With the conclusion of the second round and the onset of the conference finals, AGR takes a look at the recent action. Below we’ll examine the BSB(R) standings, recap round two, and preview the two conference finals series.
The BSB(R) Tournament: Where We Stand after the Second Round
Where does everyone stand after the second round?
- Dan Leifer, last year’s winner, leads the field with 62 points.
- We have a wide range of scores. At the bottom we have Jeremy Safran AKA Dr. Gary Sapphire with 27 points. After that, we have three teams in the 30-point range, six teams in the 40-point range, eight in the 50-point range, and two in 60-point range.
- Only seven had Indiana making the ECF. In retrospect this seems like a quite the oversight.
- Once again, it comes as a shock that not one of the twenty participants had the Spurs making the NBA Finals.
Meanwhile, in the NBA…
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Heat-Bulls: The Bulls stunned the Heat in an exciting first game played in Miami, a game that ended with LeBron having a strong fourth quarter before airballing a critical late jumper. If there were any doubts that Game 1 raised, the Heat put them to rest in Game 2. They beat the Bulls 115-78, which marked the biggest playoff victory and loss for the respective franchises. The Heat would go on to win in 5.
- Hero: LeBron James
- Goat: The Chicago injury bug (Rose, Deng, and Hinrich were injured the entire series).
- Line of the Series: Chris Bosh had 20 points and 19 boards to go along with 4 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal to help win Game 3 in Chicago.
Knicks-Pacers: This wasn’t the prettiest of series, which helps explain why the gritty Pacers triumphed over the Knicks. The Pacers stole Game 1 in Madison Square Garden, which was all it took to get an edge; in every other game the home-team held serve, allowing the Pacers to finish the series at home in six. The series was a tale of strength (Pacers) vs. finesse (Knicks). Roy Hibbert held down the paint as well as any center has so far this playoffs, highlighted by this block on Melo. It was also a story of individual vs. team basketball. Carmelo took on a huge load, shooting the ball 25 times per game. Ultimately, he and fellow isolationist J.R. Smith were not consistent or efficient enough to overcome the team-oriented Pacers.
- Hero: Roy Hibbert
- Goat: J.R. Smith, Tyson Chandler, or Mike Woodson…take your pick.
- Line of the Series: Hibbert scored 21 points, grabbed 12 boards, dished 2 assists, and blocked 5 shots in a series-clinching Game 6.
Western Conference Semifinals
Thunder-Grizzlies: Some thought the Thunder stood a chance against the Grizzlies–after all, they do have the second-best player in the world. Alas, without Russell Westbrook, a potentially epic series was instead a 4-1 victory for the Grizz. After narrowly escaping the Grizzlies for a Game 1 win, the Thunder lost four straight, each game becoming more frustrating for the helpless Kevin Durant. While all the games were decided by six-points or fewer, the Grizzlies seemed to always dictate the style and pace of the game. Coming out of the series, many consider the Grizzlies favorites to emerge from the West.
- Hero: Marc Gasol
- Goat: Kendrick Perkins
- Line of the Series: In a close Game 2 loss, Durant tallied 36 points (11-22 FG), 11 rebounds, and 9 assists.
Spurs-Warriors: The two teams might as well have had a three-point shooting contest, but David Stern apparently wanted to play it out the old-fashioned way. And the old-fashioned team, the Spurs, is the team that prevailed. In what many called the most entertaining game of the year, the Spurs won a double-overtime Game 1 thriller capped off by Manu Ginobili’s game-winner. The Warriors won Game 2, which meant they nearly returned to the Bay up 2-0 on the higher-seeded Spurs. Instead of riding that momentum, the San Antonio won three of the next four. Unfortunately, the series was never able to capture the excitement of Game 1; Game 2 was decided by nine points and the rest were all decided by 10 or more.
- Hero: Tough call here, but I’ll go with Tony Parker
- Goat: Draymond Green
- Line of the Series: Klay Thompson had 34 points (8-9 3PT) to go along with 14 boards and 3 steals in a Game 2 victory in San Antonio
Moving forward, here are some things to look for in the conference finals…
- Which Dwyane Wade will show up, the MVP-caliber Wade or the nagging-knee-injury Wade?
- Will Miami try and match Indy’s size or will they go small to exploit their speed and shooting advantage?
- With Paul George on the wing and Hibbert the middle, can Indy bottle up LeBron James?
- Who will step up on offense for Indiana? Which Miami role players will find playing time and their shooting strokes during the series?
- Can the Grizzlies’ dedication to physicality and defense trump the Spurs’ versatility?
- Who will win the Gasol-Duncan matchup? The Parker-Conley matchup?
- Will Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter stretch the floor enough to open up space for the slashing and board-crashing that the Grizz need?
- What type of health can we expect from Leonard, Parker, and Ginobili?
We’ll have to wait and see how those questions play out. In the mean time, enjoy the conference finals!
Who are your picks to win, both the playoffs and the AGR tourney? Comment on the article or e-mail us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook.