May 3, 2016, 8:38 am
What a Monday night for basketball fans! First, the Hawks and Cavs opened up their seven game series in Cleveland with a hotly contested first game. This was followed by quite possibly the best game of the 2016 playoffs to date as the Spurs looked to go up 2-0 in their best of seven series against the Thunder. Would Westbrook and Durant will their team to victory? Let’s take a look at your Tuesday dish.
CAVS 104, HAWKS 93
After an eight-day hiatus it was nice to see the King and his Cavaliers back on the court as they opened up the Eastern Conference semi-finals vs. a talented Atlanta Hawks team.
LeBron James played a game-high 40 minutes and led a potent Cavs attack on Monday night. James scored a team-high 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting while adding seven rebounds, nine assists, five steals and one block. He did commit four turnovers but this was only a minor blemish on an all around excellent line.
Kyrie Irving also played a key role in Cleveland’s victory. Irving played 34 minutes and shot 8-of-18 from the field for 21 points, one rebound, eight assists, two steals and one block. He only committed two turnovers on the evening and was a team-high plus 17 while on the court.
Kevin Love only shot 4-of-18 from the field but did add a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Tristan Thompson added a game-high 14 rebounds in 40 minutes of action and J.R. Smith added four three pointers, a couple of which were of the very difficult variety.
After getting outplayed for much of the first half, the Hawks came out strong in the second half and actually held the lead mid-way through the fourth quarter.
Dennis Schroder led all Hawks players with a game-high 27 points. Schroder was electric off the bench and completely outplayed starter Jeff Teague in this one. Along with his 27 points, Schroder added five three pointers, three rebounds and six assists. If Schroder continues this type of production it could make things very interesting in Atlanta.
Paul Millsap added his usual stat filled line with 17 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, two steals and four blocks. Millsap did not hit any of his three attempts from downtown and unfortunately was not helped in the paint in this one by his sidekick Al Horford.
Kent Bazemore played a strong game for the Hawks with a double-double. Bazemore scored 16 points with 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Al Horford did not play well in this one shooting 4-of-13 from the field for 10 points and six rebounds. He did add two steals and three blocks but Horford will have to play much better if the Hawks have any chance of dethroning the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
Jeff Teague scored eight points on 2-of-9 shooting with two rebounds, four assists and nothing else. Teague was completely outplayed off the bench by Dennis Schroder and if this trend continues coach Budenholzer may consider making a line-up change.
Kyle Korver played 36 minutes but only had three points and five rebounds to show for it. it’s not that he even shot horribly, he didn’t even shoot. Korver only had one attempt from the field. At this point, you cannot trust Korver as a DFS option.
The Cavs played excellent basketball in the first half and were able to withstand a late charge by the Hawks to go up 1-0 in this best of seven Eastern Conference semi-final. Game 2 of this series goes Wednesday night and the Hawks will need a significantly better effort if they want to return home with the series tied at 1-1. The Hawks have never beaten the Cavs in the playoffs and if we had to predict a Game 2 outcome, we’d feel confident predicting a 2-0 Cavs lead.
THUNDER 98, SPURS 97
What more could a basketball fan ask for? With all due respect to the defending champion Golden State Warriors, either of these two teams could easily represent the Western Conference in the NBA finals.
The Thunder were once again led by their dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. After suffering a humiliating Game 1 loss on Saturday night, the Thunder came out strong and showed a much more spirited effort in Game 2.
Russell Westbrook led the Thunder in scoring with 29 points on 11-0f-25 shooting. Westbrook added seven rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and one block. He was all over the court on Monday night was visibly upset while he sat on the bench during the Spurs’ third quarter run. Westbrook has the skill and determination to keep his team in every game and it will be interesting to see if the Thunder can capitalize now that they have wrestled home-court advantage away from the Spurs.
Kevin Durant was also spectacular scoring 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting. Durant played much better in this one as he added seven rebounds, four assists and one block. Durant and Westbrook accounted for 58% of the Thunder points and they will look to continue this on Friday night when this series resumes in Oklahoma City.
Steven Adams was a monster on the boards on Monday evening as he corralled a game-high 17 rebounds. Adams shot 5-of-6 from the field for 12 points and also added a block.
Off the bench, Enes Kanter was his usual productive self scoring 12 points and adding eight rebounds in 18 minutes of action. Kanter definitely brings a nice offensive punch off the bench but was a minus 11 while on the court tonight.
The Spurs were once again led by a dominant LaMarcus Aldridge performance. Aldridge scored a game-high 41 points on 15-of-21 shooting. He also connected on a key three pointer late in the game and got Serge Ibaka to bite on a pump fake from behind the three-point line which kept the Spurs alive till the very end. Aldridge was a perfect 10-of-10 from the line and concluded his night with eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
This game was marred by a missed call late in the game. Replays showed that Dion Waiters shoved Manu Ginobili as he inbounded the ball with just over 10 seconds left in the fourth quarter. While the Spurs would eventually control the ball at the end, one wonders what would have transpired had Waiters been called for an offensive foul.
Aside from LaMarcus Aldridge, no other Spurs player really stepped up in Game 2. The rest of the Spurs shot a combined 34% from the field and only Kawhi Leonard and Manu Ginobli reached double figure scoring.
Tim Duncan played 27 minutes in this one but shot an atrocious 1-of-8 from the field for two points. He added nine rebounds and two assists but was outplayed by Steven Adams for the majority of the night.
This series has the making of a classic seven game battle. With the all the controversy surrounding the Dion Waiters shove it was interesting to see that the Spurs did not blame that missed call for the Game 2 loss.
Friday night cannot come soon enough as this series now moves back to Oklahoma City. Let’s see what tricks Pop has up his sleeve.
Follow me (@radiomunoz) for a different take on the sports world. Also, for the best NBA playoff coverage continue to follow @HoopBallTweets. This does it for another tasty dish, Tuesday night should continue with excitement as Dub Nation and the Six will be the scenes of raucous crowds.