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With so much going on this postseason, it can be damn near impossible to keep up with it all. That’s where we come in. We’ll take the basketball bullet and give you every series in a nutshell. It’s all part of our latest gimmick… Winners and Losers!
- Tim Duncan. Besides just straight demoralizing Al Jefferson, do you realize Duncan was the leading rebounder in both of the first two games? At 36? And against one of the strongest front lines in the league? It’s ridiculous. Kobe Bryant continues to be lauded for his (inefficient) scoring prowess, but what Duncan has done so far is at least as impressive. At this point he’s relying almost solely on intelligence, yet he’s still been able to out-maneuver far stronger and more athletic opponents.
- Utah’s future: it’s clear this is a building team that is still far too raw and inexperienced to truly contend, but the future has to look bright in Salt Lake City with all the quality minutes being played by guys under 24 years old. If they can continue to develop, look for them to hold on to their postseason spot going forward. Imagine how dangerous the Jazz would be if they signed a certain 38-year-old Canadian point guard. It could happen.
- Earl Watson. Brian T. Smith (via Twitter): “Watson was wearing a Jazz uniform while walking in the locker room on crutches. Rare to see a player do that. Says a lot about Watson.”
- Derrick Favors. Stashed away in Utah and largely forgotten by most of the basketball world due as much to his pedestrian numbers as anything else, the 20-year-old Favors had a number of impressive moments against the best team in the West. Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin noticed and increased his minutes in the last two games of the series, before starting him in Game Four.
His numbers in the last two games: 15.5 ppg, 10.5 rpg in 34.5 mpg. Not bad at all.
- Anyone rooting for one final Garnett-Duncan showdown. Considering how dominant both teams have looked (yes, it’s the first round, but still), it’s not completely insane to imagine Boston and San Antonio meeting in the Finals, aka another David Stern nightmare. It would not be as enthralling as a OKC-Miami match-up to the casual fan, but hoop junkies everywhere would definitely tune in.
- The Brooklyn Nets. I would have much rather watched Billy King’s facial reactions than the actual games. King must have loved to see Derrick Favors come into his own as a rim deterrent and basically average a double-double against the Spurs. Giving him away (and all those picks) for a year-and-a-half of a disgruntled Deron Williams was one savvy move.
- Al Jefferson. Against San Antonio’s rather diminutive front line, Jefferson should have feasted. Instead, Duncan played him to a standstill.
- Devin Harris. After playing his best ball in years going into the Playoffs, Harris regressed again, shooting below 40-percent for the series.
- Gordon Hayward. The heartthrob of Salt Lake City kind of — how do we put this kindly — crap the bed in his first taste of the postseason. Hey, it happens. Not everyone hits the ground running. Some hit the ground, then face plant. After a strong Game One (17 points), Hayward averaged four points over the rest of the series. Yeesh.
- Anyone who talked about Utah’s Memphis potential.
- Al Jefferson, again. Hey Al, we appreciate the candor, but uh, maybe wait until the series is over before you say things like this:
“We’re playing against a team that is at its peak, and I don’t see nobody beating ‘em. … It’s a great team. I just take my hat off to ’em. Mad respect.” Jefferson, after Game Three.
Check back at the conclusion of every round for our winners and losers breakdown. Past recaps: Oklahoma City-Dallas
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