," Brewer said, referring to a phrase that is a Carlisle staple. "I just try to keep my head in the game and stay ready."
NewsOK: The Thunder big man is the quintessential tough guy. He's got the intimidating scowl, the bulging muscles and the menacing intensity, and while we've seen all of it repeatedly in regular-season games since he was traded from Boston to Oklahoma City, what we've really been waiting for was the playoffs. This was when Perk was supposed to take it up another notch. He was going to be that missing piece, that physical presence, that playoffs difference-maker. Then during Game 1 against the Nuggets, there were times when you wondered if Thunder coach Scott Brooks should stick with Nazr Mohammed and leave Perkins on the bench.