With the start of the NBA playoffs last week, many fans had questions they were eager to see answered. Will Cleveland figure out how to get back to its winning ways? Will anyone in the west beat the Golden State Warriors? Finally, for most of us in New England, will the Celtics prove worthy of their No. 1 seed?
All those questions have started to be answered for the most part after the first week of playoff action in the books.
Cleveland has taken a 3-0 series lead after history was made in their 25-point comeback in game 3 to set them up for a chance to sweep on Sunday afternoon in Indiana.
Golden State has found its touch against Portland and looks to complete the series sweep on Monday night. But, what we have seen out of the Spurs has been nothing short of impressive. The Grizzlies are showing playoff experience and life after a dramatic game four that saw Marc Gasol hit the game winning shot with .7 seconds remaining, to tie the series up 2-2. Despite winning both games at home to tie up the series, Memphis Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale is still taking suggestions on how to guard Spurs’ superstar forward in Kawiah Lennard.
The Celtics are heading to a pivotal game four on Sunday in Chicago down 2-1 after an emotional roller coaster of a week with the death of Isaiah Thomas’ younger sister in a fatal car accident. The crash took her life at age 22.
First though, let’s start with the Cleveland series, which has shown just how resilient the Cavaliers are when it’s playoff time. Not only did they battle back and make history in game three, coming back down 25 points at halftime, but the prior two games came down to the wire. Game one ended 108-107 on a tough last shot taken by C.J. Miles, which left Paul George asking why he didn’t get the last shot. Honestly, most of us had been asking why George (“PG-13”) didn’t get the last shot.
Game two saw an emotional Lance Stevens told to calm down by head coach Nate McMillan, with his actions even leading team leader in Paul George to comment publicly again on his teammates, after a tough 117-111 loss, during the postgame press conference.
Game three was a different story. It had seemed that the Pacers had sorted out their woes, jumping out to a 25-point lead heading into the half. However, no lead is safe with LeBron James and company. The 25-point lead was diminished on an amazing second-half effort by LeBron and the bench as they fought back on the road like champions to take steal the 119-114 victory.
Cleveland and Indiana will face off in game four on Sunday with LeBron and the squad looking to sweep the Pacers and cast away all those questions of whether they were going to be good enough entering the playoffs.
The Celtics had many questions to answer entering the playoffs, as well. Are they a worthy one seed? Will Brad Stevens be able to get out of the first round against a star studded Bulls team? Will Isaiah Thomas overcome the adversity?
Following his sister’s passing, the emotional Isaiah Thomas was seen on the bench in tears, being consoled by teammate Avery Bradley prior to game one. Many wondered how Thomas would respond and he responded well, scoring a game-high 33 points in the 106-102 loss.
Game two was all Chicago, as the Celtics looked like they had lost their identity. Oll advised three-pointers and Marcus Smart seen flipping the bird were just a few of the incidents marring the game. It was overall a bad showing in the TD Banknorth Garden for the Celtics—and as a fan, it all seemed as though the Celtics season was coming down crashing to a halt.
Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler had the Celtics number in game two. Rondo looked like he was in 2008 form, dishing out 14 assists and adding 11 points. Wade also found the fountain of youth scoring 22, 16 of those in the second half as the Bulls would take a 2-0 series lead in a 111-97 win.
The Celtics bounced back in game three and all that happened in the first two games were forgotten. They looked motivated and ready, they played like a team that deserved the 1 seed. The Celtics won 104-87, but are still in trouble down 2-1 heading into sunday’s pivotal game four—one that is considered a must win for Boston.