As the First Round of the NBA Playoffs rolls along, my contention that there’s always something interesting about them has taken a massive hit. Last night, there were two more uninspiring blow outs, and people seem ready for the First Round to go away. That’s too bad, because it’s not going anywhere, for now, and there’s three more games tonight.
Banished to NBA TV is Game 2 between the Heat and the Hornets. Nobody was prepared for how badly Miami defeated Charlotte over the weekend, and the Hornets are looking to show that it was just a fluke. This was supposed to be one of the better series of the First Round, and hopefully it can be salvaged by a good bounce back effort by Charlotte. I won’t be seeing it, because I don’t have NBA TV, but it’d be nice to see that series get a shot in the arm.
Kicking off the games I will be watching tonight is Game 2 between the Cavs and the Pistons, one of the few series that is coming off a competitive Game 1. The Pistons had a real chance to steal the game, but their inexperience showed down the stretch, and after some unfortunate decisions, the game slipped away from them. It’ll be interesting to see if they can remain competitive with the top-seeded Cavs, or if they’ve already blown their chance.
In the late game, the Clippers and Blazers square off in their Game 2. The Clips looked pretty damn good in Game 1, and Portland will be hoping that their star back court of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum can come back strong after a disappointing opener.
7:57 pm – Another exciting episode of Castle is coming to an end on TNT, which means it’s almost time for basketball! Before Ernie Johnson welcomes us to Studio J, let’s take a look at the live box score for Game 2 between the Heat and the Hornets. It’s tied at 47 with 4:45 remaining in the first half. Looks like Charlotte has come back nicely from their Game 1 misadventures. Hopefully that sets the tone for TNT’s games.
8:00 – It’s time for evening of Playoff basketball! Ernie Johnson tells us that Al Jefferson has scored 16 points in the second quarter for the Hornets.
8:02 – Instead of talking about the first game, Ernie Johnson and team remember Pearl Washington, who passed away today. Kenny Smith, a fellow New Yorker, recalls how much Pearl meant to his contemporaries when they were growing up in their city.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 21, 2016
8:09 – We’re live in Cleveland for Game 2 between the Cavs and Pistons! Brian Anderson and Steve Smith will narrate the action for us tonight.
8:11 – The Pistons win the opening tip, and we’re underway at the Quicken Loans Arena! Andre Drummond, who was quiet in Game 1, hits a hook shot to get the first points in the ball game, getting the Pistons off to a 2-0 lead.
8:12 – The score at halftime down in Miami: Heat 72, Hornets 60. Sounds like a real shootout down there! The Heat are shooting an unreasonable 74.4% from the floor.
8:14 – Kyrie Irving hits a floater along the baseline, and the Cavs are on the board, trailing 4-2.
8:19 – We’ve got our first time out with the score Detroit 15, Cleveland 7 with 6:46 left in the first quarter. All five Pistons starters have scored, while Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are the only Cavs that have put the ball in the basket so far.
8:30 – Detroit’s 19-year old rookie Stanley Johnson is playing defense on LeBron, and doing a decent job. This is why the drinking age should be 18. If you have to guard LeBron in the Playoffs, you should be able to have a drink afterwards if you want one.
8:31 – After Stanley Johnson hits a three, we have a time out with the score Detroit 26, Cleveland 17 with 1:53 left in the first quarter. Both Kevin Love and Tristian Thompson went to the bench early with foul trouble, but Kyrie Irving is trying to step up. He had a stretch where he scored 11 straight points for the Cavs, and is already up to 13 for the quarter.
8:34 – The Pistons have lost nine straight Playoff games against the Cavs, it’s the longest active Playoff losing streak against a particular team in the league.
8:36 – The Cavs have decided to intentionally foul lousy free throw shooter Andre Drummond. He misses both free throws, but the rebound gets batted out of bounds by the Cavs, and the Pistons retain possession.
8:38 – After the Cavs send Drummond to the line again, the rebound is once again tapped out of bounds by the Cavs, giving the ball back to the Pistons. The Basketball Gods must be angered by the Cavs strategy. Detroit brings in Aron Baynes to put an end to the intentional fouling.
8:41 – At the end of the first quarter, our score’s Detroit 28, Cleveland 23. It’s been a balanced attack from the Pistons so far, as their six players who have scored all have four or five points. Kyrie Irving has 13 to lead the Cavs, who trailed during the entire quarter. Detroit got off to a good start in Game 1 and saw it slip away down the stretch. We know they can hang with the Cavs, but can they sustain it until the end of the game?
8:44 – Matthew Dellavedova lobs one up for LeBron who slams it home. It’s the first points of the second quarter, and it decreases the Pistons lead to 28-25.
8:45 – We have a quick time out as the Cavs have suddenly tied the game with a Richard Jefferson three. It’s 28-28 with 10:59 left in the first half as the Cavs are on an 11-2 run.
8:51 – We’ve got another time out as the Cavs are starting to roll. It’s Cleveland 34, Detroit 30 with 8:25 remaining until halftime. LeBron’s up to ten points now, as he’s starting to bully the smaller defenders that the Pistons are throwing at him.
8:54 – At the end of the third quarter down in Miami, it’s Heat 91, Hornets 78. Hassan Whiteside has 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Heat, and what was once looking like a close game has devolved into another blowout.
8:55 – LeBron James is fired up right now. He just threw down a huge dunk, followed by a big roar. He’s got ten points in the quarter and was just seen prancing down the court after a foul was called against the Cavs, who lead 36-30.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 21, 2016
8:58 – Kevin Love hits a three, and the Pistons call another time out with the score Cleveland 42, Detroit 36 with 5:46 left in the first half. It’s only a six point game, but it feels like the Pistons are further behind as the stadium is filled with a loud buzz after the Cavs have grabbed all of the momentum.
9:05 – We’ve got a technical foul on Marcus Morris. Kyrie Irving misses the free throw however, and Cleveland leads 45-44 as the Pistons are in the midst of an 8-1 run.
9:07 – We have a time out as Detroit has retaken the lead. It’s Pistons 46, Cavaliers 45 with 3:03 left until halftime. Detroit weathered the storm after the Cavs looked like they were primed to take over the game. So far, the younger Pistons have been able to remain poised and keep the pressure on Cleveland.
9:11 – With the game tied at 47, Cleveland goes back to intentionally fouling Andre Drummond. He hits both of his free throws, and the Pistons are up 49-47.
9:16 – After another intentional foul sends Drummond to the line, he misses the free throws, but the Pistons get the offensive rebound. That’s three times Detroit’s been able to keep the ball with Drummond at the line.
9:17 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score Cleveland 55, Detroit 53. I have to say, I’m impressed with the Pistons. I’ve seen many a team wilt while facing a fired up LeBron, but here we are with a close game here at the half as Detroit’s had an answer for everything Cleveland has thrown at them. LeBron leads the Cavs with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second quarter. JR Smith has 15 points, all of which have come from three pointers, and Kyrie Irving still has the 13 points he had at the end of the first quarter. Andre Drummond leads Detroit with 15 points, but he’s shooting a disgusting 3-12 from the free throw line. Reggie Jackson has 12 points and 5 assists as the Pistons continue to impress. We’ll see if they can close this one out, or if we’re in for a repeat of Game 1 where they let the game get away from them down the stretch.
9:20 – “Thank you, Cleveland and Detroit, we needed this!” – Ernie Johnson. Amen, brother.
9:24 – Time for our first episode of Today in NBA Playoff History! As always, thanks to the priests over at Basketball-Reference for doing the lord’s work when it comes to documenting basketball statistics.
Back on April 20, 1986, in one of the most famous games in NBA history, Michael Jordan scored a Playoff record 63 points in Game 2 of the Bulls first round series against the Celtics. It somehow wasn’t enough, as the Celtics outlasted the Bulls, 135-131, in double-overtime. After the game, Larry Bird (who went for 36 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists) famously described MJ’s performance by saying he was “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
9:35 – Reggie Jackson takes it right to the hoop to start off the third quarter by tying us up at 55. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope follows that up by hitting a three, giving the Pistons a 58-55 lead. In other news, we’ve got a final score down in Miami: Heat 115, Hornets 103. Dwyane Wade had 28 points and 8 assists, and Miami now leads the series, 2-0.
9:36 – Andre Drummond hits a lefty jump hook, and the Pistons have scored the first seven points of the third quarter to make the score Detroit 60, Cleveland 55 as the Cavs call a time out with 10:38 left in the third quarter.
9:41 – Kyrie Irving takes it to the hoop for a layup, and they’re finally on the board here in the second half. They’re down 60-57.
9:43 – Kyrie Irving passes to JR Smith in the corner, who zips it right back to Irving who knocks down a three, and we’re tied at 60.
9:44 – Marcus Morris knocks down a pair of free throws, and the Pistons go ahead 62-60.
9:46 – Kevin Love hits a three, and the Cavs regain the lead at 63-62.
9:47 – LeBron gets a three of his own, extending the Cavs lead to 66-62.
9:49 – We’ve got a time out as the Pistons have gone cold, and the Cavs have taken advantage. After a JR Smith three, it’s Cleveland 71, Detroit 62 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. The Pistons have been able to respond well to the Cavs in both games so far, and they need to do it again now.
9:53 – The Pistons have gone cold, missing their last seven shots, leading to an 11-0 run for the Cavs. To make matters worse, Marcus Morris has a nose bleed, and it won’t stop, so he’s stuck on the bench for now.
9:59 – Detroit takes a time out with the score Cavs 77, Pistons 68 with 1:12 left in the third quarter. After getting off to such a good start at the beginning of the quarter, the wheels have come off for Detroit, but they’re still battling as they try to remain within striking distance.
10:03 – The third quarter comes to an end, and the score’s Cleveland 82, Detroit 68. Brian Anderson tells us that the Cavs have set a franchise record for threes in a Playoff game with 17, seven of which have come from JR Smith. As a team, they’re shooting 53.1% from behind the arc as they look to put the Pistons away.
10:08 – After a Pistons turnover to start the quarter, Matthew Dellavedova gets into the paint and gets a bucket for the first hoop of the fourth. It puts Cleveland up 84-68.
10:09 – We have a quick time out with the score Cleveland 86, Detroit 70 with 10:29 left in the game. Now this is looking more like a 1 vs 8 series. Too bad.
10:18 – Matthew Dellavedova throws up an alley-oop to Iman Shumpert who finishes it off, and the Pistons take a time out. The score’s Cleveland 93, Detroit 74 with 7:44 left in the game. At least we got one good half out of this one.
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) April 21, 2016
10:32 – Kevin Love hits a three, and it leads to another time out with the score Cleveland 98, Detroit 80 with 3:59 remaining in the game.
10:36 – Yet another time out. This time the score’s Cleveland 100, Detroit 84 with 2:57 on the clock.
10:41 – Time for another time out. With all of these stoppages in play, we’re going to miss the start of the Clippers/Blazers game, and at this point, I think we just want this current game to go away. It’s Cleveland 100, Detroit 86 with 1:41 remaining.
10:44 – Another goddamn time out for some reason. The score’s Cleveland 102, Detroit 88 with 1:13 left. The Cavs are one three pointer away from tying the NBA record for threes in a Playoff game, so I suppose that’s one reason to stay invested.
10:46 – Jordan McRae hits a three, and the Cavs tie the NBA record for threes in a Playoff game! The Warriors, Mavericks and Sonics have also accomplished this incredible feat. So glad I got to see it.
10:47 – This game comes to an end with the score Cleveland 107, Detroit 90. Three Cavaliers scored over 20 points, led by LeBron’s 27 points, to go along with 6 rebounds. Kyrie Irving scored 22 points, and JR Smith had 21 and five rebounds, with all of his points coming from three pointers. Kevin Love contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Drummond scored 20 points and grabbed 7 rebounds for Detroit, but shot just 4-16 from the free throw line. We entered the night hopeful that this series would continue to be close, but the Cavs laid down the law in the second half and made the Pistons look like the 8-seed that they are. The series now heads to Detroit with the Cavs in the driver’s seat, up 2-0.
We switch over to Clippers/Blazers just in time to see CJ McCollum score the first points of the game with a layup, putting the Blazers up 2-0.
10:48 – After a three second violation, Chris Paul hits a free throw to get the Clippers on the board. They’re down 2-1 to start the game. By the way, our narrators here in Los Angeles: Marv Albert and Kevin McHale. Excellent.
10:52 – We have our first time out of the game as the Clippers are off to a fast start. It’s Los Angeles 8, Portland 2 with 9:57 left in the first quarter.
11:00 – Things are starting to look up a little bit as the Blazers have hit four of their last five shots. They still trail, but the score’s looking much better. It’s Los Angeles 18, Portland 13 with 4:54 left in the opening quarter. JJ Redick already has 11 points for LA.
11:03 – With the Clippers in the bonus, Chris Kaman checks into the game for the Blazers, and there’s a solid chance he’s in there to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan.
11:06 – Jamal Crawford is into the game for the Clippers, fresh off winning his third Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was honored for it before the game, which we missed thanks to that lousy Cavs/Pistons game. Two time Sixth Man winner, and current color commentator, Kevin McHale was part of the pregame presentation. Crawford’s the first player in NBA history to win the award three times, so congratulations to him!
11:08 – Now Kevin McHale is sharing old Celtics stories, telling us about how Red Auerbach pioneered the use of the sixth man, and he even uses a fantastic impression of Red as he recounts all of the reasons the grizzled Celtics legend would use to explain why it’s great to be the sixth man. With how lousy most of these games have been, McHale’s story immediately becomes a top-five Playoff moment.
11:12 – Maurice Harkless spins around his defender and make a halfcourt shot, but it’s unfortunately after the buzzer sounds, and the first quarter ends with the score Los Angeles 22, Portland 17. After their fast start, the Clippers shooting percentage is down to 36.4%. The Blazers have been even worse, however, shooting just 30.8%. Nevertheless, it’s a close game as we head into the second quarter. In other news, I’m pleased to report that Chris Kaman didn’t commit a single intentional foul. He must be in because the Blazers feel his experience and tough play will prove valuable, especially if the game is going to continue to be a gritty, defensive struggle.
11:16 – Cole Aldrich takes a nice bounce pass from Jamal Crawford and lays it in, extending the Clippers lead to 24-17 with the first points of the second quarter.
11:19 – The Clippers are on an 8-0 run, and the Blazers need a time out with the score Los Angeles 32, Portland 19 with 9:25 to go in the second quarter.
11:27 – Another time out with 7:02 remaining in the first half and the score Los Angeles 37, Portland 23. It figures we started this blog just in time for this dud of a First Round.
11:31 – Hey! The Blazers are making a little noise here, and they have their deficit down to nine with the score Los Angeles 39, Portland 30 with 5:39 left in the second quarter. Mason Plumlee will be at the line trying to cut into the Clippers lead even further once we return from a time out.
11:34 – Plumlee hits one of two free throws to cut the Clippers lead down to 39-31. Stay tuned…
11:40 – We’ve got a time out as Plumlee and the Blazers try to hang in there. It’s Los Angeles 45, Portland 35 with 2:58 left in the first half.
11:47 – Kaman finally intentionally fouls DeAndre Jordan with 25.7 seconds on the clock so the Blazers can get the last possession of the first half, trailing 47-41. Jordan obliges and misses them both, and the Blazers have the ball for the final possession of the first half.
11:49 – We’ve reached halftime, and despite trailing by as many as 15 points, the Blazers have fought back with a 7-0 run to make the score Los Angeles 47, Portland 43. The Clippers don’t seem to have much of a killer instinct tonight, and they’ve allowed the Blazers to stay in this one, which is fine with me, because I assume like all NBA fans, I’m desperate for an exciting game. JJ Redick leads Los Angeles with 13 points. DeAndre Jordan hasn’t scored, but he’s grabbed ten rebounds already. Mason Plumlee and CJ McCollum have each scored 11 points to lead the Blazers, who have to be thankful that Plumlee has stepped up, as their star, Damian Lillard, is shooting just 2-10 from the field for six points.
11:53 – Time for another installment of Today in NBA Playoff History!
In the spirit of Michael Jordan’s aforementioned scoring outburst, we’re going to April 20, 2003 for another impressive shooting display. On that day, Allen Iverson got the Playoffs started by hanging 55 points on the New Orleans Hornets, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 98-90 win in Game 1 of the First Round.
12:09 – JJ Redick comes around a screen and nails a jumper to kick off the second half scoring and increase the Clippers lead to 49-43. That’s followed up by a steal and a dunk by Luc Mbah a Moute to put LA up 51-43, leading to a Blazers time out with 10:32 left in the third. This is obviously not the start Portland wanted coming out of halftime.
12:17 – CJ McCollum nails a three, and the Blazers are on an 11-2 run! It makes our score Los Angeles 57, Portland 54 with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter as the Clippers take a time out.
12:20 – Chris Paul gets to the hoop but misses a layup, however, Blake Griffin comes flying in for a dunk to give the Clippers a 59-54 lead.
12:22 – CJ McCollum hits a baseline jumper, keeping the Blazers close as they trail 59-56.
12:23 – Chris Paul nails a corner three to double LA’s lead, putting them ahead 62-56.
12:24 – Damian Lillard takes a nice bounce pass from Mason Plumlee and gets a layup, plus he’s fouled! I’m really impressed with Plumlee in this one, especially his passing. Meanwhile, Lillard makes his free throw, and the Blazers are down three again at 62-59.
12:25 – Chris Paul misses a shot from close range, but DeAndre Jordan slams it home for his first points of the game, putting the Clippers up 64-59.
12:29 – The Blazers are intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan again as they try to keep this a close game in the last minute of the third. This time, he misses both free throws, but the Clippers lead is up to eight at 67-59.
12:33 – The third quarter draws to a close with the score Los Angeles 67, Portland 61. The Blazers continue remain in the game, but they haven’t been able to put a run together to take the lead as both teams have experienced stretches of cold shooting. On the plus side, it’s just a two possession game as we head into what will hopefully be a fun fourth quarter.
12:37 – Cole Aldrich hits a hook shot and the fourth quarter scoring is underway as the Clippers extend their lead to 69-61.
12:42 – We’ve got a time out, and the fourth quarter hasn’t been particularly fun thus far. It’s Clippers 73, Blazers 63 with 8:59 remaining in the game. Portland’s field goal percentage is down to 30.3%, which is keeping them from grabbing any kind of momentum.
12:51 – As the Clippers lead continues to grow, the Blazers need another time out. It’s Los Angeles 88, Portland 71 with 5:28 remaining. Damian Lillard is shooting just 5-21 for the Blazers, who have been unable to overcome their struggles from the field.
1:02 – We have one last time out as we’re 1:15 away from yet another blowout with the score Los Angeles 97, Portland 81.
1:06 – This one comes to an end with the score Los Angeles 102, Portland 81. Chris Paul led the way with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and some really great defense against Damian Lillard. DeAndre Jordan finished with 3 points, 18 rebounds and 5 assists, while the Clippers bench played really well, keeping the Blazers from making any progress, and even building LA’s lead many times throughout the night. Mason Plumlee was the only Blazer worth his salt tonight, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. Damian Lillard had 17 points and 6 rebounds, but shot just 6-22 and had just a miserable time against Chris Paul. Al-Faroq Aminu chipped in with 9 points and 10 rebounds, but the Blazers shot poorly as a team and the game got away from them.
All three games were similar in the sense that it was close at first, and then the home team pulled away for a big win. The Hornets, Pistons and Blazers all looked like they had a chance to steal their games tonight, but they were quickly put in their place as the lopsided NBA Playoffs continue on. Now, each series is switching to the lower seeds home courts. Here’s hoping that with their home fans cheering them on, the underdogs can find a way to claw their way back into their series, because I’m running out of ways to write about blowouts.