Brian Mahoney: ‘I Wasn’t Surprised By The Nets’

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TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 19: Paul Pierce #34 of the Brooklyn Nets stands on the court during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors of the 2014 NBA playoffs on April 19, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

(Credit: Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)

The first round of the NBA playoffs has given us something that we don’t normally see: upsets.

So far, anyway.

Yes, five of the eight series saw a Game 1 victory for the road team: the Hawks, the Nets, the Warriors, the Wizards and the Trail Blazers.

Which win was the most surprising, and which win was the least surprising?

“That’s a good question,” Associated Press NBA writer Brian Mahoney said on The John Feinstein Show. “I think obviously you look at Atlanta based on the seeding and you say, ‘Them wining in Indiana is the obvious (answer).’ But they had just won in Indiana a couple weeks ago, and the Pacers looked so shaky lately that some people weren’t that shocked. I wasn’t surprised by the Nets. I would say that’s the least surprising. With their experience, I lean that way.

“The one that surprised me the most,” Mahoney continued, “was Washington, even though that’s kind of a balanced series, a 4-5 series. I just thought it would take them a game to get used to being in the playoffs. They hadn’t been there in so long and Chicago is so tough defensively. I thought Game 1 would (easily) go to the Bulls. I was surprised by the way (the Wizards) turned that game around.”

The Wizards trailed by 13 in the second half but came back to win, thanks largely to Nene, who opened the game with a slam dunk and finished with a game-high 24 points.

“People forget how good he is because he’s missed so much time,” Mahoney said. “He’s a terrific player, especially to do it against (Joakim) Noah, who’s the Defensive Player of the Year.”

But what about those Pacers? Can they turn it around? Or, even if they beat the Hawks, has the NBA-title ship already sailed?

“I kind of fear that it’s sailed a little bit,” Mahoney said. “I fear that because I picked them to win the title this year – and going into the break, I thought this was a great pick. They had gotten so much better offensively, they were already a great defensive team (and) they had such confidence about them. None of us really know where it all went wrong. Somehow they just stopped scoring. Some of the guys stopped defending. The chemistry doesn’t seem like it was earlier in the year. There’s just so many different things.

“Even if they get through Atlanta, I’m not sure I’d pick them to win the East anymore. It’s so almost unprecedented to see a team that was that good suddenly go that bad. And once they started going bad, it wasn’t like they just weren’t executing. It was almost like panic. They don’t seem to know how to fix it. Whatever it is, it’s now been going on a month-and-a-half – and that’s a long time to not fix it.”

Out west, we know what’s wrong with Golden State: Andrew Bogut is out indefinitely with a broken rib. But not even that excuses the Warriors’ Game 2 performance on Monday, when they lost to the Clippers, 138-98.

That’s a 40-point loss for all of you math whizzes out there.

“You don’t see that margin too often,” Mahoney said. “I think the Clippers are such a good team. The Warriors, I thought if they were healthy, that would be a great series. Knowing they were missing Bogut, I thought the Clippers would advance pretty easily, so I was surprised by Game 1. I expected the Clippers to come back and win (Game 2), but to see a margin like that – that happens once every four or five playoff years.”

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