Game 1 Western Conference Quarter Finals: SAN ANTONIO SPURS 90, Dallas Mavericks 85
After playing all season for home court, the San Antonio Spurs almost lost it in their first game of the playoffs against Texan rival Dallas Mavericks.
The Spurs had to overcome a 10-point deficit as the Mavs lead 81-71 with 7:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.
During the third quarter, Spurs nation held their collective breath when Tim Duncan hobbled to the bench, holding his knee. But Duncan returned to put the Spurs on his shoulders to overcome the Mavs by scoring nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-5 shooting in the paint.
The Spurs tied the game with 4:54 remaining before Tony Parker drove to the basket to take an 83-81 lead. Parker finished with 21 points and 6 assists.
The Mavs restricted the Spurs to 3-of-17 from the 3-point line but Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis had little input in scoring only 11 points each and both shot 4-of-14 from the field. Devin Harris came off the bench to lead the Mavs with 19 points and 5 assists.
In compounding a difficult lost opportunity for the Mavs, the Spurs have a 24-4 playoff series record when winning Game 1 under coach Greg Popovich.
Game 1 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals: MIAMI HEAT 99, Charlotte Bobcats 88 The Miami Heat began their championship defence in the playoffs with a little more difficulty than was expected as they sealed the game with a 18-4 run in the fourth quarter.
The Heat have now beaten the Bobcats 17 straight times and although it was their first national television appearance this season, Charlotte rose to the occasion as they jumped to a 16-9 lead on the back of Al Jefferson.
Jefferson- the Bobcats only playoff-experienced starter- was 4-of-4 from the field before he left to the locker room at the end of the first quarter with a foot injury. He returned in the second quarter to finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds but his performance suffered.
After trailing the Bobcats 23-19 at the end of the first quarter, the Heat closed the half on a 19-2 run to lead 49-42 at half time.
However, the Bobcats responded after halftime on the back of Kemba Walker, who finished with 20 points, as they went on a 13-0 run to retake the lead.
Eventually, the Heat proved too powerful in the fourth quarter with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade who scored 27 and 23 points in the game, respectively. LeBron passed Larry Bird to become the eighth highest playoff-scorer.
What was already a near-impossible task may now have become a hopeless situation for the Bobcats. In a worrying sign for Bobcats fans, and for any hope of their first franchise playoff win, Jefferson left the arena in a walking boot.
Game 1 Eastern Conference Quarter Finals: Washington Wizards 102, CHICAGO BULLS 93
The Washington Wizards rallied from a 64-51 deficit in the third quarter to steal home court from the Bulls.
The Bulls looked ready to blow out the Wizards but were outscored 30-18 in the fourth quarter as they struggled to find anyone to score down the stretch. During the final quarter, the Bulls missed 8-of-10 field goals as the Wizards went on an 18-6 run to win the game. It was a strong team performance for the Wizards. Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat proved too powerful for the Joakim Noah-led Bulls. Nene dominated with 24 points and 8 rebounds, including a powerful dunk to start the game. Gortat added 15 points and 13 rebounds. In their postseason debuts, John Wall and Bradley Beal combined for 29 points and 13 assists. Trevor Ariza also scored 18 points including three 3-pointers. The Bulls tried hard but struggled offensively and shot 5-of-20 from the 3-point line. Noah led the Bulls with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin both scored a team-high 16 points each.
The Bulls will have to recover quickly from a shattering loss in time for Game 2 on Tuesday.
Game 1 Western Conference Quarter Finals: Portland Trailblazers 122, HOUSTON ROCKETS 120
LaMarcus Aldridge pushed the Portland Trailblazers to an epic Game 1 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets, scoring a career-high 46 points along with 18 rebounds.
The Rockets lead 112-106 in overtime and looked to have seized momentum to close the game. However, the Trailblazers wouldn’t go away and hit back-to-back three-pointers to go on an 8-0 run in taking the lead.
Aldridge fouled out with the scores locked at 116-each with a minute remaining in overtime and Jeremy Lin scored at the basket on the subsequent play for the Rockets to reclaim the lead. Damien Lillard responded with his own drive to the basket and converted the free throw before Joel Freeland hit one-of-two free-throws to hold on for a stunning postseason road victory.
Making the playoffs for the fist time since 2011, it was going to be a difficult task for a young and inexperienced team to play on the road in Houston but the Trailblazers jumped to an early lead and lead 27-20 after the first quarter.
The Rockets took control to lead by 11 but the Trailblazers countered with a 15-5 run to trail 49-48 at halftime. Again, the Rockets jumped to an 86-73 lead in the final quarter. Trailblazers coach, Terry Stotts, employed the Hack-A-Howard strategy that resulted in a 10-0 run to tie the game at 98 with 2:45 remaining. Dwight Howard missed four straight free throws during the run.
Lillard scored 31 points with 9 rebounds including a three-pointer that tied it up at 104-all before James Harden put Houston up with two free throws. Aldridge’s tip-in with 2.9 seconds left tied it again at 106-all and Harden missed the final shot to win the game in regulation. Howard and Harden finished with 27 points each. Harden struggled early in scoring only 2 points in the first 19 minutes. Chandler Parsons also scored 24 points for the Rockets.
The Rockets had numerous chances to seal the game and will have to recover for Game 2 on Wednesday night. Coach Kevin McHale has to decide whether to limit Aldridge by double-teaming him in the post. Harden will look for a better start and Howard has to avoid foul trouble for the Rockets to tie the series going back to Portland. Although the Trailblazers are young they may struggle without any contribution from their bench who scored only 7 points.