WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
The Spurs are up 2-0 on the Grizzlies in the WCF. But nobody in Gregg Popovich’s locker room is breathing easy given that they got a 2-0 jump on the Thunder in last year’s WCF before losing 4 straight.
In Game 1 San Antonio destroyed the Griz 105-83 in Memphis’s first ever Conference Finals appearance. Though 4-time NBA champion Tim Duncan scored only 6 points, the Silver & Black shot 14 for 29 from 3-land (the most 3’s given up by Memphis this season) and held the monstrous Zach Randolph to a shocking 2 points.
What first appeared to be another runaway victory for San Antonio in Game 2 turned into an overtime nail-biter. Randolph bounced back with a big 15-points, 18-rebound performance. But the Spurs ultimately prevailed 93-89 in OT after blowing a 13-point, 4th quarter lead. Tony Parker (the MVP of this series so far) went for 15 points and a career playoff-high 18 dimes.
As the phenomenal Frenchman began to wear down late in the contest, Duncan, who missed most of the 2nd half after getting into foul trouble, began hitting crucial shots, including the Spurs’ first 6 points of OT. The 2013 First Team All-NBA veteran finished with 17 points, 9 boards and 4 blocks.
This series will really get going when Game 3 tips off in Tennessee on Saturday. After all, the Griz were down 0-2 to the caffeinated Clippers in the first round and stormed back to claim the series. And they play outstanding ball at The Grindhouse.
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
In a rematch of last year’s ECF, star-laden Miami took Game 1 103-102 in OT at home against the workman-like Pacers on a last-second LeBron drive to the hoop. This 53 minutes of roundball was nip and tuck the entire way with 18 ties and 17 lead changes.
23-year-old Paul George, the 2013 MIP and All-Star, saved the Pacers twice in the final minutes. He splashed a 32-foot bomb at the end of regulation to tie the game and then hit three straight free throws with 2.2 seconds left to give Indy a 1-point cushion in OT.
George matched up with LeBron most of the night and did a solid job overall, but it wasn’t enough to stop the 4-time league MVP. In the end King James was King James. He had a 30-10-10 triple-double and came through in the clutch again. Dwyane Wade, a game-time concern due to his bum knee, played 41 minutes and finished with 19 points on 9 for 15 from the field.
Coach Vogel sparked a lightening storm of controversy with his decision to take 7’2” C Roy Hibbert out at the very end of the game, leaving the rim unprotected for two LeBron layups. Using their length advantage, Indiana did win the battle of the boards 43-38. They’ll need to widen this disparity if they want to get back in the series. How the Pacers respond in Game 2 will show whether they have what it takes to compete with the formidable Miami squad and turn this into an epic series.