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Video: Did Kendrick Perkins Goaltend on Russell Westbrook’s Miss?

The Thunder and Nuggets played an extremely close game Sunday night to cap a highly entertaining opening weekend of the NBA playoffs. Much like the other three games on Sunday, the finish between the two came down to the final 30 seconds. Oklahoma City was up by a point with 30 seconds left when Russell Westbrook missed a leaner and Kendrick Perkins tipped it in. I immediately thought Perkins goaltended on the play by touching the ball when it was still in contact with the rim, but now I’m not so sure. Check the video and let me know what you think:

After watching the replay, it appears as if Ibaka never touched the rim and that the ball was on its way out when he did touch it. I think most of the confusion arose because his hand went through the net on the way to putting the ball back in. Matt Moore at CBS Sports has more on the specific NBA rules regarding goaltending, but your head may start hurting if you try to dig deeper and figure things out. That put-back gave the Thunder a 104-101 lead and after a missed Ty Lawson three-pointer, the Thunder made it a two-possession game and hung on. That play was a major deciding factor in the final minute and it helped give Oklahoma City the win. The question is do you think it should have counted. I think it should have. What about you?

Kevin Garnett Tripped Toney Douglas to Free Ray Allen for Winning Shot

How did Ray Allen get so wide open for his winning shot in Game 1 of the Celtics-Knicks game Sunday evening? The answer is he was the recipient of a dirty or savvy play by Kevin Garnett, depending on how you look at it. Check out the final 20 seconds of the game courtesy of Mock Session and keep your eye out for KG when he trips Toney Douglas:

I’m not saying Ray Allen couldn’t have made the shot with a hand in his face, but I do know he had a much better look at the basket after Douglas ate hardwood. Unfortunately for New York, that wasn’t the only the only call the refs blew.

On Carmelo Anthony’s airball to end the game, he was hit on the wrist by Ray Allen. Even Doc Rivers recognized the Celtics got away with a foul on that one. Obviously it’s not the referees’ fault the Knicks lost, but they certainly played a role.

Phil Jackson Says Lakers Don’t Play Well in the Morning

The Lakers were surprised at home losing 109-100 Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Hornets. After the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson explained some of the team’s problems, noting two things: one, they didn’t have the proper effort and weren’t ready for the game, and two, that the team doesn’t play well in the mornings.

Responding to a question about the Lakers having a lot of rest before their first playoff game, Jackson went off on a tangent about the start time for the game. “We haven’t really been very good in mornings, morning games” Jackson interrupted. “We have not been. We just haven’t. Our guys really haven’t been sharp all year. We really tried to get them going today a couple of hours early to the arena so they’d be ready to go. We really weren’t animated and agressive. I think Ron was probably the best player we had out there today. Ron was keyed and ready to go and played well.”

Given that Phil referenced the Lakers not being ready for the game throughout his press conference, it sure seems like the biggest problem to him was the start time. Phil’s teams don’t often lose the first game of a playoff series, so for his team not to be ready was a surprise.

The good news for the Lakers is that the next three games in the series are night time. If you’re the type of person who is leery of conspiracy theories in the NBA, keep your eye on the start times for the TBA games the Lakers have. If you start seeing late games on the weekends for them, it’s a good reason to believe the league office is listening to Jackson.

NBA Expert Playoff Predictions by Del

Finally, it matters. Like the Doc mentioned when he posted his NBA Playoff predictions, there are a lot of question marks heading into the 2011 postseason. When the year began the general consensus was that either the Lakers would continue to dominate after returning the same roster, the Heat super team would live up to their expectations, or the Celtics would make another great run. Any of those things can still happen, but the Lakers struggled mightily at times during the regular season and the Heat have yet to prove they are a dominant force together. The Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins and will be relying on the oft-injured Shaq, who is already out Game 1 against the Knicks. Oh yeah, and in the meantime the Bulls became very, very good.

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Del’s Picks)
First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in five, experience wins out easily here as it so often does in the NBA playoffs.
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in five, Lakers lost five out of seven to close the season but they have too many weapons.
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Blazers in seven, Blazers are solid and Mavs can’t close in the playoffs until they prove otherwise.
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, OKC’s young talent combined with Perkins’ postseason experience could make them dangerous.

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in six, experience, experience, experience. Spurs have a ton, OKC has barely any.
(2) Lakers vs (6) Blazers – Lakers in five, Blazers will be spent from giving everything they have to win a series. Lakers will have coasted.

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in seven, Even if Bynum misses time, it’s nothing L.A. isn’t used to. Kobe gets it done again.

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NBA Playoffs Expert Predictions by Doc

The NBA playoffs have finally begun which is a nice change from the final month of the regular season where all that was at stake was seedings. All the first round match-ups are set meaning it’s time to predict who will emerge from each conference to reach the Finals.

What’s really strange is that every team seems to have questions. The Lakers seemed like a lock to chase down the Spurs in the West, but then they lost five in a row. The Spurs are an underrated top seed because most people don’t look at them as a dangerous team. The Bulls lack experience, the Heat lack size, and the Celtics have questions at center. So who will emerge? The Doc takes a look.

WESTERN CONFERENCE (Doc’s Picks)
First Round
(1) Spurs vs (8) Grizzlies – Spurs in 6, Memphis will challenge but lacks the weapons
(2) Lakers vs (7) Hornets – Lakers in 5, closest to being a sweep, CP3 can get em one
(3) Mavericks vs (6) Blazers – Mavs in six, popular upset pick, but not on Dirk’s watch
(4) Thunder vs (5) Nuggets – Thunder in six, Denver’s looked good, but OKC is too tough at home

Second Round
(1) Spurs vs (4) Thunder – Spurs in seven, home court will be the difference
(2) Lakers vs (3) Mavs – Lakers in six, Mavs will crap panties again, only Dirk will show

Western Conference Finals
(1) Spurs vs (2) Lakers – Lakers in six. Too much size for San Antonio

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