NBA Playoffs Are Off and Running

Noah must have an impact if the Bulls are going to make this series with Brooklyn competitive.

While each of the first four playoff games went according to their respective seedings, that doesn’t mean there aren’t questions coming from each of these series either after just one game. I’m breaking down the four games from yesterday and looking ahead to today’s action as well.

Anthony and Garnett
The Knicks and Celtics kicked off the 2013 NBA Playoffs yesterday.

New York 85 Boston 78 – The Knicks held serve by winning game one at Madison Square Garden but there is a concern looming for the New Yorkers? Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points to lead the Knicks to the win but did so on 29 shots with one assist. My guess is that Doc Rivers and the Celtics would probably take Anthony shooting that many times to score that amount of points for the remainder of the series.

The Knicks should be grateful for the game one victory because in some ways it almost appeared that Boston lost it rather than the Knicks won it. New York will need to get more balance and will need to have Carmelo dish the rock a little more often as well. I have the Knicks winning this series but I didn’t think it was going to be easy and I still don’t.

Denver 97 Golden State 95 – OK, so who had 37-year old Andre Miller being the difference in this one? The veteran guard poured in 18 of his 28 in the fourth quarter and the game-winning lay-up as well. The Nuggets defended their home-court for one game at least in the Pepsi Center where they lost only three times this season. The question that comes from this game is what is the condition of Warriors’ big man David Lee?

Team doctors believe he has a severe hip-flexor and regardless of his toughness, that is an injury that will linger with him for the remainder of the playoffs. He helped lead Golden State to a staggering 55 rebounds yesterday along with Andrew Bogut who had 14, but if Lee is absent going forward my pick of the Nuggets looks better.

Brooklyn 106 Chicago 89 – A huge second quarter led the Nets to a pretty easy victory over the Bulls at home. As good as Deron Williams was yesterday, Brook Lopez, in his first career playoff game, was just as good as well finishing with 21 points to compliment Williams’ 22. During that second quarter run the Nets knocked down 16 of 20 shots against a Bulls’ team that is one of the best in the league defensively.

The question going forward here is just how healthy is Joakim Noah? He started the game despite struggling with foot pain and played just 14 minutes. Let’s be clear, if the Bulls can’t get more out of Noah in this series then Chicago has little or no chance in this series.

Chris Paul
Paul was excellent in the Clips' opeing game win over Memphis.

LA Clippers 112 Memphis 91 – Chris Paul scored 23 points for the Clippers who used a big 4th quarter to pull away from the Grizzlies. This one featured many of the issues I talked about in my preview last week. Who could rebound and who could dominate the break? The Clips or the Griz by getting back on defense?

The question I have in this series after just one game is where was Blake Griffin? Keep in mind he plays for the winning team. Griffin had just ten points and fouled out with more than three minutes left in the game. If he gets himself righted for game two then what for the Grizzlies?

Today’s Games (all game ones)

Atlanta at Indiana – I expect a tight, Pacers’ victory.

LA Lakers at San Antonio – Look for a big game from Dwight Howard but the Spurs win.

Milwaukee at Miami – Closer than expected, but Heat by double-digits.

Houston at Oklahoma City – Look for the Rockets behind James Harden to pull the game one upset.