#5 Boston Celtics vs. #4 Atlanta Hawks, ATL leads series 1-0 (7pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
The Celtics lost a heartbreaker in Game 1 on Saturday, falling to the Hawks 102-101, a loss that was compounded by guard Avery Bradley’s pulled hamstring. Boston was shooting with markedly more abandon than accuracy, heaving 102 shots, but sinking just 37 of them, with starters Jae Crowder and Jared Sullinger making just 10 of 30. The Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 27, but Hawks Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore scored 24, 23 and 23 respectively, proving to be too much for the C’s. The Hawks had led at one point by as much as 19, but let the Celtics fight back to a tie at 88-88 with 3:51 to play. Down the stretch, however, the Hawks made 8 of 10 free throws to put the game tantalizingly out of reach.
Bradley’s injury, sustained midway through the fourth quarter, could be a crushing blow. In addition to being one of Boston’s better scorers, he is probably their best option on defense for dealing with Teague. Celtics coach Brad Stevens says Bradley’s hamstring injury is “pretty significant,” and that he expects Bradley to be out at least the rest of Round 1.
There is hope for Boston, however, as the team is abandoning the black-trimmed road jersey in which they’ve gone 0-8 in postseason play since their introduction in 2006, a switch apparently spearheaded by Thomas, according to ESPN. “You don’t even gotta worry about that.“
#7 Memphis Grizzlies vs. #2 San Antonio Spurs, SAS leads series 1-0 (9:30pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
As expected, the San Antonio Spurs completely dominated the woefully shorthanded Grizzlies 106-74 in the first tilt of their seven-game series. It was such a thorough dismantling that none of the Spurs needed to play as many as 29 minutes, and none of the Grizzlies needed to bother. Kawhi Leonard was the game’s leading scorer with a modest 20 points, on a night when the Spurs shot better from 3-point land, 46%, than the Griz did from the floor, 39%, and had more rebounds, assists, steals and blocks, while committing fewer turnovers and fouls. The Grizzlies got to the line just 6 times, the sixth-lowest playoffs total going back to 1964, and the lowest since Miami made 4 of 5 against the Bulls on April 30, 2006.
In a series during which Memphis desperately need Zach Randolph to be The Man, Randolph was instead MIA, scoring just 6 points on 3-of-13 shooting, and managing just 5 rebounds. In the absence of Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, performances like that will be the death of the Grizzlies every time, especially against a team as talented, disciplined and deep as San Antonio.