BROOKLYN, Portland and San Antonio will attempt to dig themselves out of 1-0 down holes in their respective NBA playoff series on Thursday.
All three are on the road and all three will be doing their best to avoid the trauma of being down 2-0 and half way to oblivion.
If there’s one thing that every NBA team knows – it’s that coming back from 2-0 down in a seven-game series is very hard work and incredibly rare.
Who will step up for their teams in Game 2? What will change from the Game 1 results?
We’re taking a quick look at each game and trying to jag you a winner or two.
Brooklyn Nets @ Atlanta Hawks Wednesday, April 23, 9am AEST
Atlanta leads the series 1-0
Atlanta ($1.20) is the number one seed in the East, but Brooklyn ($4.70) gave it everything it could handle in game one, before finally succumbing, 99-92.
The Hawks, so often the all round team that hammered teams 60 times throughout the regular season, appeared stagnant, cautious and sore, while the Nets, showed plenty of ticker and played with the freedom of an eighth seed.
In the end though, super sharp shooter Kyle Korver, arguably up there with Steph Curry as the best pure marksman in the NBA, proved the difference, overcoming injury to drop 21 points with five treys.
But, they did not make it through unscathed, big man Al Horford, an all star, dislocating his finger during a rebounding tussle late in the last quarter and Paul Millsap was far from his best, scoring just six points on two of 11 shooting. Ugly viewing.
“It’s going to be tough to just blow teams out,” Millsap said after the game.
“It’s the playoffs.
“You expect them to hang in there and fight hard.”
And that’s exactly what the Nets did, clawing back from a 16 point deficit, before ultimately falling short.
Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez scored 17 points a piece to be the best producers for Brooklyn, the latter raking in 14 rebounds, his playoff career high.
And, coach Lionel Hollins used the performance as fuel for his charges, telling them “If you don’t believe you can play in this series, you should believe it now.”
“This is going to be a tough series,” Johnson said.
“This is one game.
“We’ve got to put it behind us.”
Match betting predictions
Match Result: Atlanta Hawks win ($1.20 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Atlanta Hawks -9.5 ($1.91 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Total game score: Under 202 ($1.91 with WillliamHill.com.au)
Can’t see the Hawks losing at home, even if the Nets were gallant in game one. Lopez poses a big problem for the Hawks, because of their undersized front court, but you’d expect Millsap to bounce back and Horford to play through his injury. it’s been a long time since Deron Williams was a relevant player in this league, but he may just possess the most talent of any player on the floor. If he can somehow rekindle some semblance of old form, the Nets can win – oh, and Joe Johnson might want to hit the odd three after going 0-6 in game one. We’re not game to back the Nets though and we’ll stick with the Hawks to go back to the drawing board and come out soaring in game two. Neither side was great from the field and the pace was slow, so we’re going with the unders on the total.
Portland Trailblazers @ Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday, April 23, 10.30am AEST
Memphis leads the series 1-0
Beno Udrih, hey?
The little known Euro guard torched Damian Lillard and the Portland Trailblazers ($3) with 20 points in the series opener, leading Memphis ($1.40) to an easy 100-86 win.
Udrih was a man possessed, stepping in for the injured Mike Conley with a ridiculous near triple double that featured seven boards and seven dimes.
His points came on nine of 14 shooting and in just 24 minutes.
Spanish centre Marc Gasol also stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, while his front court mate Zach Randolph also had 16 and 11.
“They took the initiative to say we’re going to be the Bruise Brothers, and they were the Bruise Brothers today,” Allen said of Gasol and Randolph.
“They pounded it, pounded it.
“They made plays, passing out of the post.
“Not only that, they did a good job defensively on LaMarcus Aldridge,” Allen said of Gasol and Randolph.”
It was a complete performance to start the series, the Grizzlies gorgeous ball movement on display for all to see.
“Beno gets the game ball,” Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph said.
“With Mike being out, helps him get his confidence up and playing.”
“I was wide open,” Udrih said.
“Shots like that I’ve got to take.
“I knocked down and then two more times I came out of the screen and knocked them down again.
“I was just being aggressive.”
Portland coach Terry Stotts said Udrih gave the Grizzlies an “X-factor.”
“He did a little bit of everything,” Stotts said.
“He’s an NBA player. He’s been here a long time, and he’s effective.”
Meanwhile, it seemed the Blazers, aside from the superb LaMarcus Aldridge, decided not to turn up.
The big man, as he so often does, led all scorers with 32 points, but that came on a wasteful 34 shots. Lillard and 14, but made just five of 21 shots and missed all six of his three point attempts.
“I think a good wakeup call for us,” Aldridge said.
“But definitely tonight they manhandled us.”
“We tried to show Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge a lot of crowds and had people in front of them as much as possible trying to make it frustrating,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said.
Match betting predictions
Match Result: Memphis Grizzlies win ($1.15 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Memphis Grizzlies -6 ($1.91 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Total game score: Over 189 ($1.91 with WillliamHill.com.au)
What has happened to Portland? We get that Wes Matthews is a big loss, but the loss makes it five in a row, after they dropped the last four games of the regular season. If they don’t put in a better effort in this one, the series has sweep written all over it. The Grizzlies are so well disciplined and a stifling defensive outfit that held the Blazers to just 33 per cent shooting from the field. That has to get better if they want to challenge. We want to believe that can happen, but we’ve also under rated the Grizzlies all season. Make no mistake, they are title contenders and we think on their home floor, another blow out is on the cards. The Grizzlies swept Portland during the regular season and have won 10 of the last 11 meetings. That’s good enough for us. Watch Gasol have his way again and see if one of the role players, like Udrih, steps up to surprise. Would be nice if Lillard turned up in game two for the Blazers. Surely they couldn’t shoot that badly again? Could they? We’re hoping not, we’re tipping the over 189.
San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, April 23, 12.30pm AEST
Los Angeles leads the series 1-0
Could it be that the mighty San Antonio Spurs ($1.95), the most successful team since 1999, are done?
Los Angeles Clippers’ ($1.87) stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin made it look so in a 107-92 blow out at the Staples Centre.
While evergreen Tim Duncan had his standard double double, 11 points and 11 boards, with four dimes, point guard Tony Parker rolled his ankle and could never really get going (10 points on four of 11 shooting). Manu Ginobili was serviceable with 10 points, seven boards and six dimes, and Kawhi Leonard led the side with 18, but the Spurs never really looked in the hunt.
Griffin, aside from several brutal dunks that put Aussie Aron Baynes on a poster, went crazy, dropping 26 points to go with 12 boards, six dimes, three steals and three blocks, on nearly 50 per cent shooting and 80 per cent from the line on his 10 trips.
“I just want to be aggressive,” Griffin said.
“I don’t want to settle for anything, because now is not the time to have the mindset of self preservation.”
Griffin was supreme.
But not as supreme as the ethereal Chris Paul.
He might not be the most loved NBA player, but, in full flight, few are better to watch.
Paul took this game by the scruff of the throat and throttled it to the tune of 32 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
And what a luxury Jamal Crawford is, the perennial sixth man of the year contender doing what he does best, swishing 17 off the bench, including three treys.
Despite the big win, Clippers coach Doc Rivers is not counting his chickens.
“They’re still the defending champs, and they’re going to be the defending champs every night,” Rivers said.
“We have a lot of confidence in our team, but you just have to stay humble and respect who you’re playing.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich held high praise for his opponent.
“The game was their defence was better than our offence,” Popovich said.
“Their aggressiveness, their athleticism, their physicality really hurt us offensively.
“I actually felt decent at halftime … and then they had that run, but I thought it was their defense.”
“We give them a lot of credit, because they sustained it longer than we did,” Duncan said.
“They played harder longer.
“They had the energy with their home crowd behind them.”
Match betting predictions
Match Result: Los Angeles Clippers win ($1.87 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Line: Los Angeles Clippers -1.5 ($1.91 with WilliamHill.com.au)
Total game score: Over 207.5 ($1.91 with WillliamHill.com.au)
It was an ugly start for San Antonio, but we’re going to back them to bounce back and give a better showing. Parker has to get better and the defence has to tighten up, but we think they can push the Clipps closer in this one. But, in the end, Los Angeles should be too strong. The Clippers’ pairing of Paul and Griffin is one of the best in the league and that support cast, while it only really runs six deep, there is enough fire power there to give any team hell. We would not be adverse to a San Antonio deep playoff run, but we think it’s time for Duncan and the crew to make way for the next generation. Clipps to go 2-0 up and head to San An. Watch out if JJ Redick gets going, he and Crawford could shoot the Spurs right out of the game if Griffin and CP3 go quiet at any stage.