Thunder: Ranking the opening weekend performances
What a weekend to open the NBA playoffs. Dan Patrick on Monday morning said it was a little like the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, with all kinds of upsets and near-upsets. The question, of course, becomes what the question is in March Madness. Will the underdog keep it up? Will the clock strike midnight?
Three of the eight games produced upsets, two more big favorites barely escaped and no favorite won easily. After one game, let’s rank the eight series in terms of chances of upset.
1. Orlando-Atlanta: Orlando is a mess of a team. A mess of an organization. Any franchise that trades Marcin Gortat and trades for Gilbert Arenas is in serious need of a clue. But Game 1 was just awful. Atlanta hasn’t played well all season. The Hawks are pretty dysfunctional. Yet Orlando got beat 103-93. Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson combined for 73 points, one more than Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. OKC’s other starters scored just nine points, Orlando’s other starters scored just 10. But while Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka aren’t expected to score a ton (Perkins and Thabo hardly any at all), the Magic’s Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass are expected to score. Original prediction: Magic in four. Updated prediction: Hawks in six.
2. Dallas-Portland: Lost in all the drama of the opening weekend was the superb duel between Dirk Nowitzki (28 points) and LaMarcus Aldridge (27). Great, great showdown, and the Mavericks won with a late spurt. Portland led 72-66 midway through the fourth quarter. This is going to be a great series. Original prediction: Blazers in six. Updated prediction: Mavericks in seven.
3. San Antonio-Memphis: Manu Ginobili has got to play. The Spurs lost to the Grizzlies 101-98, with Memphis making the plays down the stretch. San Antonio led 98-94 with 1:06 left. Then the Spurs missed shots on their final three possessions, while the Grizzlies executed superbly. A Marc Gasol jumper. A Shane Battier 3-pointer. Two Tony Allen foul shots. If Giniboli doesn’t return soon, the Spurs are in trouble. Original prediction: Spurs in six. Updated prediction: Spurs in seven.
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