Column: Eastern Conference playoffs reactions
The NBA playoffs are in full swing and the Eastern Conference is already full of surprises. Here are my reactions to each series.
Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks (Series tied at 1-1): The No. 1 seed Pacers were completely outplayed in Game 1 against Atlanta. Indiana seems to be going through internal turmoil at the worst possible time. Everyday there is a new rumor about their team chemistry falling apart and it definitely showed on the court in Game 1. Jeff Teague was able to get whatever he wanted against the Indiana defense in Game 1 where he scored a game-high 28 points.
The Pacers found an answer against Teague in Game 2 and only allowed 14 points on a much less effective shooting night. Paul George also got his swagger back when he scored 27 points and made it clear that he was the best player on the court. Moving forward, the Pacers are going to need more from Roy Hibbert. They need Hibbert to be a consistent double-digit rebounder and point-scorer to add balance to their offense.
Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets (Series tied at 1-1): Paul Pierce gave a blast-from-the-past performance in Game 1, scoring key buckets down the stretch that secured the victory for the Nets. As experience as Brooklyn looked that was as inexperienced as Toronto looked down the stretch. The Raptors to find good offensive looks in the closing minutes. On the other handm Brooklyn was able to execute their offensive sets and pull away near the end.
The Raptors responded in Game 2 with an offensive outburst in the fourth quarter. Toronto scored 36 points in the fourth and was able to take over the game. Pierce was not as clutch in Game 2 and nobody else on Brooklyn stepped up to fill that void. Pierce shot 2-for-11 on the game and was never the offensive factor that he was in Game 1.
Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls (Wizards lead 2-0): The Washington Wizards have unexpectedly taken control of this series that is headed back to Washington. The trio of John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene has been able to score enough against the vaunted Chicago defense. The most impressive fact about the Wizards has been how well they have been able to control the pace of the game. Washington understands that if they can score in bunches Chicago has a hard time keeping up offensively.
With this series headed back to D.C., the Bulls will need someone to step up and shoulder the scoring load. Look for Jimmy Butler to be that guy in Game 3.
Miami Heat and Charlotte Bobcats (Heat lead 1-0 at the time this article was written): Miami's real season has finally begun and they had no problem dealing with the Bobcats in Game 1. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 63 points in Game 1 which is exactly why they were brought together. Miami will get stronger as this series goes on and the Bobcats won't be able to hang with the defending champions.
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