Roundtable: Surprises, Disappointments of NBA First Round

Every week, our staff will gather to discuss a hot topic of the week. The first round is nearly over and the conference semifinals are beginning to take shape. While a lot of the series still have yet to be finally decided, through one week in the postseason the story of the postseason is beginning to take shape. As the first round enters crunch time, the staff at Crossover Chronicles lists their surprises and disappointments of the first round.

My take

It is very close to home for me, but I am definitely surprised and disappointed by the Orlando Magic’s overall performance this postseason. Dwight Howard has been Dwight Howard but everyone else has not been everyone else. Orlando is a team that has relied on 3-point shooting to its fourth straight 50-win season. All of a sudden the shots dried up. And dried up and dried up.

Until Game Five on Tuesday night, Orlando was an icy 29 percent from 3-point range. The Magic just don’t shoot this bad. Part of it is the Hawks defense. Part of it is Orlando just plain missing open shots. Honestly, this series has shown what a simple game it is.

In a positive manner, I have to say I am surprised by the Pacers. Yes, I could have gone with the Grizzlies, but that just seems too easy. So I will go with the Pacers.

Yes, Indiana is out after five games with Chicago. But with the way the Pacers have played this series, it is pretty clear that there is a bright future coming out of Indianapolis. Indiana played pretty strong defense and held Chicago down, having control to the end of Games One and Three before Derrick Rose just overwhelmed them.

It felt like Indiana would just be happy to be in the postseason. But the Pacers likely served notice that they are a team to be worried about in 2011-12.

Jeff Garcia

Surprising: The play of the Memphis Grizzlies. An eighth seed is not supposed to really test a number one seed in the playoffs yet Memphis is doing exactly that to the San Antonio Spurs.

For a team without their main star — Rudy Gay — Memphis is playing with more heart, passion and are displaying a solid inside-outside game. Marc Gasol is having a coming out party and should be mentioned among the league’s best centers. Lionel Hollins is rallying the troops and making sure his team is not intimidated by the Spurs. With a 3-1 lead in this series on the Spurs is really surprising. 

Disappointing: The San Antonio Spurs. They boasted the best record in the NBA for most for the season, had 12- and 10-game winning streaks, and had everyone believing their reign as an elite team was not over.

Seems we were wrong. 

In Game Five, they played only 24 minutes and wilted in the second half. They displayed no heart, and rolled over as Memphis laid what could be the knockout blow to the once mighty Spurs. From head coach Gregg Popovich to Tony Parker, this team has a lot of soul searching to do if they want to salvage this series. But battling from a 3-1 deficit will not be easy. Furthermore, for a veteran squad to allow themselves to be in this position is quite disappointing.

John Karalis

I’m surprised by the New Orleans Hornets.  Without David West, they were supposed to be the easiest pickings of the playoff crop.  But they are taking it right at the Lakers.  

Trevor Ariza is alive (though he could be shooting a little better), which makes you wonder where this kind of play has been all this time.  And when someone like Aaron Gray comes up big in a playoff win… I think that’s the definition of a surprise right there.

I’m disappointed by the Orlando Magic… and their fans should be too.  Atlanta is covering Dwight 1-on-1 and they’re making life hell for the Orlando’s shooters.  

Orlando made its mid-season trade to try to change the team from “Dwight and four bombers” to “Dwight, a guy or two who can create their own shot, and a couple of shooters.”  It was a nice try… but they fell right back into “bombs away” mode.  

Their performance will lead to a lot of questions once their season is officially over.

Brendan Bowers

Both the biggest surprise and disappointment for me are currently playing each other in the 4/5 match-up out East. I never thought Atlanta would make that a series, let alone go up 3-1 on a Magic team that I definitely thought would get out of the first round.  

Now I know the Magic got one more in the win column last night in Orlando, and maybe they broke through their shooting woes that left them 2 for 23 from three point range a game ago, and maybe they will rally all the way back and get these next two; but that’s anything but certain.  

The Hawks now have a home date and then a road date to win this series, and if they do, it definitely will go down as the biggest shocker in the first round this postseason.  Even if Memphis ends up holding on and beating San Antonio.  What Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol have done so far just kinda looks like a mis-match talent-wise, all do respect to Timmy.

Surya Fernandez


Surprising: The Memphis Grizzlies are unquestionably the biggest surprise of the playoffs. Sixteen years into their franchise history they suddenly win their first playoff game ever in Game 1 to swipe away home-court advantage after going 0-12 in four prior postseason appearances.

The fact that they have the team with the best regular season record on the ropes is amazing but they do match up well against the Spurs and have a deep squad with players like Mike Conley and Zach Randolph who are peaking at the right time. This series is very reminiscent of the top-seeded Dallas Mavs loss to the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the 06-07 playoffs.

Disappointment: So far it’s got to be the two top seeds out West. For two teams with so much at stake, it’s surprising to see how much trouble the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs have had in the first round at the hands of the New Orleans Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies.

Their weaknesses have been glaring and while the Lakers appear to finally have control of their series, the Spurs have a huge task ahead of them after the 1-3 hole they’ve dug themselves into. Should they pass through to the second round, no team they face will be intimidated by them after their up-and-down play. While they both have championship pedigrees, all the hard work they put in for an entire regular season is about to go down the drain quickly if things don’t change quickly. The Magic have been equally as disappointing.

Matt Yoder

A lot of worthy choices on both sides. I know I’ve been on the bandwagon the last week, but my surprising player has got to be Chris Paul. An awesome Game 1 and a triple double in Game 4 has them tied going back to LA (as of Tuesday night).  I think most analysts had them swept out of the Playoffs already.

Guys like Brandon Roy and Rajon Rondo have also returned to form at the right time. Surprising team is obviously the Grizzlies. Right now it looks like a miracle is needed to keep San Antonio from being the second number one seed to go down in a best-of-seven first round series.

The Spurs are an obvious choice for team disappointment, but I also expected more from Denver and especially Orlando. The Magic gave the biggest beatdown in NBA Playoffs HISTORY to the Hawks last year and now they’re down 3-2 heading to the ATL. The biggest reason is their pathetic outside shooting thanks to new additions Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu. J-Rich and Hedo have the two worst scoring averages for players averaging 34+ MPG in the Playoffs (8.7 and 7.8 PPG respectively) and are a collective 24.4% from downtown in the series with Hedo a staggering 4/24. Think the Magic don’t want those trades back right now?

Photos via


About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily