The 34th and final round of regular-season CBA basketball played out this morning, and the playoff picture is finally complete. Here are the first-round match ups…
Guangdong (1) vs Fujian (8)
Beijing (2) vs Guangsha (7)
Shanxi (3) vs Shanghai (6)
Xinjiang (4) vs Dongguan (5)
Each series will be best of five, and postseason play will begin on the 22nd of this month (one week from today). As for today’s games…
Guangsha 114, Beijing 94: Beijing’s best players, Stephon Marbury and Randolph Morris, played only 12 combined minutes, and that worked out very well for Guangsha. This game meant nothing to the Beijing Ducks, who had already secured the #2 spot, but it was quite meaningful to Wilson Chandler and Guangsha, who were looking to avoid a first-round meeting with a dominant Guangdong team. Wilson exploded for 25 points and 10 rebounds in the first quarter, finished the game with 41 and 18, and ultimately led his team to the big victory. These two teams are now set to meet in what should be one of the better first-round playoff series. Guangsha has struggled a bit lately, but so has Beijing… you may recall that they began the season 13-0, yet they’re finishing just 21-11. I think it will largely depend on how Wilson Chandler plays (will he stay outside, or will he use his superior physical tools to help Peter John Ramos dominate in the paint?), but there could be an upset here.
Shanghai 89, Tianjin 85: I suppose you could call this a “big win” for Shanghai as it earned them the #6 spot, but I think they would’ve been better off in 7th. Third-ranked Shanxi has been putting up huge offensive numbers and winning a lot of basketball games–12 of their last 16, to be specific. Shanxi is also the only team to beat Guangdong since December. I’d much rather see second-place Beijing right now. Anyway, Marcus Landry led Shanghai with 21 points while Donnell Harvey beasted his way to 22 and 17.
Foshan 107, Qindago 101: I’m a little sad that I may never again get to read a Lester Hudson CBA stat line. Today, Lester scored 34 points, took 35 shots, went 4-20 from three, grabbed 14 rebounds, and dished 3 assists. He finishes the season with an average of 15 three-point attempts per game. Epic.
Shanxi 124, Dongguan 114: In a hard-fought battle for third place, Charles Gaines scored a game-high 41 points while also grabbing 10 boards to lead Shanxi to victory. Gaines made 20 of his 25 shots as he abused Dongguan’s bigs, and with Marcus Williams adding 37 more on 13-13 from the line there was no way the Brave Dragons were going to be beaten… they f@cking shot 63% from the floor. This team is an offensive machine. Watching Gaines and Mike Harris go at it in the playoffs should be a treat.
Guangdong 92, Bayi 91: Guangdong hasn’t played a game that really mattered to them in weeks, and today they decided to give Aaron Brooks a rest; he played just six minutes, and they won anyway. James Singleton led the way with 26 points and 12 boards in just 24 minutes. Guangdong will see Fujian in the playoffs, and I fully expect them to sweep. Oh, Wang Zhizhi led Bayi with 31.
Jiangsu 142, Jilin 127: Uh… what? I mean, this score can’t be right. There weren’t even any overtimes. I guess both teams must’ve decided to play a game that meant nothing like a game that meant nothing. Ten different players scored in double figures, two of whom were Jackson Vroman (36) and Cartier Martin (28). Marcus Williams had 8 points and 8 assists.
Xinjiang 104, Fujian 79: Will McDonald had 32 and 10, but Xinjiang absolutely rolled over Fujian. Tim Pickett went off for 42 points on 8-15 from distance… his second game of 40 or more in his last three. Since falling out of the playoff picture after Kenyon Martin’s departure the Flying Tigers have made multiple roster shakeups, and it seems that they’ve finally got it right… they’ve won seven of their last eight, and no team is hotter going into the postseason.
Liaoning 113, Zhejiang 90: The JR Smith CBA experiment is officially over, and while it was quite entertaining I certainly believe it should be considered a failure. Smith scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds today, but his Zhejiang squad lost their 5th game in a row, capping off a huge choke-job during which they fell from something like 3rd or 4th place (I can’t remember exactly where they climaxed, but it was in that range) all the way down to 11th. Way to go, JR!