Three games were played in the first round of the NBA play-offs on Thursday night and there were a couple of shocks. First up in Chicago there was no shock as the Boston Celtic retook the lead in the series 2-1 thanks to a blow out win over the Bulls. The Celtics were up 22 points by halftime and just blew Chicago away to win 107-86, Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points including 4 3-pointers while Rajon Rondo grabbed a double double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
With home advantage now regained the Celtics will be confident that they can put this series to bed but no one would be surprised if Chicago won the next game in Chicago to take this series to a 6th game. To win in the next game though, they’ll want a bigger performance from their stars, Ben Gordon who had previously put up big numbers in first two games was shut out for only 15 points last night, shooting 5 of 13 from the field while Derrick Rose shot only 4 of 14 from the field for 9 points, a feeble total.
In Dallas the Mavericks bossed the San Antonio Spurs in game 3 of their series and won easily 88-67 in a fantastic display of defensive play. By the half San Antonio had only 30 points on the board and with less than 5 minutes gone in the 3rd quarter and Dallas up 62-36 coach Gregg Popovich called a timeout and benched all of his starters in what he described as a lost cause. The Spurs’ bench players weren’t much better and that all added up to a performance resulting in their fewest points in a play-off game ever with Tim Duncan scoring a career low post-season total of 4 points.
On the other side Dirk Nowitzki paced Dallas with 20 points and 7 rebounds while Josh Howard was a few behind with 17. The most galling stat of the night was the Spurs’ shooting, San Antonio shot just 32 percent from the field all night and missed 15 3-point attempts. Unless the Spurs can up their game then Dallas will be confident of another win at home that would see them take a 3-1 lead to San Antonio and maybe provide us with the first shock of this season’s play-offs. Conversely the rest that the San Antonio big guns gained at the end of last night’s game might prove handy next time round.
Finally the biggest shock of the night was provided in Salt Lake City as the Utah Jazz beat the L.A Lakers 88-86 to keep them alive in this series. The Jazz are still 2-1 down in the best of 7 but will be hopeful that they can call on their stellar home form to carry them to another win and maybe put some pressure on Los Angeles in their next home game. The Jazz won this one with a Deron Williams fadeaway jumper with only 2.2 seconds left, despite this shot falling it wasn’t really Williams’ night and he only scored 13 points from 3 of 7 field shooting. Thankfully Carlos Boozer carried a lot of the Utah load and top scored with 23 points and had an astonishing 22 rebounds for a heroic double double.
The Lakers won’t be pleased that they blew an 8 point lead in the 4th quarter but will still be encouraged by what they saw in Los Angeles; the fact that Utah can play on the road. They won’t want to get complacent however, and will want to make sure they win the next game in Utah so that they can wrap this one up early, the last thing they want is a long drawn out series that would tire their players.
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