NBA, Round 2 - Getting your groove back

By RICK SOLEM

Six games into the second round of the playoffs and it’s a little baffling what’s happening.

Every game but one has been a blowout. The first round set records for seven-game series and had overtimes galore, so you’d expect the teams that prevailed to be battling to the wire in the second round.

Instead, there’s been five blowouts.

CLIPPERS vs. THUNDER

Russell Westbrook played better in Game 2, but mainly because the Clippers kept turning it over, leading to fastbreaks and Westbrook’s horrible up-and-chucks (™ Rick Solem) went in.   

He had a great pass to Steve Adams (the guy the Thunder received via trade for James Harden) and another easy pass to Thabo Sefolosha on a fastbreak that led to announcer Steve Kerr saying Westbrook of old "would have tried to take that himself." In other words, Westbrook, two days ago.

He ended with a triple double – quadruple double if complaining for a foul was a stat, he had 437 of those - but anyone who watched knows the last assist was not and it will be a complete joke if it remains that way Thursday.

The Thunder win this series if Westbrook doesn't lose it for them. The Clippers simply can't give up fastbreak points. If they do that, their chances increase significantly because the Thunder offense consists of Westbrook and Durant taking turns going one-on-one.

The Clippers nearly made a comeback after getting down more than 20 in the second half. Chris Paul put the team on his back and pulled them within 13, but then Jamal Crawford reared his bald head.

I’ve said this before, but he has the best job in the NBA, if not all sports – better than the backup QB gig, that’s for sure.

Crawford comes in with his, "I just get to shoot anything from anywhere whenever I want with no consequence,” and that was the end of the Clippers’ run.

Why does nobody ever criticize this guy? He goes off in Game 1 with a giant lead and no pressure. Wednesday, down big, he jacks up 13 shots in 22 minutes and makes two of them.

He wasn’t mentioned in the telecast or the postgame show.  He's so overrated and under-criticized, it's annoying.

PACERS vs. Bullets (err, WIZARDS)

Roy Hibbert learned what to do with that round orange thing. You know, go get it, put it in the basket. He had 28 points, 9 rebounds, but that’s not a surprise considering he’s playing a team with traditional centers. OK, maybe the points were a surprise, unless you saw some of the baskets he was given.

But this is exactly what I said would happen before the series. 

The “Bullets” decided to let ‘Stella’ get his groove back by giving him a lot of easy looks. That was dumb. He’s 7-foot-2. He’s going to make layups.

Nobody else played very well for the Pacers, so there’s either room to improve as a team, or they implode. Everyone’s leaning toward implosion. The ‘Bullets’ are a good team. Paul George needs to show up. If Hibbert can show up, George sure as hell can.

Hibbert ended Game 1 with zero points and, more surprisingly, zero rebounds. I can’t fathom how a guy that size doesn’t get a rebound considering there were 48 missed shots by the Pacers and 49 misses by the ‘Bullets.’ That’s 97 potential rebounds for Hibbert.

Teammate C.J. Watson, who is 6-2, played 3 less minutes and managed to find a rebound.

Hopefully Hibbert will quit pouting about not getting the ball now and just go play. He kind of sucks with the ball anyway. Go get a rebound you behemoth.

HEAT vs. NETS

The Heat look to get a 2-0 lead Thursday and, as you can see from Wednesday’s matchups, every game is an adjustment.

The Nets played selfish ball in Game 1 (11 assists). It should be closer, mainly because Ray Allen won’t go 4-for-7 from beyond the arc. But it won’t be much closer. The Nets have two of the biggest ball hogs in the game – Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce. That worked when they were young.

SPURS vs. BLAZERS

The Game 1 blowout comes as no surprise, but it’s disappointing to see when you expect the second-round games to be more competitive than the first.

If the Nets played selfish, the Blazers completely forgot what passing was. They had nine assists. The starters had four (three by PG Damian Lillard).  Meanwhile, the Spurs put on a passing clinic (21 assists on 44 FGs).

Game 2 shouldn’t be as awful, but the Blazers are going to have to get back whatever they had when they beat the Rockets. Problem is, the Spurs aren’t the Rockets.

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