The Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies in a hard fought seventh game during the first round of the 2012 NBA playoffs. The Clippers went on to the second round of the playoffs which was unchartered waters for the Clipper organization. In the second round of the 2012 NBA playoffs, the Clippers were swept by arguably the most seasoned “Big Boy” team in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs.
The Memphis Grizzlies, came oh so, close to realizing a second round milestone for their organization but they lost to the Clippers in the 1st round of the 2012 NBA Playoff. Despite the loss Memphis did gain some valuable experience that would motivate them going into their 2012-2013 NBA regular season.
It was almost too good to be true wasn't it?
Looking for their first Playoff series win in 13 years, the New York Knicks appeared to be in cruise control. After all, no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit and emerged victorious in a seven game series.
However, as every Knicks fan knows, nothing is ever quite that simple.
The Boston Celtics are a team of savvy veterans who realise they don't have many more chances at glory. Their aging stars have perhaps this year and next to add to their ring collection and being 3-0 down in the series was not part of the script. They felt that they had a legitimate chance of taking this Playoff series into it's twilight and it was surprising to see them down down and deflated. With big characters like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce leading the way, that atmosphere was never going to stay around for long. They are born winners, future hall-of-fame inductees and their will to win is legendary. They knew that the odds were stacked against them at 3-0 and that's just the way they like it.
Slowly but surely, they fought their way back.
Injuries have often adversely affected teams with a realistic chance of winning an NBA championship. Most notably in recent history, between 2009 and 2012 the Boston Celtics suffered injuries to key players that greatly decreased their probability of winning championships. Likewise the Chicago Bulls lost Derrick Rose to injury in Game one of their 2012 Eastern Conference Quarter-final series against the Philadelphia 76ers which essentially killed any chance they had of winning a title last season.
This trend has continued in the 2013 postseason, with the Golden State Warriors losing All-Star forward David Lee and the Oklahoma City Thunder losing All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook for the duration of the year. Granted, even with Lee the Warriors were not considered a serious contender to win this year’s championship. But, should they be able to defeat the Denver Nuggets in the first round, losing Lee will make it extremely difficult for them to defeat the Spurs in the second round or any opponent in the Conference or NBA Finals.
The Chicago Bulls have a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series as they host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. After an ugly defensive win in Game 3, Tom Thibodeau’s team would be happy with more of the same as they try to outslug Brook Lopez and company.
These four players will have huge roles in determining which team comes out on top at the United Center in Game 4:
MarShon Brooks, Nets
Jerry Stackhouse was useless off the bench on Thursday, and P.J. Carlesimo absolutely must have some offensive weapons to throw out there when Lopez or Deron Williams sits. Brooks is a pure scorer, and while he didn’t cover himself with glory in Game 3, he didn’t look as lost as Stackhouse, either.
At 6’5”, Brooks has the size and athleticism to make Chicago’s Jimmy Butler work on defense. The less Butler can drift around double-teaming and jumping into passing lanes, the better off Brooklyn will be.
Nazr Mohammed, Bulls
David Lee’s season is over. An MRI has shown the All-Star forward suffered a tear to his right hip flexor in Saturday’s Game one loss to the Denver Nuggets. Lee has been a pillar of strength for the Warriors all season long. He led the NBA in the regular season with 56 double-doubles and averaged 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.
It will be difficult for the team to defeat the Nuggets in the Western Conference Quarter-finals without him, but it is too early to conclude their season is over just yet. They have two players on their roster in Carl Landry and Andrew Bogut who have the potential to fill the void.
Landry is a proven NBA power forward who has played big minutes of the bench this season and has career averages of 11.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, while playing close to 25 minutes per contest. Bogut, a former third team All-NBA center who has been injured for most of the season appears to be somewhat healthy. If this is the case the Warriors will be in good shape, because when healthy he is among the best rebounders and shot blockers in the league.