Berry Tramel

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NBA playoffs: Open season on the home teams

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm •  Published: April 21, 2014
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Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) dunks as Memphis' Tony Allen (9) defends during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (35) dunks as Memphis' Tony Allen (9) defends during Game 1 in the first round of the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Memphis Grizzlies at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, April 19, 2014. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

For the first time in NBA history, the home team lost five of the eight first-round openers.

The Nets won in Toronto, the Warriors won at the Clippers, the Hawks won in Indiana, the Wizards won in Chicago and the Blazers won in Houston. So how does that change the landscape of each series? Let’s look.

Warriors-Clippers: Great win for Golden State, but still a heavy advantage to the Clips. Without Andrew Bogut, the Warriors are overmatched inside. They won Game 1 because Blake Griffin played just 19:14, due to foul trouble. Yes, Andre Igoudala was saddled with the same kind of foul trouble. But that’s not an even swap. When Griffin plays, the Clippers prosper. The Clippers outscored Golden State by nine points in Game 1. If Golden State can somehow keep Griffin in foul trouble, the Warriors have a shot. Otherwise, the Clippers remain the overwhelming favorite to win this series.

Blazers-Rockets: Great win for Portland, and here’s why. The Blazers looked beat at least three times. Houston led 44-33 in the second quarter, 98-87 with four minutes left and 112-106 with 3:50 left in overtime. Portland overcame all three deficits. This series looks it could down to the wire. Winning a tight game, especially since Portland star LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out with 1:04 left in overtime and the score tied, is a superb victory. This verdict gives the Blazers a slight edge.

Pacers-Hawks:  The Indiana dumpster fire is perhaps without precedence. How could an elite team disintegrate like this? The Pacers were awful the last month or so, then they lose without a fight in Game 1 of a series against a 37-45 team. And Indiana just might lose this series. There is no reason to have confidence in the Pacers. None whatsoever. These guys have forgotten how to play. I’d say it’s a 50-50 series right now.

Nets-Raptors: Brooklyn was favored to win anyway. This might be a sweep. Toronto is a nice story, but that team doesn’t look like a playoff force. Or even playoff relative. The Netropolitans have a deep team, even if some of it’s old, and have been very good since New Year’s. Can we just fast forward to Brooklyn-Miami?

Wizards-Bulls: I still think Chicago will win the series. But Washington isn’t half bad. Excellent young backcourt in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Two quality big men in Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat. The Wiz can score much more easily than can the Bulls. But Chicago still has Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls will make adjustments.

Let’s also look at the other three series.

Thunder-Grizzlies: I don’t know how many games the Thunder will need to close out Memphis, but it’s sort of besides the point, whether it’s four or seven. It’s not going to come easy. The Thunder had a 25-point lead in the second quarter, most everyone was playing well, the Thunder big men obviously are stout enough to stand up to the Grizzlies’ big guys. Yet there it was 74-72 early in the fourth quarter. Memphis does not go down without a fight.

Spurs-Mavericks: Still a Spurs sweep, I say, even though Dallas had a 10-point lead down the stretch of the fourth quarter before a total collapse. We never talk about San Antonio coasting, but that’s what the Spurs seemed to be doing. Down 81-71, they looked up at the clock, said, oh man, it’s later than we thought. Better start playing.

Heat-Bobcats: I can’t remember if I picked Miami in four or five games, but if Al Jefferson is hurt bad, the Heat could win this series in three.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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