Good afternoon, folks. Enes Kanter has arrived. Let’s talk NBA playoffs.
(5) Pacers – 74 @ (4) Celtics – 84 (BOS leads 1-0)
- Despite the final score resembling something out of an Alabama-Mississippi State SEC basketball game, the first half between the Pacers and Celtics was quite fun. While the turnovers were endless and missed shots rained from the heavens, it was a highly entertaining first two quarters with the Pacers holding a 45-38 lead (which might resemble the score of an Alabama-Mississippi State SEC football game). Then…. the Pacers scored only eight points in the third quarter – and only 29 for the entire second half. Through the first 8.5 minutes of the third, the Celtics were on a 22-3 run…. We do a lot of brain-melting math here at the BBNBA recaps but we can all agree that three points in almost nine minutes is most definitely not good. That type of run is literally something straight out of an SEC hoops game. Boston’s defense suffocated the Pacers the entire second half and made enough shots on the other end to put the game out of reach for practically all of the final 12 minutes.
(6) Thunder – 99 @ (3) Trail Blazers – 104 (POR leads 1-0)
- Enes Kanter balled the hell out in the playoffs and I’m sure his nipples were as erect as ever. But you didn’t need to see his nipples (wow, that sure was a sentence) to know that he was ready to go in his first playoff appearance since 2017. Kanter posted 20 points and 18 rebounds in his first ever playoff start on 8-15 shooting. The most impressive aspect of his game, however, was his defense. He still got burned more than a handful of times in the pick-and-roll and gave up 17 points to Steven Adams, but had a couple of impressive blocks and was fully engaged on the defensive end. He’s not going to ever be some sort of forcefield protecting the paint, but he did more than enough to keep the Thunder out of the paint. It also didn’t hurt for Portland that Paul George is clearly still battling a shoulder injury. If Paul George isn’t playing at 100 percent, the Thunder don’t have that great of a chance to win this series, in my opinion.
- Oklahoma City received 11 fantastic minutes from Nerlens Noel, as he added eight points and six rebounds on 4-5 shooting. He also yammed all over Zach Collins with this nasty baseline dunk.
Nerlens Noel ? pic.twitter.com/Gcmr5vGXDj
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) April 14, 2019
- Noel was active and playing scrappy. He just played sound basketball and did everything that was asked of him – nothing more.
(8) Pistons – 86 @ (1) Bucks – 121 (MIL leads 1-0)
- Go ahead and mark this one a sweep, folks. Blake Griffin was out of Game 1 for Detroit and now it’s being reported that he’ll miss the entire first round with a sore knee. The Bucks were up 20 after the first quarter, led by as many as 43, and never trailed. Nothing about this game was fair for the Pistons and the next three won’t bring any sort of optimism.
- But in the Bucks blowout victory, Eric Bledsoe recorded 15 points, three rebounds, and five assists with no turnovers on 5-9 shooting. Bledsoe was a plus-27 in only 25 minutes. The Pistons suck.
(5) Jazz 90 @ (4) Rockets – 120 (HOU leads 1-0)
- To cap off the second night of the NBA playoffs, the Houston Rockets easily took care of the Utah Jazz behind 29 points from James Harden. The Jazz tried something I have not seen from any team this season, which was to force Harden into the middle of the floor near the free throw line. Let me explain… Jazz defenders were, quite literally, letting Harden go by them so the defender was always on Harden’s back as he barrelled towards the basket and a sitting Rudy Gobert waiting for him under the basket. In my personal analysis, the plan didn’t work. I believe the goal of this was to make Harden shoot as many floaters as possible. Keep him off the three-point line and away from the rim – his two most efficient shots. The Jazz defending Harden this way also took away his ability to get to the free throw line. Harden is best at creating fouls either on three-pointers or when driving to the rim. He can’t do that when he has to shoot floaters over Gobert.
- Whenever the Jazz did force Harden into a floater, the scheme worked. While Harden can make the floater, he missed at least half of those attempts he put up. If we’re looking at it from purely an analytic standpoint, the Utah defense created the shot they wanted. But Harden is an offensive genius. There’s a reason he’s the most unguardable scorer since Michael Jordan. When the Jazz forced him to the middle, he would draw Gobert as close as possible before flicking up a lob to Clint Capela or rifle a pass into the corner for a stand-still P.J. Tucker or Danuel House. Harden posted 10 assists to only three turnovers. He still shot over 40 percent from the field. The Jazz lost by 30 and Gobert (the presumed Defensive Player of the Year) was nearly played off the court by Harden’s exploitation of the Jazz newfound defensive plan.
- So to summarize, the Jazz tried to force Harden into the high paint and into floaters that are statistically worse shots than three-pointers, layups, and free throws, but the Rockets had it beat by the second half. Houston would set screens in the corner to pop open shooters once Harden got into the paint and the rest if history. Utah’s scheme accomplished the primary goal but failed to account for the variable that Harden is just way too damn good to let him purposefully drive into the paint with no resistance. Game 2 should probably look a bit different from the persecptive of Utah’s defense on Harden.
- Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Enes Kanter (POR)||104-99 W vs. OKC||20||8-15 (0-1)||18||2||1||2||2||+15||34|
|Eric Bledsoe (MIL)||121-86 W vs. DET||15||5-9 (2-4)||3||5||1||0||0||+27||25|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||99-104 L @ POR||8||4-5 (0-0)||6||0||0||0||0||+8||11|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||99-104 L @ POR||DNP-Elbow||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Patrick Patterson (OKC)||99-104 L @ POR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Skal Labissiere (POR)||104-99 W vs. OKC||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
8:00 (TNT): Nets @ Sixers
10:30 (TNT): Clippers (Gilgeous-Alexander) @ Warriors (Cousins)