The 2013 NBA Playoffs began over the weekend with more of a whimper than a roar. The home team won every Game One, most by lopsided scores. As the week began, road teams started getting their legs, most notably Chicago and Golden State, but it is a struggle to anticipate very much in the way of compelling drama in the first round.
This is just fine for the defending champion the Miami Heat. Miami, who finished a league best 66-16 including 38-3 the second half, has no interest in compelling as it faced 38-44 Milwaukee. Yet, Bucks guard Brandon Jennings tried to make it so, proclaiming his team would beat the Heat in six games. Well, if that is to happen they will have to win four in a row as Miami took the first two games handily behind stifling defense and tremendous energy from their bench.
Elsewhere in the East, the New York Knicks took the first two games from the aged Boston Celtics, who appear to have few answers anymore. Carmelo Anthony was magnificent, averaging 35 a night in the victories. Boston amassed a grand total of 48 points in the second half, in the two games combined. Not enough energy, not enough talent, not enough scoring for Boston.
The Chicago Bulls gained a split in Brooklyn behind typically inspirational play from Joakim Noah. Noah, battling plantar fasciitis, not only played but excelled. His numbers are normally an afterthought with everything else he provides, but his nine points and six boards in the fourth quarter of Game Two was certainly no afterthought to the Nets who now must win in Chicago.
The remaining series does not appear as though it can be competitive given the way Atlanta finished the season and started their series in Indiana. Former Vanderbilt star John Jenkins, a key cog late in the season, could not get going as this series began. Another Vanderbilt rookie however, did contribute heavily to his team’s success.
Festus Ezeli is emerging on the offensive end to go with what could be an all-Rookie season for Golden State, an exciting and ultra-talented team. The Warriors gained a split in Denver, with the Nuggets a league best 38-3 this season. Golden State shot 64.6% and scored 35 in each of the last three quarters in their Game Two upset. Stephen Curry tweaked his ankle again late in Game Two, something that will bear watching.
The Memphis Grizzlies, looking for revenge against the Clippers, fell into a deep hole after Chris Paul beat the buzzer with an amazing leaner at the end of Game Two. The Clippers seem to be in the Grizzlies head. Oklahoma City and San Antonio lead the way out West, each off to solid starts early. The Lakers just do not have enough offense without Kobe Bryant, and the Rockets have nowhere near enough defense. Drama is definitely lacking as the playoffs begin.