NBA Playoffs Part 2

Talking Points for Saturday’s NBA Playoff Games

Last night’s Mavericks’ and Bulls’ wins were spectacular.   MVP Derrick Rose (Bulls) scored 45 points to lead the Bulls while the Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitski’s masterful performance.  If you’re out today and want to talk about these games, just know that the Bulls appear to have rounded out to their regular season form, which means the Atlanta Hawks are in trouble.  Derrick Rose’s virtuoso 45-point performance is definitely a conversation piece, especially in light of his ankle injury.  For the Mavs-Lakers series, know that Phil Jackson has only coached a team to victory when down 3-0 one time.  Let’s go into the other two-playoff series for the ladies who will be watching the games today.

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics (Miami 2 – Boston 0)

The Miami Heat have been under the microscope since last July’s poorly executed “Decision” and the subsequent introductory conference where the new Big Three (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh) said they were going to win multiple titles.  If you don’t know what the “Decision” references, you basically need to know that LeBron James had an ESPN televised event where he announced that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Heat, spurring jersey burnings and mass fan outrage in Cleveland.  The Heat have continued to put themselves in the spotlight with unnecessary bravado, a prime example coming in LeBron James calling the team “The Heatles”.  Honestly, why he thought it was a good idea to compare this group to the legendary Beatles, the world will never know.

As far as series intrigue goes, the Boston Celtics are a veteran team that won the 2008 NBA Title over the Lakers.  This Celtics team, however, is markedly different from previous years due to the midseason trade of defensive centerpiece and bad-boy Kendrick Perkins.  Since that trade, though the team has not come out and publicly said it, something has been amiss with the Celtics.  The Celtics still feature a big three of their own in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, but the Miami trio is much younger.

With the history outlined, your key talking points for this game should include these topics:

  • The comparison between the two teams’ “Big Three” stars.
  • The physical play in the series (Boston’s Paul Pierce was ejected in the first game after a minor head butt and some trash talking).
  • How Boston defends the basket without Kendrick Perkins.
  • Rajon Rondo’s shooting: The Boston point guard is a fantastic player who is a bad shooter.  Watch how Miami defends him and then point it out to your date or the guys you’re watching the game with.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies (OKC 1 – Memphis 1)

This Western Conference series has two very young and talented teams with different paths to the series.  The Thunder are one of the top teams in the West, led by their two star players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.  Both players are dynamic scorers but get their points in different ways.  On the hand, Memphis features power forward Zach Randolph and the other Gasol brother (Pau plays for the Lakers and is more well known).  Marc Gasol and Randolph are the focal points of the offense and on most nights combine for 30 points and handfuls of rebounds.  The Grizzlies dispatched the top seed in the Western Conference, the San Antonio Spurs, with relative ease, while the Thunder handled the Denver Nuggets in the first round.

Here are some key points to focus on while watching this game:

  • The different offenses played by the two teams:  Memphis continually feeds the ball into the low post to Randolph and Gasol for layups, dunks, and short jump shots.  The Thunder on the other hand are much more reliant on jump shots and three pointers.
  • Russell Westbrook’s shooting:  The Thunder need Westbrook to score, but he must do so efficiently in order for the team to be successful.  If Westbrook is taking a lot of shots and not scoring, ask your date if he thinks Oklahoma City can overcome Westbrook’s ball hogging.
  • The Kendrick Perkins Effect:  Earlier we mentioned how Boston has changed since Perkins was traded from the Celtics something has been off in Boston.  Well, since Perkins was traded to OKC, the Thunder have become a much tougher team on defense, even having a bit of a mean streak.

Enjoy the games and good luck!

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