Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
NBA

NBA on Sling: Cry-baby, Busted Thumb & Hurt Toe Swing Balance of Power in Round 1

The Cavs and Warriors appear to be peaking at the right time, the Bulls and Spurs have each  blown 2-0 leads and now find themselves tied 2-2, the Hawks and Thunder are both in deep trouble, and the Clippers yet again find their title dreams torpedo by the relentless fragility of Blake Griffin.

Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics, series tied 2-2

A pall was cast over this series before it started, as Celtics All Star guard Isaiah Thomas’s sister died in a tragic car accident just two days before Game 1 in Boston. Thomas was brilliant in the opener, scoring 33 points, but it wasn’t enough, as the Celtics fell 106-102. They would eventually head to Chicago in a 2-0 hole, but the Bulls suffered a loss of their own, as starting point guard Rajon Rondo broke his thumb and is out indefinitely. His absence was felt, as the Bulls dropped the next two games to even the series and give the Celtics back home court advantage. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has begun working the refs, complaining after Game 4, a 104-95 Celtics win, that Thomas is “impossible to cover” because he carries on every possession. When asked about it, Thomas shrugged his shoulders and said with a smile, “That’s not the reason I’m an impossible cover.”

Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland wins 4-0

The Pacers were in every game of this series, never losing by more than 6, but LeBron was just too much for them to handle, as he averaged 33-10-9. But the real losers of this series aren’t the Pacers, who, let’s be honest, didn’t have a real shot. No, the real losers are whoever has to face a fully rested Cavs team in Round 2 starting next Monday.

 Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors, series tied 2-2

The Bucks had a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in this series, but they fell apart in the second half of Game 4, scoring just 35 points. It was a brutal night for Milwaukee, who couldn’t find a spot on the floor from which to shoot, hitting 41.6% from inside arc, 23.8% from outside the arc, and 61.1% from the line.

Atlanta Hawks vs Washington Wizards, Wizards lead 2-1

The Wizards took care of business by winning the first two games at home, but got worked over 116-98 in Game 3 in Atlanta. John Wall was fantastic, hitting 10 of 12 for 29 points, but the rest of the Wiz’s starters combined to make just 14 of 45, while not shooting a single free throw. Someone on Washington needs to step up on D, because Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder is averaging 25 and 8 assists after averaging just 18-6 during the regular season. The highlight of the playoffs thus far, is likely Schroder’s discomfort while sitting next to teammate Paul Millsap when he was aksed about Markieff Morris calling him a “cry-baby.”

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Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors, Warriors lead 3-0

Kevin Durant missed 19 games down the stretch, played the final 3 games of the regular, and then scored 32 in the series opener against the Blazers before sitting again in deference to his strained right calf. His status is “uncertain,” but you can be certain of this: Durant won’t play again until the Warriors lose a game.

Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs, series tied 2-2

The Spurs won the first two games at home, but things fell apart in Game 3. Trailing 50-46 at the half, they opened the 3rd quarter by watching Zach Randolph hit a 7-footer and then Marc Gasol drain a 3 to extend the Grizzlies’ lead to 9 in just 53 seconds. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was so disgusted that he pulled his entire starting five. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge were back on the floor within a few minutes, but a message had been sent, but it was too late, as the Grizz finished the quarter up by 18. The San Antonio bench acquitted themselves nicely in the 4th, outscoring Memphis 31-24, as the starters combined to make just 2 of 4 shots and spent most of their time cheerleading and choking on shame.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets, Rockets lead 3-1

We were hoping against hope that this one would be a barn burner, but the Rockets’ dominance should come as no surprise. Russell Westbrook has been Russell Westbrook, averaging 35-12-11, including a 51-point effort in Game 2, but James Harden’s just got way too much help in the form of Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Nene, and Patrick Beverly. Harden’s been struggling with a bum ankle, but appears to be surviving. That said, you gotta check out this brilliant intentional missed free throw turned 3-pointer executed by Steven Adams and Westbrook.

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Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Clippers, Clippers lead 2-2

The smart money was on Utah, and the Jazz took Game 1, but the Clips battled back, taking the next two. But because this is the Clippers, they lost Blake Griffin for the remainder of the playoffs early in the 2nd quarter of  a 111-106 Game 3 victory. Griffin hurt his big toe while landing awkwardly on teammate Marreese Speights’ foot, and then aggravated it shortly thereafter playing down on the post. The Jazz won Game 4, 105-98 behind 28 points from Game 1 hero Joe Johnson, again making the Jazz the favorites to win the luckless Clippers. Utah’s Gordon Hayward left Sunday’s game in the 1st quarter, the victim of food poisoning, but he should be good to go.

Monday

Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors, Game 5 @ 7:00pm ET on NBATV

Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks, Game 4 @ 8pm ET on TNT

Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trail Blazers, Game 4 @ 10:30pm ET on TNT

Tuesday

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets, Game 5 @ 8pm on TNT

Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs, Game 5 @ 9pm ET on NBATV

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Clippers, Game 5 @ 10:30pm on TNT

Wednesday

Atlanta Hawks vs Washington Wizards, Game 5 @ 6:00pm on TNT

Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics, Game 5 @ 8:30pm on TNT

Thursday

San Antonio Spurs vs Memphis Grizzlies, Game 6 @ TBD on TNT

Houston Rockets vs Oklahoma City Thunder, Game 6 @ TBD on TNT, if necessary

Toronto Raptors vs Milwaukee Bucks, Game 6 @ TBD

Friday (networks TBD)

Boston Celtics vs Chicago Bulls, Game 6 @ TBD

Los Angeles Clippers vs Utah Jazz, Game 6 @ TBD

Washington Wizards vs Atlanta Hawks, Game 6 @ TBD if necessary

Saturday on TNT 

Memphis Grizzlies vs San Antonio Spurs, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Milwaukee Bucks vs Toronto Raptors, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Sunday (networks TBD)

Chicago Bulls vs Boston Celtics TBD, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Utah Jazz vs Los Angeles Clippers, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Atlanta Hawks vs Washington Wizards, Game 7 @ TBD, if necessary

Watch the NBA on TNT by subscribing to Sling Orange or Sling Blue, ESPN and ESPN3 by subscribing to Sling Orange, and on ABC by subscribing to Sling Orange + Broadcast Extra.

All stats courtesy ESPN and Basketball Reference.

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