Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks -7ET
In large part to help promote the great BucksProductions videos, I’ve decided to take a different approach in previewing Game 2 between the Bucks and Hawks.
The Architecture: Any good architect can tell you that if there’s even the slightest chance that a foundation’s structure could collapse, you need to make adjustments to the plan. Despite the fact that he doesn’t like making adjustments, Bucks Head Coach Scott Skiles must make a starting unit adjustment in order for the Bucks to have a chance. Josh Smith had his way all game long with Carlos Delfino guarding him and to make matters worse Delfino wasn’t even contributing on the offesive side of the floor. Skiles must change his starting rotation to Jennings/Salmons/Mbah a Moute/Ilayasova/Thomas. That limits the amount of mismatches and help side that will present out there on the floor.
The Rotation: Giving Ersan Ilayasova the starting nod does risk early foul trouble and obviously diminishes Skiles reliable big man scoring option but it’s a roll of the dice the Bucks need to take. If and when Carlos Delfino wakes up and starts to be the aggressive shooter he’s been all year for the Bucks, we have a nice new addition to the bench scoring output alongside Ridnour and Stackhouse. The Hawks themselves don’t really have a solid big man off the bench so starting Ilayasova seems very logical to me. Are the Bucks really trying to tell me that Dan Gadzuric can’t do a somewhat decent job defending Joe Smith or Zaza Pachulia? Please…At least test the waters of the idea. The Bucks aren’t in a position in which they can play it safe, it’s time to take a chance at a new look and see if it pays dividends.
In Our House…Playoff Party: Brandon Jennings was phenomenal in Game 1 proving yet again that the young rookie steps up in big time games. Jennings should already be expected to see some of the Hawks defensive adjustments come Game 2. With the Hawks high intensity switching defense look for the Hawks’ guards to force the ball out of Jennings hands, trapping him whenever the opportunity presents itself (Screen & Rolls) in particular. So the Bucks will need solid offensive contributions from those surrounding Jennings, Kurt Thomas must hit the open 15 footer off the screen and roll (he’ll get tons of those looks if the trap Jennings on the screen). John Salmons must do a better job putting the ball in the basket assisting Jennings, in Game 1 the Bucks relied way to much upon Jennings and help was nearly non-existent on offense.
Game 2 Overview: The Bucks chances of success will obviously start on the defensive end of the floor. Getting stops early would really be the difference maker in the Bucks giving themselves a great chance to come out on top in Game 2 starting with limiting amount of points in the paint. The Bucks can’t play from behind like they did and Game 1 if they want to give themselves a chance to head back to Milwaukee tied up. A win in Game 2 for the Bucks puts them in a very good position to force a Game 6 or even series deciding 7th game.
Hawks-109 Bucks-105 OT
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics-8 ET
As Paul Pierce would say sometimes The Truth Hurts and to be honest, I truthfully feel the Celtics are fine without Kevin Garnett. While I’ll be the first too admit I haven’t been high on Garnett ever since leaving Minnesota, I think the Celtics have adapted to playing without him at this point. The only big issue that becomes a concern is relying upon the play of Rasheed Wallace who has been a complete waste this season. But you can be assured that Rondo and Pierce will come out an pick up the scoring slack left in Garnett’s absence. For the Heat, Jermaine O’Neal’s 3-14 shooting performance just won’t cut it. Clearly they’ll need him to start finishing around the basket and Tito Jackson must also step up his play. Quentin Richardson did a sufficient job aiding Dwyane Wade for the perimeter tallying 15 points in Game 1, but on a nightly basis the Heat must have “a big three”. Clearly Wade will always be a permanent figure in the Heat’s “big three” but between Richardson/Beasley/O’Neal, two of them must step up on any given night for the Heat to find success. In Game 1, only two were present (Wade & Richardson), if the Heat can compile a “big three” tonight they win Game 2.
Heat- 97 Celtics- 94 OT
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns- 10 ET
While I’d like to say that the Phoenix Suns learned a valuable lesson in Game 1, I very well know they haven’t. Even if they have come out and win in Game 2, I’d be very concerned if I were a Suns fan:
-How bad are the Suns on defense? They’re as bad as allowing Andre Miller to score 32 points allowing him to replicate Brandon Roy in Blazers’ offense.
-How good is Amare Stoudemire? He’s great until he decides to take a defensive possession off allowing Aldridge to follow tap in a missed Bayless jump shot.
-Does Bayless explode yet again? Yes, especially with Brandon Roy out, Bayless will continue to contribute 10-15 points nightly maybe even 20 a night if the Suns aren’t careful.
-How do the Suns respond in Game 2? The Suns will take Game 2 at home, but that’s fine, the Blazers got what they wanted, a split on the road heading back to the Rose Garden. Going into the series I never thought I’d say this but Portland’s in control of the series.
Game 1 was The Tale of Two Jared/Jerryd’s one was a DUD one continued to be an Arizona stud….
Game 2 will be should be another great battle till the final buzzer. It seems as though the Blazers know what to expect on the defensive side of the floor and if they can continue do exactly what they did in Game 1, they’re in good shape. The Suns must get out on the break more frequently and find their touch early. Particularly, Jared Dudley must step up off the Suns bench. Dudley is the team’s spark plug and crowd favorite must drill his open shots, helping swing the momentum in the Suns favor. He was nonexistent in Game 1 which I truly feel was a big reason why Portland stole the opener. Hopefully Dudley watched the Cavaliers’ Jamario Moon’s play last night because the Suns need the same time of contribution. While Dudley’s not a proven NBA player in the league yet, this year’s he’s shown me enough to confidentially say he’ll come out ready to play in Game 2. With that being said, I’m going with a Suns win at home tonight in Game 2, this is Ross Geiger reporting on behalf of JMZ/JSPN (haha just kidding!).
Phoenix Suns- 104 Portland Trail Blazers- 96
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers- 10:30 ET
The Thunder had a very impressive hard fought Game 1 loss in Los Angeles this past Sunday. So impressive that I believe they actually just might win a game this series. Durant and Co. showed their young side with their playoff butterflies during the first quarter of Game 1. But after that, they settled down and played real solid against the contending NBA champions. This series also features one of the best (if not the best) defensive matchup in the first round, Kevin Durant guarded by Ron Artest. Watching Durant and Artest go at it is a thing of beauty, a chess match for the ages. This matchup should only get better as the series moves along as both players begin getting a better feel for one another’s tendencies. If the young Durantula can continue to create space, opening himself up for good looks at the basket, the Thunder will win a game this series. Tonight won’t be that night, but will be another step towards figuring it all out.
Lakers- 98 Thunder- 85