NBA Playoffs: The Second Round Is Heating Up
As the second round shapes up, it's turning out to be a great one. With series sweeps and errors on critical calls, there’s a lot to be talked about. Let’s recap…
Los Angeles Lakers (1) vs. Houston Rockets (5)
The series is tied 2-2, and I think that the Rockets are as shocked as the rest of us. With Dikembe Mutumbo, Tracy McGrady, and now Yao Ming all out with injuries, the Rockets are running out of players to step up. Ming suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his left foot during Game 3, and Houston looked like it was losing confidence. Then Sean Battier and Aaron Brooks displayed newfound leadership and led the Rockets to a victory in Game 4 to tie the series. Ron Artest has been, surprisingly, the most reliable player out of the Rockets Big Three, totalling 25 points in both Game 2 and Game 3. Kobe Bryant was absolutely shut down in Game 4, failing to produce any offensive activity in the second half. The next game is tonight, and the Rockets need to come out with the same firepower as Game 4. The Lakers, on the other hand, need to step it up big time. With the next game crucial, both teams are going to fight to win. The Rockets have come out of nowhere to challenge the high-flying Lakers. As the series heats up, it’s not going to be an easy finish for either team.
Denver Nuggets (2) vs. Dallas Mavericks (6)
The Mavericks fought to stay alive last night, escaping elimination with a hard-fought two-point victory. The Nuggets looked to sweep the Mavs, leading the series 3-0. A controversial call at the end of Game 3 in the favor of the Nuggets fueled the fire for the Mavs. Dirk Nowitzki had a 44-point game to lead his team, while Carmelo Anthony had a career playoff high 41 points. The Nuggets led all game, but the Mavs started to catch up. Little by little, their lead was dwindling. Finally, the Mavs were ahead by two and we all knew this game would have a wild finish. The Chauncy Billups-Carmelo Anthony duo seems to fit perfectly, and the Nuggets look stronger then they ever have. I believe if they keep this rhythm going, they will be able to ride their flow all the way. But the Mavs don’t think this is over. The next game is at Denver, and the Mavs need to come out with the same intensity that they played with at the end of Game 4.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (4)
The Cavaliers swept the Hawks 4-0 to win the series, making this the second straight sweep for Cleveland. The Hawks provided much more resistance for LeBron James and the Cavs than the Pistons did, especially in Game 4. With James being the top scorer in all four games for both teams, he will be looked upon to carry his team to the NBA Finals. The Cavs have had chemistry flowing this whole year, and they seem unstoppable. Everyone is gaining faith in the Cavs, and I believe they’ll go all the way to the Finals. The Hawks did all they could in Game 4, even shutting down LeBron for a little. Mo Williams proved that he could be a leader, too. Josh Smith tried all he could, but couldn’t pull out the elimination win. The Cavaliers will either play Boston or Orlando, and they will be plenty more rested than both. The Magic and Celtics series will at least go until Thursday, and the more rest, the better. I expect big things from this team, and I don’t think Cleveland will disappoint.
Boston Celtics (2) vs. Orlando Magic (3)
The Celtics and Magic are tied at 2-2, and Game 4 was an exciting one. With 13 lead changes in all, a last second buzzer beater by Glen Davis put the Celtics in the win column. “Big Baby” Davis has replaced the injured Kevin Garnett this post-season, and he couldn’t have come up big at a better time. The fierce energy of the Magic and Celtics all game was a sign that this series was about to become a lot more intense. Paul Pierce had 27 points in Game 4, and also threw the perfect pick-and-roll pass to Davis to take his game-winner. The Celtics bench has also provided support, with Eddie House and Brian Scalabrine having big games throughout the post-season. Dwight Howard has proven why he won the Defensive Player of the Year award, and needs to ignite the fire in the rest of his team. Game 5 is at Boston tonight, and the Magic is ready to run. The Celtics can’t get comfortable at the top for too long, while Orlando needs to have that underdog spirit. I expect a very good game from both teams. This will be a fun game to watch.