Believe it or not, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Celtics  are the only team that has finished its first-round series. While they await their first day of practice on Wednesday, NBA fans in Boston get a chance to watch what should be one of the most exciting playoffs in league history. Here’s a brief snapshot of the current playoff picture …
- Heat 97, 76ers 89
- Heat 94, 76ers 73
- Heat 100, 76ers 94
- 76ers 86, Heat 82
LeBron James & Co. are just trying to finish this series, so they can get their shot at the Celtics. The problem? The Heat are still struggling with chemistry and — as a result — have a 0-1 record in close-out games so far. Meanwhile, 76ers coach Doug Collins  is just glad to get another game of playoff experience under his young team’s belt.
Heat forward Chris Bosh : ‘We’re going to have to trust each other. We’ve been talking about trust all this time, so we’re going to have to actually do it when it counts the most. It’s easy to stress when you’re up 2-0, 3-0. … When it’s time to close and it’s time to get to those other elite teams, and we’re going to have a chance to compete against them, we have to do the same thing well, not the same thing we did [Sunday].’
Sixers coach Doug Collins : “I’m sure Doc Rivers  hopes we take the Heat to triple overtime in Game 7. No question about that. One thing about the playoffs, especially when you are a team that has a lot of games under the belt, you want series to go as little time as possible.”
- Bulls 104, Pacers 99
- Bulls 96, Pacers 90
- Bulls 88, Pacers 84
- Pacers 89, Bulls 84
This series could easily be tied, if not 3-1 in the other direction. Now, with Bulls point guard Derrick Rose ‘s health in question, the Pacers are pretty damn confident for a No. 8 seed that trails 3-1. The shine has already worn off the popular pick in the Eastern Conference.
Bulls point guard Derrick Rose : “It’s getting better every day. It’s not broken, so I’m definitely playing. There’s still some swelling, but it hurts more on the inside. I’m fine. After I take the shot, I shouldn’t feel anything. Hopefully, I can still perform.”
Pacers coach Frank Vogel : “I feel like if we win [Tuesday], we’ll win this series.”
- Hawks 103, Magic 93
- Magic 88, Hawks 82
- Hawks 88, Magic 84
- Hawks 88, Magic 85
The Magic — who went to the NBA Finals  two seasons ago — haven’t been the same team since they shook up their roster, acquiring the Gilbert Arenas , Hedo Turkoglu  and Jason Richardson  pu pu platter. And now the “Where’s Dwight Howard  going to land in the near future?” discussion has already begun. Meanwhile, the Hawks look to be on the verge of making the Eastern Conference semifinals — where they’ll be trampled by the Bulls.
Hawks coach Larry Drew : ‘I think clearly looking at some of these games they are moving on their screens. We haven’t gotten the whistle. We are not going to cry and complain about it. We are just going to keep playing.’
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy : “You’re a professional athlete. You’re in big games. There’s pressure. Deal with it. Deal with it and make shots. It’s an opportunity to win and move on. That’s all it is. It’s not about pressure. It’s about stepping up and doing what you do at a high level.”
- Grizzlies 101, Spurs 98
- Spurs 93, Grizzlies 87
- Grizzlies 91, Spurs 88
- Grizzlies 104, Spurs 86
Raise your hand if — when he left the Celtics last summer — you thought Tony Allen  would ever be the leader of a team that will likely make the Western Conference semifinals and spell the death of the Tim Duncan  era. Anybody? Anybody? Even a few months ago, I wouldn’t have taken Allen over Jeff Green . Now? The Celtics would have to sweeten the deal significantly.
Spurs big man Antonio McDyess : ‘We’re playing like a bunch of wussies.’
Grizzlies guard Tony Allen : ‘Who ain’t bruised up around this time of year? Everybody got aches and bruises right now. Since [Manu Ginobili ] has got the high profile name, everybody puts emphasis on what’s wrong with him. I don’t go to the media saying what’s wrong with me. I don’t go to my P.R. guy and say put this out. I just fight through. He’s trying to fight through it.’
- Hornets 109, Lakers 100
- Lakers 87, Hornets 78
- Lakers 100, Hornets 86
- Hornets 93, Lakers 88
I’ve said it all season long: What Chris Paul  has done with this Hornets team — especially since David West‘s injury — is remarkable. Probably just as remarkable — if not more impressive — than what Rose did for the Bulls. The Hornets start Marco Belinelli for chrissake. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant ‘s has been hobbling on crutches and won’t undergo an MRI for the Lakers’ medical staff — fearing the worst, in all likelihood.
Hornets point guard Chris Paul : ‘I just look at it as a great opportunity for us as a team to forget about the regular season and seize the moment. I play with a chip on my shoulder. Regardless, day in and day out. I’m not trying to make a statement. When you get to the playoffs, nobody feels sorry for you. Nobody. They don’t care what’s wrong with your ankle, your knee or anything like that. This is what players are made of.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson : “We’re trying to convince him it might be a good idea to [undergo an MRI]. It doesn’t matter He’s going to play anyway. That’s his answer. He won’t let them deal with it.”
Dallas Mavericks  3, Portland Trail Blazers 2
- Mavericks 89, Blazers 81
- Mavericks 101, Blazers 89
- Blazers 97, Mavericks 92
- Blazers 84, Mavericks 82
- Mavericks 93, Blazers 82
Unlike the Lakers-Hornets series, just about everybody figured this to be a tight series. And it is. After Brandon Roy ‘s ridiculous fourth quarter in Game 4 that helped the Blazers even up the series, the Mavericks bounced back nicely from their collapse to win Game 5 — thanks to Tyson Chandler  being a beast on the boards. No bad blood here. Just two very good teams in a very good series. And can anyone else believe Chris Johnson , who spent four games on the C’s this season, is getting playoff burn?
Blazers center Marcus Camby : “We’re still feeling confident. The only thing they did was hold serve on their home court. Now we have to go out and do the same thing next ball game. But we can’t rely on being home as being the cure-all. We know we have to play a whole lot better.”
Mavericks guard Jason Terry : “The fans had it rocking in here from the jump and we came out and set the tone early, and we were able to finish them off in the fourth quarter. We were really anxious to get to this game and we wanted to go out and prove to everyone that we let that game [Saturday] slip away, and it was not going to happen on our home court and it’s not going to happen again.”
- Thunder 107, Nuggets 103
- Thunders 106, Nuggets 89
- Thunder 97, Nuggets 94
- Nuggets 104, Thunder 101
So, where are all the Nuggets fans who thought the Thunder was a good matchup for their team? I’m still waiting to hear back from them. Still, it’s kind of funny that the guys who got traded for Carmelo Anthony have actually won more playoff games this season than ‘Melo himself. As for the Kendrick Perkins  watch, he’s averaging 4.0 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 fouls in 25 minutes per game in this series.
Thunder center Kendrick Perkins : ‘When you have a team down, you just have to apply the pressure and keep your foot on their throat. So you got to come out with the mindset that you’re going to come out and not give them any hope.’
Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson : ‘It’s easy to attack Perkins, because he’s a little bit slow.’