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NBA's two biggest franchises, the Boston Celtics and LA Lakers, found themselves biting the dust as their opponents defeated (in the case of the Lakers, dismantled) them in the early stages of their Conference Semi-Finals. Both Philadelphia and Oklahoma took a siginificant advantage on winning their respective clashes last night, something that would give them more than a fighting chance to upset their opponents. Oklahoma took a 1 -0 while Philadelphia drew level 1-1 but snatching away home advantage from their hosts.
Philadelpbia 76ers 82 - 81 Boston Celtics
Game 2 between the 76ers and Celtics, saw another 1 point victory, but this time the winners were the visiting team, Philadelphia. Jrue Holiday returned to his scoring self with a game high 18 points to lead his team to 1 - 1 tieÂ in this best of 7, Eastern Conference semi-final. Philadelphia led for most of the 48 minutes on court, in a game that failed enthrall offensively until the fourth quarter. Ray Allen came off the bench for the home team, leading them to a final dash in the fourth, which saw them bucket 65% of their field goal attempts. The Celtics did take the lead in the final period, but the time span was brief as a game winning layup from Evan Turner, allowed Philadelphia to slid back to the top with moments to go. Â
Boston lost their first game at the Garden in these playoffs, allowing the visitors to dominate thanks to a poor night, offensively. Kevin Garnett was nowhere to be seen until the final quarter of Game 2, having had two successive match winning performances for the Celtics. Andre Igoudala had a brilliant overall game, besting his opposite on the other side, Paul Pierce and dishing some impressive numbers on all ends of the court. This was Philadelphia's first win at the Garden, in the postseason, in 30 years and what a perfect time for it to come. The 76ers are well aware that Boston are easily beaten away from the Garden and with the veterans playing rather inconsistently, one can see some real ray of hope for the underdogs of this clash.
LA Lakers 90 - 119 Oklahoma City Thunder
A well rested and surging with confidence, Oklahoma City Thunder, mauled their illustrious opponents, the LA Lakers, by almost 30 points to take a 1 - 0 lead in their Western Conference semi-final. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, didn't feature in all of the fourth quarter, but Oklahoma had to big of a lead to be bothered by the Lakers. Both Durant and Westbrook combined for 52 points with the former adding a game high 9 assists and the latter adding a team high 8 rebounds. 6th man of the Year, James Harden, capped off an award winning night with a 17 point performance to illustrate Oklahoma's ridiculous form on the night. 11 out of the 12 players in an Oklahoma strip scored in the game, speaking volumes of the progress made by a bunch of players that were hailed as mere 'lab rats' by head coach Scott Brooks after the game.
The Lakers' offense looked insipid throughout the game as OKC forced turnovers and blocked shots with perfection. Kobe Bryant had a rare 20 point outing in this game and was easily kept at bay by an inspired Oklahoma team. LA Coach Mike Brown summed up the game well saying, "Give OKC credit they did a terrific job. Westbrook and Durant got loose for jump shots that weren't contested. We had problems defending the pick & roll and our weakside defense wasn't very good. They were very physical and made our offense look stagnant at times." The Lakers never threatened Oklahoma in the game, except in the opening stages where they matched their opponents, bucket to bucket.
With home advantage cancelled out for the Celtics, Philadelphia will feel that they have a genuine chance of winning this series and taking a step further to the NBA crown as Boston don't travel too well. With Game 3 heading to Philadelphia, one can expect an extremely close encounter again, with a single play or error making all the difference. The Lakers will be rested a little more for Game 2 and hopefully the likes of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will bring their A game to the court and spice things up in this series that looks set to go down to the wire. Oklahoma will hope that they keep the same intensity going and although they Game 2 may not be easy pickings, a similar performance would definitely put the Lakers in considerable discomfort. Two extremely exciting playoff series to look forward to, it seems.Â
Games on Tuesday night
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat (0-1)
LA Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs (0-0)
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- 17/05/2012 10:58 - NBA playoffs: Lakers down 2 - 0, Celtics pick up the pace with emphatic win
- 16/05/2012 09:38 - NBA playoffs: Miami falter in the absence of Bosh, San Antonio steam roll the Clippers