NBA Playoffs – Day 1

The NBA Playoffs are finally underway.

They’re here! They’re finally here! The NBA Playoffs are upon us, kicking off with four games to keep us occupied throughout the day. There’s no telling what sort of story lines, ruckuses and memorable moments we’ll get to experience this time around, which is why, along with my good pal Ian, we’re watching all the games and keeping a running account of it right here on this blog. We’ve got snacks, we’ve got beer, now all we need for the games to finally start…

12:20pm – The fire alarm just went off in my apartment building, but did we leave? Hell no, the Playoffs are starting in ten minutes! That, and they just go off every once in awhile for no reason. That’s probably something that the landlord should have checked out.

12:31 – It’s just about time for our first game! Game 1 between the Toronto Raptors and the Indiana Pacers will be our Playoff opener. The Raptors just had their best season ever, but they’re still looking to get into the second round for the first time since 2001. The Pacers are back in the Playoffs after last year’s absence, and they’re here with a healthy Paul George, who has rebounded from his horrible leg injury with the finest season of his career.

12:37 – We’re live in Toronto for Game 1 between the Raptors and Pacers! As usual, there’s a large crowd of Raptors fans watching the game on a big screen outside of the Air Canada Centre. Mark Jones and Doris Burke welcome us to the Playoffs as our Game 1 narrators.

12:40 – Amidst a loud “LET’S GO RAPTORS!” chant, the home team wins the opening tip, and at long last, the 2016 NBA Playoffs are underway!

12:42 – Kyle Lowry misses a pair of free throws, and we’re still waiting for our first points of the postseason.

12:43 – DeMar DeRozan gets us on the board with two free throws, and the Raptors take an early 2-0 lead.

12:45 – Paul George knocks down a jumper, and the Pacers have their first points of the game, and trail 4-2.

12:50 – Raptors rookie Norman Powell is limping after Monta Ellis plowed him over. He’s motioning over to the bench that he needs to come out, but the Toronto bench does not take him out. He now appears to be staying in the game.

12:52 – We’ve got our first time out with the score Toronto 11, Indiana 9, with 6:18 to go in the first quarter. The Raptors have been getting to the line a lot already, and if they can make a habit out of it, it could be a long afternoon for the Pacers.

12:56 – It’s already been pretty physical out there, and the refs are thankfully letting them play.

12:58 – Man, Jonas Valanciunas is really battling on the offensive boards, and he’s had to with the Raptors off to a poor shooting start. He just forced a jump-ball with Myles Turner by tying him up and then flinging Turner over his back and to the ground. No foul was called, because these refs know what the Playoffs are all about.

1:00 – The Pacers call a time out after the Raptors have found some momentum, and the crowd, both inside and out of the Air Canada Centre are making a lot of noise. It’s Toronto 16, Indiana 11 with 3:04 to go in the first.

1:03 – Drake sighting!

CgLfc7uW8AAb2v6.jpg

1:04 – The Raptors are off to an early lead despite some struggles from their star backcourt. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are a yucky 1-8 combined to start the game.

1:05 – Jack Sikma sighting! He’s one of my favorite players from the 80s. He’s in the stands and apparently the former Sonics & Bucks big man has been working with Jonas Valanciunas on his post game, and it’s paying off so far, as Jonas already has 8 points and 8 rebounds. Keep making Sikma proud, Jonas!

jack-sikma.jpg

1:09 – We’ve reached the end of the first quarter and the score’s Toronto 24, Indiana 19. Jonas Valanciunas has made the biggest impact so far with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and one Jack Sikma sighting. It’s been a physical game with both teams throwing each other around, and the refs continue to let them play. That’s what I like to see, especially during the Playoffs. I think we’re in for a good one here.

1:15 – Solomon Hill tips in a Rodney Stuckey miss, and the Pacers get the first hoop of the second quarter and trail 24-21.

1:18 – We’ve reached another time out with the score Toronto 31, Indiana 28, with 8:07 remaining until halftime. The Pacers have woken up a bit, but Cory Joseph is keeping the Raptors ahead with seven quick points off the bench.

1:22 – Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are still struggling, with just seven combined points on 2-10 shooting. Luckily, the rest of the Raps have scored 24 while going 9-16 from the floor.

1:23 – Bismack Biyombo just blocked the hell of a Ty Lawson layup attempt, then unleashed a Dikembe Mutombo memorial finger wag for good measure.

1:25 – Indiana calls a time out as that Toronto crowd is getting loud again after a Patrick Patterson three. The score’s Raptors 36, Pacers 28 with 5:54 to go in the first half.

1:32 – Aww man, Jonas Valanciunas has to head to the bench after his third foul. He’s got 8 points and 15 rebounds already, and has riled up the Toronto crowd. See how well you can play when you listen to Jack Sikma?

1:34 – We have a time out as the Pacers are hanging in there. It’s Toronto 39, Indiana 36 with 2:57 to go until halftime.

1:35 – With Jonas Valanciunas raising hell on the boards, I feel compelled to look up the Raptors Playoff record for rebounds in a game, and it’s already held by Valanciunas! He grabbed 18 in 2014 against the Nets, and seems poised to break his own record this afternoon!

1:39 – Another time out with just 46 seconds to go until halftime. Despite all the noise the Raps have been making, the Pacers are right there with them, and the score’s Toronto 45, Indiana 41 in what’s been a great first half.

1:42 – We’ve got 2.9 seconds until the first half’s over, and we have another time out, with our score Toronto 45, Indiana 43. Let’s hope we get a buzzer beater to send us into halftime…

1:43 – …no buzzer beater, which gives us a halftime score of Toronto 45, Indiana 43. Things have not gotten better for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Between them, they’ve racked up 11 points on 4-17 shooting. The rest of the Raps have come to the rescue, with 34 points on 15-27 shooting. Cory Joseph leads Toronto with 10 points off the bench, on a perfect 4-4 from the field. Jonas Valanciunas was the big star, though, with 8 points and 15 rebounds, nine of which have come off the offensive glass. He’s got three fouls, as well, and his absence towards the end of the first half let the Pacers keep things close. They’re led by George Hill and Monta Ellis, who have each scored seven points. It’s been a physical, hard fought and close first half. It’s been an excellent way to start off the Playoffs, and hopefully these two teams keep up the intensity in the second half.

1:48 – It’s time for our first episode of Today in NBA Playoff History! Big shout out to the scholars over at Basketball-Reference for keeping track of stuff like this so people like us can spread the good word about NBA history…

With Jonas Valanciunas gobbling up all kinds of rebounds, we go back to April 16th, 1967, when Wilt Chamberlain hauled in 38 rebounds in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, leading the Philadelphia 76ers to a 126-95 victory over the San Francisco Warriors, giving them a 2-0 series lead. Wilt scored just ten points in that game, shooting a horrible 2-17 from the free throw line. None other than Hal Greer led the Sixers with 30 points to compliment Wilt’s 38 boards.

CEVn5t_XIAAT85Z.jpg

1:59 – This weekend’s beer: we have a Sebago mixpack, and a Jack’s Abbey mixpack. We stuck with the New England beers for the first weekend of the Playoffs.

2:02 – Monta Ellis ties us up at 45 with a pair of free throws to begin the third quarter. Soon after, Paul George nails a three to give the Pacers their first lead of the game at 48-45.

2:04 – Norman Powell takes it coast-to-coast for a layup, getting the Raptors back to within one at 48-47. He follows it up by doing it again after a Luis Scola block, and the Raptors go back up 49-48. Lavoy Allen quickly gets the Pacers the lead back with a little hook shot in the paint, and they’re back up, 50-49.

2:05 – Valanciunas just tied his own Raptors Playoff record with his 18th rebound! It leads to a Luis Scola and-one on the other end. He misses the free throw, and the Raptors lead is 51-50.

2:07 – DeMar DeRozan goes 1-2 from the line, extending the Raptors lead up to 52-50.

2:08 – Paul George hits a tough jumper for the Pacers, and we’re tied back up at 52.

2:09 – Valanciunas hits a couple of free throws, giving the Raps back the lead at 54-52.

2:10 – Valanciunas throws down a dunk! He’s just having a monster afternoon for the Raptors, and the Pacers call a time out. It’s Toronto 56, Indiana 52 with 6:50 left in the third quarter.

2:15 – George Hill goes 1-2 from the line, making it a three point game with the Pacers behind 56-53. Valanciunas rebounds the missed free throw, and he’s broken his own Raptors Playoff record for boards in a game! He’s up to 19!

2:17 – Larry Bird sighting! Meanwhile, Paul George hits two free throws, cutting this game down to one with the Pacers trailing 56-55.

2:18 – Kyle Lowry gets into the paint for a bucket, and the Raptors go up 58-55.

2:19 – Paul George is starting to heat up. He gets another basket, and keeps the Pacers within one, trailing 58-57. Soon after, we have a time out with 4:33 remaining in what’s been a great third quarter. In other news, Jonas Valanciunas unfortunately has four fouls, so he’s going to spend some time on the bench.

2:23 – Monta Ellis nails a three, and the Pacers go up 60-58. This might be a good time to mention that the Raptors are 1-7 all-time in Game 1s.

2:24 – Bismack Biyombo knocks down a couple of free throws, and we’re tied up at 60. Paul George answers with a long two, putting the Pacers go back up, 62-60.

2:25 – DeMar DeRozan goes 1-2 from the line, and it cuts the Pacers lead in half. Toronto trails 62-61.

2:26 – Solomon Hill gets two free throws, extending the Pacers lead to 64-61.

2:28 – Kyle Lowry goes 2-3 from the line after he’s fouled shooting a three. It gets us back to a one point game with the Raptors down 64-63.

2:29 – Paul George knocks down a three! It puts the Pacers up 67-63.

2:30 – DeMar DeRozan goes baseline for a big dunk! It keeps the Raptors within one posession, as they trial 67-65.

2:31 – Paul George gets a steal, and takes it all the way for a dunk. It leads to a time out with the score Indiana 69, Toronto 65 with 59 seconds left in the third. George has 22 points, 16 of which have come here in the third quarter.

2:32 – DeMar DeRozan hits a tough shot to keep this a two point game. The Raptors trail 69-67. It’d be great for them if DeRozan could heat up as we head to the fourth quarter.

2:33 – A great third quarter comes to a close with the score Indiana 69, Toronto 67. Raptors Playoff demons are looming large here as we head to the final quarter. They’ve only won one Game 1 in their entire existence, and there’s a lot of pressure on them to make it to the second round. Can they close this one out at home, or will the Pacers steal the game?

2:35 – Things have gotten a little worse for the Raptors, as a Paul George two pointer was reviewed and confirmed as a three. Our updated score is Indiana 70, Toronto 67 to start off the fourth quarter. George is up to 23 points after a big third.

2:37 – In the third quarter, the Raptors scored 22 points, and Paul George scored 17.

2:39 – Solomon Hill knocks down two free throws to kick off the fourth quarter, and it puts the Pacers up 72-67.

2:40 – Cory Joseph lobs a pass up to Bismack Biyombo who tips it in, and the Raptors trail 72-69.

2:41 – Patrick Patterson grabs an offensive rebound from a missed three from Terrence Ross. Patterson hits a fall-away in the paint, and it’s back to a one point game, with the Raptors behind 72-71. Jonas Valanciunas quickly commits his fifth foul, and he has to go back to the bench. Solomon Hill gets two free throws out of it, and the Pacers lead is back up to three at 74-71. Damn it, Jonas.

2:43 – Bismack Biyombo badly misses two free throws for the Raptors. They’re in serious danger of messing around and letting this game slip away.

2:44 – Terrence Ross ties us up at 74 with a three!

2:45 – We’ve got a time out with the score Toronto 74, Indiana 74 with 7:50 to go. The nervousness of the Raptors fans can be felt through my television.

2:51 – George Hill breaks the tie by going 2-3 from the line, putting the Pacers up 76-74.

2:53 – Bismack Biyombo hits a couple of free throws, tying us back up at 76. Rodney Stuckey answers with a three, and the Pacers go ahead, 79-76.

2:54 – DeMar DeRozan drives through the paint and gets a tough layup! It cuts the Raptors deficit down to 79-78. Soon after, we have a time out with 6:09 remaining.

2:57 – Paul George knocks down a three! It puts the Pacers up 82-78, and gives George 26 points so far.

2:58 – Terrence Ross hits a jumper to keep the Raptors close. They’re down 82-80.

2:59 – Paul George answers again! He gets a jumper of his own to get the Pacers lead back up to four at 84-80.

3:01 – Kyle Lowry goes 1-2 from the line, and it’s back to a one possession game with the Raptors trailing 84-81 as we go under four minutes remaining. Paul George follows it up with a nice pass for Myles Turner who gets himself a dunk, giving the Pacers an 86-81 lead. The Raptors really are going to lose this one, aren’t they?

3:04 – Paul George knocks down a jumper, and we’ve got a time out with the score Indiana 90, Toronto 82 with 2:51 left in the ball game. George is up to 30 points, while Kyle Lowry is really killing the Raptors with turnovers and missed free throws.

3:08 – Making things worse for the Raptors, Jonas Valanciunas just fouled out. He finishes with 12 points and a new Raptors Playoff record 19 rebounds, but he shot just 4-14. What a disappointment. I really wanted to see him grab 20 boards. It’s still Indiana 90, Toronto 82 with 2:14 left in the game.

3:09 – Make it Indiana 92, Toronto 82 after Solomon Hill hits two free throws. Yikes.

3:10 – Now we’ve got a time out with the score still Indiana 92, Toronto 82, with 2:04 to go in what’s turning into another Game 1 disaster for the Raptors.

3:15 – With 43 seconds to go, the folks in the Air Canada Centre are starting to head for the exits. Their team’s down 97-88 after suffering through the Paul George Experience.

3:18 – Our first game has come to an end with the final score Indiana 100, Toronto 90. With the loss, the Raptors are now 1-8 in Game 1s. Paul George came to life in the second half, ending the game with 33 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Cory Joseph led the Raptors with 18 points off the bench. Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 19 rebounds, but the two stars, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan just didn’t show up. Together, they couldn’t even match George’s 33, instead combining for 25 points on 8-32 shooting. After getting off to a solid start, the Raptors just fell apart in the second half, and did nothing to make their fans any less nervous about their Playoff prospects. They’re now 1-8 in Game 1s, and will have to rebound strongly in Game 2 to prevent a city-wide panic in Toronto.

One game’s in the books, and the Playoffs are officially underway! It was great seeing Paul George healthy and kicking ass in this one. If he’s at full strength, the Pacers will have a chance in every game.

gettyimages-521579510_0.jpg

3:25 – Up next! It’s the record setting, championship defending, 73-9 Golden State Warriors taking on the uninspiring Houston Rockets. Houston looked like they hated playing with one another at many times throughout the season, and I’m frankly angry that they stumbled into the Playoffs. I would have much rather have seen the Jazz going up against the Warriors. The big question is, can the Rockets, who are talented on paper, make this a competitive series, or will this be a Warriors romp?

3:28 – Our narrators for Game 1 between the Warriors and Rockets: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. They’re the last three people I’d want to have show up at my apartment, and I’m just as unhappy when I see them on my TV.

3:38 – We’re live in Oakland for Game 1 between the Warriors and Rockets! Here’s hoping that the Rockets can at least make this interesting, although, on the other hand, I might relish watching them get blown out of the Playoffs.

3:41 – As always, it’s wicked loud out in The Oracle in Oakland for the opening tip. The Warriors control it, and we’re underway.

3:44 – After a sloppy start, we’ve got our first points of the game from a Steph Curry three! Golden State takes the early 3-0 lead.

3:45 – We have quick time out after a Draymond Green hits a three. Our score’s Golden State 6, Houston 0 with 9:18 left in the first quarter. This one’s probably already over.

3:48 – Dwight Howard gets himself a dunk, and he’s fouled. He even hits his free throw, and it’s the first points for the Rockets, who trail 6-3.

3:53 – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Patrick Beverly fouls Steph Curry and they get tangled up, leading to some pushing, shoving and squaring off! Of course Patrick Beverly was involved. Each player gets hit with a technical foul. Congrats to Beverly and Curry for being involved in our first Playoff altercation!

snapshot_20160416_145527.jpg

3:55 – When play resumes, Draymond Green sends Beverly to the floor with a hard screen! He gets called for a technical foul, but it was totally worth it. This is awesome!

3:58 – We’ve got a time out as the Warriors are riled up and have opened a big early lead. It’s Golden State 18, Houston 6, with 4:45 left in the first quarter.

4:04 – Another time out with the score Golden State 25, Houston 13 with 1:57 to go in the opening quarter. This is why I wanted the Jazz in the Playoffs instead, at least they played the Warriors tough.

4:12 – The first quarter comes to a close with the score Golden State 33, Houston 15. Steph Curry has 16 points and 6 rebounds already, and the Rockets look like they don’t belong here.

4:13 – Is it just me, or does Paul Pierce have a decent singing voice in that Kobe Bryant hate commercial?

4:16 – Josh Smith gets a layup and it’s the first points of the second quarter. Houston trails 33-17.

4:19 – We’ve got another time out with the score Golden State 38, Houston 23 with 9:11 left in the first half.

4:25 – The good news is, if the Warriors keep dominating the Rockets, we won’t see any Hack-a-Howard this afternoon.

4:27 – We’re here at another time out with the score Golden State 44, Houston 27 with 5:41 left until halftime. BORING!

4:35 – We’re at another time out, and things are unraveling for the Rockets. They’re performing more like a North Korean rocket than they are a functional basketball team. It’s Golden State 54, Houston 30 with 2:58 remaining in the first half.

4:40 – The Warriors are just screwing around now as Steph Curry gets a steal, then flings the ball over his head for Andre Iguodala to track down for a dunk, putting the Warriors up 56-30.

4:42 – Oh dear, Steph Curry is headed to the locker room after having his ankle looked at on the bench. Hopefully it’s just precautionary, as he’s been the only thing keeping this game worth watching.

4:43 – James Harden just got called for his fourth foul. He’s got as many fouls as he does points after what’s been a miserable first half. I can’t believe this guy was once an MVP candidate.

4:45 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score Golden State 60, Houston 33. Holy hell. If the Warriors are worried about Steph’s ankle, they could probably shut him down for the rest of this game and be just fine. Curry’s got 24 points and 6 rebounds. Meanwhile, James Harden has 4 points, 4 turnovers and 4 fouls. Dwight Howard leads Houston with 11 points and 8 rebounds. He’s been the only one that seems like he might actually give a damn, as it’s been a laughable first half “effort” from the Rockets. Damn.

4:49 – You know what will make us feel better after that lousy first half? Another episode of Today in NBA Playoff History!

Back on April 16th, 1964, the San Francisco Warriors defeated the St. Louis Hawks, 105-95, in Game 7 of the Western Division Finals. Wilt Chamberlain scored 39 points to lead the Warriors, who would go on to lose the NBA Finals to the Celtics.

ade6bd80-c2ca-11e4-bc31-837e33d7c7c2_WC3415.jpg

5:01 – This is the largest Playoff halftime deficit the Rockets have ever faced. I have a feeling they’re not going to make a come back in this one.

5:03 – Dwight Howard banks in a free throw, after missing his first, and it’s the first point of the second half. The Rockets have a lot of work to do, down 60-34. In other news, Steph Curry is out there and his ankle appears to be okay.

5:08 – We’re here at another time out with our score sitting at Golden State 65, Houston 39 with 9:23 left in the third quarter. In case anyone’s wondering, the least amount of points the Rockets have scored in a Playoffs game is 67, which happened back in 2007 against the Jazz.

5:12 – Steph Curry is heading back to the locker room. The status of his ankle is officially the most interesting aspect of this game.

5:21 – We’ve got a time out as the Rockets have actually been able to chip away with Steph back in the locker room. It’s Golden State 71, Houston 55 with 3:58 left in the third quarter. Dwight Howard has a double-double for Houston, with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while James Harden has come alive with 13 points so far in the quarter.

5:28 – My cable just froze up! What the hell, Comcast!

5:29 – We’ve suddenly cut to a commercial, so maybe this is an ABC problem and not a Comcast problem. Sorry, Comcast.

5:32 – We’re back in the ABC/ESPN studio, and they report that they have technical difficulties! Goddamn it, guys! The only thing worse than having to watch this lousy Rockets team is having to watch Jalen Rose talk about this lousy Rockets team.

5:36 – And we’re back in Oakland! We’re right at the start of the fourth quarter with the Warriors ahead 82-60. Harrison Barnes hits a little hook near the hoop, giving us our first points of the fourth quarter and extending the Warriors lead to 84-60.

5:39 – We’ve got a time out as Houston has scored six straight points, making our score Warriors 84, Rockets 66. Steph Curry has yet to reenter the game, but he is at least back on the Warriors bench.

5:45 – Another time out as the Warriors have their lead back over 20. It’s Golden State 88, Houston 66 with 8:30 left in the game. There’s a solid chance we won’t see Steph Curry again in this one.

5:54 – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

Nah, not really. Draymond Green drags Donatas Motiejunas to the ground, and ol’ Donatas takes exception and briefly goes after him. Nothing really comes out of it, except for a technical foul on Draymond. This is what passes for exciting at this point in the game. Jason Terry hits the technical free throw, cutting the Rockets deficit all the way down to 97-69.

6:01 – We’ve got a time out with the score Golden State 99, Houston 73 with 3:32 to go. The Warriors could probably sit out Steph Curry for the rest of the series and still win.

6:09 – This one finally comes to an end with a final score of Golden State 104, Houston 78. Despite playing just 20 minutes, Steph Curry led the Warriors with 24 points, while adding 7 rebounds. Draymond Green chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds. James Harden led Houston with 17 points, Dwight Howard scored 14 and grabbed 11 boards, and Clint Capela came off the bench to grab 12 rebounds. This game was never really in question, and the sooner the Rockets are out of the Playoffs, the better it will be for everyone.

20160416_vshou_gm1_gallery_6.jpg

Well, we’ve got some time before our next game, so I think it’s time to get some pizza (shout out to Verona’s in Ayer, Massachusetts). Hopefully our next game is more interesting than this mess was.

6:56 – Okay, now that we’ve had our pizza, it’s almost time for the next game, which features our favorite team, the Boston Celtics, taking on the Atlanta Hawks. I apologize in advanced for how biased this might get. I’ll do my best, but I should note that I’m wearing a Celtics jacket, a Bill Russell jersey, a Dino Radja shirt, Celtics PJs and Dee Brown socks. We’ve also got our television on the local Celtics network, CSNNE. Hopefully they don’t suffer the same technical difficulties that ABC did. Needless to say, the outcome of this game will effect my mood for the rest of the weekend.

7:01 – We’re live in Atlanta for Game 1 between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks. Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine will be our narrators. The Hawks have every seat in Phillips Arena draped with neon green t-shirts. It hurts the eyes.

7:10 – The Hawks win the opening tip, and this one is underway!

7:11 – Kent Bazemore and the Hawks strike first with a layup in the paint, and the Hawks go up 2-0 to start the game.

7:13 – Jared Sullingr hits a jumper for Boston’s first basket, getting them on the board, down 5-2.

7:14 – The Celtics take a time out as the Hawks are off to a fast start. It’s Atlanta 9, Boston 2 with 9:07 to go in the first quarter. Maybe all those neon shirts are throwing the Celtics off.

7:28 – Isaiah Thomas passes up an open jumper and passes it out to Jae Crowder in the corner for a contested three, which he misses. It leads to me yelling at the TV for the first time this evening.

7:29 – We’ve got a time out as the Celtics continue to struggle. It’s Atlanta 23, Boston 15 with 3:38 left in the first quarter. If they’re going to make a habit out of passing up open shots, I’m going to get very angry.

7:38 – The first quarter comes to an end with the score Atlanta 30, Boston 19. The Celtics shot just 26.9% from the floor, and I blame the neon. If Boston can’t start knocking down some shots, we’re going to be in for a lousy night. I think it’s time for some coffee.

7:42 – Evan Turner hits a jumper to start out the second quarter. It brings the Celtics within single digits as they’re down 30-21.

7:46 – I’m pretty sure Kelly Olynyk just picked off a pass from Evan Turner that was meant for Avery Bradley who was cutting along the baseline towards the basket. Instead, Kelly bobbles it in the paint and misses a shot. Great.

7:47 – Marcus Smart and Mike Scott have a bit of an exchange after Scott plows him over while Marcus was setting a screen. After the refs take a look at it, they hit Scott with a Flagrant 1, our first of the Playoffs!

7:50 – We get a time out as the Celtics continue to shoot the ball poorly. It’s Atlanta 37, Boston 25 with 8:18 to go until halftime. Nothing about this game has been enjoyable thus far.

7:57 – Jae Crowder misses a wide open jumper, but the offensive rebound comes right back at him, so he steps out for a wide open three…and misses that too in a play that perfectly sums up how the night is going for the Celtics.

7:58 – We’ve got a time out with the score Atlanta 43, Boston 30 with 4:33 to go until halftime. Maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but I feel like things could be way worse for the Celtics.

8:03 – Another time out with the score now sitting at Atlanta 45, Boston 30 with 2:59 left until halftime. Celtics rookie RJ Hunter is into the game for some reason. He’s got some three point range, so maybe he’ll catch fire. This could be the “RJ Hunter Game”! There I go, grasping at straws again.

8:13 – Here we are at halftime with the score Atlanta 51, Boston 34. Kent Bazemore and Al Horford each have 11 points to lead Atlanta, who have been playing tremendous defense as they haven’t allowed the Celtics to get any sort of a rhythm. Avery Bradley has 9 points to lead Boston, which is shooting just 23.1% as a team. On the plus side, the Celtics were down 26 against the Heat in their season finale, and they came back and won, so this 17 point deficit should be a piece of cake, right? Ugh.

8:18 – Maybe an episode of Today in NBA Playoff History will cheer me up…

We’re going back to better times for the Celtics on April 16th, 1963. That’s when, during Game 2 of the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Bill Russell grabbed 38 rebounds to help lead the C’s to a 113-106 victory and a 2-0 series lead. Russell added 16 points in the victory.

bill-russell-608.jpg

8:31 – Hey, my buddy Brendan just dropped in to join us! I wished I had some better news for him as far as this game is going. Maybe he’ll bring the Celtics some good luck.

8:32 – Jeff Teague hits one of two free throws to start off the second half by extending their lead to 52-34.

8:37 – The Celtics are on an 11-2 run, and the Hawks call a time out! It’s Atlanta 54, Boston 45 with 8:51 to go in the third. This is the best the Celtics have played all game, and it all started right after Brendan showed up.

8:50 – We’ve got a time out with the score Atlanta 69, Boston 60 with 3:09 to go in the third. The Celtics got the deficit all the way down to five, but so far, Atlanta has responded well and kept the C’s at bay. At least this game’s finally getting exciting.

8:53 – Apparently Celtics coach Brad Stevens got hit with a technical during the commercials. It’s his first technical all year long, and luckily, Tim Hardaway Jr misses the free throw, so no harm’s done.

9:00 – We’re here at the end of the third quarter, and things are looking a lot better for the Celtics, which I admit isn’t saying very much, but we might actually be in for a great fourth quarter! It’s Atlanta 72, Boston 65. Can the Celtics keep chipping away at the Hawks lead?

9:04 – Mike Scott tips in an Al Horford miss, and the Hawks strike first in the fourth, extending their lead to 74-65.

9:09 – We’ve got a time out, and Boston’s closer than it’s been in a long, long time. It’s Hawks 78, Celtics 74 with 8:32 left in the game.

9:12 – Avery Bradley nails a jumper, and Marcus Smart is fouled as it goes in, so he’ll head to the line with a chance to make this a one possession game. He hits the free throw, and the Celtics are down 80-77.

9:13 – Marcus Smart cans a three! We’re tied at 80!!

9:14 – Jae Crowder knocks down a three, and the Celtics go up 83-80!!!

9:15 – Our good mood is ruined as Avery Bradley seems to be seriously hurt. He’s lying on the ground, grabbing leg, and he’s being helped off the court. Feeling deflated doesn’t even begin to cover it. We have a time out with the score still Boston 83, Atlanta 80 with 6:48 left in the game.

9:18 – Jeff Teague hits two free throws to make this a one point game with the Hawks trailing 83-82.

9:20 – Al Horford hits two free throws, and the Hawks regain the lead at 84-83.

9:21 – Isaiah Thomas knocks down a three, and the Celtics retake the lead at 86-84! Kent Bazemore follows it up with a layup to tie us up at 86.

9:22 – It’s a strained right hamstring for Avery Bradley, and he will not be returning tonight. Damn.

9:24 – Jeff Teague gets a baseline layup, and the Hawks go back up, 88-86.

9:25 – Isaiah Thomas goes 2-3 from the line after he’s fouled shooting a three. It ties us back up at 88.

9:26 – Al Horford gets a layup, and the Hawks go back on top at 90-88.

9:27 – After a Celtics turnover, Paul Millsap gets a dunk, and Atlanta builds their lead up to 92-88. Soon after, we have a time out 2:32 to go in the game.

9:30 – Isaiah Thomas gets two free throws, and it’s a one possession game again with the Celtics behind, 92-90.

9:31 – Jeff Teague gets a layup for the Hawks, pushing their lead back up to four at 94-90.

9:32 – Isaiah Thomas goes 1-2 from the line, and it’s a three point game with the C’s down 94-91.

9:33 – Al Horford misses a shot, but chases down the rebound, and gets fouled. He makes both of his free throws, and we’ve got a time out with the score Atlanta 96, Boston 91 with just 1:33 left in the game. Why’d your hamstring have to betray you, Avery Bradley?

9:37 – Marcus Smart gets a steal and gets the ball up to Evan Turner who misses a layup, but Smart follows him in for the put back and the hoop! The Hawks call a time out with the score Atlanta 96, Boston 93 with 1:02 left on the clock.

9:41 – The Celtics miss a three to tie the game, and the Hawks grab the board, but Marcus Smart fouls Kent Bazemore with 36.6 seconds on the clock. Absolutely unnecessary and stupid move by Smart. Of course Bazemore hits both free throws, and things are looking dire with the Celtics down 98-93. Thanks a ton, Marcus.

9:43 – We’ve got a time out with 17.1 seconds on the clock and the score Atlanta 99, Boston 95. I’m going to be angry about that Marcus Smart foul for the rest of the weekend. He was playing so well, too.

9:45 – After Jeff Teague goes 1-2 from the line, it’s Hawks 100, Celtics 95 with 15.8 seconds to go. I do have to counter my anger with Marcus Smart by pointing out that he’s a huge reason that the Celtics were even in a position to try and steal this game.

9:47 – Jae Crowder knocks down a three! The C’s are down 100-98, and they foul Jeff Teague with 5.8 seconds on the clock. Maybe something ridiculous is about to happen…

9:49 – …maybe not. Teague hits both free throws, and then Isaiah Thomas hits a three, but there’s 00.4 seconds left on the clock, making it Atlanta 102, Boston 101. The Hawks call a time out, but unless something truly unreasonable happens, the Hawks are about to hand the Celtics a frustrating Game 1 loss.

9:51 – Well, that’s that. Our final score’s Atlanta 102, Boston 1o1. Al Horford led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Hawks, Jeff Teague scored 23 and dished out 12 assists, and Kent Bazemore had 23 points and 8 rebounds. For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas had 27 points and 8 assists, while Jae Crowder scored 14 points and 10 boards. What an irritating loss. If only the Celtics played as well in the first half as they did in the second half, because this was definitely a winnable game. Not even Brendan’s appearance could help them. On top of that, Avery Bradley looks like he’s got a pretty serious hamstring injury, and my weekend is just about ruined.

game3.jpg

9:55 – No time to recover after that disheartening loss. Let’s turn it over to the Thunder/Mavs game and oh good god! It’s Oklahoma City 15, Dallas 2 with 7:30 left in the first quarter. The Thunder are unfortunately the first team of the Playoffs to wear lousy sleeved jerseys. As a result, it looks like they’re playing in their pajamas. This does nothing to improve my mood.

10:00 – Brendan saunters off into the night.

10:03 – We have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 21, Dallas 7 with 2:47 left in the first quarter. Seems like this one is off to an unfortunate start. That being said, it’s nice to see the Thunder healthy and back in the Playoffs. We’ve already seen Paul George make a triumphant Playoff return, perhaps Kevin Durant, also in his first full year back from an injury, will light it up as well.

10:10 – The first quarter comes to a close, and our score is Oklahoma City 26, Dallas 11. The Mavs are shooting just 5-24 from the field. Yuck.

10:14 – Dirk Nowitzki leads off the second quarter with a jumper, cutting the Thunder lead to 26-13.

10:20 – Adam Silver sighting! Anyway, we have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 31, Dallas 15 with 8:51 left in the first half. It doesn’t seem like there’s much going on in this one.

10:23 – Commissioner Adam Silver is getting interviewed right now. It’s definitely the most exciting thing that’s happened since we’ve tuned in. He says that the NBA wants to work with North Carolina politicians and business leaders to hopefully reverse their new, lousy law that discriminates against the LGBT community. He also briefly talks about the news that there will be advertisements on jerseys, starting during the 2017-18 season when Nike takes over as the league’s uniform manufacturer. I’m really looking forward to seeing Celtics jerseys with a Dunkin Donuts patch on them.

10:26 – Looks like we have another blowout brewing here in OKC. With 7:03 to go until halftime, it’s Thunder 38, Dallas 17. The Mavs seem to have no answer defensively, and nothing clicking offensively.

10:36 – I like the Mavs, but they have way too many players that you forgot were still in the league.

10:37 – A Serge Ibaka three sends us in to another time out with the score Oklahoma City 47, Dallas 21 with 3:40 to go until halftime in what’s rapidly becoming the most depressing game of the day. At least the Rockets deserve to get embarrassed.

10:39 – Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are outscoring the Mavs by themselves, 25-21.

10:42 – Technical foul on Dirk Nowitzki. He wanted an and-one, didn’t get it, and continued to voice his displeasure on the way back up the court. Kevin Durant hits the free throw, and the Thunder lead 49-23.

10:53 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score Oklahoma City 59, Dallas 33. Kevin Durant has 18 points to lead the way for OKC, and Russell Westbrook is not far behind with 13. Dirk Nowitzki has 14 to lead Dallas, but their next highest scorer has just four points, and they’re shooting just 26.2% from the floor. Because of this, for the second time today, I’ve been inspired to head to Basketball-Reference and look up a team’s record for lowest score in a Playoff game. Turns out the Mavs record is 74, which was set during the 2006 Finals.

10:58 – It’s time for our last episode of Today in NBA Playoff History of the day!

Back on April 16, 1978, the Seattle Supersonics eliminated the Los Angeles Lakers with a 111-102 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round. Jack Sikma, who you might remember from way back in the Raptors/Pacers game, led the Sonics with 24 points. Gus Williams added 22, and Marvin Webster chipped in with 20 as the trio helped outlast Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 31 point performance for LA. I think it’s safe to say that everyone outside of Oklahoma wishes the Sonics were still in Seattle. Where they belong.

jack-sikma-getty-e1449314806977.jpg

By the way, that’s our second Jack Sikma picture, so you know it’s been a great day.

11:11 – Kevin Durant lobs one up and Steven Adams throws it down, and the Thunder have the first points of the second half, increasing their lead to 61-33.

11:12 – Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse for the Mavs, it sounds like they’ll be without JJ Barea for the second half.

11:17 – We’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 67, Dallas 37 with 7:05 left in the third quarter. I feel like the Mavs have a real chance to set their record for fewest points in a Playoff game. Seeing if they do it might be the only thing that keeps me going through this one.

11:24 – Dallas coach Rick Carlisle just got hit with a technical foul for arguing a call. Kevin Durant hits the free throw, and the Thunder lead is all the way up to 77-42.

11:26 – We’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 79, Dallas 42 with 4:09 left in the third in what’s just been an ass-whooping of epic proportions.

11:32 – Solemn Mark Cuban sighting.

11:36 – At the end of the third quarter, our score’s Oklahoma City 93, Dallas 51. Good grief. Can the Mavs avoid setting a new franchise record for fewest points in a Playoff game? Stay tuned.

11:40 – Raymond Felton hits a three for Dallas, and they shave the Thunder lead down to 93-54.

11:43 – We’ve got a time out with the score Thunder 93, Mavericks 56 with 9:45 mercifully remaining in the game.

11:54 – Another time out, and things have not changed. The score’s Oklahoma City 105, Dallas 63 with 5:07 to go.

12:02 am – We’ve just passed midnight, and we’ve got a time out with the scoreboard reading Thunder 108, Mavericks 64 with 2:19 left on the clock. There’s just not a whole heck of a lot to say about this one that the score doesn’t already say itself.

12:08 – This game’s gotten so out of hand that announcer Mike Tirico is taking pictures for fans.

CgN2K4yW4AAr2zF.jpg

12:10 – It’s finally over, and our final score is Oklahoma City 108, Dallas 70 in the Mavs lowest scoring Playoff game in franchise history. Russell Westbrook had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the Thunder, and Kevin Durant added 23 points, 5 boards and 5 assists. Enes Kanter came off the bench for 16 points and 13 rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 18 points, and was the only Mav to reach double figures as the team shot a disgusting 29.8% from the floor. I don’t really know what else to add to this one, other than it was a severe ass-kicking to end the day. By the time we tuned it, the Thunder were up 15-2, and things pretty much stayed the same from there.

8_durant_westbrook_mavericks_lm_160416.jpg

Well, that does it for the first day of the 2016 NBA Playoffs! Paul George had a great return to the postseason, while the Raptors suffered an all too familiar Game 1 loss. The defending champs took care of business, the Celtics and Hawks went down to the wire, and the Thunder looked great in their first Playoff game after last year’s absence. There were also a couple of injuries, with Steph Curry spraining his ankle, and Avery Bradley straining his hamstring. Bradley’s seems to be the more serious of the two, and if he has to miss any time, it will certainly put a damper on what looks to be one of the better first round series.

It’s been a long day, so it’s time to get some sleep, because tomorrow will be another one, with four more Game 1s, and you better believe we’ll be at it again.

 

The NBA Playoffs Drinking Game

Enjoy the NBA Playoffs, and your drinks, responsibly.

Today’s the day we’ve all been waiting for. The NBA Playoffs are beginning with four games to keep us occupied all day long. If you’re like myself and my friend (and future Bonus contributor) Ian, you’ll be ignoring the nice weather and sequestering yourself indoors all day so you can fully focus on all of that Playoff ball. Furthermore, if you’re like us, you’ll be washing all of that glorious Playoff ball down with a fair amount of beer. It’s in that spirit that we’d like to unveil the NBA Playoffs Drinking Game. This is the perfect day for it. It’s Saturday, so you’ll have a full day tomorrow to recover, especially since Sunday’s games don’t get started until 3:00 pm. You can sleep in! Before we share the rules, please remember to enjoy the NBA Playoffs, and your drinks, responsibly.

Take one drink if:

  • A Meet The Hoopers commercial appears.
  • Jeff Van Gundy complains.
  • Mike Breen says, “BANG!”
  • The Warriors or Rockets turn the ball over.
  • James Harden or Steph Curry makes a three.

Take two drinks if:

  • Someone gets a double-double.
  • Someone gets called for a technical foul.
  • Kobe is mentioned.
  • Any old NBA footage is shown.
  • Someone mentions Kevin Durant’s impending free agency.

Take three drinks if:

  • Someone gets a triple-double.
  • There’s an altercation.
  • Someone gets ejected.
  • There’s a wedgie. (Shout out to The Starters).
  • There’s a trip to the Replay Center in Secaucus.

Finish your drink immediately and open another one if:

  • A game goes into Overtime.

Finish your drink and triumphantly prance around your living room if:

  • Your team wins on a buzzer beater.

Finish your drink solemnly and hang your head in despair if:

  • Your team loses on a buzzer beater.

Well, there are your rules, and feel free to add your own throughout the day. We’ll be keeping an eye on all of the games and tweeting every time we all need to drink, so follow @The_Bonus_Blog on Twitter, and be on the look out for #NBAPlayoffsDrinkingGame! If you do choose to drink along with us, do it responsibly, and in the comfort and safety of your own home. Or else.

 

The Interesting Playoff Preview

There’s always something interesting about the NBA Playoffs.

Hello, and welcome to The Bonus, a brand new NBA blog from a random dude that likes basketball too much. I know what you’re thinking, and I agree, the internet does need another basketball blog, so here we are. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to debut this thing on Wednesday night, which saw a memorable NBA regular season end in dramatic fashion, as Marv Albert might say. The Warriors won their record breaking 73rd game, Kobe dropped 60 to end his career, the Celtics (the favorite team here at The Bonus) came back from 26 down to beat the Heat, and we had a four way tie in the Eastern Conference, with the Heat, Hawks, Celtics and Hornets all finishing 48-34. The fact that I didn’t document my basketball watching experience that night is something that will haunt me forever, and has ensured that this blog got off to a lousy start before it even began. Instead, I’m forced to go with what was the plan all along: start this thing off with a Playoff Preview, so without further ado, let’s usher in The Bonus era as we prepare for what should be another exciting NBA Playoffs…

20160413_vsmem_gallery_11.jpg

Sometimes, the first round of the Playoffs get a bad rap, and this year is no exception. During the Warriors season finale, announcer Jeff Van Gundy could be heard lamenting that none of the matchups in the West were going to be even a little competitive. Others might say that it’s too predictable, or that there’s not enough teams that are actually fun to watch. I think that nothing could be further from the truth. There’s always something interesting and worth watching during the Playoffs, even during the most lopsided of matchups. Why, I bet I can find something intriguing about every first round series this year. Let’s start in the Western Conference…

(1) Golden State Warriors (73-9)
vs.
(8) Houston Rockets (41-41)
Something interesting: 
…damn. Right away, I’m facing an uphill battle, as the Rockets are a team that nobody outside of Houston wanted to see in the Playoffs. We’d rather be seeing the Jazz, right? Houston disappointed their way through a listless season in which they sometimes looked like they hated playing with one another, but still managed to make the Playoffs, where they face the team that just set the record for wins in a season. Luckily, that team has been able to remain interesting all year long, and it should be fun to watch them banish this Rockets team out of the Playoffs, where they belong. On top of that, when the Warriors are on, there’s always a chance that some sort of record is about to be broken, and that alone is an interesting reason to watch. Plus, who knows, maybe the Rockets will find their mojo from last season and make this a series. It’s not like James Harden and Dwight Howard are a couple of slouches. Just one year ago, they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals…where they were beaten in five games by these Warriors. Yeah, this is a tough sell, but there should at least be a ton of three pointers between these two teams, and maybe Steph Curry and James Harden will get into a duel. Let’s just hope it’s a scoring duel and not a turnover duel.
Prediction: Warriors (4-0)

(2) San Antonio Spurs (67-15)
vs
(7) Memphis Grizzlies (42-40)
Something interesting: 
Overshadowed by the Warriors incredible season are the Spurs, who became just the 12th team in NBA history to win at least 67 games. This could be our last time watching Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, which should be enough to make you want to watch them play the unfortunate Grizzlies, who are so injury-riddled, they had a record 28 different players suit up for them. Making the Playoffs while facing that sort of adversity is an outstanding achievement, and you might have a fun time on Basketball-Reference as you look up just who some of their players are. They might be outmatched, but they’re still the gritty and grindy Grizzlies that we’ve come to enjoy over the past few years, and you know they won’t go down without a fight.
Prediction: Spurs (4-0)

(3) Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
vs
(6) Dallas Mavericks (42-40)
Something interesting: Not only are the Thunder back in the Playoffs, they’re healthy again! Last year just wasn’t the same without Durant and Westbrook storming through the Playoffs, and with Durant’s potential free agency looming over this year’s Playoff run, the intrigue will be high. As for the Mavs, they’ve got a pretty rag-tag roster, but coach Rick Carlisle has them playing well together. Owner Mark Cuban also lurks as a loose cannon who could always make things interesting at the drop of a hat.
Prediction: Thunder (4-0)

(4) Los Angeles Clippers (53-29)
vs
(5) Portland Trail Blazers (44-38)
Something interesting: Perhaps no team in the Western Conference has as much pressure on them as the Clippers do. They’re still looking for their first appearance in the Conference Finals, and if they don’t make it past the second round this year, they may start thinking about making major changes. The Trail Blazers, on the other hand, weren’t even supposed to make the Playoffs after losing four of their five starters in the off-season, yet here they are up here in fifth place. They’ve got one of the best home court advantages in the league, as well as a superstar that can win a game or two by himself in Damian Lillard, and their supporting cast is one of the hardest playing groups around.
Prediction: Clippers (4-2)

I know three sweeps and a six game series doesn’t sound very interesting at all, but when you combine the star power and the high expectations of those top four teams, how can it not be? Will one of them emerge as a potential threat to the Warriors championship defense, or are we all just wasting our time? Speaking of wasting time, you’ve wasted enough to make it through the Western Conference, so why bail out now? The Eastern Conference could be even more interesting…

160309-clesac-34.jpg

(1) Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
vs
(8) Detroit Pistons (44-38)
Something interesting: LeBron’s teams always seem to be interesting in one way or another, and this year was no exception. They fired their coach, LeBron said the team needed to be tougher, and they’ve looked less than invincible throughout the season. This time, we’ll hopefully get to see them at full strength throughout the Playoffs, which will take a mammoth amount of pressure off of LeBron. With Kobe officially gone, James takes over as the most polarizing player/villain around the NBA. Bonus points because if the Cavs struggle, he might get passive-aggressive. Meanwhile, Detroit’s in the Playoffs for the first time since 2009, and they’ve got a bright future. This could give them the Playoff taste that many developing young teams before them have used as a stepping stone towards further improvement. That, and I feel like Reggie Jackson has a monster Playoff performance lurking within him. We’ve seen him come up big in the postseason back when he was with the Thunder, and there’s no reason to think he’s not capable of single-handedly stealing a game for the Pistons.
Prediction: Cavaliers (4-1)

(2) Toronto Raptors (56-26)
vs
(7) Indiana Pacers (45-37)
Something interesting: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the greatest Raptors team of all time, and that has to count for something. Of course, it won’t, unless they can finally get themselves past the first round, something they haven’t done since 2001. That’s right, there’s kids in high school who haven’t seen the Raptors make it to the Conference Semifinals, and the rest of us have only seen it happen once. This seems like it could be the year, and their rabid fan base deserves a deeper trip through the postseason. In their way is the Pacers, back in the Playoffs after last year’s absence. Paul George rebounded from his terrible injury the year before with his best season to date, and that’s reason enough to be excited about this Pacers team.
Prediction: Raptors (4-2)

(3) Miami Heat (48-34)
vs
(6) Charlotte Hornets (48-34)
Something interesting: And so begins the great Eastern Conference four-way. It’s the first time we’ve seen four teams finish with the same record heading into the Playoffs, and it’s created quite the mess in the middle of the East. The Heat came out on top of the tie-breakers, and they’ll host the Hornets. What’s great about this cluster of teams is that, on any given night, any one of them could beat the other, which should hopefully lead to a couple of great Playoff series. As far as we know, the Heat will remain without Chris Bosh, but the team has gelled nicely in his absence, especially with the addition of Joe Johnson, who is still someone that can scare you if he’s going up against your team. Meanwhile, the Hornets have quietly crafted a fun team that can really light it up from deep, led by Kemba Walker. Much like the aforementioned Reggie Jackson, Walker is a dude that can go off and win a game by himself. He was a killer back in college where he won a national title at UConn, and proved that he can rise to the challenge of a big game. Also, in his only previous foray into the NBA Playoffs, he shot a solid .473 from the field, much higher than his career percentage of .403. Between him and Joe Johnson, we’ve got two guys that can hit the big shots, and could very well treat us to a shootout. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and say that this is going to be the most fun series of the first round.
Prediction: Heat (4-3)

(4) Atlanta Hawks (48-34)
vs
(5) Boston Celtics (48-34)
Something interesting: 
The other matchup amongst the Eastern Conference foursome features the Hawks and the Celtics. Did you know the Hawks have the longest streak of consecutive Playoff appearances in the East? Were you aware that the Celtics are the highest scoring team in the East this year? It’s true! On top of that, Atlanta might field the most underrated trio of players in the league with Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague, and for all we know, this could be their last ride together. Horford is a free agent, and Teague could be traded if the Hawks decide to hand the keys over his backup, Dennis Schroeder. Then there’s the Celtics, who as I mentioned earlier are the favorite team here at The Bonus Headquarters. They can be a lot of fun, and they can be maddeningly frustrating. Both qualities were on display Wednesday night as they fell behind by 26 points to the Heat, only to come back and win. You can never count them out, and they never stop scrapping, which is why I and my fellow New Englanders love them. My only question is should I give the Hawks the benefit of the doubt because they have home court advantage, or should I remember that the last time these two teams met in the Playoffs, the Hawks had home court, and lost the series in six. This is a big decision because being seen as a homer could ruin the credibility of this new blog.
Prediction: Hawks (4-3) Celtics (4-2), no, Hawks (4-3), I shouldn’t let my team affiliation get in the way of objectivity, oh screw it, Celtics (4-2).

One thing I have to say as I wrap this up is as a resident of the Eastern Conference, I’m glad that for the first time in recent memory, we’ve got the more interesting and competitive side of the first round, and hopefully the games live up to it. As the Playoffs roll along, we here at The Bonus will be posting all sorts of nonsense, including daily accounts of our Playoff viewing, and whatever else we might think of as the Playoffs inspire us, anger us, or sadden us, so hopefully my biased Celtics pick didn’t ruin the entire idea of this blog for you, and we can all enjoy the spectacle of another NBA Playoffs together.