Eric Freeman

  • OKC survives big mistakes in wild ending, takes Game 2 over Spurs

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 hrs ago

    Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder was a huge shock for the extent to which the hosts dominated in a series most expected to be extremely close. Game 2 hewed closer to what most analysts thought would transpire, but it ended up just as surprising for the wild events of the final few seconds.

    It's best to start with that finish, because it's sure to be a point of discussion in the run-up to Friday's Game 3 and perhaps an incident spoken of for years to come.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Then all hell broke loss. Dion Waiters struggled to get the ball in against pressure from Manu Ginobili and finally lobbed a high-arcing pass for Kevin Durant, who lost his footing first and the ball second for a Danny Green steal. The Spurs had a 3-on-2 break that looked likely to finish in a go-ahead basket, but it was not to be:

    Waiters agreed:

    - - - - - - -

  • BDL's 2015-16 NBA Playoff Previews: Cavaliers vs. Hawks

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    How They Got Here

    • Cleveland: The Cavaliers arguably looked more like a fully fledged No. 1 seed in the first round against the Detroit Pistons than they did at any point during the regular season. After an up-and-down 57-win campaign in which the conference's best team rarely looked on the level of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, the Cavs re-affirmed their postseason bona fides in a no-nonsense sweep of the Detroit Pistons. It was a series in which several close games did not challenge the favorite's clear superiority, and Cleveland looks stronger now than they did when they began the playoffs.

    The biggest positive of the series wasn't that the Cavs dominated every contest, because they definitely did not. It was that they looked very comfortable against a less talented team giving them what appeared to be its best shot and managed to find offensive balance between their three stars. Every player carried out his role, everyone seemed happy to do it, and every game ended in a Cleveland win.

    Head to Head

    Likely Starting Lineups

    Key Matchups

    Prediction: Cavs in 5.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric

  • The Spurs obliterated the Thunder in a historic Game 1 blowout

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    The smart analysis said that the Western Conference Semifinals between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder would be the most competitive series of the postseason so far, a matchup between two title-caliber squads with a long history and contrasting styles. Naturally, Game 1 ended up as the most overwhelming blowout of the playoffs so far. The Spurs' 124-92 victory was more brutal than the final score appears and gives the Thunder a great deal to prove in Game 2 and beyond.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    That's not to say that OKC just needs to come out in Game 2 with more energy and everything will be fine. Game 1 offered noticeable tactical advantages for San Antonio. They're not certain to stay in their favor throughout the series, but it's up to OKC to make changes.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric

  • BDL's 2015-16 NBA Playoff Previews: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 2 days ago

    How They Got Here

    • Golden State: The Warriors entered the postseason with a record 73 regular-season wins and as overwhelming favorites to repeat as champions. In many ways, then, their 4-1 first-round win over the listless Houston Rockets went according to plan — Golden State handled a vastly inferior opponent with relative ease and a point differential of plus-18.8. On the other hand, the series wasn't exactly straightforward, because Stephen Curry went down with injury in his only two appearances and saw a combined 39 minutes of playing time. The game was already decided when he turned his ankle in Game 1, but the MCL sprain he suffered in Game 4 came shortly before halftime when the game was tied.

    Houston didn't offer much resistance, but Golden State looked like a championship outfit in the first round. The questions are how many games Curry misses in this conference semifinal and if he can round into peak form soon after he returns.

    Head to Head

    Likely Starting Lineups

    Key Matchups

    Prediction: Warriors in 6.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric

  • Blazers fend off tough Clippers to win series, move on to Warriors

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    No one gave the Los Angeles Clippers much chance to challenge the Portland Trail Blazers after Chris Paul and Blake Griffin went down with season-ending injuries in Game 4 of their first-round series earlier this week. The Clippers weren't able to win any games without their stars, but they pushed the Blazers much farther than most thought they would. Portland pulled off a great accomplishment in Friday's 106-103 Game 6 win to move onto the Western Conference Semifinals, especially given the low expectations most had for them before this season. But they'll also feel a little fortunate to survive against an opponent that gave them all they could handle even with a decimated roster.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric

  • Lakers announce Luke Walton has been hired as head coach

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 3 days ago

    The Los Angeles Lakers have their new head coach, and he's a face familiar to the fan base.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Lakers announced Friday night that Golden State Warriors lead assistant coach Luke Walton has reached an agreement with the franchise to become its next head coach. Walton will replace Byron Scott, who had two team options remaining on a four-year deal and was told he would not return last weekend. The Warriors gave the Lakers permission to meet with Walton following the conclusion of their first-round series with the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.

    From the announcement:

    His Warriors colleagues also issued a congratulatory statement (via David Aldridge):

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric

  • Hawks eliminate punchless Celtics in Game 6, move on to face Cavs

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 4 days ago

    The Atlanta Hawks entered this postseason ranked first in the NBA in points allowed per possession since December 15. Their first-round series with the Boston Celtics confirmed that defensive excellence over six games, with Thursday night's clinching 104-92 win at TD Garden serving as perhaps the most impressive performance of the bunch.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Boston's offensive struggles carried over from Game 5 and represented something like a worst-case scenario for a team so heavily dependent on All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas for scoring and shot creation. The path to shutting down the Celtics is well known, but the Hawks deserve lots of credit for executing it very well. That includes closing out on shooters and denial at the rim, success evidenced by 12 blocked shots (including 10 in the first three quarters).

    - - - - - - -

  • Blazers stumble early, surge late for 3-2 lead on hurting Clippers

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    The Los Angeles Clippers had about as negative an experience as a playoff team can in Monday's Game 4 at the Portland Trail Blazers, losing to fall into a 2-2 series tie and seeing stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin succumb to serious injuries. Considered favorites in this first-round series and a strong contender to defeat the Stephen Curry-less Golden State Warriors in the next round just a few hours prior, the Clippers instead were forced to face harsh new realities and the likelihood of an early exit.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

     

    - - - - - - -

    Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

  • Warriors eliminate Rockets, advance to 2nd round in breezy blowout

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 5 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes.

    Few doubts remained over the Golden State Warriors' ability to defeat the Houston Rockets without Stephen Curry before Wednesday's Game 5 in Oakland. The presumptive back-to-back MVP played just 39 minutes while active for two games before spraining the MCL in his right knee before halftime of Game 4, and the Warriors have had little trouble handling the rudderless Rockets in all but one of their matchups this series. There are questions as to how far Golden State can go without the league's leading scorer, but Houston provided little resistance.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Then again, Harden committed seven turnovers that gave Golden State some key transition opportunities. As ever, the overall quality of his game depended on factors well beyond his scoring.

    - - - - - - -

  • Hawks clobber Celtics in Game 5 despite major early scoring woes

    Eric Freeman at Ball Don't Lie 6 days ago

    Your browser does not support iframes.

    The final score of the Atlanta Hawks' series-tilting 110-83 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their series suggests that the game was one-sided and the result was rarely in doubt. Yet the margin of victory does not communicate the depths of the Celtics' disappointing performance in this pivotal game, because they very easily could have taken control of the contest early and moved towards a blowout of their own. Instead, they head home down 3-2 and face elimination in Game 6 at TD Garden on Thursday night.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Millsap's lay-in opened the floodgates, though, and the Hawks encountered little resistance from that point forward. It started a run of 11 made field goals in a row (including five three-pointers) for a 28-10 run that turned the aforementioned 10-point deficit into an eight-point halftime lead.

    - - - - - - -

    Follow @FreemanEric