By Steve Farace
Bulls 104 – Pacers 99
In what is widely considered to be the most lopsided series of the first round, the Pacers came out swinging in Game 1. Maybe the Bulls took the Pacers too lightly, but maybe it was just the Pacers continuing to play well as then did towards the end of the year. The Pacers had the lead late, but showed that they are just not a good closing team down the stretch and let MVP candidate take over in the final minutes. Rose had 39 points and continued to show why he is an MVP candidate by scoring any way possible. Despite his 0-9 three point shooting, Rose went 19-21 at the free throw line, leading the Bulls to a very hard fought game one victory.
Heat 97 – 76ers 89
It was the moment that the Heat and their fans had been waiting for since the summer signings of Wade, LeBron and Bosh. With the rest of the nation rooting for any team that is playing the Heat in the playoffs, it was up to the Big 3 to handle their business and take game one. They came out soft and let the 76ers come out to a 20-8 lead and the sea of “White Hot” fans were groaning through the first quarter. The second quarter was a different story and the Heat took charge with an offense barrage that they are fully capable of at any time. The Heat then let Philly close the lead to 3 with about 2 minutes left before Wade slammed the door shut on them. It is becoming clear that the closer of this team is still Wade and we hope for the sake of Heat fans that Coach Spo realizes that as well. On a side note, can Bosh please stop screaming and making ridiculous faces every single time he dunks the ball…please?
Atlanta Hawks 103 – Orlando Magic 93
Who is a more dominating big man when his game is on than Dwight Howard? The man scored 46 points (playoff career high) and his team still managed to lose their opener to the Hawks by 10. The Hawks stumbled to the finish line of the season, but seemed to finally come together as a team in stealing game one in Orlando. Do you guys remember what the Magic did to the Hawks last year in the playoffs? They destroyed them and the Hawks look like they are hell bent on making sure they return the favor here in 2011. Stan Van Gundy needs to make some adjustments here because it could be a quick exit if they lose game 2.
Mavs 89 – Blazers 81
With a lot of people picking the Blazers to upset the Mavs in this one, Mark Cuban was sure to be fired up for game one at home. The Mavs have a history of being an outstanding regular season team, but less than stellar in the playoffs, except for 2006 when they went on to blow the Finals to the Heat. The Mavs, just like the Bulls, Heat and Magic were the favorites coming into their matchup and were trailing late in the 4th quarter. Just as the case was for the Bulls and Heat (sorry Magic) the Mavs had their star take over the game with Dirk scoring 18 of his 28 in the final quarter. The last image I remember was Mark Cuban jumping up and down pumping his fist in the air as his team took a 1-0 lead.
Grizzlies 101 – Spurs 98
Charles Barkley said in the pregame show that he thought the Spurs couldn’t beat the Grizzlies without Manu. He even went so far as to say that the Spurs were over rated (even though they won 61 games). Turned out, for at least the first game, that he was right. The Spurs did not have enough to overcome Randolph and Gasol on the inside and they lost game one at home to become the 2nd top 4 seed in either conference to lose their first home game. The Spurs need more from Duncan and more importantly they need Manu back.
Hornets 109 – Lakers 100
The Lakers are going for 3 in a row, but have hobbled into the playoffs. Everyone thought that they were going to roll over their opponents in the playoffs after winning 16 of the first 17 games after the break. Kobe played his heart out in this game as usual, even slamming his head into a courtside seat at one point. The Lakers need to more dynamic Pau Gasol. 8 points is not going to get the job done against any team, and will mean big trouble if it continues, especially against a talented team like the Hornets. The Lakers and their fans didn’t think they could be beat 4 games by any team, but here is some news for the Lakers and their fans – the Hornets only need 3 more. The number 1 and 2 seeds from the West have both lost game 1 at home in 2011.
Celtics 87 – Knicks 85
In my opinion, this was the most closely and exciting game 1 so far of the playoffs. The Knicks showed the defensive aggressiveness that everyone said that they don’t have. The Celtics showed that they can keep up with the younger teams. In the end, it was Ray Allen that slammed the door on the Knicks hopes of winning a playoff game for the first time since 2001. I didn’t quite understand why Carmelo didn’t try to get a better shot off to tie the game instead of settling for such a long 3 pointer. The Knicks played such a great game and even was able to withstand the run that the Celtics put on them. The Celtics got down at the half, but did what they did best and that was slowly cut the lead and then take the lead when it counted. Also that offensive foul against Melo was horrendous. For a game to be decided by that type of call is a bad job by the refs, great call for Pierce and the Celtics.
Thunder 107 – Nuggets 103
Was it me or was the crowd on absolute fire in OKC for the playoff opener??? Wow, what an atmosphere! It helped that OKC’s big 2 had 72 points as Durant and Westbrook both had excellent starts on their road to the Finals (see my predictions). Nene was a beast in this game as well, scoring 22 points and 8 rebounds for Denver in the loss. Another game that was decided on a questionable call though, as Perkins clearly goaltended and was not called for it. The game and the atmosphere showed that this could be the playoff series with the most pizazz. Pizazz? Who says that??