In a first round defined by series that went the distance, the most exciting moment came on a shot that prevented a Game 7: Damian Lillard’s series-winning three-pointer over Houston.
Before the NBA’s first round recap, let’s take stock of the BSB(R) standings.
So, where does everyone stand?
- Chris Nolop is the clear-cut leader with 44 points. He was the only person to correctly predict every first round winner.
- Two-time defending champion Dan Leifer is in fourth place, but his future looks grim with the Rockets eliminated.
- Tim Q could have been a genius had the Hawks, Warriors, and Mavs pulled out their Game 7 wins. Instead, his 12 points put him in 24th place, dead last. That’s 13 points fewer than the second-to-last team (Issei), which bigger than the gap between Issei and the 5th-best team (Zach Mason).
- Most impressive was the group’s ability to predict the Wizards-Bulls series–while only 1 out of 18 ESPN analysts had the Wiz winning, nearly half of our group (11/24) picked the Washington to prevail.
As for the NBA’s first round…
First Round: East
Pacers-Hawks: The Hawks gave the Pacers fits by adopting Mike Budenholzer’s plan of spreading the floor and letting the threes fly, but ultimately came up short after a blowing 3-2 series lead. Each team’s “Paul” (Millsap and George) led their team ins scoring and rebounding, but the latter got the last laugh with a productive Game 7.
- Hero: Paul George
- Goat: Pero Antic and Roy Hibbert
- Line of the Series: In a crucial Game 2 win, Paul George had 27 points (9-16 FG; 5-7 3PT), 10 boards, 6 assists, and 4 steals, all with only one turnover to tie the series.
Wizards-Bulls: The whole world and mother earth predicted the Bulls to win, but the Wizards looked much better in their 4-1 victory. Many of the games were close and we saw Nene get suspended, but other than those story-lines, this series lacked the excitement of other series. Credit a healthy Nene, timely shooting from Bradley Beal, and an incompetent Bulls offense for the upset.
- Hero: The Wizards’ health and teamwork
- Goat: The Bulls’ health and ESPN
- Line of the Series: In a pivotal Game 4, Ariza came through with 30 points (6-10 3PT), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, and 0 turnovers in effort to go up 3-1.
Heat-Bobcats: Another first round series for LeBron James, another sweep. The most interesting story-line was Al Jefferson playing through injury and LeBron staring down Jordan as he dunked.
- Hero: LeBron James
- Goat: The team monicker “Bobcats,” which is no longer.
- Line of the Series: LBJ put up 31 points, 9 dimes, 7 rebounds, and 3 steals in a series-clinching Game 4
Raptors-Nets: Old guard vs. new school. USA vs. Cananda. NYC vs. the NYC “of the north.” Drizzy Drake. A Game 7 decided by a legend’s buzzer-beating blocked shot. This series had it all, and yet, it ranked among the least popular first-round series (thanks in part due to the rest of the first-round excitement).
- Hero: Joe Johnson
- Goat: Drake
- Line of the Series: Lowry exploded for 36 points, 6 assists, and 1 turnover in a close Game 5 victory to go up 3-2.
First Round: West
Spurs-Mavs: The Mavs were severe underdogs going into the series. One of the league’s worst defenses facing one of its best offenses. Losers of nine straight head-to-head matchups. Up against the league’s best team and defending conference champ. The Mavs, though, pushed the series to seven games to make it the most unexpected of the five series that went all the way. Vince Carter and Manu Ginobili traded baskets in a stretch of basketball that couldn’t be scripted any better.
- Hero: The Big 3
- Goat: The Mavs stars in Game 7, where Ellis and Dirk shot a combined 11-32 FG
- Line of the Series: Parker’s 32-4-4 stat-line (11-19 FG) pushed the Spurs into the second round.
Rockets-Blazers: Despite “only” going six games, this series was as exciting as any other. LaMarcus and Dwight duels. Overtimes galore. Strategy debates manifest. Game winners from stars and no-names, alike. The series was first-round hoops at its very finest.
- Hero: Damian Lillard’s clutch play
- Goat: James Harden’s shot-selection and defense
- Line of the Series: Aldridge put up a monster game of 46 points, 18 rebounds, and 2 blocks in overtime, on-the-road win in Game 1.
Thunder-Grizzlies: Meeting for the third time in four years, these two teams delivered no shortage of entertaining basketball. In fact, they delivered no shortage of basketball, period, with the series going a full seven and including four-straight overtime games. Clutch basketball abounded the series, with perhaps no play as exciting as Durant’s impossible four-point play.
- Hero: Kevin Durant AKA Mr. Reliable
- Goat: Injuries and suspensions; Tayshaun Prince
- Line of the Series: Russ had an insane triple-double in Game 7, going for 27 points (10-16 FG). 16 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Clippers-Warriors: In yet another series that went to seven games, the Clippers overcame the latest Donald Sterling scandal to advance past the Dubs. CP3 was banged up and Andrew Bogut didn’t even play, but that didn’t stop these guys from making a first-round matchup as entertaining as imaginably possible.
- Hero: The Clippers players and coaches
- Goat: Klay Thompson
- Line of the Series: After losing Game 1, the Clips roared back behind BG’s 35 points )(13-17 FG) and six rebounds in under 30 minutes of action.
What to look for in Round 2
- Can Indy regain its form and beat the upstart Wiz Kids?
- Will Brooklyn’s regular season dominance over the Heat continue in the playoffs?
- Can the Blazers outgun the Spurs in a battler of elite offense?
- Which superstars will come to play and decide the series for OKC-LAC?
We’ll have to answer those questions in a couple weeks after the second round wraps up. Until then, GO WIZ!
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