No. 1 San Antonio Spurs vs. No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies surprised the Spurs with a Game 1 upset taking advantage of Manu Ginobili’s absence. Ginobili returned for Game 2 and the Spurs took care of business winning 93-87, so the question remains: Was Game 1 a fluke or do the Grizzlies have a legitimate chance? Grabbing a win in San Antonio has to be a huge confidence boost for a young Grizzlies team that now theoretically has home-court advantage.
GRADES: Spurs: B, Grizzlies: A-
No. 2 LA Lakers vs.
No. 7 New Orleans Hornets
Like the 1v8 matchup the lower seed stole Game 1 and the higher seeded Lakers came back and won Game 2, earning a split with the Hornets at the Staples Center. Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum carried LA in Game 2, receiving only 11 points from Kobe Bryant. The Lakers’ ability to win despite an inept offensive night from Kobe is a good sign for Laker’s fans. I dont see New Orleans winning another game in the series. LA is just too good.
GRADES: Lakers: A-, Hornets: B
No. 3 Dallas Mavericks vs. No. 6 Portland Trailblazers
Last week in my NBA playoff preview I stated the key to the series would be Dirk Nowitzki’s versus Brandon Roye’s ability to score in late game situations. Dirk has won the battle to say the least. Dirk took over in the fourth quarter in Game 1 while Trailblazer’s coach Nate McMillan opted to bench Roye in crunch time. Dallas has outworked and outplayed Portland in a series that could quite possibly be over after Game 4. Heading back to Portland, the Trailblazers need a W in Game 3.
GRADES: Mavs: A-, Trailblazers: C
No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder vs No. 5 Denver Nuggets
The Thunder have looked very impressive thus far in the playoffs, displaying the ability to win games in different ways. In Game 1 they got a combined 72-point effort from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and in Game 2 it was a complete team effort. Westbrook and Durant each finished with 20+ points but it was team scoring that allowed the Thunder to jump to a 26-point lead in the second quarter of Game 2. For Denver, you need defense to win in the NBA playoffs and its something they just dont have.
GRADES: Thunder: A, Nuggets: C
No. 1 Chicago Bulls vs.
No. 8 Indiana Pacers (Bulls Lead 2-0)
Despite leading for a considerable amount of time in Game 1, the Indiana Pacers find themselves in a 2-0 hole without much hope. Derrick Rose willed the Bulls to victory in Game 1 as well as Game 2 with 39- and 36-point efforts. Indiana has played the Bulls tough, however, there is a reason the Bulls are the one seed and Indiana the eight. Bulls have shown the ability to come back from a relatively large deficit in Game 1 and win, while the Pacers have displayed why they are a playoff-worthy team, challenging the Bulls in both Game 1 and 2.
GRADES: Bulls: A, Pacers: B
No. 2 Miami Heat vs.
No. 7 Philadelphia 76ers (Heat Lead 2-0)
The Miami Heat continue to impress. In Game 2 vs. the 76ers they dismantled them on both the offensive and defensive end, winning 94-73. The 76ers “stars” were nonfactors in the game, Elton Brand scoring three points, while Andre Iguodala had five. With a performance like this from your best players, Philly has no chance at beating a stacked Miami Heat team.
GRADES: Heat: A-, 76ers: C
No. 3 Boston Celtics vs.
No. 6 New York Knicks (Celtics Lead 2-0)
The first two games of the series came down to the last possession and both times Boston proved they were the superior team. They executed well-designed plays down the stretch and made key defensive stops. All is not lost for New York, the combined margin of victory for Game’s 1 and 2 was 5 points. The loss of Chauncey Billups and Amar’e Stoudemire in Game 2 severely hurt the Knicks chances, but as a New York fan you have to be thrilled to see Carmelo Anthony — 42 points in Game 2 — carry the Knicks, even if in the end it resulted in a loss.
GRADES: Celtics: A-, Knicks: B
No. 4 Orlando Magic vs.
No. 5 Atlanta Hawks
(Series Tied 1-1)
This is the one series in the East destined to go to a Game 7. Two extremely well matched teams have battled each other to a split in the first two games. Dwight Howard has been an absolute beast, dropping 46 points and 19 rebounds in Game 1 and 33 and 19 in Game 2. Atlanta’s athleticism poses a problem to any team in the playoffs. They can get out and run, and beat you to a lot of loose balls. If Atlanta can somehow contain Dwight Howard, they should be able to win the series. If your Orlando you really need to get some better contributions from someone not named Dwight Howard.
GRADES: Magic: B-, Hawks: B