2012 NBA Playoffs Recap, Day 3

It’s becoming painfully clear the Heat (and the protective glass covering a fire extinguisher) is too much for the Knicks. In the West, the Thunder (and the officials) grinds out another win against Dallas.

Heat too much for Knicks. Extinguisher too much for Amare Stoudemire
It was cute to pretend the New York Knicks could actually challenge the Miami Heat in a seven game series. In an ideal world, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James would go back and forth scoring 35-40 points a night while the two teams duked out a competitive and entertaining seven game series. Instead, we have the Heat dominating all 96 minutes thus far, including a blowout victory by 33 points in Game 1 and another double digit win in Game 2 that wasn’t nearly as close as the score indicates.

Similar to the Spurs Game 1 victory over the Utah Jazz, the Heat controlled the tempo and essentially, the game. Sure, the Knicks flirted with making it interesting at times, even cutting the Heat’s lead to four late in the 3rd quarter, but Miami never lost control. At no point did I sit there and think, “hmm, the Knicks could win this.” Miami was just toying with the Knicks. When Miami needed a run, they got it. When they wanted a stop, they got it. The Knicks can only take what the Heat gives them.

To make matters worse, Gus Ferotte Amare Stoudemire suffered lacerations to his hand after punching the protective glass covering a fire extinguisher. He’s likely to be out at least a game, if not more. Stoudemire was surprisingly efficient Monday night, scoring 18 points on 6/9 shooting, so his absence certainly won’t help the Knicks extend the series. Though, what the Knicks really need is a distributor. Aside from Carmelo, no one on New York can create his own shot. And as great a scorer as Carmelo is, he’ll never be confused for a facilitator. Even if Jeremy Lin makes a triumphant return in Game 4, it won’t help the Knicks. They’re a one man show on offense and a one man show on defense. LeBron could win this series on his own.

Pacers win Game 2
I only caught a few minutes of this one. Though, one thing that was brought to my attention by my brother was Danny Granger shooting 1/10 from three. Granger is a decent three point shooter. Not awful. Not great. Decent. For a player with Granger’s talent, shooting 1/10 from deep means one thing; laziness. After you shoot 1/5 or 1/6, you should probably start passing on the threes and look to drive. At the very least, take a step or two inside the three point line before you let it go. I’m beginning to lose faith in the Pacers even challenging the Heat in the next round.

Thunder squeak out Game 2 victory
I’m not sure if the Dallas Mavericks should feel supremely confident heading back to Dallas or completely discouraged. On one hand, they went toe-to-toe with the most talented team in the league and lost on a ridiculous bounce in Game 1 and missed five of their last six shots to lose Game 2 by three points. Dallas has effectively frustrated the Thunder and Rick Carlisle has done another tremendous job in out-coaching Scotty Brooks.

On the other hand, Kevin Durant has shot a combined 14/44 in the first two games of the series and Russell Westbrook’s assist to turnover ration is 1:1, so it’s possible the Mavericks blew a huge opportunity to, at the very least, steal home court advantage and possibly even go home up 2-0.

Instead of returning to Dallas tied, the Mavs (and NBA officials) bailed out the Thunder by sending them to the charity stripe 39 times in Game 2. To make matters worse, Jason Kidd was atrocious. In Game 2 alone, Kidd either completely missed or failed to attempt four wide-open layups. I understand Kidd isn’t what he once was, but if you lack the confidence to even attempt a WIDE OPEN layup, you shouldn’t be on the floor. TNT’s Mike Fratello was two seconds away from benching Kidd himself.

Overall, I’ve been impressed by the Mavericks in this series. Unfortunately, they’ve played nearly as well as they can play while the Thunder has struggled, and Dallas still trails 0-2. Perhaps being at home will flip the outcome of these close games in Dallas’ favor. Or, maybe the Thunder play to their potential and push the defending champs to the brink. I’m leaning toward the Mavs getting back in the series, but I’m also the guy that picked the Thunder to sweep.

(Also, NBA officiating is perplexing. On one side, the Thunder clutches, grabs, pushes, and bullies Dirk Nowitzki to no end, and rarely is a foul called. On the other side, if Durant is breathed on, the officials blow the whistle. Aren’t both superstars? Isn’t this the playoffs? If you’re going to let them play, let both sides play. And Kendrick Perkins, just knock it off with the bully routine. No one’s feared you in any way shape or form since Kevin Garnett was standing behind you two years ago. You’re a fraud. Leave the bullying to actual bullies.)

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