NBA history was made last Saturday when three Game Seven NBA playoff games were played on the same day. After today’s Game Sevens, the NBA postseason can move on to the second round: the conference semifinals. One of the biggest stories was the Washington Wizards advancing to the next round over the Chicago Bulls, winning their first playoff series since 2005 where they also beat the Chicago Bulls. This year, the Wizards defeated the Bulls’ squad 4-1 and were led by a young back court featuring John Wall and Bradley Beal. Wall has been great for this young and talented squad, he is 5th in both assists and steals per game this postseason. As for Bradley Beal, he averaged almost 20 points per game against the Bulls, including a game where he scored 26 points and pulled down 7 rebounds to help put the Wizards up 2-0 in the series. Speaking as a guy that was born in D.C., I can say that I am excited for their match-up with the 1-seed Indiana Pacers Monday night at 7 p.m.
As for the Oklahoma City Thunder, they finished out in fashion with a 120-109 rout over the Memphis Grizzlies in their Game 7 finale. Kevin Durant may not have had the field goal percentage that he was looking for, but he is still putting up points this postseason with 29.9 per game so far. Then there is Russell Westbrook. Some people have judged him and saying that he was the problem with the Thunder’s struggles to close out. I was one of those people. Now, my confidence is regained in Westbrook after putting up a triple-double in the last game against Memphis. The young point guard finished the bout with 27 points, a career-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds. Westbrook also became just the second player in NBA history to record a triple-double in a Game 7 (Rajon Rondo did it first). Sure the Thunder were able to win without the Grizzlies’ top player Zach Randolph, but hey, a win is a win. Durant and Westbrook combined for 60 points and Oklahoma City shot 60.9 percent from the field as a team. Now they will have to put up those kind of numbers when they play the L.A. Clippers Monday night at 9:30 p.m. That should be an exciting series as well.
I was disappointed in the Houston Rockets this year. They had a lot of talent in James Harden and Dwight Howard, but they just couldn’t make it work against the Portland Trail Blazers. LaMarcus Aldridge and company closed out the series 4-2 when Damian Lillard knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer (thanks to some horrible defense by Houston’s Chandler Parsons) to win the game 99-98. Lillard became the first player since John Stockton in 1997 to knock down the game-winning shot to win a series. You have to give a lot of props to last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year for being the big play-maker at point guard. As for Aldridge, he put up monster numbers in this series against Houston. He had back-to-back 40 point games in the first two games of the series (46 and 43 respectively). Then in the next two games, he recorded consecutive double-doubles and then in Game 6, he scored 30 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. He is third in the postseason in points per game with 29.8. LeBron James leads the postseason with 30 per game.
Lastly, there was San Antonio knocking off the Dallas Mavericks 119-96 and the Brooklyn Nets defeating the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in an overall thrilling series. Brooklyn will face the Miami Heat Tuesday at 7 p.m. while the Spurs will battle the Trail Blazers the same night at 9:30 p.m. The first round of the NBA playoffs was something to behold. A lot of Game Sevens and a whole lot of fun. This second round will prove to be more exciting with teams starting to lock on to that championship.