2008 NBA Playoffs

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The 2008 NBA Playoffs was the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association's 2007-08 season. The tournament concluded with the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics defeating the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals. Paul Pierce was named NBA Finals MVP.

The playoffs were noted for the Atlanta Hawks' return after 9 years, taking the #1 seed Celtics to 7 games before bowing out. Also notable was the debut of the Chris Paul-led New Orleans Hornets in the playoffs after Hurricane Katrina and their 7-game series against defending champions San Antonio Spurs, and the Lakers and Celtics' revitalization of their franchises, most especially after key trades during the preseason and regular season. The Celtics ended up playing 26 playoff games (2 games short of a full length postseason of 28), breaking the 25 game record of the 1994 Knicks and 2005 Pistons by 1 game for the most playoff games in a single season played by 1 NBA team.[1] The Knicks, however, only played a Best-of-5 First Round, and so had 2 fewer games to accomplish that feat. Also, the top seeds from each Conference met in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2000.

Playoff qualifying[edit]

Eastern Conference[edit]

The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the East:

  1. Boston Celtics (66–16, clinched Atlantic Division, and home court advantage throughout the playoffs)
  2. Detroit Pistons (59–23, clinched Central Division title)
  3. Orlando Magic (52–30, clinched Southeast Division title)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (45–37)
  5. Washington Wizards (43–39)
  6. Toronto Raptors (41–41)
  7. Philadelphia 76ers (40–42)
  8. Atlanta Hawks (37–45)

Western Conference[edit]

The following teams clinched a playoff berth in the West:

  1. Los Angeles Lakers (57–25, clinched Pacific Division title, and home court advantage for the Western Conference playoffs)
  2. New Orleans Hornets (56–26, clinched Southwest Division title, winning conference record tiebreaker over Spurs)
  3. San Antonio Spurs (56–26)
  4. Utah Jazz (54–28, clinched Northwest Division title)
  5. Houston Rockets (55–27, winning conference record tiebreaker over Suns)
  6. Phoenix Suns (55–27)
  7. Dallas Mavericks (51–31)
  8. Denver Nuggets (50–32)

Bracket[edit]

This was the outlook for the 2008 NBA Playoffs. Teams in italics had home court advantage. Teams in bold advanced to the next round. Numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's original seeding in their respective conferences. Numbers to the right of each team indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions possess an asterisk (*).

First Round Conference Semifinals Conference Finals NBA Finals
                       
1 Boston* 4
8 Atlanta 3
1 Boston 4
4 Cleveland 3
4 Cleveland 4
5 Washington 2
1 Boston 4
Eastern Conference
2 Detroit 2
3 Orlando* 4
6 Toronto 1
3 Orlando 1
2 Detroit 4
2 Detroit* 4
7 Philadelphia 2
E1 Boston 4
W1 L.A. Lakers 2
1 L.A. Lakers* 4
8 Denver 0
1 L.A. Lakers 4
4 Utah 2
4 Utah* 4
5 Houston 2
1 L.A. Lakers 4
Western Conference
3 San Antonio 1
3 San Antonio 4
6 Phoenix 1
3 San Antonio 4
2 New Orleans 3
2 New Orleans* 4
7 Dallas 1

Eastern Conference[edit]

First Round[edit]

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (8) Atlanta Hawks[edit]

April 20
8:30 pm (ET)
Atlanta Hawks 81, Boston Celtics 104
Scoring by quarter: 21–29, 19–20, 15–24, 26–31
Pts: Al Horford 20
Rebs: Al Horford 10
Asts: Joe Johnson 7
Pts: Ray Allen 18
Rebs: Kevin Garnett 10
Asts: Rajon Rondo 9
TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Referees: Steve Javie, Jimmy Clark, Luis Grillo
April 23
8:00 pm (ET)
Atlanta Hawks 77, Boston Celtics 96
Scoring by quarter: 21–29, 19–20, 15–24, 26–31
Pts: Smith, Williams 13 each
Rebs: Al Horford 9
Asts: Horford, Smith 3 each
Pts: Kevin Garnett 19
Rebs: Kevin Garnett 10
Asts: Rajon Rondo 8
TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Referees: Joe DeRosa, Bill Spooner, Ed Malloy
April 26
8:00 pm (ET)
Boston Celtics 93, Atlanta Hawks 102
Scoring by quarter: 26-32, 30-24, 18-28, 19-18
Pts: 32 Kevin Garnett
Rebs: 10 Kevin Garnett
Asts: 8 Paul Pierce
Pts: 26 Josh Smith
Rebs: 14 Al Horford
Asts: 8 Mike Bibby
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Referees: Violet Palmer, Bennet Salvatore. Tom Washington
April 28
8:00 pm (ET)
Boston Celtics 92, Atlanta Hawks 97
Scoring by quarter: 24-29, 24-22, 27-14, 17-32
Pts: 21 Ray Allen
Rebs: 9 Kevin Garnett
Asts: 12 Rajon Rondo
Pts: 35 Joe Johnson
Rebs: 13 Al Horford
Asts: 6 Joe Johnson
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Referees: Mike Callahan, Eddie Rush, Monty McCutchen
April 30
8:30 pm (ET)
Atlanta Hawks 85, Boston Celtics 110
Scoring by quarter: 19-27, 24-31, 21-23, 21-29
Pts: 21 Joe Johnson
Rebs: 10 Al Horford
Asts: 5 Al Horford
Pts: 22 Paul Pierce
Rebs: 7 Paul Pierce
Asts: 7 Kevin Garnett
TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Referees: David Jones, Dick Bavetta, Joe Forte
May 2
8:00 pm (ET)
Boston Celtics 100, Atlanta Hawks 103
Scoring by quarter: 32-20, 18-29, 32-30, 18-24
Pts: 22 Kevin Garnett
Rebs: 7 Kevin Garnett
Asts: 6 Kevin Garnett
Pts: 18 Marvin Williams
Rebs: 6 Mike Bibby
Asts: 7 Mike Bibby
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Referees: Joe Crawford, Mark Wunderlich, Bob Delaney
May 4
1:00 pm (ET)
Atlanta Hawks 65, Boston Celtics 99
Scoring by quarter: 16-27, 10-17, 17-35, 22-20
Pts: 16 Joe Johnson
Rebs: 12 Al Horford
Asts: 3 Al Horford
Pts: 22 Paul Pierce
Rebs: 11 Kevin Garnett
Asts: 6 Rajon Rondo
Boston wins series 4-3
TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Referees: Ken Mauer, Dan Crawford, Bennett Salvatore

Last Playoff Meeting: 1988 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston won 4-3)

Games 1 and 2 were Celtic routs, keyed by great team defense (Atlanta averaged 79 points in the first 2 games) and balanced Celtic scoring (six players were in double figures in Game 1, five in Game 2). The most buzz was generated by Mike Bibby stating that Celtic fans were bandwagoners after Game 1, prompting boos every time he touched the ball in Game 2.[2]

In Game 3, Atlanta showed its athleticism with an array of dunks from Josh Smith (26 points) and a strong interior performance by the rookie Al Horford (17 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists), who also jawed with Paul Pierce near the end of the game. There would be more jawing in Game 4 between Zaza Pachulia and Kevin Garnett, but the outcome was a surprise: thanks to fourth quarter heroics by Joe Johnson and Smith, who combined to score 32 of Atlanta's 34 4th quarter points, the upstart Hawks rallied from a 10-point third quarter deficit in Game 4 to tie the series going back to Boston. Boston dominated Game 5, but in Game 6, six Hawks players finished in double figures to force a winner-take-all Game 7. The Hawks were no match for the Celtics in Game 7, as the Celtics held them to 26 points in the 1st half. 3 minutes into the 2nd half, the series' tensions finally boiled over when Marvin Williams was ejected for committing a hard foul on Rajon Rondo. Then after that, Kevin Garnett was noted for trucking Zaza Pachulia while going for a screen.

(2) Detroit Pistons vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers[edit]

April 20
6:00 pm (ET)
Philadelphia 76ers 90, Detroit Pistons 86
Scoring by quarter: 22–27, 16–24, 25–19, 27–16
Pts: Andre Miller 20
Rebs: Reggie Evans 14
Asts: Andre Iguodala 8
Pts: Rasheed Wallace 24
Rebs: Jason Maxiell 11
Asts: Richard Hamilton 4
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 22, 076
Referees: Tom Washington, Eddie Rush, Monty McCutchen
April 23
7:30 pm (ET)
Philadelphia 76ers 88, Detroit Pistons 105
Scoring by quarter: 18–25, 18–28, 26–31, 26–21
Pts: Lou Williams 17
Rebs: Reggie Evans 11
Asts: Andre Iguodala 4
Pts: Richard Hamilton 20
Rebs: Antonio McDyess 12
Asts: Richard Hamilton 7
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 20,076
Referees: Steve Javie, Derrick Collins, Mark Wunderlich
April 25
7:00 pm (ET)
Detroit Pistons 75, Philadelphia 76ers 95
Scoring by quarter: 20-20, 20-24, 15-26, 20-25
Pts: 23 Richard Hamilton
Rebs: 6 Richard Hamilton
Asts: 5 Rodney Stuckey
Pts: 22 Samuel Dalembert
Rebs: 16 Samuel Dalembert
Asts: 6 Andre Iguodala
Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 18,805
Referees: Joe Crawford, Bill Spooner, Michael Smith
April 27
7:00 pm (ET)
Detroit Pistons 93, Philadelphia 76ers 84
Scoring by quarter: 19-25, 17-21, 34-16, 23-22
Pts: 23 Tayshaun Prince
Rebs: 10 Rasheed Wallace
Asts: 6 Chauncey Billups
Pts: 15 Thaddeus Young
Rebs: 12 Samuel Dalembert
Asts: 5 Andre Iguodala
Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 18,347
Referees: Joe DeRosa, Ron Garretson, Derrick Stafford
April 29
7:00 pm (ET)
Philadelphia 76ers 81, Detroit Pistons 98
Scoring by quarter: 21-35, 21-19, 17-25, 22-19
Pts: 23 Andre Iguodala
Rebs: 7 Reggie Evans
Asts: 6 Andre Iguodala
Pts: 21 Chauncey Billups
Rebs: 11 Jason Maxiell
Asts: 12 Chauncey Billups
The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 22,076
Referees: Ken Mauer, Bob Delaney, Tony Brothers
May 1
8:00 pm (ET)
Detroit Pistons 100, Philadelphia 76ers 77
Scoring by quarter: 30-12, 21-21, 28-18, 21-26
Pts: 24 Richard Hamilton
Rebs: 7 Tayshaun Prince
Asts: 7 Chauncey Billups
Pts: 18 Andre Iguodala
Rebs: 6 Reggie Evans
Asts: 7 Reggie Evans
Detroit wins series 4-2
Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 14,130
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Scott Foster, Jim Clark

Last Playoff Meeting: 2005 Eastern Conference First Round (Detroit won 4-1)

Misses down the stretch by Tayshaun Prince and Rasheed Wallace kept the Pistons from beating the Sixers at their home floor as Andre Iguodala grabbed clutch defensive rebounds to seize home court advantage. The Pistons responded with a blowout in Game 2. Game 3 was close at halftime, but Samuel Dalembert and Andre Miller helped to break it open with strong overall performances. Detroit was behind by 12 in Game 4 at halftime and in danger of falling behind 3–1 going back home, but three second-half 3s by Rasheed Wallace and strong showings by Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups keyed an 18-point 3rd quarter turnaround which evened the series. Detroit dominated Game 5 behind Billups's 14 points and 5 first quarter assists, jumping out to a 14-point lead and never looking back. Richard Hamilton keyed a similar start in Game 6, scoring 13 points, as the Pistons took an 18-point first quarter lead and eventually rolled into the second round.

(3) Orlando Magic vs. (6) Toronto Raptors[edit]

April 20
12:30 pm (ET)
Toronto Raptors 100, Orlando Magic 114
Scoring by quarter: 23–43, 24–17, 28–25, 25–29
Pts: Anthony Parker 24
Rebs: Rasho Nesterović 8
Asts: José Calderón 8
Pts: Dwight Howard 25
Rebs: Dwight Howard 22
Asts: Jameer Nelson 7
Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 17, 519
Referees: Derrick Stafford, Greg Willard, Joe DeRosa
April 22
7:30 pm (ET)
Toronto Raptors 103, Orlando Magic 104
Scoring by quarter: 18–35, 39–24, 21–24, 25–21
Pts: Chris Bosh 29
Rebs: Chris Bosh 10
Asts: Bosh, Ford 6 each
Pts: Dwight Howard 29
Rebs: Dwight Howard 20
Asts: Türkoğlu, Lewis 5 each
Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 17, 519
Referees: Jason Phillips, Jim Clark, Bob Delaney
April 24
7:30 pm (ET)
Orlando Magic 94, Toronto Raptors 108
Scoring by quarter: 20-28, 20-33, 29-19, 25-28
Pts: Hedo Türkoğlu 26
Rebs: Dwight Howard 12
Asts: Jameer Nelson 6
Pts: T.J. Ford 21
Rebs: Jamario Moon 10
Asts: José Calderón 5 each
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Referees: Violet Palmer, Scott Foster, Dan Crawford
April 26
3:00 pm (ET)
Orlando Magic 106, Toronto Raptors 94
Scoring by quarter: 31-26, 17-27, 25-21, 33-20
Pts: Rashard Lewis 27
Rebs: Dwight Howard 16
Asts: Nelson, Lewis 5 each
Pts: Chris Bosh 39
Rebs: Chris Bosh 15
Asts: T.J. Ford 13
Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Referees: Derrick Collins, Dick Bavetta, Joe Forte
April 28
7:30 pm (ET)
Toronto Raptors 92, Orlando Magic 102
Scoring by quarter: 26-22, 24-27, 18-25, 24-28
Pts: Chris Bosh 16
Rebs: Chris Bosh 9
Asts: T.J. Ford 5
Pts: Dwight Howard 21
Rebs: Dwight Howard 21
Asts: Hedo Türkoğlu
Orlando wins series, 4–1
Amway Arena, Orlando, Florida
Referees: Bennett Salvatore, Tom Washington, Marc Davis

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Magic and Raptors.

Scoring 25 points and grabbing 22 rebounds, Dwight Howard gave the Magic their first playoffs win since 2003 as they practically led the entire game.[3] Howard put up 29 and 20 in Game 2, as Hedo Türkoğlu scored the final four go-ahead points to give the Magic a 2–0 lead. The Raptors would respond with a strong Game 3 victory keyed by great point guard play from T. J. Ford and Jose Calderon. But Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis and Keith Bogans keyed strong three point shooting in Game 4 and overcame Chris Bosh's 39 points and 15 rebounds to bring the Magic out of Toronto with a 3–1 lead. Howard finished off the series in Game 5 as impressively as he started–21 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks.

(4) Cleveland Cavaliers vs. (5) Washington Wizards[edit]

April 19
Washington Wizards 86, Cleveland Cavaliers 93
April 21
Washington Wizards 86, Cleveland Cavaliers 116
April 24
Cleveland Cavaliers 72, Washington Wizards 108
April 27
Cleveland Cavaliers 100, Washington Wizards 97
April 30
Washington Wizards 88, Cleveland Cavaliers 87
May 2
Cleveland Cavaliers 105, Washington Wizards 88
Cleveland wins series, 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: 2007 Eastern Conference First Round (Cleveland won 4-0)

LeBron James, labeled as "overrated" by Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, scored 20 of his 32 points in the second half to help the Cavs draw first blood in their third first round meeting in as many years.[4] The Cavs and Wizards traded blowouts in Games 2 and 3, but Cleveland took a 3–1 lead in the Verizon Center off of Delonte West's last second 3. Washington stayed alive by winning Game 5 when Caron Butler converted a running shot with only seconds left, capping off his 32 point performance. However, James led the Cavs to a dominating Game 6 victory in Washington with a triple-double (27 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists); he also received crucial outside shooting from Wally Szczerbiak and Daniel Gibson, who combined for 48 points.

This series was marked by several physical plays on James, with Brendan Haywood, Stevenson, and Darius Songaila picking up technical and flagrant fouls for hard contact on him.

Conference Semifinals[edit]

(1) Boston Celtics vs. (4) Cleveland Cavaliers[edit]

May 6
Cleveland Cavaliers 72, Boston Celtics 76
May 8
Cleveland Cavaliers 73, Boston Celtics 89
May 10
Boston Celtics 84, Cleveland Cavaliers 108
May 12
Boston Celtics 77, Cleveland Cavaliers 88
May 14
Cleveland Cavaliers 89, Boston Celtics 96
May 16
Boston Celtics 69, Cleveland Cavaliers 74
May 18
Cleveland Cavaliers 92, Boston Celtics 97
Boston wins series, 4–3

Last Playoff Meeting: 1992 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Cleveland won 4-3)

Although the Celtics had a quick turnaround from their unexpected seven-game series with Atlanta, they managed to hold off the Cavs by winning the first two games in Boston. Kevin Garnett scored 28 points and 8 rebounds and made the go-ahead shot in Game 1. LeBron James would only shoot 8 for 42 from the field in the first 2 games.

Cleveland would come back to win the next two games, Game 3, a blowout where five Cavs scored in double figures, and Game 4 where James would punctuate the victory with a dunk over Garnett. James's shooting improved in the return to the Garden in Game 5, but received minimal help from his teammates as Rajon Rondo, Garnett, and Paul Pierce all scored over 20 points to push Boston over the top. Game 6 was an ugly affair, with both teams shooting under 40 percent, but a 32-12-6 performance by James was enough. Boston, the best road team in the regular season, fell to 0–6 on the road.

Game 7 would end in a duel between Pierce (41 points) and James (45 points) that some compared to the Bird-Wilkins duel in the Garden 20 years ago. But timely offensive rebounding (10 in all), 18 second chance points, and a few key shots from Celtics veteran P.J. Brown helped push Boston into the Eastern Conference Finals.

(2) Detroit Pistons vs. (3) Orlando Magic[edit]

May 3
Orlando Magic 72, Detroit Pistons 91
May 5
Orlando Magic 93, Detroit Pistons 100
May 7
Detroit Pistons 86, Orlando Magic 111
May 10
Detroit Pistons 90, Orlando Magic 89
May 13
Orlando Magic 86, Detroit Pistons 91
Detroit wins series, 4–1

Last Playoff Meeting: 2007 Eastern Conference First Round (Detroit won 4-0)

The Pistons opened up with a rout in Game 1, as Detroit's big men keyed in on Dwight Howard and forced him to playoff lows 12 points and 8 rebounds, with five Pistons scoring in double figures. After being quiet in Game 1, the Magic's 3-point shooting picked up (11/26, with Jameer Nelson making 5-of-8), but could not overcome 19 turnovers and fell down in the series 2–0. There was a controversial call at the end of the third quarter, where Chauncey Billups made a 3 near the end of the 3rd quarter when the clock froze and approximately 0.5 seconds remained, but TNT clocks later revealed that Billups could not have gotten the ball off in time.

The Magic would take a 24–6 lead at home in Game 3 and use a 38–17 4th quarter to blow out Detroit; they were paced by 33 points by Rashard Lewis. Billups would injure his right hamstring early in the game and miss the remainder of the series, but they would not need him for Game 4 as Richard Hamilton scored 32 points and the Pistons came from 15 back in the 3rd quarter. Tayshaun Prince made the go-ahead basket with 8.9 seconds left and Hedo Türkoğlu missed a layup as time ran out.

Billups's starting replacement, Rodney Stuckey, struggled in Game 4, but came back with a strong Game 5. The Magic would outshoot the Pistons 48 to 36 percent, would make 36 percent of their 3s compared to 21 percent for Detroit, and outrebound them 46 to 38, but turned the ball over 21 times while Detroit had only 3. Rip Hamilton again led Detroit with 31 points, and Prince made the crucial defensive play by blocking Türkoğlu's layup in the waning seconds. Detroit advanced to their sixth straight Eastern Conference Finals, the longest Conference Finals streak since the Los Angeles Lakers went to eight straight in the 80s.

Conference Finals: (1) Boston Celtics vs. (2) Detroit Pistons[edit]

May 20
Detroit Pistons 79, Boston Celtics 88
May 22
Detroit Pistons 103, Boston Celtics 97
May 24
Boston Celtics 94, Detroit Pistons 80
May 26
Boston Celtics 75, Detroit Pistons 94
May 28
Detroit Pistons 102, Boston Celtics 106
May 30
Boston Celtics 89, Detroit Pistons 81
Boston wins series, 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: 2002 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Boston won 4-1)

Detroit walked into the NBA Eastern Conference Finals for the sixth straight season. Boston held off the Pistons in Game 1 88–79, but let Detroit rally a strong performance in Game 2 to win it 103–97 (marking Boston's first home court loss in the post-season). However, they let the Celtics win their first road playoff game 94–80 in Game 3. Game 4 saw the Pistons win 94–75, however they lost Game 5 106–102 despite a scoring run late in the game. In Game 6, the Pistons strolled into the fourth quarter leading 70–60, but a lack of focus, a poor game from Rasheed Wallace, and a rally-destroying turnover by Tayshaun Prince ultimately led to their demise, as the Pistons would end their season losing 89–81. With that, the Celtics moved on to the NBA Finals, and they would face the Los Angeles Lakers for the 11th time.

Western Conference[edit]

First Round[edit]

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (8) Denver Nuggets[edit]

April 20
Denver Nuggets 114, Los Angeles Lakers 128
April 23
Denver Nuggets 107, Los Angeles Lakers 122
April 26
Los Angeles Lakers 102, Denver Nuggets 84
April 28
Los Angeles Lakers 107, Denver Nuggets 101
Los Angeles wins series, 4–0

Last Playoff Meeting: 1987 Western Conference First Round (Los Angeles won 3-0)

In Pau Gasol's playoff debut with the Lakers, he scored 36 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks as the Lakers beat the Nuggets in Game 1. Kobe Bryant gave the fans a vintage performance in Game 2 by scoring 49 points and adding 10 assists in a blowout at Staples Center. The Nuggets were routed at home in Game 3, with Carmelo Anthony stating the team quit in the second half. Game 4 was closer, but Bryant led the Lakers with 14 points in the last 5½ minutes to close out the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. It was the first time the Lakers advanced to the second round since the 2004 season.[5]

(2) New Orleans Hornets vs. (7) Dallas Mavericks[edit]

April 19
Dallas Mavericks 92, New Orleans Hornets 104
April 22
Dallas Mavericks 103, New Orleans Hornets 127
April 25
New Orleans Hornets 87, Dallas Mavericks 97
April 27
New Orleans Hornets 97, Dallas Mavericks 84
April 29
Dallas Mavericks 94, New Orleans Hornets 99
New Orleans wins series, 4–1

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Hornets and Mavericks.

In his playoff debut, Chris Paul scored 35 points, dished out 10 assists, and stole the ball 4 times to lead the Hornets to a comeback home win against the Mavericks.[6] He would replicate that type of performance in Game 2 with 32 points and 17 assists. Dallas would come out with a dominant Game 3 performance at home after inserting Jason Terry into the starting lineup, but New Orleans would win the final 2 games of the series, keyed by David West in Game 4 and Paul's triple-double in Game 5.

(3) San Antonio Spurs vs. (6) Phoenix Suns[edit]

April 19
Phoenix Suns 115, San Antonio Spurs 117
April 22
Phoenix Suns 96, San Antonio Spurs 102
April 25
San Antonio Spurs 115, Phoenix Suns 99
April 27
San Antonio Spurs 86, Phoenix Suns 105
April 29
Phoenix Suns 87, San Antonio Spurs 92
San Antonio wins series, 4–1

Last Playoff Meeting: 2007 Western Conference Semifinals (San Antonio won 4-2)

Michael Finley made a game-tying three in regulation, Tim Duncan scored 40 points, including a rare three-point field goal to force a second overtime, and Manu Ginóbili clinched victory with a drive to the basket to break the 115-all deadlock with 1.8 seconds left to win a classic Game 1.[7] Tony Parker would then pace the Spurs to their next two victories in the series, scoring 32 and 41 in Games 2 and 3 respectively. At the brink of elimination, Phoenix responded with a strong Game 4. But costly missed free throws by Shaquille O'Neal and key turnovers by Steve Nash helped San Antonio to prevail in Game 5, led again by Parker's 31 points.

Also notable was Gregg Popovich's use of the Hack-a-Shaq throughout the series to disrupt the Suns offense when Shaquille O'Neal was on the floor. O'Neal would shoot 64 free throws in the five games, making 32 of them.

(4) Utah Jazz vs. (5) Houston Rockets[edit]

April 19
Utah Jazz 93, Houston Rockets 82
April 21
Utah Jazz 90, Houston Rockets 84
April 24
Houston Rockets 94, Utah Jazz 92
April 26
Houston Rockets 82, Utah Jazz 86
April 29
Utah Jazz 69, Houston Rockets 95
May 2
Houston Rockets 90, Utah Jazz 113
Utah wins series, 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: 2007 Western Conference First Round (Utah won 4-3)

The Jazz had a balanced game from Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams to steal the home court advantage away from the Rockets.[8] A similar performance in Game 2 put Utah in a commanding 2–0 lead going back to Salt Lake City. Rafer Alston's return to the Houston lineup after injury, along with Tracy McGrady's 27 points and Carl Landry's key block of Deron Williams helped Houston steal Game 3 on the road. Williams responded with a strong performance in a Game 4 victory, plus got some help from Mehmet Okur with his offensive rebound off of his two missed free throws. The Rockets controlled Game 5 to stay alive, but despite getting 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists from McGrady in Game 6 and 15 pts from Luis Scola, the rest of the team shot 10/39 from the field and could not overcome losing Alston to an ankle injury as the Jazz blew the game open with a 27–11 3rd quarter.

Conference Semifinals[edit]

(1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (4) Utah Jazz[edit]

May 4
Utah Jazz 98, Los Angeles Lakers 109
May 7
Utah Jazz 110, Los Angeles Lakers 120
May 9
Los Angeles Lakers 99, Utah Jazz 104
May 11
Los Angeles Lakers 115, Utah Jazz 123
May 14
Utah Jazz 104, Los Angeles Lakers 111
May 16
Los Angeles Lakers 108, Utah Jazz 105
Los Angeles wins series, 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: 1998 Western Conference Finals (Utah won 4-0)

The Lakers took Game 1 in Staples Center, winning by 11 against the Jazz. After being presented with the season's NBA MVP award in Game 2, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to victory with 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. However, as the series shifted back to Utah, the Jazz responded, winning Games 3 and 4 behind the performances of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, who bounced back after two poor games in Los Angeles. The Lakers came back with authority as they took Game 5 with Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom scoring 20 plus points each. The Jazz looked to force a Game 7, but the Lakers did not trail and closed out the series in Game 6 with a 108–105 win at Utah, where the Jazz were 37–4 during the regular season. Bryant led the team with 34 points as the Lakers advanced to the Western Conference Finals, which they had not reached since 2004. This was the first playoff meeting between the two teams since the 1998 Western Conference Finals.

(2) New Orleans Hornets vs. (3) San Antonio Spurs[edit]

May 3
San Antonio Spurs 82, New Orleans Hornets 101
May 5
San Antonio Spurs 84, New Orleans Hornets 102
May 8
New Orleans Hornets 99, San Antonio Spurs 110
May 11
New Orleans Hornets 80, San Antonio Spurs 100
May 13
San Antonio Spurs 79, New Orleans Hornets 101
May 15
New Orleans Hornets 80, San Antonio Spurs 99
May 19
San Antonio Spurs 91, New Orleans Hornets 82
San Antonio wins series, 4–3

Last Playoff Meeting: This is the first meeting between the Hornets and Spurs.

The Hornets, who earned the home-court advantage via winning the Southwest division, were able to gain a quick 2–0 lead over the veteran Spurs. But when the series shifted to San Antonio, the Spurs regained their edge, returning the favor in Games 3 and 4. Game 5 back in New Orleans shocked many as the Hornets played off the home crowd to a 22 point rout. The home teams were clearly dominating in this series as Game 6 was more of the same in San Antonio. However, that all changed when a much anticipated Game 7 saw the Spurs erect a 15-point lead after 3 quarters, which proved to be enough (even after the Hornets cut the deficit to 3 with 1:35 left) to send them to another Western Conference Finals.

Conference Finals: (1) Los Angeles Lakers vs. (3) San Antonio Spurs[edit]

May 21
San Antonio Spurs 85, Los Angeles Lakers 89
May 23
San Antonio Spurs 71, Los Angeles Lakers 101
May 25
Los Angeles Lakers 84, San Antonio Spurs 103
May 27
Los Angeles Lakers 93, San Antonio Spurs 91
May 29
San Antonio Spurs 92, Los Angeles Lakers 100
Los Angeles wins series, 4–1

Last Playoff Meeting: 2004 Western Conference Semifinals (Los Angeles won 4-2)

The series pitted the two best teams in the Western Conference over the last 10 years. Having home court advantage, the Lakers started out as a favorite and did not disappoint their home crowd as they overcame a 20-point deficit in Game 1 and won behind Kobe Bryant's 27 points, 25 of which were scored in the second half. Game 2 was a cruise for the Lakers as they made a 9–0 run before halftime, led all game and built the lead to 30.

The Spurs easily took Game 3 at home with Manu Ginóbili carrying the Spurs after two terrible games at L.A, making 5 3-pointers and finishing with 30 points; Tony Parker and Tim Duncan added 42 more. In Game 4 the Lakers never trailed (the Spurs missed several opportunities to take the lead) and led comfortably late, but a furious run by the Spurs and several mistakes by the Lakers (Bryant attempting a running fallaway with plenty of time on the shot clock, Gasol missing 2 free throws) gave San Antonio a chance to tie or win with seconds left. On a disputed no-call, Derek Fisher jumped up and collided with Brent Barry, but no foul was called and Barry missed a last second 3. The NBA later ruled that a foul should have been called on Fisher when he collided with Barry.

Heading home up 3–1 in the series, the Lakers trailed in the first quarter by 17, but were able to cut the lead to six by halftime. Again, Bryant stepped up by scoring 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, enabling the Lakers to surge ahead and seal the series, helping them to reach the NBA Finals for the 5th time in 9 seasons and the first time in the post-Shaq era.

The Lakers were able to reach the NBA Finals again as the #1 seed. The last time this happened to the team was during the 1999-2000 season, where they beat the Indiana Pacers 4–2. They also improved to 4–0 against San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.

NBA Finals[edit]

June 5
Los Angeles Lakers 88, Boston Celtics 98
June 8
Los Angeles Lakers 102, Boston Celtics 108
June 10
Boston Celtics 81, Los Angeles Lakers 87
June 12
Boston Celtics 97, Los Angeles Lakers 91
June 15
Boston Celtics 98, Los Angeles Lakers 103
June 17
Los Angeles Lakers 92, Boston Celtics 131
Boston wins NBA Finals, 4–2

Last Playoff Meeting: 1987 NBA Finals (Los Angeles won 4-2)

Broadcast notes[edit]

Ratings[edit]

TNT's coverage of the 2008 NBA Playoffs was strong in audience delivery, with the playoff averages showing year-over-year growth among households (+15%), viewers (+14%), adults 18–34 (+25%), adults 18–49 (+22%), adults 25–54 (+24%), men 18–34 (+30%), women 18–34 (+5%), men 18–49 (+23%) and men 25–54 (+22%). [1]

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