After close and disappointing losses in Game 1, all four of the teams on the losing end in the second round of the NBA playoffs, rallied this week to take Game 2 in their respective series. Whether it was strategizing in Game 1 to watch what strengths and weaknesses their opponent had or just outright losing control at the end of the game, those teams came up short.
Nevertheless what these teams have in common is the ability to take a punch in the chest and counter that with a blow of their own by delivering a power punch in the mouth.
The Miami Heat, New York Knicks, Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies all proved to be great teams when hit with adversity. In fact, this may be the list of teams competing for their respective conference finals.
The Miami Heat came out hot from the start, proving why they are the defending NBA champions. It all started on the defensive end of the ball; the Heat forced the Bulls into turnovers and rebounded, which turned into instant offense. Playing collectively as a team, the Heat leading scorer (in Game 2) wasn’t even among their Big Three.
It was future Hall of Famer Ray Allen with his contribution of 21 points in the game. The Chicago Bulls didn’t know what hit them; the Heat biggest lead was 46 points and ended the game with a franchise-best 37 point difference.
Frustrated by the Heat’s dominant play, the Bulls lost their cool and were hit with a handful of technical fouls, eventually losing two players to ejection. Wednesday night’s game appeared to be a statement by the Miami Heat. I think we all heard the response.
The New York Knicks wasn’t about to lay down either. Getting 32 points from their superstar Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks cruised in Game 2. Catching fire in the fourth quarter, the Knicks couldn’t seem to miss. The Pacers, on the other hand, was almost scoreless the entire fourth quarter.
Down by as much as 27 points, the Pacers pulled their starters with less than five minutes to play in regulation. You can’t stop great shooters; they may struggle at times but once they get it going there’s really nothing you can do.
The Knicks need to continue to play their style of basketball, get out and run and continue to make shots. Although the Pacers like to play from the post and slow down the tempo, without a great perimeter player, it’s hard for them to overcome a big deficit.
Moreover, that brings me to the Golden State Warriors. Can they shoot the rock or what? If it’s not Stephen Curry lighting you up one night, it’s the other half of the Warriors’ duo, Klay Thompson, who broke the record in Game 2 for most points in a half against the San Antonio Spurs during a playoff game with 29 points (Curry had tied the record with Kobe Bryant contributing 28 points in the half in their Game 1 loss).
The Warriors let one slip away in their double overtime loss, and almost repeated that same scenario Tuesday night. If they can hold on to big leads and not let their opponent back into games, I can’t see any team in the Western Conference outshooting them. The Warriors are the youngest team remaining in the playoffs, playing with a lot of spark and confidence.
I expect them to continue to grow and compete for a championship for years to come.
I stated in my previous column stating that great players answer the bell when faced with adversity. It appears as much as we continue to watch some of these outstanding players elevate their games and lead their teams to victory.
After huge statement games offered by the Heat, Knicks, Grizzlies and Warriors, it will be interesting to see how the opposing teams-squads which lost in Game 2, will respond.
Series play in the second round is still early and no team wants to go home prematurely. Even without familiar faces the 2013 NBA playoffs, the league’s annual postseason showcase has been far from disappointing. These teams are putting on a real show for the entire basketball world to see.