MEMPHIS, TN - APRIL 25: George Hill #3, Tim Duncan #21 and Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs watch from the bench in the fourth quarter during the game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on April 25, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. The Grizzlies won 104-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Last night we saw the Orlando Magic escape elimination, and the Indiana Pacers set sail into the offseason. It doesn't get much better than win-or-go-home playoff games for an NBA fan, and tonight we have three to enjoy. The Sixers, Nuggets, and most surprisingly, the Spurs all have their backs against the wall tonight. It's sad to see what has been a very interesting first round begin to draw to a close, but tonight we could very well see the end of three playoff series.
Day 11 Recap
76 (3) @ 101 (2)
To say that the Hawks came out flat is an understatement. Funny things can happen psychologically when a team is up 3-1 heading into game five on the road. I doubt any of the Hawks players would admit it, but they looked like a team that was thinking they have three chances to close it out, and wouldn't mind seeing the series go back to Atlanta. Now we'll have to see if they can once again find their sense of urgency, or if the Magic have all the momentum.
The Bulls continue to impress, and now that they've closed out the Pacers, they get to sit back and see who comes out of the Hawks/Magic series. Not to discount the quality of those teams, I don't think either of them will give these Bulls a real challenge. Chicago is in a pretty good position right now to make a run at it, and I'm sure they are happy about finishing the season strong to land the first seed and only have to play one of the Celtics/Heat.
(2) @ (3)
The big story here was Kobe's injury, but after watching I'm not sure why anyone was talking about this. If he really did any damage, it looked like they went back in time to replace his aging ankles with the ones he was using about ten years ago. He threw down a couple statement dunks, including an absolute monster on Okafor. Later in the game, Okafor gave Kobe a bit of a hard foul (nothing dirty, or overly aggressive) as he went baseline, and Kobe responded on the next defensive possession by straight up clothes-lining Okafor as he went up for a shot. Sure I think Kobe might be a little overrated as a basketball player, but you can't say enough about his competitive spirit. He straight up owned Emeka.
DAY 5 PREVIEW
(1) @ (3)
4:00pm PST | TNT
The Sixers may have avoided elimination on Sunday, but now that the series has returned to Miami I expect the mood in the 76ers' locker room to be something along the lines of "Well, at least we didn't get swept." Miami, might still have some issues to sort out if they want to win a title, but they shouldn't have any trouble putting Philly away.
(3) @ (1)
5:30 PST | NBATV
I don't know how many times I've heard people say that the Spurs were too old, and the window was closing for them, yet year after year they have been in the hunt for a title. Earlier in the season I said I wouldn't count this team out, but thanks to having Manu banged up at the worst time possible it's not looking so good for San Antonio. I do think they will extend the series tonight, but I'm not sure how long.
Denver Nuggets (1) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (3)
6:30 PST | TNT
This has been a fun series to watch so far. I'm basically a bandwagon Thunder fan for these playoffs, but I've been surprised how much I've enjoyed watching these post-Melo Nuggets. I know they probably won't make it out of the first round, but with a loaded and deep roster that's only really lacking one elite player, they are probably in as good a position as anyone to make a move for that kind of player if one becomes available. Did I mention I could get used to watching Nene in a Warriors uniform?