NBA Playoffs – Day 10

The Thunder advance, and another big injury changes the Playoff landscape.

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I’m not going to lie to you, it’s been a crummy day. I stepped on my external hard drive and now it doesn’t work. If only there was something I could do that might cheer me up…oh right, the Playoffs are on!

Before we get to tonight’s game, some news came out that will effect the Playoffs going forward. Steph Curry, the reigning MVP of the league, does indeed have a sprained knee after slipping on a wet spot at the end of the first half of Game 4 between his Warriors and the Rockets. He’ll be out for at least two weeks, at which point, he’ll be evaluated further, meaning he could miss even more time. This could be the kind of thing that changes the course of the Playoffs. While the Warriors seem to have no problem with the Rockets regardless of whether or not Steph is playing, the next round could prove much more difficult. They’ll be playing either the Clippers or Blazers, both of whom are a more worthy adversary. It’ll be interesting especially if the Clippers are their next opponent. Los Angeles is a team that has yet to advance past the second round, and at full strength, the Warriors have had no problem with them. Without their most important player, however, beating the Clippers four out of seven games could end up being a tall task. Even if the Blazers end up in the second round, the Warriors would have a very tough time. Portland handed Golden State one of their nine losses during the season, something the Clippers can’t say for themselves. This is one of the things that make the Playoffs so intriguing, one unfortunate injury on one team can open up opportunities for the others, and change the course of not only this year’s Playoffs, but the entire narrative of NBA history.

That was probably a little more epic than it needed to be, but hey, I like basketball a lot and take this stuff more seriously than I should. Let’s move on to tonight’s games…

Banished to NBA TV tonight is Game 4 between the Hornets and Heat. Miami is up 2-1 in that series, and Charlotte is looking for their second straight win on their home floor. This poor series has spent most of its time on NBA TV, and Game 3 was Saturday, when I was doing non-Playoff activities, so I’ve only got to see Game 1. How horrible. Anyway, after the first quarter, Miami holds a 26-19 lead, getting seven points apiece from Goran Dragic and Luol Deng.

Kicking off my evening of basketball watching will be Game 5 between the Thunder and Mavs. That series has gotten testy with OKC up 3-1. Kevin Durant got ejected from Game 4 after getting hit with a Flagrant 2. I’m sure it’ll be another battle tonight with the Thunder one game away from eliminating the Mavs.

In the late game, it’s Game 4 between the Blazers and Clippers, the two teams faced with the prospect of taking on a Steph-less Warriors in the second round. The Clippers lead 2-1, but the Blazers took Game 3 with a big win on their home floor. They’ll be in Portland again tonight with a chance to tie this series up.

7:52 pm – Oh man, instead of the usual rerun of Castle, Die Hard With a Vengeance is finishing up on TNT. I don’t know why I feel like this is important to share with you guys.

8:00 – Okay, the movie is over, and it’s time for the NBA on TNT! They start off with Steph, the big story of the day.

8:03 – Shaq thinks the Warriors will be fine without Steph because of their strong system. Charles Barkley cautions that even if Curry comes back at the earliest, he won’t be in his best basketball shape, and that the Warriors have no chance to win the championship without him.

8:09 – We’re live in Oklahoma City for Game 5 between the Thunder and the Mavs! Ian Eagle and Brent Barry will narrate what could be an elimination game with the Thunder ahead in the series, 3-1.

8:10 – Ugh, the Thunder are back to wearing their horrible sleeved home pajamas jerseys, while the Mavs have inserted Justin Anderson into the lineup, as they’ll be without Deron Williams, Salah Mejri and David Lee tonight. Ouch.

8:11 – After the Thunder win the opening tip, Russell Westbrook gets a layup for our first points, putting the Thunder up, 2-0. Zaza Pachiula answers with a jumper for the Mavs, tying us at two.

8:15 – They’ve reached halftime in Charlotte…

8:19 – We’ve got our first time out, and the Thunder are off to a good start. It’s Oklahoma City 19, Dallas 10 with 6:28 left in the first quarter. OKC’s shooting 8-10 from the floor to start the game, and they’re looking like they’re intent on ending this series tonight.

8:31 – We’re going to have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 25, Dallas 16 with 2:40 left in the first quarter. The Thunder are playing with a lot of energy right now, and the banged up Mavs might not have enough to stay with them.

8:40 – The first quarter comes to an end with the score Oklahoma City 35, Dallas 24. The Thunder are off to a great start, and Russell Westbrook already has 13 points. The Mavs turned the ball over seven times, and haven’t been able to really match the Thunder’s pace or energy. Some good news for them, Dirk Nowitzki moved into 14th place on the NBA’s all time Playoff scoring list with this basket…

8:44 – After Zaza Pachiula fights for an offensive rebound, he taps it out to Dwight Powell who comes flying in for a dunk for the first points of the second quarter, cutting the Mavs deficit down to 35-26.

8:45 – And now we have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 37, Dallas 26 with 10:51 left in the first half. Obviously, not much has changed as we’re just over a minute into the second quarter.

8:51 – We’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 44, Dallas 31 with 8:55 left in the second quarter. The Mavs aren’t playing particularly terribly, but the Thunder are shooting 63% from the field as they’ve built up their double digit lead.

9:00 – Another time out with the score Oklahoma City 52, Dallas 41 with 5:56 left in the first half. The Mavs are battling, shooting 50%, but the Thunder are still over 60% as Dallas has been unable to slow them down.

9:03 – Meanwhile, in Charlotte…

9:07 – We’ve got another time out, and the Mavs have cut their deficit all the way down to two, thanks to a Raymond Felton jumper. It’s Oklahoma City 55, Dallas 53 with 2:32 left until halftime. Most impressively, they’ve done it with Dirk Nowitzki sitting on the bench.

9:19 – We’re here at halftime in what’s become an increasingly entertaining game. It’s Oklahoma City 68, Dallas 61. It looked like the Thunder might win going away, but the Mavericks didn’t panic and got hot from the field to make things more difficult on the Thunder than we thought it was going to be. Kevin Durant, who has been struggling all series, has 20 points and 5 rebounds for OKC. Russell Westbrook has 16 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists, while Steven Adams 13 points and 7 boards. Dirk Nowitzki’s leading the Mavs with 17, and Zaza Pachulia is working on an unexpected triple-double with 12 points, 5 rebounds and a Playoff career high 7 assists.

9:26 – Time for Today in NBA Playoff History! As always, thanks to the masters over at Basketball-Reference for housing all of this knowledge.

Back on April 25, 1979, the Seattle Supersonics finished off the Los Angeles Lakers, 106-100, to win their Western Conference Semifinals series, 4-1. Gus Williams scored 30 to lead the Sonics to victory, and they’d go on to win the NBA Championship, the only one in franchise history. Of course, the Sonics would leave Seattle and become the Oklahoma City Thunder that we’re watching right now. I think everyone outside of OKC would be much happier if the Sonics were still around.

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Adding insult to injury, look how much better the Sonics jerseys were compared to the abominations the Thunder are wearing tonight.

9:38 – Raymond Felton hits a jumper in the paint, and the Mavs score first in the second half, cutting their deficit to 68-63.

9:39 – Justin Anderson takes a nice pass from Zaza Pachulia for a baseline dunk, and we have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 68, Dallas 65 with 10:44 left in the third quarter. The Mavs are really coming up with a great effort. They could been run off the floor, but they fought back, and we have a three point game in the second half.

9:41 – We have a final score out of Charlotte!

That series is now tied at two as the First Round continues to improve after its lackluster start.

9:43 – Russell Westbrook nails a three, and the Thunder lead goes up to 71-65. Westbrook’s up to 19 points.

9:44- Wesley Matthews answers with a three for Dallas, and it’s back to a three point game with the Mavs trailing, 71-68. Westbrook answers by taking the ball to the hoop and scooping it in to put OKC on top, 73-68.

9:46 – Russell Westbrook takes it all the way in for another layup, and we’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 77, Dallas 71 with 8:03 left in the third. The Mavs have done a good job keeping this one close, but they have yet to make a run for the lead as the Thunder have continued pushing the pace.

9:53 – We’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 82, Dallas 73 with 5:47 left in the third. The Thunder are starting to pull away a bit, and the Mavs are entering a key stretch here as they need to muster up another run, or face the end of their season.

9:58 – Enes Kanter gets a hoop, plus he’s fouled! He’ll shoot a free throw after we come back from another time out with the score Oklahoma City 86, Dallas 77 with 3:43 remaining in the quarter.

10:00 – Kanter hits his free throw after the time out, and the Thunder lead is back at double digits at 87-77.

10:05 – Here at the end of the third quarter, our score is Oklahoma City 93, Dallas 83. OKC got back to the way they were playing during the first quarter and a half, and they’ve got a double digit lead heading into the final quarter. Dallas continues to play with a noble effort, but they’re going to have to dig deep over the next twelve minutes if they’re going to have any chance of extending their season.

10:09 – Devin Harris shovels a pass to Dwight Powell for a baseline dunk to get us the first basket of the fourth quarter, and cut the Mavs deficit to 93-85.

10:14 – OKC’s Enes Kanter is heading to the locker room after leaving the game after taking a shot to the ribs under the hoop. He’s an important reserve for the Thunder, so hopefully whatever’s bothering him is not too serious.

10:15 – The Mavs are on a 15-6 run as they continue to refuse to go away. It’s Oklahoma City 99, Dallas 94 with 8:45 remaining in the ball game.

10:19 – JJ Barea hits a little floater, and it’s a one possession game with the Mavericks trailing, 99-96. Russell Westbrook quickly answers with a jumper, putting the Thunder up 101-96, but Dirk Nowitzki comes back with a layup off the glass, and it’s back to a three point game with the Mavs down, 101-98.

10:21 – We have a time out in between a pair of Russell Westbrook free throws. The score’s Oklahoma City 102, Dallas 98 after Westbrook hits the first one with 6:56 to go. The only time out I hate worse than the between free throws time out is when a team calls back to back time outs towards the end of a game, like the Hawks did last night.

10:24 – Enes Kanter has come wobbling back to the Thunder bench, but he still looks out of sorts. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook hits his second free throw, and he’s on the verge of a triple-double with 30 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists, as the Thunder lead, 103-98.

10:29 – Kevin Durant hits a jumper from the foul line, plus he’s fouled! It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 111, Dallas 103 with 2:54 remaining. This could be it for the Mavs, then again, they’ve fought back every time they’ve fallen behind, but time is going to become a factor as this game goes down the stretch.

10:32 – Both of the Thunder’s stars, Durant & Westbrook, are over 30 points in this game. Ian Eagle, who is doing a damn fine job narrating this ball game, by the way, tells us it’s the ninth time the two of them have gone over 30 in a Playoff game.

10:33 – Oh dear, during the time out, Dirk Nowitzki got hit with a technical foul. Kevin Durant hits the technical free throw, then finishes off the three point play from before the time out, and the Thunder’s lead is suddenly up to ten at 113-103.

10:35 – We have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 115, Dallas 103 with just 1:16 left in the game. After a noble effort, the Mavs have gone cold at the worst time, and their band is getting set for a stirring rendition of “Nearer My God To Thee”.

10:41 – FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

With Russell Westbrook fighting for the ball on the ground, Justin Anderson comes diving in and leads with his elbow, and Westbrook is unhappy about it. After both teams need to be separated after some minor squaring off, Russell Westbrook heads to the bench, and Justin Anderson is hit with a technical foul. Durant hits the technical free throw, putting the Thunder up, 118-103 with 27.2 seconds left. OKC’s on an 11-0 run to finish this one off.

10:44 – Apparently a jump ball was called during the skirmish, so Westbrook is back because he has to jump it up with Justin Anderson. Westbrook doesn’t even look at Anderson, or attempt to go for the ball. Instead, he just walks off as the Mavs take control of the ball.

10:46 – The game comes to a close with the score Oklahoma City 118, Dallas 104, and we’re immediately sent up to Portland for Game 4 between the Trail Blazers and the Clippers. Marv Albert will be narrating, along with good ol’ Kevin McHale. TNT has the best announcers. But before we get started that…

Russell Westbrook (36) and Kevin Durant (33) combined for 69 points for the Thunder. Westbrook damn near had a triple-double, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 9 assists. Durant added 7 rebounds, and Steven Adams 15 points and 10 boards. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 24 points, and Zaza Pachulia ended up with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists, but the Mavs fell short after battling hard right up until they ran out of gas at the end. They were banged up all series long, but gave the Thunder a great effort. As for the Thunder, they finish off the series 4-1, and advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, where they’ll take on the mighty San Antonio Spurs. That’s gonna be a great series.

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Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, already in their pajamas, exchange a good night high five.

Now, let’s get started up in Portland…

10:48 – The Clippers win the opening tip, and we’re underway! Once again, the Clippers are up 2-1 in the series, with the Blazers looking to even things up on their home court.

10:49 – Al-Farouq Aminu kicks things off with a rainbow three for the first points of the game. Chris Paul follows it up by exploding through the paint for a layup, and the Blazers lead 3-2 to start the game.

10:56 – We have our first time out up in Portland with the score Trail Blazers 14, Clippers 8 with 5:52 left in the first quarter. The Blazers have come out energized by their always awesome home crowd. Al Farouq-Aminu already has 10 points and 3 blocks for the home team, while Chris Paul has all eight of the Clippers points thus far.

11:02 – By the way, the Blazers are wearing their Rip City jerseys, which would be awesome if they didn’t have sleeves, while the Clippers are wearing their horrendous black alternates.

11:06 – We’ve got a time out as the Blazers continue to play with great effort and energy. It’s Portland 18, Los Angeles 12 with 3:05 left in the first quarter. Chris Paul is still the only Clipper who has scored.

11:12 – Finally, another Clipper has scored, barely. Jeff Green goes one for two from the free throw line, and Los Angeles trails 20-13.

11:16 – The first quarter comes to a close with the score Portland 24, Los Angeles 20. This game is off to a goofy start. The Blazers are playing hard, but shooting poorly (27.3%), yet they’re out-rebounding the Clippers, 19-10. Chris Paul has 12 points on 6-7 shooting, while the rest of the Clippers are a combined 3-17 from the field. Al-Farouq Aminu has 10 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks for the Blazers. He’s also apparently called ‘Chief” which makes me mad, because there’s only one Chief, and that’s Robert Parish.

11:21 – Jeff Green goes 1-2 from the line, giving the Clippers the first point of the second quarter, and cutting their deficit down to 24-21.

11:25 – We’ve got a time out as both teams continue their horrid shooting. It’s Portland 28, Los Angeles 23 with 8:36 left in the first half. Portland’s winning despite 28.6% shooting, while the Clippers are helping them out by shooting just 31%.

11:31 – The Blazers fans just started chanting “BEAT LA!” Sorry, guys, but that chant is only for the Lakers.

11:33 – Technical fouls on DeAndre Jordan and Ed Davis. They got tangled up under the hoop and Jordan flung a warning elbow towards Davis, who must have said something back to Jordan to earn his T.

11:34 – Alan Crabbe knocks down a three, and Blazers offense has made a brief reappearance! It’s Portland 34, Los Angeles 26 with 5:54 left until halftime. Both teams are shooting 10-33 from the field for a woeful 30.3%. The difference has been the Blazers 11-13 performance from the free throw line, compared to just 4-8 from the Clippers.

11:41 – Now for some extra Thunder/Mavs drama…

11:44 – We’ve got another time out as the Clippers have started to find a little bit of offense. It’s Portland 37, Los Angeles 36 with 2:53 left in the first half. As we continue to monitor the sorry shooting percentages, the Blazers, while winning, are down at 30.6%, and the Clippers have clawed their way up to 34.2% shooting.

11:47 – Back from the time out, the Blazers send DeAndre Jordan to the line with an intentional foul, and he obliges with two air-balls.

11:48 – Mason Plumlee finds Damian Lillard with a great pass for a great dunk! It leads to a time out with the score Portland 42, Los Angeles 36 with 1:53 remaining in the first half. Plumlee has got to be one of the best passing centers in the league.

11:56 – We’re here at halftime with the score Portland 47, Los Angeles 43. Both teams slogged through some poor shooting, with the Blazers at 35.7%, and the Clippers at 33.3%. Al-Farouq Aminu has 13 points and 4 rebounds for Portland, and Chris Paul has 14 for LA. Jeff Green scored ten off the Clippers bench, but beyond that, Paul has received very little help. Despite the bad shooting, the Blazers hold the slight lead, and it should be a good battle during the second half.

12:01 am – It’s time for another educational episode of Today in NBA History!

We’re past midnight, but we’re staying with April 25 as we travel back to 1985 to see the Blazers defeat the Mavericks, 115-113, in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round, ending the series with a 3-1 advantage. Back in those days, the First Round was best of five. As for the game, Mark Aguirre led the Mavs with 39 points, and Sam Perkins had 21 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. Kiki Vandeweghe led Portland with 27, and Kenny Carr chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

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Good ol’ Kenny Carr.

12:13 – Charles Barkley owes Ernie Johnson a steak!

12:15 – CJ McCollum gets a shot near the basket, and it’s the first points of the second quarter, extending the Blazers lead to 49-43.

12:17 – JJ Redick gets to the hoop for a reverse layup, and the Clippers are within two, trailing 51-49.

12:18 – Al-Farouq Aminu hits a jumper for a 53-49 lead, then on the next possession, CJ McCollum gets a steal and takes it down the court for a dunk! It leads to a time out with the score Portland 55, Los Angeles 49 with 8:49 left in the third quarter.

12:22 – With the shot clock about to expire, the Clippers have no choice but to get it to Blake Griffin beyond the arc. He launches a three, and it goes down! It cuts the Blazers lead to 55-52.

12:25 – Al-Farouq Aminu knocks down a corner three, and the Clippers call a time out with the score Portland 58, Los Angeles 52 with 6:07 left in the third. The Blazers are starting to find their shot here in the third quarter, and it could be just what they need as the Clippers continue to struggle from the field.

12:27 – Chris Paul is off to the locker room after doing something to his wrist. On his way off the Clippers bench, he kicks something in frustration. Not a good sign for the Clips.

12:28 – Jamal Crawford hits a jumper, and the Clippers are back to within two, trailing 58-56, but Al-Farouq Aminu comes back with his fifth three pointer of the night, and the Blazers go ahead, 61-56. Blake Griffin responds with his third straight shot, a two pointer, cutting the Blazers lead down to 61-58.

12:29 – CJ McCollum nails a three in the corner, putting the Blazers up 64-58, much to the delight of their always rowdy fans.

12:32 – We’ve got a time out with the score Portland 64, Los Angeles 59 with 2:31 left in what’s been a scrappy third quarter. Look at the scrap!

12:38 – Jeff Green beats the third quarter buzzer with a three! Going into the fourth, our score’s Portland 66, Los Angeles 64. Jeff Green has 15 off the bench for the Clips, which probably means he’ll go 1-7 with two points in Game 5. In other Clippers news, there’s been no sign of Chris Paul since he left the game. It was a scrappy third quarter, which means the shooting continued to suffer. Portland’s at 33.8%, and LA’s shooting 35.4%.

12:43 – Gerald Henderson dumps it off to Maurice Harkless for a dunk! It gives the Blazers the first points of the fourth, as well as a 68-64 lead.

12:44 – Oh dear…

…this is obviously horrible news for the Clippers. I’m not sure how long something like that takes to heal, because I ain’t no doctor, but hopefully it’s not too long as we’re now facing a prolonged stretch of the NBA Playoffs without Steph Curry or Chris Paul.

12:47 – Sideline reporter Jamie Maggio shares the Chris Paul news to Marv Albert and Kevin McHale, both of whom react forlornly.

12:50 – We have a lame flagrant foul called on Ed Davis. He went for a pump fake from coach’s son Austin Rivers, and came down on him, with both players tumbling to the floor in a heap. I don’t think Davis did anything intentional, but unfortunately, it’s not me they’re talking to on the headsets when they’re reviewing those calls. Rivers hits both free throws, cutting the Blazers lead to 70-66.

12:54 – Gerald Henderson sends an attempt at a corner three sailing over the rim, but Maurice Harkless is there to corral the rebound and put it in the hoop! The Clippers call a time out with the score Portland 77, Los Angeles 68 with 7:28 remaining and the Blazers starting to pull away.

1:00 – Damian Lillard knocks down a three, and things are going down the drain for the Clippers. It’s Portland 84, Los Angeles 72 with 5:50 left in the game. To make matters worse for LA, something’s up with Blake Griffin’s quad, and he’s not moving around the court very well as the Trail Blazers continue to build their lead.

1:11 – We’ve got a time out as things are looking dire for the Clippers with the score Portland 93, Los Angeles 81 with just 1:30 left on the clock. With Chris Paul gone, Blake Griffin has also been on the bench for an extended period of time as his quad has rendered him out of commission down the stretch in this one.

1:15 – As this game winds down, an ominous tweet appears…

1:16 – This game comes to an end with the score Portland 98, Los Angeles 84. It was a great win for the Blazers, and a terrible loss for the Clippers, and this series is now tied at two, with LA facing the prospect of being without their best player and leader. Al-Farouq Aminu led Portland with a career high 30 points, to go along with ten rebounds. Mason Plumlee, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite players in the Playoffs, finishes with 2 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 blocks. Ed Davis came off the bench for 4 points and 12 rebounds. For the Clippers, Blake Griffin had 17 points and 7 rebounds before his quad injury took him out in the fourth quarter, and DeAndre Jordan went for 7 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks. Jeff Green came off the bench for 17 points and 5 rebounds, but obviously, the big news out of this one are the injuries to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

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After today, the Playoff landscape has changed dramatically with the losses of Steph Curry and Chris Paul. I think the Basketball Gods were displeased after they heard people talking about how the Clippers could have a big opportunity to get past the second round with Curry potentially out, so they struck down Chris Paul, and because the Clippers are cursed, they got Blake Griffin too. It’s always horrible to see players get hurt, and it’s extra painful when it happens during the Playoffs, with championships and legacies on the line. Overshadowed by all of this are great wins from the Blazers & Hornets, tying their series at two, and the Thunder, advancing to the second round for an epic matchup with the San Antonio Spurs.

The Playoffs are a cruel mistress, and they’re continuing on, caring not for injuries and diminished championship hopes. Tomorrow, there’s two Game 5s, both of which come in series that are tied at two. It promises to be another intense evening, one which hopefully everyone emerges from without injury.

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

1 thought on “NBA Playoffs – Day 10”

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