The Boston Celtics: I guess you could say they struggled offensively, shooting only 39 percent at home against a team that was ranked 18th in Defensive Efficiency during the regular season. They shanked six free throws, blew 10 layups and missed 48 (out of 68) jump shots. And despite being ranked second in Rebound Rate during the first 82 games, they were outrebounded 53-45 by the team that had been ranked 20th. Said Doc Rivers: "It just looked like everybody decided that they were going to be 'the guy' tonight. They were going to, you know, replace Kevin for whatever reason. And then all of a sudden we got into a fight. And one thing I’d say about our guys, they join in. But, at home, you’re supposed to start it." Added Paul Pierce: "I hope this is a wake-up call. I hope we realize that the Bulls, they're not just a team that’s happy to be in the playoffs. So hopefully the guys will wake up and realize this is reality. We’ve better come to play."
Yes, Derrick Rose (36 points, 12-for-19 from the field, 12-for-12 from the line, 11 assists) had a rookie debut for the ages, but make no mistake: The Celtics were simply outworked and outplayed at home by what is, on paper, an inferior squad. And a large part of the blame falls on...
Ray Allen: You might remember how, when last year's playoffs opened, Ray-Ray's jumper left him for Jason Kapono. Well, she's gone astray yet again, because on Saturday Allen went 1-for-12 and missed all six of his three-point attempts. But it was even worse than that: When Ben Gordon started using and abusing Ray in the fourth quarter, Doc Rivers had to play "witness protection counselor," shuffling Allen around to keep him from getting burned. But, in all fairness to Ray, the C's would have won this game if not for...
Paul Pierce: The self-proclaimed best player in the world shot 8-for-23, committed a team-high 4 turnovers and looked about half as talented as teammate Rajon Rondo (29 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists). But his biggest crime against victory came when he bonked a potentially game-winning free throw with 2.6 seconds left in regulation. That's a pretty big choke by a former NBA Finals MVP. Paul also had a potential game-tying bucket blocked by John "I can hardly move because of this pulled groin" Salmons with 3.7 seconds left in overtime.
Joakim Noah: All in all, he had a great game (11 points, game-high 17 rebounds, co-game-high 3 blocked shots), but he was the guy who fouled Pierce -- on a forced, fade-away jump shot -- at the end of the fourth, giving Paul a chance to win the game outright. As it was, Pierce "only" forced overtime, due to that big miss. But if Chicago had lost the game because of Noah's foul, well, that would have been very unfortunate.
Jon Barry: During the Bulls-Celtics game, he referred to the Chitowners as the "Chicago Bills" right before a commercial break. Playoff broadcasting fail.
The Detroit Pistons: What surprised me most about their 102-84 loss in Cleveland wasn't the margin of defeat or King Crab's rather casual 38/8/7 performance, it was Detroit's lack of fight and fiestiness. At one point, Rasheed Wallace fouled LeBron at the basket and then almost submissively apologized to James for making the contact. That was a chilling moment, kind of like having your car inexplicably break down right next to Camp Crystal Lake. It's not that they weren't trying, exactly, but it sure seemed like they didn't believe they could win. In past season's, I always felt that hubris was this team's downfall. Now it might be the fact that this season's many disappointments -- which started when Chauncey Billups was traded for Allen Iverson -- have broken their collective spirit.
The San Antonio Spurs: Okay, their opening game against Dallas was like a 48-minute Keannu Reeves "whoa!" moment for me. The Mavericks hadn't won a road playoff game since June 3, 2006 (against the Phoenix Suns, natch). Interestingly enough, that was also the same year they beat the Spurs at the Alamo Dome in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals. But despite having dropped nine of their last nine away games during the postseason -- not to mention the fact that they were only 18-23 on the road during the regular season -- meant nothing on Saturday, as Jose Barea owned the fourth quarter, when he harrassed Tony Parker into 2-for-6 shooting while scoring 7 of his 13 points. The Spurs OUTCLUTCHED by Jose Juan Barea?! Yes, it happened. Not only that, but where was the famous San Antonio lockdown defense? Dallas shot nearly 54 percent for the game (42-for-78) and committed only 7 turnovers. And the Spurs did not block a single shot. Seriously.
Tony Parker, pot calling the kettle black machine: According to the AP recap, Parker claimed Barea "was flopping because he's little, but those can go both ways and it didn't go my way tonight." Wowowowowowowowoooooow.
Kevin Brock: I noticed this in the AP game notes: "The Spurs did get one fan favorite back for the playoffs: popular public-address announcer Kevin Brock, who in December blew out his knees shooting baskets before a game." Man, what a way to go down. Better stick to the microphone there, Kevin.
The Portland Trail Blazers: So...this is the team that's going to keep the Lakers from going to the NBA Finals, huh? If their 108-81 home loss to the Rockets was indicative of anything at all, it may be that the young Blazers aren't quite ready to make that leap just yet. Houston shot nearly 60 percent from the field (Yao Ming was a perfect 9-for-9) and outrebounded Portland by 14 (44-30). Yao finished with 24 points and 9 rebounds despite the fact that he didn't take a shot in the second half and sat for all of the fourth quarter...mostly because his team led by as many as 31 over the final 24 minutes. All in all, it was a pretty big egg to lay for a team that is considered nigh-invincible at home (the Blazers were 34-7 at the Rose Garden during the regular season). Said the Vanilla Godzilla: "I think it's disappointing that we didn't come out to play from the start. There's no reason why we shouldn't have come out with the same intensity." Bonus stats: Portland was 1-for-11 from beyond the arc, and only one starter (Brandon Roy) and one pine rider (Greg Oden) reached double figures (21 and 15, respectively). Note that it took Roy 23 shots to scored those 21 points.
The San Antonio Spurs (again): I couldn't help but notice that Luis Scola scored 19 points (on 7-for-9 shooting) and grabbed 9 rebounds in Houston's Game 1 upset. Seriously, you think the Spurs are regretting giving this guy away or what? And if they're not, they should be.
The Utah Jazz: Not much went right for the Jazzercisers on Sunday. They shot like hell (39 percent), couldn't get a stop (the Lakers shot nearly 56 percent), gave up 62 points in the first half, fell behind by 22 after the first 24 minutes and -- despite outscoring L.A. 60-51 in the second half -- never posed any kind of challenge. Said Jerry Sloan: "We had a very difficult time. We gave up 62 points in the first half and it's virtually impossible to beat this team giving them an edge." The most disappointing aspect of this defeat is that the Jazz really were beaten by Trevor Ariza (21 points, 8-for-10 from the field, 3-for-4 from downtown) and Shannon Brown (3-for-3 on threes). Seriously, it's one thing to be beaten by Kobe or Pau...but to be beaten by L.A.'s roleplayers?
Deron Williams dished 17 assists but shot poorly (4-for-14) and Carlos Boozer used all of his energy on offense (27 points, 11-for-16) and none of it on defense. Speaking of which...
Carlos Boozer: From Basketbawful reader Misha: "I want to make sure that Boozer gets a mention in tomorrow's WotW post. I don't think I've ever been as disgusted by watching basketball on TV. Boozer's selective effort was insulting. While I am sure he played as hard as he could on offense, he was practically absent on the other end of the court. He was absolutely abused by Bynum and Gasol in the post. After every turnover, he walked back on defence and several times the Lakers had the numbers just because he didn't bother to run just a little bit harder. His screen and roll defense was by far the worst I've ever seen. Pretending to step out on a screen without actually doing so is much worse in my mind than doing nothing. During the game, he actually created lanes for Kobe to drive to the hoop (picking his own man, Kirilenko or Brewer, a few times)." Yep. The Booz was a loss on defense. But Jerry Sloan doesn't have much choice other than to play him...and pray the Lakers miss a shot or two.
The Los Angeles Lakers: They won handily but, in doing so, gave up 7 points and 7 rebounds to Jarron Collins. And yes, both of those numbers represent season-bests. Speaking of which, Collins went to the line six times. To put this into perspective, Jarron attempted exactly 11 free throws during the regular season. As always, I'm just sayin'...
Dr. Jack Ramsay, unintentionally dirty quote machine: I was listening to Dr. Jack's Jazz-Lakers commentary on ESPN radio, and he noted that the Jazz needed to "keep Andrew Bynum from getting off, or they'll have a load on their hands all night."
The Orlando Magic: The Magicians led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and were up 14 going into the fourth...during which they were outscored 35-19, losing the game 100-98 on Andre Iguodla's 22-footer with 2.2 ticks on the clock. It was Philly's first victory over Orlando in four tries this season...and there goes that homecourt advantage the Magic spent 82 games fighting for. Here's Iggy's game-winner:
There's no shame in losing to a crazy, contested, fall-away shot like that, right? But where there is some shame -- as in, a lot -- is allowing Donyell Marshall step it up in the fourth, when he drilled a trio of triples and scored 11 huge points. Joke Marshall: "You've got to understand, when I come into the game we're usually down 15 points. So my job is just to come in and shoot." Yet, somehow, the Orlando defense failed to realize that. Fumed Stan Van Gundy: "I was very surprised at the effort. I was surprised not only for our lack of intensity defensively, but I was really surprised with our lack of focus."
Theo Ratliff: From the AP game recap: "In a rare display of speed and power, 34-year-old Magic backup guard Anthony Johnson took it end-to-end and dunked over Ratliff." Yup. Posterized by the old guy. Let's watch, shall we?
The Miami Heat: Ouch. There was plenty for Miami to be humiliated about in yesterday's 90-64 loss. Like, say, the 36 percent shooting, the 19 clanks from three-point land, the beating they took on the boards (50-35), the 7 fourth-quarter points. Yep, this one was ugly. The Hawks tied a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game, while the Heat were held to their lowest point total of the season. Basically, they could not have looked more pathetic and overmatched. Said Heat coach Erik Spoelestra: "Defensively, we were slow. We were slow in the mind, and whenever there seemed to be a loose ball or rebound, they seemed to have much more desperation than we did, and more physicality than we did." Slow in the mind? That's Miami for you...12 Forrest Gumps.
Dwyane Wade: Not a good game for Pookie: He shot 8-for-21 and committed a game-high 8 turnovers. It seemed like he spent half the game getting knocked around by the Hawks and the other half bitching at the officials. After the game, he got all grumpy when asked about why he attempted only two shots in the third quarter: "I'm criticized if I take all the shots. I’m criticized if I don't." It's hard to be Dwyane Wade, okay, people? Give him some room to breath, okay? It's hard to be a one-man team when the rest of your squad kind of sucks. (And yes, I'm looking at you and your measely 2 rebounds, Jermaine O'Neal.)
The New Orleans Hornets: On Friday's podcast, I noted that the outcome of the Hornets-Nuggets series would hinge on how many big shots Chauncey Billups hit...then immediately noted that Chris Paul was going to make Billups look very old. Well, I was right and horribly wrong all at the same time: Mr. Big Shot scored 36 points and knocked down eight three-pointers -- a career-high -- leading his team to a 113-84 win over New Orleans...which just so happens is the second-biggest blowout in the Nuggets' playoff history. The Hornets were so distracted by not getting a hand in Chauncey's face that they forgot how to shoot the ball (37 percent) or rebound it, losing the Battle of the Boards 49-35. During one particularly brutal stretch, New Orleans was outscored 21-0 between the third and fourth quarters.
Denver fans: From the AP game notes: "A fan threw a bottle on the floor in the closing minutes but nobody was struck on the court, and Paul said a fan threw a giveaway towel in his face at halftime." Huh. Maybe they're still pissed about the Jay Cutler trade.
Weekend lacktivity report: Chris was pretty damn excited about playoff lacktion!
Welcome to the real season, the Association playoffs. And in a year where a lacktion revolution came to fruition from a video game character in Atlanta...we get to begin the most important month or so of the calendar with EVERY game scoring lacktivity! I guess that the utter prestige and recognition of the first ever Damon Jones Award was enough incentive, as well as the trillions of dollars of lacktion figures awaiting the big announcement during one of the Basketbawful Podcasts.
Bulls-Celtics: While the big story at the TDBanknorth Garden was the Bulls' first ever playoff game victory against Boston (highlighted by Derrick Rose's 36 point debut), Tony Allen lacked it up midway in the game with a one-brick +1 in 8:23, the very first lacktator of the postseason!
Pistons-Cavs: Looks like the team that brought Damon Jones out of his shell in 2007 is looking for a strong run at that eponymous playoff award! Sasha Pavlovic spent a mere 3 seconds on court before the second half, but then added quite a few more to open up a treasure chest worth 1.35 trillion. And Darnell "Lacktion" Jackson lived up to his name by pinching out a 1.3 trillion of his own. (Tarence Kinsey melted out of the non-clutch with two made free throws while sharing time with Mr. Jackson.)
Mavs-Spurs: In the most recent iteration of the Battle of Texas, Mark Cuban rolled out his finest tobacco connoiseurs on the AT&T Center court with two shout outs to Doki Doki Panic, Ryan Hollins (40 seconds, along with a +1 via foul that also counts as a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl) and James Singleton (38 seconds) both racking up Marios!
The Spurs' loss probably can be best exemplified with Matt Bonner's 18:05 as starting center -- thanks to a brick with no other shot attempts, four fouls, and a giveaway, he managed to score a staggering 5:1 Voskuhl (against one rebound) despite a steal!
Rockets-Blazers: Chucky Hayes put a fright to other lacktators in the Association by taking the wealth acquisition lead with a 2.2 trillion!
Sixers-Magic: One bright spot in an otherwise heartbreaking Game 1 for Orlando was JJ Redick, who gave up the rock once for a +1 suck differential in 6:17.
Heat-Hawks: Speedy Claxton's recent return to the team has given the bench its nicotine fix, with a quickly acquired 3.35 trillion! In that same 3:20, THE Mario West failed to lack it up by being Goomba'd with a board, so Othello Hunter had to overcome his envy of Mario's recognition as the Association's premier lacktator, channeling the spirit of Link into one well-executed 6 second Super Mario!