2013 NBA Playoffs - Opening Weekend April 22, 2013 12:37

The NBA playoffs are finally underway, and after an action packed weekend you can already feel the tension in the air and the see just how much these teams want to get that Championship. 
Let's take a look at how things turned out after Game 1 of the opening series of the playoffs.


Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks (78 - 85)

Chicago Bulls vs Brooklyn Nets (89 - 106)

Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat (87 - 110)

Atlanta Hawks vs Indiana Pacers (90 - 107)
The Eastern Conference Playoffs tipped off on Saturday, with the Boston Celtics taking on the New York Knicks. These teams have a really old rivalry, and any time they play each other, you're guaranteed a good game. 
Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith had decent performances, with 36 and 15 points respectively, but it was the veterans who really stood out in the game. Jason Kidd played 35 minutes, and added a whole lot of hustle to the Knicks team. Kenyon Martin also made his mark, with 10 points and 9 boards. 
Jeff Green and Paul Pierce were the most active players for Boston, but towards the end of the game they struggled against the Knicks defence. The Knicks held the Celtics to just 8 points in the 4th quarter, and a total of 25 points in the second half. 
The other Eastern Conference Game on Saturday night was the Chicago Bulls vs the Brooklyn Nets, and given the heart and dedication that the Bulls had been playing with lately, my money was on them. However, the Nets pulled off a huge performance to give themselves a 106-89 victory over the Bulls. 
Deron Williams had 22 points, and a sweet reverse dunk in the game. Brook Lopez added 21 points and Joe Johnson finished with 16 points. 
The Brooklyn fans were right behind the team, with it being the Nets first playoff appearance since 2007, and the first time that a Brooklyn sports franchise has played a major postseason game since the Yankees took the Dodgers out of the baseball World Series in 1956.  The entire crowd was encouraged to wear black, for a Barclays Centre 'blackout'. It looked pretty awesome.
Sunday night saw the returning NBA Champions, the Miami Heat, taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. Brandon Jennings had made the mistake of saying that the Bucks can easily beat the Heat in 6 games; a comment that the Heat have found laughable. The Heat certainly showed Jennings and Bucks what they were up against last night, when they beat the Bucks by 110 - 87. 
The Heat won every quarter in the game. LeBron James had 27 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists, falling just short of a triple-double. Dwayne Wade had 16 points and Chris Bosh had 16. Ray Allen came off the bench to add 20 points and Chris 'The Birdman' Anderson added 10 points and 7 rebounds. 
You can't say Jennings didn't try though. He had 26 points, and his buddy Monta Ellis had 22 points, but that didn't change the fact that the Bucks have failed to win an opening playoff game since 2001. 
The Heat will be looking for back-to-back Championships, so I don't envy anyone that gets in their way. 
We also got to see the Atlanta Hawks take on the Indiana Pacers, in which Paul George took it upon himself to show the world just how much he, and his team mates, want to make an impact in these playoffs.
George had a triple-double, with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, helping his team to defeat the Hawks, 107 - 90.  George made his first 17 free throws, which tied Reggie Millers record for percentage in a single playoff game.  However, he missed his 18th, and final free throw, meaning that he feel short of Millers record by the end of the game. 
Paul George is now only the second player in Pacers history to record a playoff triple-double. 


LA Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs (79 - 91)

Memphis Grizzlies vs LA Clippers  (91 - 112)

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder  (91 - 120)

Golden State Warriors vs Denver Nuggets  (95 - 97)
Saturday night in the Western Conference saw the Golden State Warriors play the Denver Nuggets and the Memphis Grizzlies take on the LA Clippers.
Steph Curry's Warriors should have gone into the first game of the play-offs on a high. In the last game of the regular season, Curry entered the NBA record books, by bringing his 3-points tally up to 273 for the season. Knocking Ray Allen off the top spot. 
It must have been disappointing then, for Curry to come out and struggle to find his shooting form. Although he did redeem himself towards the end when he knocked down a tough 3-pointer over Ty Lawson, to tie the ball game. 
It was NBA veteran, Andre Miller, who was the talk of the town, after hitting the game winning shot for the Denver Nuggets. To get a better idea of what that shot meant to Miller, he has never ever hit a game winning shot before, ever. Not in high school, or college, or during his 13 seasons in the NBA. In that case, what a time to start! 
Miller scored 18 of his playoff-high 28 points in the 4th quarter of the game, to drive the Nuggets to victory. Of those 18 points, I'm sure the last second layup, coming off some tricky ball handling to get to the rack,  was his favourite.
Also on Saturday, the Memphis Grizzlies took on the LA Clippers, in a game that we reckoned would be closely fought, and for the most part it was. Only 6 points separated the teams at half time, and both teams scored 18 points in the 3rd quarter. It wasn't until the 4th when the Clippers turned up the tempo and pulled out 37 points, to go against Memphis' 22. 
The Clippers came away with a 112 - 91 win over the Grizzlies, but not in their usual style. Lob City wasn't in full force in terms of the Clippers dunking their way to victory, but they did buckle down and beat Memphis on the boards, which made the difference in the end. The Clippers pulled down 47 rebounds as a team, while Memphis only managed 23.
Sunday night was really the night we were all waiting for. First up, we got to see the LA Lakers match up with San Antonio, in what was likely to be a battle of the bigs, with Dwight Howard vs Tim Duncan. Then we had the Oklahoma game to look forward too, as they battled the Houston Rockets
The Lakers didn't really have much coming off the bench in the first game of the playoffs, but their starting 5 worked hard throughout. Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Pau Gasol had 16 and 16, Steve Nash added 16 points and Steve Blake stepped up to add 12. 
The Spurs dynamic duo, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, combined for 35 points, with Duncan grabbing 10 rebounds and Parker dishing out 8 assists. They had a bit more help of the bench, with Manu Ginobili adding 18 points, and Matt Bonner helping out with 10. 
The Spurs led early on in the game, and never really looked back. The Lakers failed to use their size to their advantage. A point that Kobe picked up as he watched the game on TV. 
Notably, Duncan and Parker have now won 593 games together in 3 seasons. That's 3 short of Bryant and Derek Fisher, who won 596 games in their playing time together. I'm sure Parker and Duncan won't take long to pass that.
The final game of the weekend saw the Oklahoma City Thunder play the Houston Rockets. OKC lost to the Heat in last years NBA Final, and Kevin Durant is going to want to change things this year.  
It was always going to be a tough matchup for the Rockets, but an interesting one, since James Harden, who was OKC's 6th man of the year last season, is now the number one man in Houston. Durant didn't let their former friendship put him off, which he proved by steam-rolling Harden, and picking up an offensive foul. That being said, it was still a weird situation.
''It felt a little awkward just looking across there during the national anthem and seeing him with another team, but we've got to get past that. We're competing against his team, and he wants to win so bad,'' Durant said. ''We know him personally, so we know how hard he competes and he knows how hard we compete.''
The Rockets fought hard, reeling the Thunder in a couple of times when they'd gotten a decent lead, but there was never any question of who was going to come out with the win in this game. 
The Thunder scored at least 26 points a quarter, and scored over 30 points in the 2nd and the 4th. The Rockets fell short of 20 points a quarter in the 1st and 3rd.
The Thunder had 4 players in double figures, and Russell Westbrook was just two rebounds short of a triple-double. Durant led all scorers with 24 points.  The Rockets only had 3 players in double figures, with two of those coming off the bench. From the stat sheet, it looks like Jeremy Lin didn't really turn up, or least he didn't turn up in playoff mode. 
The entire weekend was pretty entertaining, but it was just the beginning of a hard slog to the finish line.