Written by Tim Kreutzfeldt
@kjackmansports, facebook.com/jackmansports, firstname.lastname@example.org
76: Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph’s combined field goal percentage against San Antonio in game 1.
Say what you want about Manu Ginobli’s injury hurting the West’s top seed, but the bigger problem for the Spurs right now seems to be their frontcourt. The veteran combination of Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess combined with Dejaun Blair’s hyper-energetic from the bench looked to be San Antonio’s defensive key to victory against the Grizz. The failure of this plans foreshadows serious problems for the Spurs as the first round rolls on.
With the Memphis big men completely dismantling San Antonio in game 1, the rest of the series looks somewhat bleak for the Spurs. Considering Tony Parker and George Hill will be faced with the challenge of keeping up with Mike Conley and Tony Allen (John Hollinger’s pick for Most-Improved Player), Popovich’s club may be out-matched in this series.
30: the number of a certain player New Orleans apparently doesn’t need to take down the reigning champs at the Staples Center. Analysts may have overemphasized the absence of David West for the Hornets, as Chris Paul seemed pretty comfortable leading the team to victory without him.
The problem with defending the Hornets is that even without West, all five players in the adjusted starting five averaged double digits in points during the regular season. New Orleans got valuable—although somewhat unlikely—production out of Jarret Jack, Aaron Gray and Carl Landry, in game 1, leading to a resounding, “Where did this guy come from?” out of L.A.
Pau Gasol may be wishing he could defend West for the rest of the series, because the ease with which Paul scored in his face on mismatches in the late-game was pretty astounding. Then again, Paul is arguably a mismatch for whoever is guarding him. More episodes of the Kobe-CP3 show are probably to come in game 2.
20: the number of points Magic players not named Dwight Howard or Jameer Nelson scored against their Southeast rival Hawks in game 1. This stands in stark contrast to Atlanta’s five players scoring in double figures that combined to shoot the lights out of the gym at a 53% clip.
Hats off to the Hawks’ defense for rendering Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richardson completely useless. However, whatever Atlanta coach Larry Drew’s goal was in rotating five different centers onto Howard for the night, it definitely didn’t work. Howard scored 46 points on 16-23 shooting and got 22 shots from the charity stripe.
For a team that lives and dies by the jump-shot, Atlanta may have consistency troubles keeping up with Orlando for the rest of the series. Look for continued Howard domination and some more effort out of Orlando’s role players in game 2.
0: the number of field goals made by Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter of game 1 against the Celtics. Anthony scored a total of 3 points in the entire second half, and only 1 of those points came in the fourth quarter.
New York fans have good reason to be frustrated with their recent acquisition that was supposed to launch them to the top of the East. Anthony’s 5-18 shooting performance on the night was far from clutch, and total reliance on Amare Stoudemire won’t give the Knicks any ground over Boston’s big 4 any day.
With Chauncey Billups likely watching game 2 from the sidelines, more shooting woes for Melo will certainly spell another defeat for the Knicks. Yet, for arguably the best jump-shooter in the NBA, you never know what kind of production you’ll get.