Biggest Surprises of 2012 Postseason Thus Far
Early on in the first round of the 2012 postseason, there have been plenty of enticing stories that have begun to mold these playoffs as we know it. That being said, let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of a very interesting first few days of playoff action.
Before the start of the playoffs, many predicted the best-case scenario for Orlando was to win one game in their opening round series against the heavily favored Indiana Pacers. While the Magic had played the Pacers tough during the regular season (3-1 record), the devastating loss of center Dwight Howard suggested the young and talented Indiana squad was bound to steamroll Orlando with relative ease.
Orlando raced out of the gate in Game 1, stealing home court with an 81-77 victory Saturday night that shocked the Pacers’ faithful at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Point guard Jameer Nelson led the way offensively with 17 points and nine assists, while a stingy Orlando defense held the Pacers to just 34.5 percent shooting – the Pacers lowest shooting percentage since March 5.
While snatching home court by no means guarantees Orlando a series victory, the Howard-less Magic have proven they will be competitive this postseason – something no one predicted going in.
While the Los Angeles Lakers’ big man was expected to have a major impact in the team’s first round series, no one could have expected the block party Bynum threw in Game 1. In L.A.’s 103-88 win over the Denver Nuggets, Bynum dropped 10 points (5-7 shooting), grabbed 13 rebounds and swatted a playoff-record tying 10 blocks.
The highest scoring team in basketball was held to just 88 points on 35.6 percent shooting as Bynum did something that hadn’t been accomplished with the Lakers in over 20 years. To be exact, Bynum’s playoff triple double was the first for L.A. since Magic Johnson scored 16 points, dished out 20 assists and had 11 rebounds in Game 5 of the 1991 NBA Finals.
The Lakers expected Bynum to light up the box score in both rebounds and points but if he can continue to patrol the paint like he did in Game 1, this could be an even shorter series than anticipated.
Even though the Oklahoma City Thunder are riding high, up 2-0 in their best of seven series against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks, Durant has not resembled his MVP form from the regular season.
After shooting nearly 50 percent this season, Durant’s efficiency on the offensive end has plummeted through the first two games of the 2012 postseason. Don’t get me wrong, Durant has still been effective scoring at least 25 points in each game, but surprisingly the Thunder forward has shot just 34 percent from the field and needed 27 shots to reach 25 points in Game 1.
In crunch time, Durant has missed a combined six of 10 shots during the fourth quarters of each of the first two games.
Of course, it should be noted that Durant also bounced in the game-winner in Game 1, but his subpar play (for him) is a big reason Dallas has hung around in each of the first two games of the series. Credit goes to Shawn Marion for making Durant work for every basket. Now, the Thunder star must up his play if OKC hopes to advance deep in the playoffs.
Durant can get away with outings like this against a clearly inferior team (talent-wise) in the Mavericks, but it won’t fly as Oklahoma City continues to advance.
Through the first two games of the 2012 NBA playoffs against the Miami HEAT, New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has struggled to resemble his late season self. In winning Eastern Conference Player of the Month for April, Anthony lit up the NBA to the tune of nearly 30 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting.
Over two games in South Beach, Anthony has shot just 36.6 percent from the field and averaged 20.5 points for a Knicks team sorely in need of his scoring. Anthony played better in Game 2 after a dreadful performance in the opening contest, scoring 30 points on 46 percent shooting in a much more competitive outing for the Knicks.
The good news for N.Y. is that Anthony seems to play better with Amar’e Stoudemire out of the lineup and the glass-punching bandit is likely out for the rest of the series. That doesn’t mean the Knicks will win this series – Miami is too talented – but expect the next two games in Madison Square Garden to be much more competitive than the first two in Miami.
Grizzlies’ Meltdown/Clippers Comeback
Possibly the most surprising event thus far of the 2012 postseason was the Los Angeles Clippers coming from down 27 points in the second half to take Game 1 in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
Leading 82-55 with 2:38 left in the third quarter, and then by as much as 24 (95-71) early in the fourth quarter; the Grizzlies imploded down the stretch and the Clippers took advantage with one of the most epic comebacks in recent memory. Memphis scored a total of one point from the time they took that 24 point led at the 9:12 mark of the fourth quarter until Rudy Gay’s basket with 28 seconds left in the contest.
During that time, L.A. mounted a 26-1 run – 28-3 total to close out the win – as the Clippers pulled off the upset to seize home court advantage. Many, including myself, turned off the game believing it was over only to flip on highlights later to find out that the unimaginable had happened.
It’s always shocking when a reigning NBA MVP goes down to serious injury, especially when his team his in the midst of what was expected to be a lengthy playoff run.
Through the first four days of the 2012 NBA playoffs, both the current MVP and an up-and-coming guard from the New York Knicks have gone down with torn left ACL’s; while another Knicks player has punched his way into likely missing the rest of his team’s playoff run.
Derrick Rose is done until next year after coming down awkwardly, without any contact, on his left knee in Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers. This all but kills the Bulls chances of a championship and, more likely, assures that the Miami HEAT have an even easier road to the Finals.
The Knicks lost two valuable players; one being Iman Shumpert to the same dreaded torn ACL in his left knee and then Amare Stoudemire to a lacerated hand after he punched an encased fire extinguisher display following the Knicks Game 2, 104-94 loss to the HEAT.
These devastating injuries have tainted an otherwise promising 2012 postseason.
What has surprised you the most this postseason? Leave your comments below!
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