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Sunday, 20 April 2014 14:38

Playoffs Round 1 Recap: Thunder Hangs On While Pacers Collapse

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While the Boston Celtics' off-season has begun, CLNS Radio's NBA/Celtics Magazine will have Post Season Coverage of the NBA at-large. Stay tuned to the C's Magazine for updates on the NBA Playoffs.

Atlanta Hawks 101, Indiana Pacers 93

Just when it looked like the Indiana Pacers' second half of the season couldn't get any worse, they tumbled quickly towards a complete collapse after falling to the Atlanta Hawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The Pacers had lost 13 of their last 23 regular season games, all the while praying to God that their home court advantage would give them a chance to regain some momentum. Instead, the Atlanta Hawks took the game to the Pacers from start to finish.

It wasn't a case of the Hawks sneaking an ugly victory. They took the game with both hands in a manor that made them look like the number one seed instead. How exactly the Pacers turn this around will come down to sheer mental strength, and possibly a radical change in lineup and philosophy.

The Hawks hit the ground running from the start, going on a 16-2 scoring run to take an 18-9 lead. The Pacers pulled themselves back into the game as they reduced their deficit to six by the end of the first, and then tied the game at halftime, but it was the third quarter that proved to be the killer. The Hawks went on a 20-4 run as they kept the Pacers to a measly 16 points in the quarter.

Jeff Teague scored 28 points, his career-high during the playoffs, while Paul Millsap also scored 25. Paul George was the highest scorer for the Pacers with 24 points.

All the Pacers can do now is think hard about whether or not they stick with their usual starting lineup, or try and play with a smaller team to match the Hawks. In any case, in the five previous meetings between these two teams in the playoffs, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series every time.

Oklahoma City Thunder 100, Memphis Grizzlies 86

The Oklahoma City Thunder became the only home team to claim victory on the opening day of the playoffs as they held off a late reassurance from the Memphis Grizzlies.

It looked like it was going to be all too easy for the Thunder. After the first half, they hadn't trailed at any point to the visiting Grizzlies, and at one point pulled away with a massive 25 point lead. No one would have been blamed for changing the channel at that point.

What happened next was a borderline opening day miracle. In the third the Grizzlies outscored the Thunder 31-13 and reduced what was a 25 point deficit down to just two. In the space of a quarter it looked like the Thunder had had the wind totally blown out of their sails.

In the fourth quarter however, the Thunder proved that maybe they are ready to win an NBA Finals. Perhaps now they have the mental discipline and experience to keep their cool. The Thunder went on a 13-1 scoring run to regain their double digit lead, which they held for the remainder of the game.

Kevin Durant scored 33 points while Russell Westbrook netted 23 points. Despite their comeback, the Grizzlies were restricted to 36.3 percent shooting in the game.

While the Thunder racked up a comfortable victory on paper, the fact that the Grizzlies fought back the way they did should keep them from being complacent in Game 2.

Golden State Warriors 109, Los Angeles Clippers 105

The Los Angeles Clippers picked the worst time to give up a fourth quarter lead for the first time this season as the visiting Golden State Warriors took advantage with a victory in Game 1 of the series.

When the Warriors made a slow start to the game, it looked like the Clippers were about to take their first step towards being classed as one of the NBA's elite. With their Los Angeles rivals languishing in the lottery pick depths, it was a golden opportunity to become a real NBA Finals contender. After Game 1 however, the only thing that's golden are the Warriors.

The Warriors recovered from their slow start and took a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter. The Clippers showed some of the resilience that got them into the playoffs and tied the game, but even with momentum on their side, they shot themselves in the foot with missed free throws, turnovers, and careless fouls.

It's a win that cements this as one of the more interesting match-ups in the first round. The Clippers will want to recover quickly and take a win in Game 2, otherwise the Warriors could find themselves heading to the next round much sooner than they anticipated.

Klay Thompson scored 22 points for the Warriors while David Lee also added 20 points of his own with 13 rebounds.

Brooklyn Nets 94, Toronto Raptors 87

In a tight game, the Brooklyn Nets used their veteran status as a strength instead of a weakness as they pulled away with solid points in the fourth quarter to claim the win over the Toronto Raptors.

Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter, which included several shots during the final moments. It was a game that came down to one thing; the ability to win in crunch time. Paul Pierce certainly has plenty of experience in that area.

Deron Williams and Joe Johnson both claimed 24 points, while Shaun Livingston added 10 points of his own with three rebounds and three assists.

For more on the Nets victory over the Raptors, check out Joel Moss' recap of the game.

Eric Wood

Eric Wood is a Celtics beat writer for CLNS Radio. He lives in the north of England where he currently works as a freelance writer. He has previously worked for newspapers such as the Bolton News and Manchester Evening News. He is also currently the film critic for the British website City Connect. His debut novella, "Stealing The Planet" is due for release later in the year.