I hope you all enjoy the game-by-game coverage of these playoffs and for more follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBAPlayoffs.
Both the Charlotte Hornets and Portland Trail Blazers won critical game threes on Saturday, but only one of those games featured a former Hoosier playing in the game.
With not much to report on in regards to Noah Vonleh, today’s edition of Hoosiers In the NBA focuses on Cody Zeller as he continues to play a bigger role than I expected at the start of the series. Let’s check out how he did on Saturday:
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: (6) Charlotte Hornets vs (3) Miami Heat (Miami leads 2-1)
Game 1: Miami 123, Charlotte 91
- Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 9 points (3-4 FG)(3-4 FT), 7 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 20 minutes.
Game 2: Miami 115, Charlotte 103
- Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 8 points (3-6 FG)(2-3 FT), 5 rebounds, 4 personal fouls, 14 minutes.
Game 3: Charlotte 96, Miami 80
- Cody Zeller’s Game Log: 12 points (4-8 FG)(4-4 FT), 8 rebounds, block, 2 turnovers, 5 personal fouls, 26 minutes.
Despite losing his starting spot to Al Jefferson, Cody Zeller proceeded to have his best playoff game yet as the Charlotte Hornets beat the Miami Heat to earn the franchise’s first playoff win in 14 years*.
(*technically you could say first playoff win ever since the last Hornets team to win a playoff game is the same team that is now the New Orleans Pelicans, but the NBA has given the Hornets the right to keep its city history)
Zeller’s benching had less to do with his performance and more to do with balancing the team. With second-leading scorer Nic Batum out indefinitely, Head Coach Steve Clifford needed more scoring in the starting lineup so he moved up Jefferson. There could have been an argument for Zeller just switching to power forward (which went to rookie Frank Kaminsky) but Kaminsky more than proved his worth by scoring 15 points, nine of which came during a game-changing 18-0 run in the third quarter.
Instead, Zeller responded with playoff career-highs in points (12), rebounds (8), and minutes (26). He also played a huge role in the first half as Jeremy Lin’s pick-and-roll partner. Lin scored 13 of his team-high 18 in the first half with almost all of those points coming off Zeller screens. Zeller also finished with the best plus/minus of any player during Saturday’s game as Charlotte outscored Miami by 18 points when Zeller was on the court.
Maybe what was most impressive, and encouraging for the long haul, was how well Zeller and Kaminsky played together. Although they only played 14 minutes on the court together, the results were outstanding as during that time the Hornets outscored the Heat 37-20, or basically the final scoring margin.
Western Conference Quarterfinals: (5) Portland Trail Blazers vs (4) Los Angeles Clippers (Los Angeles leads 2-1)
Game 1: Los Angeles 115 123, Portland 95
- Noah Vonleh’s Game Log: 0 points (0-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, steal, personal foul, 7 minutes.
Game 2: Los Angeles 102, Portland 81
- Noah Vonleh’s Game Log: 0 points (0-1 FG), 1 minute.
Game 3: Portland 96, Los Angeles 88
- Noah Vonleh’s Game Log: DNP – coach’s decision