Hawks rain on Heat in Game 7; Nuggets keep rolling in Game 1

05.04.09 9 years ago 41 Comments

Game 7 of Hawks/Heat ended up being a(nother) blowout, but it at least offered a helpful reminder of how small the margin for error can be in the playoffs. Early in the second quarter, Atlanta was up by two in what had been a back-and-forth game. Then Flip Murray hit a wide-open three off a scramble for a loose ball, Joe Johnson drained a trey from one step behind the arc, then J.J. pulled up for another triple waaay behind the arc. In the course of about one minute the Hawks went from up being two, to being up 11, and after that it was just target practice. Johnson (27 pts, 5 stls) knocked down six threes, Flip had three, and Mike Bibby had a couple as the Hawks rolled … Marvin Williams (wrist) clocked a DNP, while Al Horford played 30-plus minutes on that bad ankle. Atlanta will need both of them to not just be around, but be productive in the next round against Cleveland; Marvin averaged about 15 points and eight boards in three games against the Cavs this year, and he’s one of the guys who can help in guarding LeBron … The Heat were caught out there a lot like the Spurs, with only two viable offensive options at their disposal. D-Wade dropped 31 points (10-25 FG) and Mike Beasley had 17 off the bench, and that was it. Jermaine O’Neal (concussion) barely played, and even if he did, he would have had to jump into a 2003 time machine to give Miami a shot. On a day where they needed guys like Daequan Cook and James Jones to step up, those two shot a combined 1-for-6 from the field, 0-4 from three … Just like Celtics/Bulls, all the tension built up from the first six games of Hawks/Heat didn’t materialize into much of anything controversial. In the fourth quarter, after the result was no longer in question, Udonis Haslem yanked Zaza Pachulia down by the neck/collarbone area and got ejected. (Zaza’s always in the middle of something; there’s no doubt him and Anderson Varejao are gonna get into it in the next round.) On his way out, Haslem tossed his jersey into the crowd. Is that even a good souvenir for a Hawks fan: sweaty role-player jersey? … The Nuggets are looking as strong as any team right now, and that includes the Cavs and Lakers. Overcoming a slow start, Denver blew out the Mavs in Game 1 of their series yesterday … The fact that Nene only had three rebounds excludes him from all-out “beast” status, but he put in work on the offensive end, putting up 18 of his 24 points in the first half thanks to running the floor and dropping a few buckets on Erick Dampier‘s head. (We’re waiting for Damp’s public threat on Nene now, unless he only does that to point guards.) Nene has the wing span of a guy who’s like 7-3, and since coming into the League he’s learned how to keep the ball high and finish strong with either hand. If you’re already looking ahead, Nene will be one of Denver’s key weapons if they draw the Lakers in the conference finals, going up against Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

In the second half the Mavs couldn’t hold onto the ball (20 turnovers) and the Nuggets were basically running transition drills. The dagger was the result of another steal, and ended with J.R. Smith firing an outlet ahead to Anthony Carter to start a 3-on-1, getting it back in the middle of the lane and whipping a behind the back pass to ‘Melo (23 pts) for a dunk. That put Denver up by 15 with five minutes left … Isn’t J.R. Smith (15 pts, 6 asts, 3 stls) the worst guy to play against when you’re getting blown out? He has a knack for hitting back-breaking shots when your back is already broke, and struts around talking junk and smacking guys on the butt the entire time. He even gloats when he’s not the one scoring; there was a play yesterday where Carter scored on a breakaway and J.R. — who came flying in late going for a putback in case Carter missed — glared at the Mavs’ bench like he’d actually dunked it … Rick Carlisle didn’t exactly complain about the free-throw differential (36-13, Denver), but he didn’t bring it up for no reason. His biggest sticking point? That Dirk (28 pts, 10 rebs) shot just four free throws, plus one techincal FT. “I’ll look at that closely, and if the referees were right they were right,” Carlise said. “But he’s being played very physically, away from the floor where the rules are different than in post play. We’ll look at it and if there’s a complaint to be made we’ll talk to the league about it.” … On the same day that Nuggets’ VP of basketball operations Mark Warkentien won the NBA Executive of the Year award, two of his offseason pick-ups came though. Birdman Andersen blocked six shots, and Carter had 12 points off the bench … John Elway was in the building, wearing a #7 Nuggets jersey. Facing an entire season with Kyle Orton as their best QB, how many Broncos’ fans would feel more comfortable taking their chances with 48-year-old Elway instead? Stick him in a shotgun offense and block like hell, and he at least throws less INT’s than Orton … We’re out like Flash …

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