Historic First Round

Historic First Round

Mark D. Smith - USA Today

Kevin Durant led the Thunder to the second round after being called “Mr. Unreliable” by a local newspaper.

NBA

Jake Boynton, Sports Writer

This year’s opening round featured the most game 7’s (5) in NBA playoff history. There also were the most overtime games ever in the first round (8).

The first round was very busy, and some of the series may have been overshadowed by others, so here is a series by series breakdown of the NBA Playoffs first round.

Eastern Conference:

1) Indiana Pacers vs. 8) Atlanta Hawks: (Pacers won 4-3)

The Pacers entered the series as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, therefore the favorite to represent the East in the Finals. However, the Pacers were rumored to have controversy in the locker room, and it appeared to affect them on the court. The Hawks lead the series going into game six, 3-2, but star players David West and Paul George stepped up, and led the Pacers to wins in games six and seven respectively.

Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel commented on George’s performance after game seven.

Paul George really carried us for a lot of the game on the offensive end. He’s a gamer. The bigger the stakes, the better he’s going to play,” said Vogel.

2) Miami Heat vs. 7) Charlotte Bobcats: (Heat won 4-0)

The Heat swept Charlotte in round won with the lowest margin of victory being 4 points in game two, in Miami. The younger, more inexperienced Bobcats were overpowered by the Miami’s big three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. The Heat will look to continue to roll through the East, in their mission to win their third straight title.

3) Toronto Raptors vs. 6) Brooklyn Nets: (Nets won 4-3)

The three seeded, young Toronto team was outplayed by an experienced Brooklyn  squad. Paul Pierce continued his historically clutch play with nine points in the fourth quarter of game one, and the series clinching block in game seven. (Photo via larrybrownsports.com)

Just like the Pacers, the Nets faced elimination in games six and seven but won two in a row to advance to the second round.

Raptor’s star DeMar DeRosan summed up the series after game seven with a short statement about the Raptor’s inexperience.

“They were throwing haymakers and we were not ready for it,” said DeRozan.

4) Chicago Bulls vs. 5) Washington Wizards: (Wizards won 4-1)

The Wizards went against the theme of young teams exiting early, but defeating the Bulls in just five games. The Bulls one win came in game three by only three points. Washington was lead by young talent like John Wall and Bradley Beal, who the depleted Bulls, without injured Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, who was traded earlier in the season.

Western Conference

1) San Antonio Spurs vs. 8) Dallas Mavericks: (Spurs won 4-3)

In a match up featuring two talented Texas teams, the Spurs prevailed. Despite Vince Carter’s momentum-carrying buzzer beater, the Spur’s consistent play was too much for Dallas and their long time leader Dirk Nowitzki.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle commented on the Spurs consistancy over the years after game seven.

“They’re the best of the best, and they’ve been great for a long time. They’ve got a great chance, obviously,” said Carlisle.

San Antonio will play Portland in round two.

2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. 7) Memphis Grizzlies: (Thunder won 4-3)

NBA MVP Kevin Durant excelled in the later half of the series after a local news paper called him “Mr. Unreliable.” Durant, with fellow guard Russell Westbrook lead the late series charge to defeat the defensive-minded Grizzlies.

Durant mentioned how the media fueled his play late in the series.

” I just relaxed and played my game. You guys motivated me a little, even though I told you you didn’t,” said Durant.

3) Los Angeles Clippers vs. 6) Golden State Warriors: (Clippers won 4-3)

In one of the closest match ups of the playoffs, Clippers‘ point guard Chris Paul lead the team to the second round for only the third time since they moved to LA in 1984.

The Clippers were able to overcome nationwide controversy, after their owner, Donald Sterling, was recorded making racist remarks in a conversation with his then girlfriend. They silently protested during warmups by wearing their jerseys inside out, and the game jerseys said “Los Angeles” not “Clippers.” (photo via sportslogos.net)

The Warriors, with young standout Steph Curry, had high hopes for the 2014 playoffs, and clearly were not happy as they fired coach Mark Jackson, just hours after the loss.

Jackson predicted his fate after the Warriors season ending.

“I’m going to be fine, even if it’s just as a full time pastor,” said the former coach.

4) Portland Trailblazers vs. 5) Houston Rockets: (Blazers won 4-2)

This series featured the highlight of the first round, Damien Lillard‘s series winning buzzer beater, with 0.9 seconds left in game six. Houston’s Dwight Howard‘s title hopes were crushed again this year after he signed with the Rockets, teaming up with fellow all-star James Harden. Lillard’s shot and two, forty point games from LaMarcus Aldridge to open the series, set the tone for Portland’s victory.