2018 Western Conference Finals – Game 3

We’re back out West this evening, and thankfully, back on TNT for Game 3 between the Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors out there at the Oracle in Oakland. After a resounding Rockets win in Game 2, this one’s tied up. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors getting blown out so badly on their home floor, where they’ve won 15 straight playoff games, but Houston’s hoping to carry some of that momentum into hostile territory tonight.

Over the course of the Conference Finals, both East and West, each of the five games thus far have been decided by double digits. Basketball Gods, if you’re listening, hook us up with some closer games as we roll towards the Finals. Is that too much to ask?

7:56 pm – The evening begins with a moment of silence at The Oracle for the victims of our latest school shooting.

This blog is hardly the forum for discussing such issues, it’s hardly the forum for much of anything, but it’s just a sad state of affairs when the phrase “latest school shooting” can be casually written without much more than a solemn nod.

8:03 – The Rockets win the opening tip and open up the evening’s scoring with a Harden lob to Capela for a nice soft lay in, and Houston’s ahead 2-0 to begin the game.

8:05 – Two free throws from Draymond Green gets the Warriors on the board, trailing 4-2.

8:07 – We have an early time out with the score Houston 8, Golden State 4 with 9:16 left in the first quarter. Warriors coach Steve Kerr is perturbed because the Warriors are allowing the Rockets easy looks at the basket, as each one of their eight points have come from shots at the rim.

Basically, the Rockets are forcing Steph Curry to have to play a lot of defense, and it’s going poorly for the Warriors early.

8:21 – After Eric Gordon gets trapped in the corner by Kevon Looney (who has a couple of awesome blocks already), he attempts to drive along the baseline, despite the fact the shot clock has just about run out. After the ensuing shot clock violation, we’ll have a time out with the score Golden State 22, Houston 22 with 2:46 left in the first. The Warriors have responded well after that initial time out, but Steph Curry, despite getting some good looks, is just 1-6 from downtown as his long range struggles continue.

8:30 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter, and the Warriors seem to have gained control, getting the score up to Golden State 31, Houston 22. Kevin Durant has eight to lead the Warriors, and Eric Gordon’s come off the Rockets bench with eight of his own.

After that first time out, the Warriors have been able to disrupt the Rockets attack, and they’ve gotten less shots at the rim, settling instead for bombs from downtown. They’ve also turned the ball over six time already, especially once the Warriors added an element of chaos to the game after that early time out.

8:34 – Shaun Livingston falls away for a jumper to start off the second quarter, extending the Warriors lead to 33-22.

8:37 – Livingston grabs an offensive rebound and banks in a shot from close range, and we’ll have a time out with the score Golden State 37, Houston 27 with 9:17 left until halftime. Chris Paul and James Harden are a combined 1-9 from the floor for three points, if you’re looking for reasons why the Rockets are down early.

8:47 – After James Harden gets to the hoop for a rare layup (the Rockets have been awful around the hoop tonight), a time out is called with the score Golden State 44, Houston 34 with 4:58 remaining in the first half. Honestly, the Rockets are lucky they’re only down ten. Harden & Paul are now 2-12 combined from the floor, and the Rockets haven’t been able to finish around the hoop or draw fouls, which is about half of their offensive attack (the other half being launching threes).

9:02 – We’re here at halftime with a score of Golden State 54, Houston 43. Kevin Durant leads the Warriors with 15, and Andre Iguodala’s scrounged up ten points. James Harden has 11 points and 5 assists for the Rockets.

It hasn’t been a great shooting exhibition for either team, but the Rockets have left way too many points on the table with their struggles shooting in the paint. Chris Paul is just 1-7 from the floor, and has but one assist, though he strangely has seven rebounds. Lost amidst the Rockets shooting woes is Steph Curry, who’s just 3-11 from the floor, including 1-7 from downtown. Yuck.

9:19 – Steph Curry is fouled, everyone stops at the whistle, and Cury continues on for a goofy left handed layup…and it counts! He hits the free throw, and that’s how the second half starts with the Warriors ahead, 57-43.

9:21 – Kevin Durant hits a three in the corner, and spins around to say something to the Rockets bench. Speaking of the Rockets bench, they take a time out as they have yet to score here in the third as the scoreboard now reads Golden State 64, Houston 43 with 10:08 left in the quarter. Good night.

9:28 – Chris Paul hauls in a steal and sends the ball down the court for James Harden who gets an easy layup ahead of the defense. It leads to a time out as the Rockets have chiseled the score to Golden State 66, Houston 53 with 7:05 left in the third. I might want to think about paying attention to this game again.

9:35 – The Warriors have answered right back, and after Klay Thompson scores a layup, we’ve got a time out with the score Golden State 75, Houston 56 with 4:34 left in the third.

9:46 – We’re here at the end of the third quarter with a score of Golden State 88, Houston 67. Steph Curry burst out of his shooting slump with 18 points on 7-7 shooting in the quarter, along with a lot of swagger and shimmying. He even yelled “THIS IS MY FUCKING HOUSE” into the crowd after a nifty layup. He’s up to 27 points overall to lead the Warriors, with Kevin Durant right behind him at 25. Draymond Green’s added a line of 5-13-6 to the mix. James Harden has 15 points and 7 assists to lead the Rockets. This one’s over after another trademark Warriors third quarter explosion.

9:50 – Draymond Green gets in for a layup, and a foul, and a flex from Green afterwards. He hits the free throw, and the Warriors lead goes up to 91-67 to begin the fourth.

9:56 – A PJ Tucker three sends us into a time out with the score Golden State 97, Houston 75 with 8:04 remaining.

10:01 – We have a very minor skirmish as Trevor Ariza shoves Draymond Green after he gets up off the floor after a Green foul. It’ll be a double technical, which is pretty lame. Green actually didn’t do anything this time.

10:04 – We’re going to have a time out with the score Golden State 107, Houston 78 with 5:11 remaining. Another game, another blowout.

10:15 – The final horn sounds, and the Warriors have won an NBA record 16th straight home playoff game with a final score of Golden State 126, Houston 85. It’s the worst loss in Rockets playoff history. I cannot wait to tell my grandchildren about living through this historic evening.

Steph Curry finished the night with 35 points and 6 rebounds, but it was his third quarter explosion that turned this one into a laugher. Kevin Durant added 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, and Draymond Green submitted 10 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists.

James Harden had 20-5-9 for the Rockets, but nobody will remember or care. Chris Paul finished with 13 points and 10 boards, but played generally terribly throughout the night.

The Rockets played well for the first few minutes of the game, and then everything went to hell. Hopefully we get a better fight in Game 4, but if the Warriors can play at their peak like the did tonight, nobody’s beating them.

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Three

Tomorrow night, we’re back in action with Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. Will it be another blowout? Can the Cavs tie the series at home? Will the Celtics put Cleveland on the brink of elimination on their way back to Boston? Who the hell knows, but it’s these sorts of questions that keep us watching, even with all these lousy blowouts.

Advertisements

2018 Eastern Conference Finals – Game 3

After another long gap between games, the NBA playoffs get back underway with Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics enter the Quicken Loans Arena tonight with a 2-0 series lead, overcoming a big game from LeBron James in Game 2 for a come from behind victory. In the intervening days off, there has been plenty of speculation about the Cavs. I subscribe to the theory that they’re tired of each other, and I kind of think the Celtics are going to blow them out tonight, but take that with a grain of salt, because I might just be an overconfident Celtics fan. On the other hand, the Celtics have been less than sharp on the road this postseason, so there’s really no telling what’s about to happen. That’s why they play the game in the first place.

8:30 pm – We’re welcomed to the Quicken Loans Arena by Mike Breen and his usual peanut gallery of Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. Meanwhile, I am doing my part by wearing my Bill Russell jersey.

8:37 – Okay, I just finished my raviolis and opened my beer. Let’s get this goddamn game underway.

8:41 – The Celtics win the opening tip, and this very important Game 3 is underway out in Cleveland.

8:42 – George Hill gets into the paint for a little floater, and it’s the first bucket of the ballgame, giving the Cavs a 2-0 lead.

Not long after, a Terry Rozier jumper gets the Celtics on the board, and they’re down 4-2 early.

8:48 – Aron Baynes is called for a foul going for an offensive rebound, and we’ll have our first time out with the score Cleveland 9, Boston 4 with 6:48 left in the first quarter. The Celtics are shooting just 2-9 to start the game, but so far, Cleveland’s not exactly lighting the world on fire, though they do seem to be playing with more urgency than they did in Boston.

8:55 – While watching a replay of LeBron James blocking an Aron Baynes dunk attempt, Mark Jackson calls him, “A-A-Ron”, which as you can see, is inaccurate because Baynes has one “A” in his first name. With the Celtics off to a crummy start, combined with these fucking announcers, my evening is in danger of being ruined.

8:59 – Jayson Tatum draws a foul going up with a shot along the baseline, but we’ll have a time out before he goes to the line with the score Cleveland 27, Boston 11 with 2:16 to go in the opening quarter. My theory about the Celtics blowing out the Cavs tonight is all the way down the toilet at this point, so my new theory is that this will be a one possession game at some point in the second half.

(That’s right, Yabusele has made a first quarter appearance for some reason)

9:07 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Cleveland 32, Boston 17. LeBron James leads Cleveland with 12, and George Hill has come to play with 11 points. Jayson Tatum has six to lead the Celtics, who shot just 6-18 in the quarter as a team. For some reason, I feel like this could have been way worse for the Celtics. The Cavs seem to have remembered how to play defense, at least for one quarter, and it’s made Boston look sluggish. I still maintain that this will end up being a one possession game.

9:12 – LeBron finds Larry Nance for a dunk and the Cavs kick off the second quarter by extending their lead to 34-17.

9:20 – Terry Rozier draws a foul, and it sends us into a time out with the score Cleveland 45, Boston 28 with 6:32 left in the first half. The Cavs have been doing the things that often make them unbeatable: hitting threes (7-12 from downtown), and playing defense (holding the Celtics to 11-27 shooting and forcing six Boston turnovers), things they haven’t been doing in this series so far. That they don’t play like this on a consistent basis is what makes them so goddamn frustrating.

9:28 – LeBron James knocks down a three to get the Cavs lead up to 20, and the Celtics have to take a time out with the scoreboard reading Cleveland 52, Boston 32 with 4:17 to go until halftime.

9:34 – After Jayson Tatum is found under the basket for an easy hoop, we have a time out with the score Cleveland 56, Boston 34 with 2:14 left until halftime. Mike Breen notes that LeBron looks exhausted.

9:36 – We’re back underway and LeBron’s still on the floor and everything seems just fine. A misdiagnosis from Mike Breen.

9:42 – The first half draws to a close with the score Cleveland 61, Boston 41. LeBron’s got 19 points and 6 assists on 6-8 shooting, and George Hill’s added 13. Jayson Tatum’s 13 leads the Celtics.

The Cavs are shooting 52.5%, including a 9-17 showing on three pointers. Meanwhile, the Celtics are shooting 38.2% and are operating without their normal ball movement and with some questionable shot selection. It’s going to be SO AWESOME when they come back and win this game. Ugh.

9:58 – Marcus Morris gets his shot blocked by Kevin Love, but gets it back, and is able to put it in, earning the first bucket of the second half, and cutting the Celtics deficit all the way down to 61-43.

10:05 – The Cavs lose the ball out of bounds, and we have a time out with the score Cleveland 71, Boston 48 with 6:52 left in the third quarter. As you can see, ain’t too much changed.

10:09 – This game has become so uninteresting that they’ve brought in Steve Javie at the NBA Replay Center so they can all re-litigate JR Smith’s push on Al Horford in Game 2. Even though my Celtics are getting waxed and I would rather be seeing just about anything other than that, this is somehow worse.

10:14 – Now they’re talking about the Royal Wedding. Holy fuck.

10:17 – Chewbacca the Wookie is sitting courtside for some reason, giving Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson another item to be obnoxious about.

10:19 – Jaylen Brown goes to the hoop after a steal and draws a foul, but we’ll have a time out first with the score Cleveland 81, Boston 55 with 2:52 left in the third. I am beginning to feel concerned that my “this will be a one possession game” theory isn’t going to come to fruition.

10:28 – The third quarter’s over, and the score’s Cleveland 87, Boston 63. LeBron’s up to 27 points and 9 assists, and Kevin Love has 13 points and 14 boards. Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier each have 13 for the Celtics.

10:32 – A pair of Marcus Smart free throws get us our first points of the fourth quarter, and the Celtics trail, 87-65.

10:41 – Marcus Smart gets fouled, and we’ll have a time out with the score Cleveland 101, Boston 74 with 6:49 remaining. Time to start thinking about Game 4, which will hopefully be a better basketball experience, mostly so we don’t have to listen to these announcers talk about Star Wars or Jurassic Park or whatever else.

10:51 – We’ve got a time out because someone fouled someone else and I’m not really paying attention anymore because our score’s Cleveland 113, Boston 86 with 2:24 left in one of the more uninspiring games of the entire playoffs.

10:58 – The final buzzer sounds, and the final score is Cleveland 116, Boston 86.

LeBron James finished with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 12 assists on 8-12 shooting. Kevin Love added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Jayson Tatum scored 18 to lead the Celtics.

This one was over real quick. The Cavs shot 17-34 from downtown, and remembered to try hard on defense, and when they shoot that way and play that hard, they are very, very difficult to beat. On top of that, beyond LeBron and Love, others contributed as well, with six Cavaliers scoring in double figures. Conversely, the Celtics just never seemed to have it tonight, and played exasperated and frustrated basketball, resulting in a lousy evening of basketball.

getty-images-960267096.jpg

Well, at least this series is a little more interesting. Game 4’s Monday night, and we’ll see if the Celtics can bounce back and make the proper adjustments, or if Cleveland can maintain their momentum at home.

Tomorrow night, it’s another Game 3, with the Rockets visiting the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Like the Eastern Finals, all of the games in that series have been decided by double digits. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get a decent one down the stretch. Regardless of whether or not we do, you’ll be able to read all about it here if you’ve got nothing better to do and need to waste some time.

 

2018 Western Conference Finals – Game 2

I know what you (all two of you) have been thinking: it’s the Conference Finals and where the hell has The Bonus been? Well, I’ll tell you…

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, I had plans to hang out with my mom, so I watched Game 1 between the Celtics and Cavs at my parents house. I actually could have gone to the game, thanks to a friend with tickets, but I was concerned about the negative karma I would introduce to the series if I abandoned my mom on Mother’s Day, so I declined. I’m 100% convinced that if I had gone to the game, the Celtics would be down 2-0, having lost the first two games by roughly 3489 points. Instead, I hung out with my mom, and the Celtics are two wins away from the Finals. You’re welcome everybody.

On Monday, I went to the Red Sox game with my sister, once again receiving tickets from a friend, who in this case, couldn’t go himself. The Red Sox lost, and so did the Rockets, who played their Game 1 against the Warriors that night.

Tuesday night, I was invited by a friend to watch Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavs at his house, so that’s where I was. Rest assured, ya boy’s still watching ball (I even caught the end of Game 1 between the Rockets and Warriors at a bar after the Sox game).

BUT TONIGHT I am back in my living room, sitting on the couch just in time for Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. The Rockets are looking to even the series after their loss the other night. Marv Albert, Chris Webber, and unfortunately, Reggie Miller, will narrate this evening’s action, live on TNT.

9:02 pm – The Warriors win the opening tip, and we’re underway in the Toyota Center down in Houston. Klay Thompson quickly opens the scoring with a baseline jumper to put the defending champs up, 2-0.

9:04 – Trevor Ariza gets the Rockets on the board with a pair of free throws, tying us up at two.

9:11 – We’ve got our first time out with the score Houston 13, Golden State 10 with 6:52 left in the first quarter after Clint Capela draws a foul going up with an offensive rebound he grabbed off of a missed three from Chris Paul. Early on, both teams have things to be concerned about. For the Rockets, Paul already has two fouls, but has remained in the game. Meanwhile, the Warriors already have five, count ’em, five turnovers.

9:21 – After Eric Gordon cans a long three, we’ll have a time out with the score Houston 21, Golden State 18 with 2:54 left in a first quarter that’s being played at an incredible pace.

9:31 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the scoreboard reading Houston 26, Golden State 21. James Harden has nine to lead the Rockets, and Kevin Durant has eight for the Warriors. Golden State is doing that thing they’re prone to doing where their play is super sloppy and they’re not exhibiting a high sense of urgency. Not only have they turned the ball over seven times, they’re also 0-7 from beyond the arc. Nevertheless, they’re only down five.

9:35 – PJ Tucker leads off the second quarter with a three to get the Rockets lead up to 29-21. It’s Tucker’s first field goal in the series.

9:39 – James Harden takes the ball beyond the three point line and buries a corner three, and we’ll have a time out with the score up to Houston 38, Golden State 26 with 8:34 left in the first half.

9:47 – Chris Paul finds PJ Tucker in the corner for another three, and it leads to another time out with the score Houston 46, Golden State 35 with an even six minutes left in the first half. The Warriors had gotten their deficit down to five, but the Rockets have responded well.

9:54 – We’re going to have another time out after Draymond Green taps the ball out of bounds. The score’s Houston 56, Golden State 42 with 3:13 left in the second quarter. The Warriors have gone from playing sloppy to looking downright disheveled.

10:01 – We’re here at halftime with the score Houston 64, Golden State 50. Trevor Ariza’s 15 points leads Houston, while PJ Tucker is right behind him with 14. Harden’s also got 14 and Eric Gordon’s come off the bench to contribute 13. Kevin Durant has 18 for the Warriors, but everyone else has looked fairly crummy, and they’ve racked up 11 turnovers, whereas the Rockets are getting major contributions from their supporting players, including a combined 15-19 shooting performance from Ariza, Tucker and Gordon.

Heading into the third, the Warriors trademark domination after halftime is on a lot of minds. While we’ve seen them slaughter teams again and again in the third quarter, I’m just not sure they have it tonight. There’s something off about them, and they’ve been showing signs of frustration, especially Draymond Green, who has been observed throwing his arms up in exasperation after a few of his four first half turnovers.

10:19 – Kevin Durant works his way towards the hoop and tosses in a basket to give the Warriors the first points of the second half, but they’re down 64-52.

10:26 – Chris Paul draws a foul on his way to the hoop, but before anything else, we’ll have a time out with the score Houston 74, Golden State 64 with 6:58 left in the third. Kevin Durant has come out of halftime on fire, and is up to 28 points in 24 minutes of action. However, the Rockets haven’t panicked, and have been able to maintain their double digit lead thus far.

10:37 – James Harden’s called for a foul, and it will take us into a time out with the score Houston 86, Golden State 70 with 2:36 left in the third. So much for the Warriors dominating this quarter tonight.

10:47 – The third quarter draws to a close without the usual Warriors explosion, and our score’s Houston 95, Golden State 79. James Harden leads the Rockets with 21 points and 7 rebounds, and Kevin Durant has 36 for the Warriors, but he’s the only one putting up a serious fight at the moment.

10:52 – Steph Curry knocks down a three, his first of the night, and the Rockets strike first in the fourth and trail, 95-82.

11:00 – PJ Tucker is found alone in the corner for a three, and we’ll have a time out with the score Houston 108, Golden State 89 with 7:07 remaining. After the Warriors were threatening to make this interesting by whittling the lead down to 11, the Rockets have snatched back the momentum, as they’ve done each time the Warriors have shown signs of life tonight.

11:03 – We’re back with Chris Paul on the Rockets bench with five fouls, but also kind of hobbling around with his leg wrapped. Definitely something to monitor.

11:05 – We have a technical foul on Kevin Durant after he expresses his displeasure after getting called for a foul for pushing James Harden out of bounds. Harden hits the technical free throw, and that Rockets lead is all the way up to 115-91.

11:11 – We’ve got what should be one last time out with the score Houston 119, Golden State 93 with 3:49 left in the game. This isn’t the first time I’ve been struggling to stay awake towards the end of a Warriors game, but usually, it’s because it’s Golden State that’s up big.

11:21 – This one’s over with a final score of Houston 127, Golden State 105.

Despite shooting 9-24 overall, and a disgusting 3-15 from beyond the arc, James Harden led the Rockets with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon came off the bench to supply 27 points as well, and PJ Tucker contributed 22 points and 7 rebounds on 8-9 shooting. Clint Capela scrounged up five points and ten rebounds.

Kevin Durant scored 38 to lead the Warriors, but beyond that, the less said about the Warriors box score, the better.

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Two

Houston got great efforts from their supporting characters, while Golden State got just about nothing from anyone outside Durant. That’s enough to make this an even series heading to Oakland this weekend.

Now that The Bonus is back, there are of course no games until Saturday, so, I hope you enjoyed this one-off episode. There’s plenty to look forward to when the games pick back up. Are the Cavs really dead? Can the Rockets challenge the Warriors at The Oracle? We’ll have those answers and more in a few days time. Until then, enjoy the nice weather or something.