The playoffs (kinda) start early

04.15.09 10 years ago 33 Comments

The only three games on last night’s NBA schedule just happened to provide three — well, more like two and a half — first-round playoff previews. For the Sixers, a win over Boston would even them up with Chicago for the East’s 6th seed (and the right to play Orlando), but a loss would keep them firmly in 7th place (and a date with the Celtics in Round 1). Philly had every reason to win, playing at home and having the benefit of Ray Allen being suspended for treating Anderson Varejao‘s sack like a heavy bag, not to mention Kevin Garnett being held out to rest his knee. But they still couldn’t stop Paul Pierce. Carrying a starting lineup (Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Leon Powe) that looked a lot like something from the pre-Big Three era, Pierce hit seven threes on his way to 31 points, and hit the eventual game-winner … Pierce even sat most of the fourth quarter, but Boston’s role players made up a double-digit deficit, and Pierce came back in to knock down a step-back J with two minutes left that put Boston ahead for good, then twice in the final five seconds forced Andre Iguodala (25 pts, 5 rebs, 7 asts) into throwing up bad shots that could have won it … Classic rookie duty: Marreese Speights had to get on the mic before tip-off and thank the Philly fans for showing their support all year. He also would have had to help pass out the “Free Sliders” vouchers if the Sixers had cracked 110 points … The Sixers still have a shot at moving up, if they win today against Orlando and the Bulls lose to the Knicks. If the current seedings hold up, though, one thing Doc Rivers definitely needs to spend some practice time on is transition defense. When the Sixers did get out and run last night they had some success … And at least the Sixers got Thaddeus Young back. He scored 18 and looked good on that ankle … From last night’s game, you can already see how the Jazz/Lakers first-round series is going to go, and it’s gonna look a lot like last year: Deron Williams putting his team on his back and carrying them in an ultimately futile effort … Deron (25 pts, 13 asts) was putting in work at Staples: One time he had Shannon “Chris” Brown dancing around like he was in a Doublemint commercial, crossing him up like four times in a row before finally ending the misery and burying a three; another time he left Derek Fisher frozen in time with a left-to-right cross before dunking on Andrew Bynum; and another time D-Will deked Kobe with a ball-fake on the break that had Kobe doing the “bird flying at my face” reaction while Deron calmly put in a layup … As good as D-Will was, though, the Lakers were too much. They scored easily inside — Bynum had 22, Pau Gasol had 20, and Lamar Odom added 16 — while Memo didn’t play, and rained timely threes to cap most of their big runs … “It looks pretty bleak,” Jerry Sloan said about the upcoming postseason matchup. “We’re just like a little dent in the road as far as they’re concerned. They’re very comfortable playing against us, and obviously they should be.” … Heat/Hawks wasn’t really a first-round preview, since D-Wade didn’t play, and Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby and Josh Smith only made 15-minute cameos. That left it up to Flip Murray (17 pts, 5-20 FG) and Mike Beasley (23 pts, 13 rebs) to jack shots at their leisure. ATL came away with a win in a game where nobody was trying to show the other team much of anything … It’s official now: Isiah is back in charge. He accepted a five-year deal from Florida International University yesterday. We’re not sure how clever and rowdy the Sun Belt Conference crowds get, but we can’t wait to see what taunts and chants the opposing crowds have in store when Isiah comes to town … We’re out like the Jazz …

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