Upset Central in the NBA Playoffs: Hawks and Hornets and Grizzlies, Oh My!

What a wild opening weekend for the NBA’s second season.  Is it just me or have these playoffs already taken on a March Madness feel?  We’ve even had Tyler Hansbrough and Shane Battier sightings!!!

We’ve already seen lower-seeded Atlanta upend Orlando, the Memphis Grizzlies knock off the Ginobili-less Spurs and Chris Paul and his merry band of Hornets shock the defending champions.

I don’t know what Grizzlies-Hornets moneyline paid but let’s just say if you were bold enough to parlay those two for $100, you could probably afford to take the week off.

In addition to those three upsets, the Pacers almost knocked off the Bulls… twice (until Derrick Rose showed why he’s the league’s MVP), the Knicks almost beat the Celtics (until Ray Allen showed us why he’s the best three-point shooter ever) and Denver almost beat Oklahoma City (until Kendrick Perkins got away with a goal tend that wasn’t called).  Only one game so far has been decided by more than ten points.  David Stern is currently a happy man.

In retrospect, none of these upsets were all that unfounded.  The Spurs are not the same team without their free-wheeling Argentine.  Chris Paul is nearly impossible to defend, especially by a 36-year old Derek Fisher.  And even though the Magic embarrassed the Hawks in last year’s playoffs, these are not your same Orlando Magic.  And these are definitely not the same Hawks.

What’s most concerning is not that the Magic, Lakers and Spurs all lost within a 24-hour period, it’s the manner in which they lost.  Atlanta, Memphis and New Orleans pretty much led those games from start to finish.  After Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson, the Orlando Magic shot 23%, while their opponents had five players in double-figures.  Kobe scored 34 in the Lakers loss, but the rest of his teammates were equally unseen.  And the Spurs had no answer for Zach Randolph.

It’s not panic time yet for the top two Western seeds.   Both should still advance, but none of these three teams can afford to drop a second game at home.

It’s the NBA playoffs and championship caliber teams make adjustments.  If not, it’ll be back to the drawing board, with roster changes heard from coast to coast.


38 thoughts on “Upset Central in the NBA Playoffs: Hawks and Hornets and Grizzlies, Oh My!

  1. Pingback: Upset Central in the NBA Playoffs: Hawks and Hornets and Grizzlies, Oh My!, NBA | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. I love the “second season.” I get off on underdogs winning,(except against my own team). The Grizzlies are looking sharp. Nothing like a fight over a card game to bring a team together. The Hawks have figured it out just in time for the playoffs. Chris Paul is always dangerous.

  3. Next round should be stout, Snake, although I know you’re at least a slight bit concerned about getting past the Knickerbockers.

    The Grizz are a great young team. Imagine if they had a healthy Rudy Gay in this series. The Spurs’d be in a buttload of trouble.

    The Hawks are solid and for Vegas to list them as 5:1 underdogs against an over-rated Magic team was a huge mistake… that I plan on cashing in on, but more on that another time.

    And just like Evan Turner having to guard Dwyane Wade is unfair, so is Derek Fisher having to guard Chris Paul.

  4. Chris

    Can you and Hollinger now still justify Dwight’s candidacy for League MVP should the Magic bow out of the series ? I know the award is meant to be ’bout what achieved in the regular season . But thus far as productive as Dwight has been in this series no one cares about his stats when your team ends up on the losing end of a game that you should’ve won .

    Don’t buy into the hype ! This team is underachieving and if they implode then look for some major upheavals come the offseason not only terms of the roster but with Smith and other members of the front office possibly being shown the door .

    You’d made the comment about and technicals and what it might cost the team ? Well he’s (Dwight) already subject himself to that in this series . C’mon you know if Howard can’t keep his emotions in check it could end up costing the Magic the series .

    tophatal ……………….

  5. You’ll be pleased to know I’m now throwing my hat into the ring in terms of supporting a MLB team . I know this ain’t AI and there’s no Seacrest , Paula Abdul or the my fellow Brit Cowell awaiting my pronouncement or vote . But here it is ……….. it’s the Braves !

    tophatal ……..

  6. That first pic of CPIII and Kobe …. it looks as if Kobe ain’t too pleased that CP caught ahold of his manhood and cojones !

    Members of GLAAD are hooping it up after that I’d dare say !

    tophatal …………..

  7. I am a proud fair-weather-carpet-bagging-knicks-fan right now, so that Ray Allen 3 hurt the most. Although really, scoring only 34 points in the second half is what really hurt em..

  8. Actually, I think that picture pretty well depicts the series so far, courtesy of CNNSI.com.

    It’s an aggressive Chris Paul charging into Kobe Bryant who’s trying to sell the foul.

    Lakers better man up in Game Two, as should the Spurs.

  9. SD…

    No need to apologize for jumping on that Knicks bandwagon. You’re up there, man. It’s a good team to root for.

    Drawing the Celtics in the first round was a tough match-up though. They might have been able to beat any other team in the East in the first round, other than maybe Miami.

    If they can somehow woo Chris Paul there next season, that team will be a force over the next few years.

  10. It was a good opening weekend. I missed some of the games, but did catch the crazy upsets on Sunday. I think the Hornets played about as good as they could’ve and the Lakers played about as bad as they could’ve.

    The Spurs are probably in trouble without Manu.

    I think the Magic will hit more threes the next time out.

    I’m feeling good about my prediction of the Heat coming out of the east!

  11. It was a great opening weekend for the NBA playoffs, Chapper.

    I caught as much as I could.

    I did catch enough to see that the Magic are in trouble.

    As I mentioned above, I still think the Spurs and Lakers will be fine in their opening series, but they better tighten up come Game Two.

    And yes, the Heat are looking pretty damn good so far. By the time the Knicks-Celtics series is over, the winner will be pretty banged up while the Heat should still be raring to go.

  12. Chris

    How can I support an as_hole like team owner Jeffrey Loria when he continues to lie about the team’s financial stability albeit that he’s now conned the city of Miami , Miami Dade Co as well as the state to fund the building of the team’s new venue ? I’ve repeatedly when I’ve written ’bout the team and organization what has taken place .

    Rose will in it unless there’s a divine act of God !

    Let me know what you think about the following as I felt something like this would rear its ugly head concerning the NBA Playoffs !

    Click on link to read in full .

    Courtesy of USA Today

    NBA keeps coaches silent on free throws for home teams

    By Jeff Zillgitt , USA Today

    Complaining about officiating is an NBA playoff tradition — one that sometimes comes with a monetary transfer from a coach’s bank account to the league.

    Nate McMillan has been the NBA’s latest victim for criticizing officials after games. McMillan was fined $35,000 for his public comments.

    By Matthew Emmons, US Presswire

    Nate McMillan has been the NBA’s latest victim for criticizing officials after games. McMillan was fined $35,000 for his public comments.

    Enlarge

    By Matthew Emmons, US Presswire

    Nate McMillan has been the NBA’s latest victim for criticizing officials after games. McMillan was fined $35,000 for his public comments.
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    After Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan bemoaned the Dallas Mavericks’ 19-2 fourth-quarter advantage in free throws in Saturday’s Game 1, the NBA fined him $35,000 on Monday for “public comments about the officiating.”

    HEAT STAY HOT: Smother Sixers
    ADELMAN OUT: Rockets let coach go

    In the eight playoff series openers, home teams enjoyed a 256-189 edge in free throws attempted, including a 130-74 advantage in Saturday’s four games.

    Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins skirted the issue after his team’s Game 1 loss to the Miami Heat. Asked to address Miami’s 39-15 edge in free throws, Collins said, “I could. But my grandkids would lose their college fund.”

    Though some coaches might think referees favor one team or another, style of play is probably a bigger factor

    =======================

    The refs have been way too inconsistent wouldn’t you say ? I mean I know the home can gains advantage why but this is simply ridiculous ! And Stern believes these guys (refs) are above reproach ?

    tophatal ……

  13. How can you even hint that Dwight is not worthy of the MVP conversation Al?? Take Drose off the bulls you still have some solid talent around him. Take Howard out of the mix and you have the Nets. He is top ten in more categories than Rose and you will see tonight why he is worthy of that talk. Magic are not the magic of old but Howard will put them over the top tonight. Count it!

  14. Chris

    As the Rockets have rid themselves of Adelman does that mean that Yao’ll be next on the chopping block given his ill health over the last couple of seasons ?

    tophatal ……………

  15. I don’t watch the Magic a ton, but when I see them they either blow someone out or they get blown out. Is it just a coincidince I watched those games or does that hold some truth?

    Yeah, I think the concern meter for the 1 and 2 seeds in the west is about a 1 on a scale from 1 to 10. If either lose game two, it’s going to be panic time…

  16. Double double in the first half? Averaging almost 20 rebounds a game? Averaging scoring mid 30’s in the playoffs?? Forcing bad shot after bad shot? Did you see how many high floaters the Hawks tossed up there?? MVP! MVP! MVP!

  17. Seth

    Does Dwight make anyone better on that Magic team and who in your estimation can be relied to step up with any semblance of consistency and put up points when Howard has an off game ? Don’t buy into the hooplah and hype ! Nelson flits in and out of games and the likes of Arenas , and both Richardsons are like pieces of dung ….. stinking up the joint !

    With Rose you know that beyond him you have the likes of Boozer , Deng and Taj Gibson . When you can answer me succinctly as to who on that Magic team has consistently stepped up this season then we can have a really mature conversation .

    tophatal ……………

  18. Chris

    Remember what I told you ’bout the Hawks being scared of their own damn shadows ? The evidence was there for all to see last night . I’m sorry but Joe Johnson is being overpaid to provide the Hawks with absolutely nothing !

    The series between the two will be essentially over even if it isn’t with a sweep by the Magic ! . The Hawks laid down like a ho’ lookin’ to get laid on the cheap !

    Remind Seth that no league MVP in the last decade that has won the accolade has been from a team that hadn’t been that conference’s top seed .

    tophatal ………….

  19. In that case, Al, I’m proud of ya’. That’s a fair reason to stop liking them. Just don’t jump back ON the Marlins bandwagon if they start winning, he he.

    Re: coaches questioning officials calls, I guess I’m ultimately going to have to side with you. Stern’s rule has become a dictatorship, although most commissioners don’t like it when their refs’ judgment comes into question.

    Stern’s just a little more sensitive since one of his own was caught in a point-shaving scandal.

  20. Yao’s still even in the league, Al?

    That’s the only problem with drafting wrong at the top spot in the NBA. It can set a franchise back years.

    I don’t know what was expected out of Adelman. That was just a bad team.

  21. Chap…

    I think that’s the biggest problem with the Magic. They’re inconsistent.

    They’ll beat the Celtics then lose to the Kings the following night.

  22. Seth…

    As I mentioned in the post, Dwight is nearly impossible to score upon one-on-one. Not only is he huge with long arms but he can jump out of the gym.

    I think it was Legler who said they might as well rename that Defensive Player of the Year Award after him.

  23. Al…

    I don’t agree that ‘making teammates better’ constitutes being the MVP, but even if it did, Dwight does draw enough double (and triple) teams to leave his teammates wide open for perimeter jumpers. He can’t help it if they can’t hit the broad side of a barn.

    I always understood the award goes to the player who is most valuable to his team. If that’s the case, I’m still thinking Dwight takes home second place honors.

    Although Dirk made a strong case for winning the award last night. The seven-foot German was DEALING!!!!

  24. Al…

    Don’t kid yourself.

    The Hawks will take at LEAST another game in that series.

    Heck, they were winning that game last night.

    If I’m Larry Drew, I go right after Dwight and make his weaknesses work for Atlanta.

    If, as you suggest, Dwight’s no MVP candidate, then the Hawks should have this series wrapped up, no?

  25. Chris

    There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of me jumping back with the Marlins ! I’m more liable to convert to Islam before doing that ! Like I said ’bout the Hawks they’re scared of their own shadow . That team couldn’t intimidate a room full of drag queens !

    Seth’s got a hard on for Dwight but he’s failed to answer the question which is who on the Magic has he made better much less performs consistently of a high standard for the team . Is that too hard a question to answer ? Can you Chris make a case for anyone on that Magic team that even performs consistently even over the course of the season much less the playoffs ?

    The Knicks are on their way to being swept if they don’t start playing defense . ‘melo may well have played a great game but it was all negated in the team’s loss to the Celtics . ‘nough said !

    The Knicks are now down 0-2 and they’re look like crap on the defensive side of the ball .

    Dumb , Dumber And Dumbest …….

    tophatal ………..

  26. By that measure then Chris it ought to be going to LBJ or Wade then in terms of the award . Because that’s misnomer about the league MVP and the writers who adjudge the call to begin with ! If you want some veracity behind this award then leave it to the players and coaches rather than a bunch of writers ! That seems to be the idiocy of awards here in the US when it comes down the players it’s adjudicated by individuals who ought not to matter at all !

    tophatal …………….

  27. Chris

    Here’s another reason to vindicate what I’ve been saying all along about baseball and its the owners and the league hierarchy ! See link provided below .

    MLB to take over Dodgers operations

    They won’t be the only team that this’ll happen to at all ! And there was JW trying to tell me that contraction won’t ever happen . It’ll definitely happen not immediately but it will most definitely happen . The Mets and Dodgers between ’em could end up being on the hook collectively for over $3 billion . One through a civil suit and the other having amassed so much debt but they’ve not been paying their creditors in the manner that they were suppose to .

    Selig has been doing too little too late in allowing the likes of Wilpon and McCourt to literally ruin their respective ballclubs. I like how idiots out there having been talking about the purity of the game but when it comes to the business side of it they show about as much common sense and knowledge as a retard !

    Gammons , the likes of Olney , Kurkjian , and Feinstein while being commendable have shown little credibility when addressing this issue which if anything has been just as acute as the steroid problems !

    tophatal ………..

  28. Said it before and I’ll say it again…MVP voting should go 1) Derrick 2) Dirk and 3) Dwight. Those three players are the most valuable to their respective teams success.

    Hope the Lakers lose to the Hornets again tonight…that would be epic. Losing two straight home games to guys named Gray, Green and Jason Smith.

  29. Al…

    Again, I fail to see the correlation. What does making your teammates better have to do with winning the MVP award?

    Did David Robinson make his teammates better? Did Karl Malone? Did Amare this year?

    I don’t think that’s necessarily a prerequisite to winning the trophy. For a point guard MAYBE, but not for a big man.

  30. And again, Al, just for the record, give us your top five players, in order, of who you think should win the award, because I have a feeling you’re going to be way off when the ballots are revealed.

  31. Drew…

    You know L.A. ain’t losin’ that series to the Hornets.

    The only thing that Game One loss did was give Hornets fans a glimmer of hope that they didn’t have before the series started.

    In fact, things have gotten so bad, one Hornets fan secretly revealed to me his man crush for Jack Nicholson last night.

    Scary.

  32. The five players I believe to be viable candidates ! LBJ , Durant , Wade , Rose , Amar’e Dirk and the honorable mention to Dwight !

    Before that Knicks trade Felton and Stoudemire ‘ had that team going but for some reason Walsh felt that it was needed to have ‘melo there. Here’s my thing, the trade will work in the long run but why rush into it at that juncture ? It was more to do with money rather than anything to do with competitiveness and it was the same thing with the Heat and D -Wade . For years on Riles thought having him there’d be enough but with ’em losing money hand over fist they had to do something outrageous . Now the NBA is going the same way as MLB …….. teams will struggle from a competitive but moreover from a financial standpoint .

    Crazy situation is when it’s all said and done the Knicks will barely break even this year from a financial standpoint ! Of the thirty teams in the NBA only 8 teams overall are projected to make an actual profit . 22 will have losses but for the league as a whole the NBA is projected to lose in excess of $ 390 million and that’s Stern’s own figures of which his subordinate Stu Jackson say is on the conservative side .

    Finally An Act of Rationale By MLB And In Particular Bud Selig Who Shows That He Might Indeed Have A Backbone

    tophatal ………….

  33. Dwight sixth, Al? Come on.

    I can’t give it to BronBron because he played with Wade and the first half of their season was for shit.

    Amare made the Knicks til Melo got there but they were still a six seed.

    Durant was the man but he essentially had the same season he had last year.

    Same with Dirk. Besides, Dirk also has sick talent around him.

    Not taking anything away from the season these guys had but Dwight had more of an impact on his team than any of the others, Rose excluded.

    Re: pulling the trigger on the ‘Melo trade, the Nuggets held the cards, Al, which is why they got as much as they did out of New York. They’d ship him elsewhere otherwise.

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