The NBA postseason is finally here! Excluding Dante Exum, Joe Ingles (Jazz eliminated) and likely Cameron Bairstow (because Thibs), the rest of our Aussies will likely be seeing significant court time in the weeks ahead, presenting their best side against an elevated level of competition in the NBA.
Final top 3 highlights for the season
Let's kick things off with this week's top three highlights that wraps up the NBA regular season! Video courtesy of Alistar as always. He's currently in the States, and we're working across time zones to make things work.
https://youtu.be/AZRgIqS4puI Joe Ingles throws a rainbow up for Gobert to slam it home. Bogut has an inspirational dive to save the ball straight to the hottest shooter in the NBA - Steph Curry. Finally, Delly shows he can pull off a Dirk move, looking oh so smooth with this turn around jumper!
NBA playoffs Foxtel ESPN3 coverage
ESPN AU/NZ has posted on their Facebook page on four games in the first round to be broadcast.
Three of these games feature our Aussies:
Game 2 - Wed. April 22, Boston at Cleveland, 9:00 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3)
Game 3 - Sat. April 25, L.A. Clippers at San Antonio, 11:30 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3)
Game 4 - Sun. April 26, Golden State at New Orleans, 10:00 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3)
They have also commented on their Facebook page that seven games will be broadcast every round, and that every game in the conference finals and Finals will be live.
If you are keen to catch the games, are fully set on missing sleep (or work/school), and have not signed up for League Pass yet, now might be a good time to get on that League Pass bandwagon.
Full game schedules featuring our Aussies are listed below, and game times are in Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST).
Andrew Bogut (Golden State Warriors)
Series opponent: New Orleans Pelicans
Game 1 - Sun. April 19, New Orleans at Golden State, 5:30 AM Game 2 - Tue. April 21, New Orleans at Golden State, 12:30 PM Game 3 - Fri. April 24, Golden State at New Orleans, 11:30 AM Game 4 - Sun. April 26, Golden State at New Orleans, 10:00 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3) Game 5 * - Wed. April 29, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD Game 6 * - Sat. May 2, Golden State at New Orleans, TBD Game 7 * - Mon. May 4, New Orleans at Golden State, TBD
The Pelicans are young and challenging, they haven’t been together long but they are led well by Anthony Davis.
... Whether we play an eighth seed or a second seed, the West is as competitive as ever and you have to be ready in every series to play big minutes. - source
The Warriors are definitely not complacent. Despite a strong 35-point performance from Davis, the Warriors always play their best in the Roaracle Arena; Game 1 was no exception. Golden State opened the game with a fiery 28-13 first quarter, led by Curry's 11 points (5 of 11). The straggling Pelicans rallied in the fourth quarter behind The Brow and made it a close game, but just could not manage to get close enough to nab the win.
The stat line
Bogut had 12 points (6 of 8), 14 rebounds (4 offensive), 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks - an extremely well-rounded performance, despite being matched up against Anthony Davis.
The Pelicans failed to contain Bogut on some easy buckets, including an easy roll to the rim, multiple putbacks and a transition dunk that he literally sprinted to get. Look at how Bogut slipped the screen and left two defenders on Curry, running right at the rim for an easy jam.
[gfycat data_id="SlushyRichAnchovy" data_autoplay=true data_expand=true]
Launching the hook shot proved to be no good against a waiting Davis, but worked against Asik.
[gfycat data_id="CrazyWhimsicalJabiru" data_autoplay=true data_expand=true]
He also helped orchestrate the offense, finding kinks in the Pelicans' defensive armour to get his teammates open shots. Watch how he gets the saved basket, immediately notices Iguodala in the paint undefended, and fires a pass without hesitation.
[gfycat data_id="PoisedEnchantingGermanpinscher" data_autoplay=true data_expand=true] Bogut's sporting some pretty numbers for Game 1 so far. He's getting 16% of all offensive boards when on the court, has held an impressive defensive rating of 82.9 --again, despite being pitted against New Orleans' big men duo of Asik and Davis-- and accomplishing it all in only 30 minutes. He's done what he's been doing all season long, and easily at a higher level even.
Game 2 is scheduled for 1:30 pm on Tuesday.
Aron Baynes, Patty Mills (San Antonio Spurs)
Series opponent: Los Angeles Clippers
Game 1 - Mon. April 20, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, 12:30 PM Game 2 - Thu. April 23, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, 12:30 PM Game 3 - Sat. April 25, L.A. Clippers at San Antonio, 11:30 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3) Game 4 - Mon. April 27, L.A. Clippers at San Antonio, 5:30 AM Game 5 - * Wed. April 29, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, TBD Game 6 - * Fri. April 31, L.A. Clippers at San Antonio, TBD Game 7 - * Sun. May 3, San Antonio at L.A. Clippers, TBD
This is likely the most exciting matchup in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The rejuvenated Spurs, led by Kawhi "The Claw" Leonard, have won 11 of their last 12 games, their singular loss coming at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans on the final regular season game.
The Clippers on the other hand, ended the season on a 7-game win streak and a 112-101 victory against the Suns. Chris Paul in particular, shot 6 of 11 from deep (54.5%) that game.
A photo posted by Aron Baynes (@houseobayne) on Apr 17, 2015 at 2:01pm PDT
First, food. The Clippers come after.
Aron Baynes will definitely be seeing action against the Clippers' big men rotation. After Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, their depth thins off considerably when it comes to defense and size. Glen "Big Baby" Davis and Spencer Hawes are not exactly defensive-minded shot blockers, and the Big Banger would definitely do very well against these players on a staple diet of screen-and-roll plays and offensive rebounds. (And maybe even some hook shots to spice things up.)
The question is a little tougher when it comes to Patty. The Spurs' guard rotation is very deep and more than well-equipped to any punishment the Clippers could dish out. No eyebrows would be raised, should Pop decide to go with CoJo (Cory Joseph) more than Patty. Joseph has performed admirably this season, and deserves the trust. I'm still trusting in Pop to give Patty minutes however, to keep our man in rhythm and wear CP3 down through defense if nothing else.
The biggest doubt has been Patty's inconsistent production on scoring during the past two months. As the season wound down however, there have been encouraging signs on this end. Against the Pelicans, Patty had 15 points in 11 minutes on 75% shooting. He also had 14 points on 11 minutes of action against the Rockets in that nailbiter of a win, going for a perfect 4 of 4 from the field. Should performances like these be sighted against the Clippers, expect to see more of Mills in the days ahead.
Game 1 is scheduled for Monday 1:30 pm. The timing makes a visit to the pub at lunch hard, but League Pass is always at hand to save the day.
Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls)
Series opponent: Milwaukee Bucks
Game 1 - Sun. April 19, Milwaukee at Chicago, 9:00 AM Game 2 - Tue. April 21, Milwaukee at Chicago, 10:00 AM Game 3 - Fri. April 24, Chicago at Milwaukee, 10:00 AM Game 4 - Sun . April 26, Chicago at Milwaukee, 7:30 AM Game 5 *- Tue. April 28, Milwaukee at Chicago, TBD Game 6 * - Fri. April 31, Chicago at Milwaukee, TBD Game 7 * - Sun. May 3, Milwaukee at Chicago, TBD
Cam's played in 18 games the entire regular season, and averaged 3.5 minutes of playing time. It's also worth noting that he has only had 1.4 minutes in five games after the All-Star break.
The level of trust coach Thibodeau's displayed in our rookie so far is akin to walking on very thin ice; the playoffs might very well be the equivalent of walking on air. The increased pressure to execute in the postseason can only mean that Cam will very likely be spending all his time on the bench.
Game 1 has seen the Bulls claiming an easy 103-91 victory behind the Rose-Butler backcourt, who shot a combined 17 of 30 and scored 48 points together. The Bucks tried, but just got steamrolled in the second quarter, lagging 22-30 in that frame.
It's worth noting that four players have been hit with the DNP: Bairstow, McDermott, Mohammed and Moore. Coach Thibs has obviously readied his playoffs rotation to a nine men lineup, with Gibson and Mirotic providing the reserve big men minutes. I'd honestly be very happy to be wrong on this call, but it's likely a total no show for Bairstow this series.
Game 2 will be played on Tuesday 11:00 am.
Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers)
Series opponent: Boston Celtics
Game 1 - Mon. April 20, Boston at Cleveland, 5:00 AM Game 2 - Wed. April 22, Boston at Cleveland, 9:00 AM (on Foxtel ESPN3) Game 3 - Fri. April 24, Cleveland at Boston, 9:00 AM Game 4 - Mon. April 27, Cleveland at Boston, 3:00 AM Game 5 * - Wed. April 29, Boston at Cleveland, TBD Game 6 * - Fri. April 31, Cleveland at Boston, TBD Game 7 * - Sun. May 3, Boston at Cleveland , TBD
Delly played some impressive basketball in a reserve role against the Wizards in Cleveland's final regular season game, clinching a double-double of 18 points and 12 assists in 33 minutes.
It's a vastly different look from his game against the Celtics two games before, where he struggled to find a shooting stroke as starting guard. Delly only scored seven points on 3 of 12 shooting in Boston (and a horrible 1 of 6 from deep), along with two rebounds, four turnovers and nine assists.
A photo posted by matthewdelly (@matthewdelly) on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:25am PDT
With Cleveland going into this series at full strength, Matthew Dellavedova will be returning to his bench role as an energy defender/three-point spacer. It's not difficult to see him getting his touches from downtown; the Cavaliers will very likely look to exploit Boston's lack of size and interior defense, and force help defense to come either on the post, or against LeBron. He will not be required to be the primary playmaker on offense, and expect him to get Thompson and Mozgov those alley oop dunks against the Celtics, the same way he did against the Heat.
Game 1 is scheduled for Monday 6 am. Should any of you folks be looking to get into work (or school) late, this might be something to catch. Then again, no one's expecting an upset victory from the Celtics so, maybe not.
Stay tuned as we continue to cover our Aussies in the NBA for the postseason. Highlight moments in the making, don't miss it.