Five observations while wondering why the rust that seemed to be caked all over the Lakers on Monday wasn't seen anywhere on the Cavaliers.
The hot topic on Tuesday was that the Cavs, like the Lakers, would come out cold after an eight-day break between rounds. Uh ... no.
Cleveland built a double-digit first-quarter lead en route to a 49-44 halftime edge and never looked back, hammering Atlanta 99-72 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series (
Simply put, James is amazing. He's the closest thing the NBA has to a video game character. Back off him? James just pulls up for three. Shot clock winding down? Tap R1 for an alley-oop and James will fly in from the three-point line and put it down. Play breaks down? Just tap X twice with James going to the basket and he will bank home an off-balance runner. It's absurd how effortless he makes the game look.
Atlanta had only the slimmest of chances to win this series to begin with, but I don't think Tuesday night's blowout diminishes that faint hope. The Hawks are no stranger to blowouts -- they lost three games to Miami in the opening round by 15, 29 and 26 -- so any confidence they had coming into this series isn't likely to have been swept away.
But the Hawks will need to make some changes. They were very aggressive attacking the basket in the first quarter, with
The demise of the Seven Seconds or Less Suns has left an opening for a prolific, up-tempo team and the Nuggets look like they are ready to run, er, step into it. They ran the Mavericks off the floor in Tuesday's 117-105 win (
Huge. Enormous. Staggering. Howard was arguably Dallas's most consistent performer in the first round with averages of 18.8 points (on 49.2 percent shooting), 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals. But Howard left Tuesday's game in the first half (he didn't return) after aggravating a right ankle injury. He has been battling pain in both ankles for weeks. The Mavericks have been limiting Howard in practice and reports say he is moving gingerly and lacking explosiveness.
Howard admitted on Monday that his injuries made it like "walking on eggshells." If the latest setback forces Howard to miss any games, it will deplete Dallas's bench (Sixth Man winner
• Orlando at Boston: After playing 371 minutes of grueling basketball against the Bulls in the first round, you had to figure the Celtics were going to come out flat in Game 1. And they did, shooting just 38.5 percent and allowing five Magic players to score in double figures. The offense should get better with an extra day of rest, but Boston has to limit the number of Orlando players having big nights. Specifically, the Celtics need to do a better job against
• Houston at L.A. Lakers: The Lakers needed a strong effort from