WITHIN a week, the explosive unit of the Oklahoma City Thunder ran through the defences of the Dallas Mavericks as the defending champions were swept in the first round of the 2011-2012 NBA play-offs.
After taking Game 1 of the series by a late Kevin Durant shot, the Thunder simply grew in confidence and commanded the remaining games down the stretch. With the title of 'champions' still on their side many expected the Mavs to extend the series. But the dominance of Durant and James Harden ensured that the Thunder won 103-97 to exact revenge on the team that knocked them from the play-offs last season.
Unlike the Mavs, the San Antonio Spurs seem to be doing a lot better with the experience in their locker room as they are in cruise control in their series against the Utah Jazz.
Tony Parker continues his tremendous consistency on the back-end of the season and he's averaging over 20 points per game in the Spurs' 3-0 as at press time. Future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan continues to frustrate the Jazz's big man Al Jefferson and considering the fact that no team has ever erased a 3-0 deficit in basketball, their season is more or less over.
The Spurs have been so dominant that they've won all three games thus far by margins of 15, 31 and 12 points.
The Denver Nuggets have decided that though underrated, they will not give up without a fight as they extended their series with the Los Angeles Lakers with a crucial Game 3 victory as they now trail 2-1. They maintained a high energy level and rallied on the support of their fans to force a Game 5.
The Los Angeles Clippers were also dominant on home turf as they took a key 2-1 lead in their series against the Memphis Grizzlies. After splitting both games in Memphis, the Clippers rallied from a double digit deficit to claim the 87-86 win at the Staples Center.
One man's trash...
AS we stated in last week's feature, Derrick Rose suffered a season-ending injury to put a huge dent in the title aspirations of the Chicago Bulls.
Gladly capitalising on the situation is their play-off opponents the Philadelphia 76ers who have raced out to a commanding 3-1 lead in the series. The 76ers endured a gritty Game 4 on home turf but 89-82 win was enough to drag them to within a win away from claiming their first play-off series win since 2002. Spencer Hawes claimed 22 points for the victors.
The New York Knicks have decided to go down fighting and limited the number of days the Miami Heat will have to rest for the next round as they powered to an 89-87 win on Sunday. Carmelo Anthony was a man on a mission as he poured in a play-off high 41 points to force a return to 'South Beach' where they'll aim to delay the inevitable even more. Notably, Amare Stoudemire returned to the series from a self-inflected hand injury with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Indiana Pacers will be kicking themselves for allowing Game 1 to slip away from them, but they'll take comfort in knowing that they hold a dominant 3-1 lead in their series against the Orlando Magic. The Pacers managed to claim back to back wins on the road as they battled out a 101-99 overtime win to put themselves in with a chance to close out the series on home court.
As at Saturday the Boston Celtics were leading the Atlanta Hawks 2-1 in their series with a look to extend that lead to 3-1 on Sunday. Paul Pierce has been instrumental to the Celtics' play-off surge thus far and his contributions from here on out will determine how far the team makes it in this season's play-offs.