2008 Playoffs: Game Ones

OK so the Spurs and Suns go double OT, the Jazz beat the hottest team in the West, and the Sixers steal game 1 from Detroit. I really only caught the Houston/Utah game on tv, and it seemed that the Rockets dug themselves a big hole and spent their energy trying to catch up. My feeling of the game was that Utah dominated the glass, but the boxscore shows Houston to have won the aggregate offensive rebound war: 18 to 13. However the Jazz shot better than 50%, while Houston didn’t crack 40%, so when you look at rebounding percentage it was actually pretty even (HOU: 39%, UTA: 36%). This is a series where the #2 offense meets the #2 defense, and in each game you expect something to break.

Looking at the boxscore for Pistons loss, it seems that Philadelphia shot slightly better, but all the four factors were pretty close. Detroit had one extra rebound, one less turnover, and one less free throw made. For those that are hoping Philly/Detroit will be this year’s Golden State/Dallas it would have been better if the Sixers won more handily. In a 7 game series, the underdog needs to do better than just break even.

As for the Spurs/Suns well this should be a good series throughout. Half of me wants the Suns to lose because I think the Shaq trade was a poor decision. Half of me wants the Spurs to lose so I get a more exciting round 2 series between Phoenix & New Orleans.

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Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

18 thoughts to “2008 Playoffs: Game Ones”

  1. Houston was “the hottest team in the West” a month or so ago, not any more. also, Rafer Alston is out for at least the first two games, that really hurts them.

  2. Suns vs Spurs is my own personal good vs evil.

    I hate the Spurs with all my little black heart. Suns are my favorite non-Knickerbocker squad, even in spite of acquiring Shaq!

    So that first game gave me some serious heart palpitations and general terror. It’s a real shame that the Suns are going to bow out so soon as one of a handful of teams with a legitimate shot at the championship. The Spurs have had their day. I’d even root for Kobe Bryant to see them get put down this year.

    Speaking of which, Pau Gasol was downright beastly in Game 1! It’s hard for me to root against that guy, but I don’t like most of his teammates… or fans… or his coach. I’m basically pulling for anybody but the Spurs or Lakers to come out of the West, which means that it will probably be a Spurs-Lakers conference finals.

    Also, as much as I hate to say it as a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker, but I am getting full on that Celtics bandwagon. I love Mr. Garnett; man plays basketball the way it is meant to be played. Rondo was extremely impressive in Game 1 of their exhibition series against the Saskatoon Mud Hens. Also, the Celtics have an incredible bench. Cassell, PJ Brown, Big Baby, Leon Powe, James Posey. And give Doc credit for resting his Big 3 down the stretch. I predict they lose no more than 3 games total on the way to the finals.

    And as much as I hate those damned Spurs, it will be pleasing to me to see KG finally get his comeuppance mano a mano against Timmy Bankshot.

  3. I hate the Spurs almost as much as I loathe Isiah. Some may admire them but I can’t look past their floppers (Ginobli) and dirty players (Oberto and Bowen). Oddly enough, I have them going to the conference finals because their 3 best players trump the #1-3 players on any other conference team….but I still think Lakers are the team to beat this year in the West. Pau and Odom have been playing very well the last 4 weeks.

    Anybody else think Detroit loses in the 2nd round after a surprisingly difficult 1st round with the Sixers?

  4. Have to say, it took me a second to figure out what was weird about that Isiah story, until I reminded myself that any other team would just fire him instead of making him suffer in the spotlight. Who decides to handle things this way? Is it Steve Mills? Dolan?
    Still, I have to say, I am feeling a tinge of shadenfreude seeing Isiah in this position…

  5. Wow is right. It leads me to suspect that the speculation about Dolan not wanting to pay Isiah to go away may have some validity. He’d rather lock him in the basement. That may not have the gratifying effect of the “firing with impunity” many Knick fans and pundits were looking for, but Isiah’s input on the draft might actually be helpful.

    I’m curious about how people come to love or hate the Spurs. They’re not a team I can get worked up about one way or another. Despite their success I wouldn’t compare them to the Patriots, a franchise that could rightfully be loved or despised (even before spygate).

  6. “Wow, apparently the terms of Isiah’s deal forbid him from having any contact with Knicks players”

    what would really be a step forward is to somehow do the same with Marbury. I don’t know how the rest of the team can fully concentrate with the equivalent of an insane homeless person babbling in their ears all game.

  7. John Hollinger agrees with me :)

    At least, this is what he just said in his chat this afternoon:

    John Hollinger: (4:46 PM ET ) “Making teammates better” is the manure added to fertilize MVP arguments. Trying to prove this skill actually exists, using any player in history as your test case, results in failure.

  8. John Hollinger agreeing with an opinion on basketball holds about as much water in my book as GWB agreeing with a foreign policy opinion.

    as for a “test case”, totally off the top of my head and going from memory, how about Scott Williams with Jordan, and Scott Williams after he left? as for this season, how about Turkoglu after they added Rashard Lewis and Howard continued to develop? does anyone really think that Turkoglu has anywhere near the same season if he was on the Knicks this year?

  9. To Dave Crockett,

    re: Spurs, I assume that people hate them because they’ve won championships. Every team that wins multiple championships draws resentment and ire from certain folks.

    For anybody who watched the game, has anyone else noticed that Shaq is totally KILLING the Suns? I’ve never seen the Spurs run so much pick-and-roll with Manu & Duncan, and it’s because of Shaq. It reminds me of last year when Golden State beat the Mavs simply by always attacking Dirk in isolation plays with whomever he was guarding. NONE of the commentators would state this, although it was obvious every time down the floor that Pop was going to run it until Shaq was able to get back to his man. He never did.

  10. MJG – aside from everything else about the Shaq trade, I’ve been totally bewildered to hear the conventional wisdom that Phoenix did it to help their defense. Huh? They traded their best defender, one of the best in the league, for a 36-year-old injury-prone center who doesn’t get around too well…

    I mean, he still shoots a high percentage, and I could see someone gambling on the idea that maybe, maybe, he would juice up the offense and overall help the team… but he barely even touches the ball in their offense. The trade was a big gamble in the best scenario, but the outside perception of how it would work (and the Suns’ approach to it) just strikes me as totally bizarre.

  11. If you think Howard is responsible for Turkoglu’s improvement, then how do you explain what happened to Rashard Lewis?

  12. I sort of take that back… as I look closer, Lewis didn’t actually have a bad year; it was pretty much identical to the year before, except for having the ball less. But you could almost say the same of Turkoglu — he had a rough year last year, but in 2005-2006 he put up scoring and shooting numbers that were almost the same as this year — and that was with pre-monster Dwight. He does seem to be a better passer now. But I’m not sure there’s anything you can point to as a big Dwight Howard effect, either way. (except the effect on the other team, from Dwight crushing them). I guess his fellow frontcourt-mates get a few more assists and a few fewer rebounds…

  13. Here is Rashard Lewis before and with Howard.


    Hedo is interesting. His rebounding is up significantly from previous years, despite playing next to Howard.

    Obviously, there is an effect on Hedo. But I don’t think his overall production has changed that much this year. He has played a bit better, but the change hasn’t been nearly as significant as the change in people’s perception of him.

    Winning does great things…

  14. Hedo’s rebounding is even with his first two years in the league, though you could say it’s a bit more impressive with Howard sucking up boards (though Chris Webber got some of them back in 2003)… what’s really weird about his career is the 2-year black hole in the middle.

  15. Certainly having Dwight Howard on your team helps create space, but it seems like the main difference between Hedo of old and Hedo today is mental…he has accepted the role of being the Man, and has been successful in creating his own shot in the fourth quarter.

    Maybe too much is made of this, maybe not, but isn’t that the basic difference between players who are talented scorers and guys who take the next level jump to being the focus of their teams? Of course, there are always guys who think they should be the Man when statistics indicate maybe not (anybody here remember Tony Campbell?)

  16. to Caleb,

    Yeah, I thought it was crazy how every commentator seemed to think Shaq would improve their defense. Even a time machine wouldn’t help that — don’t recall him ever defending the pick and roll successfully.

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