The second round provided the full spectrum of basketball outcomes–sweeps, seven-gamers, upsets, injuries, and epic overtimes. Now that the second round dust has settled, what do the BSB(R) standings look like?
KD and Russ were game changers, giving life to new BSB(R) contenders:
- First, the current standings: Izzy (60), Michael Hall (60), Bernie “Cousy” Chovitz (59), Thomas (58), David Gold (58).
- Bernie was the one who most propelled himself into contention by picking the Thunder, but he wasn’t the only one to have foreseen the Spurs’ demise. Props to Jesse, Big Purple, Jeremy Safran, Bernie, Dickson, and Ollie on their foresight.
- In some ways, the Raptors win over the Heat was the true BSB(R) game changer. Fifteen of us had this series in our brackets, and 5/15 had the Heat winning. That would have changed everything for BSB(R), although perhaps not in real life.
- I talked to LeBron last week, and he mentioned that he had noticed that no one in the BSB(R) had picked the Cavs to sweep the Hawks. That wasn’t the Cavs’ only motivation to swiftly take care of business, but he said it played a small role.
As for the association:
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Cavs-Hawks: This was a rematch of last year’s conference finals, so there was supposed to be drama. Instead, the Cavs swept the Hawks beneath a landslide of threes. The Hawks had the league’s second best defense this season, and between Horford, Millsap, Bazemore, and Sef0losha, I had thought they were well equipped to handle LBJ and the Cavs. I was wrong. The Cavs made every game look easy (except for the last one), none being more impressive than their 123-98 win in Game 2 which saw them set the playoff record for threes in a game (25). The Cavs will now attempt to make it to the Finals for the second straight year, whereas the Hawks face questions around the future of their backcourt and Al Horford.
- Hero: LeBron James
- Goat: Jeff Teague
- Line of the series: No one night stood out, but James played a fantastic series. His averages: 24.3 pts, 8.5 reb, 7.8 ast, 3.0 stl, on 50.7 FG% and 42.1 3pt%.
Raptors-Heat: This series was everything that the Cavs-Hawks wasn’t, complete with sputtering offenses, three overtime games, injuries, and of course, Game 7. Miami stole the first game on the road, once again testing the hearts and minds of the Raptors faithful. Toronto managed to win the next two, behind impressive efforts from nearly everyone–Lowry, Carroll, Valanciunas, and DeRozan. But with both Whiteside and Valanciunas out for Game 4 (and the remainder of the series), Wade stepped up in an overtime home win to tie up the series. Home teams held from there on out, though, with Toronto winning Game 7 in a route behind Lowry’s second consecutive 35+ point game. For an ugly series, there was some quality drama. Both Deng and Carroll battled through injuries that would have kept them out of regular season games, Wade turned back the clock all series long (and somehow hit 50% of his threes), Dragic was randomly benched during crunch time, Bismack Biyombo valiantly filled in for Valnciunas, and Lowry and Derozan battled their shooting demons all series long.
- Hero: Kyle Lowry
- Goat: Injuries (I miss me some playoff Chris Bosh)
- Line of the series: Lowry brought the pain in Game 7, putting up 35 points (on 20 shots!), 9 assists, 7 board, and 4 steals
Western Conference Semifinals
Warriors-Blazers: This series was all about Steph Curry, who missed the series’ first three games due to the sprained knee that he suffered in the first round. Sure, Klay Thompson averaged 33 ppg over the first three games when Steph was out. And sure, Draymond averaged 25.7 ppg, 12 rpg, and 8.7 apg over those first three games. But when Steph returned off the bench in Game 4 and dazzled in overtime like few ever have, he stole the show as he always does. In that game, he went 2-13 from beyond the arc in regulation and looked more than a bit rusty. But just like that, he scored 17 points in overtime and outscored the entire Blazers team. Indeed, it may have been the best overtime performance in NBA history. Game 5 was actually surprisingly close–the Blazers led by 5 at the half–but the Warriors closed it our behind stellar play from their dynamo backcourt.
- Hero: Steph, Klay, and Draymond all get nods here for consistent, stellar play.
- Goat: If forced to choose, Mason Plumlee, but really this wasn’t his fault.
- Line of the series: Steph’s Game 4 masterpiece–40 points, 8 assists, and 9 boards.
Spurs-Thunder: The most anticipated second round matchup lived up to the hype. The two talent-laden teams faced off again for the third time in five years; the previous two series had been epic, with the teams splitting those series. This time, though, the Thunder pulled through despite facing a Spurs team that had its best regular season in franchise history. After getting thwacked by the Spurs in Game 1, who entered their “basketball perfection mode,” the Thunder stole Game 2 in a 1-point thriller that featured serious referee drama. Through these two games, LaMarcus Aldridge did his best old-school Duncan impression, averaging 39.5 points on 75.0 FG%. All seemed right in the world when the Spurs regained the series lead behind a dominant showing from Kawhi Leonard. From there, though, it was all Thunder. They blew out the Spurs in Game 4 in OKC, got a close Game 5 win in San Antonio by winning a fourth quarter duel, and utterly crushed the Spurs in Game 6 at home. Westbrook and Durant were excellent, Steven Adams turned into a dominant force overnight, and the Spurs couldn’t flip on the “basketball perfection” switch that makes them unbeatable at times. I could write another five paragraphs about the fact that these may have Tim Duncan’s last NBA games, but I’ll save that for another post
- Hero: Batman and other Batman (Durant and Westbrook)
- Goat: The Spurs’ old “Big 3,” whose age caught up with them
- Line of the series: Honoring Aldridge’s first two games here feels right–39.5 ppg (75 FG%), 7 rpg, and 2 bpg.
Quick thoughts on the Conference Finals:
- The Thunder have some serious momentum, which carried into Game 1 in the Oracle Arena, where they upset the Warriors in a neck-and-neck game. Can they upset the Dubs? It’s anybody’s series, at this point.
- The Cavs enter the conference finals having played he minimum number of games (8), while the Raptors have played the max (14), plus a couple of overtimes. How will that affect the series?
- I’ll be hiking and camping for ten days, causing me to miss the majority of the conference finals, but I’ll do my best to recap them in time for the Finals, nonetheless.
Who are your picks to win, both the playoffs and the BSB(R) tourney? Comment on the article or email us at AGRbasketball (at) gmail (dot) com. Don’t forget to follow @AGRbasketball on Twitter and to like us on Facebook