NBA Playoffs – Day 17

The Cavs and Hawks get underway, and all hell breaks loose with the Thunder and Spurs.

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With the First Round of the Playoffs finally over, it’s time to turn our attention to the remaining eight teams as they enter the Conference Semifinals. Tonight, the Eastern Conference Semifinals begins with the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Atlanta Hawks. It’s been a minute since we’ve seen or heard from the Cavs, as they’ve had a long layoff after sweeping the Pistons in the First Round. They’ll take on the Hawks who looked impressive in their victories over the Celtics in the First Round, but now face a team with much higher offensive capabilities. These two teams faced one another in last years Playoffs, with the Cavs sweeping the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Finals, so the Hawks are looking for a bit of redemption this time around.

In the late game, the Thunder look to rebound in Game 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals, after suffering through an ass-kicking at the hands of the Spurs in Game 1. They certainly have the capabilities to come back strong, but the Spurs are a lot for even the best teams to handle. The Thunder better come out with a strong sense of urgency, otherwise, they could risk being down 0-2 against the mighty Spurs.

7:00 pm – We’re welcomed into Studio J in Atlanta for what I’m sure will be another exhilarating evening of basketball!

7:02 – Never mind, instead of hanging out in Studio J, we go straight to the Quicken Loans Arena out in Cleveland where Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller will narrate the action. They’re not wasting any time tonight!

7:04 – The Cavs win the opening tip, and the Eastern Conference Semifinals are underway! Kyrie Irving wastes no time getting to the hoop for a layup to put the Cavs up, 2-0. Kent Bazemore gets the two points right back with a layup, tying us up at two to begin the game.

7:08 – JR Smith knocks down a three, and the Hawks take the first time out of the game with the score Cleveland 16, Atlanta 8 with 7:41 left in the first quarter. Kent Bazemore has scored all eight points for the Hawks so far, but they’ve been doubled up by the Cavs and trail by eight.

7:16 – Jeff Teague makes a nice move around Kyrie Irving, and the Hawks are hanging in there with the score Cleveland 20, Atlanta 15 with 4:50 left in the first quarter.

7:27 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Cleveland 30, Atlanta 19. Kyrie Irving already has ten points for the Cavs, and as a team, they’re 6-11 from downtown to help build an early double digit lead.

7:31 – Paul Millsap goes 1-2 from the line to score the first point of the second quarter, cutting the Cavs lead to ten at 30-20.

7:36 – We’ve got a time out with 8:29 to go in the first half and the score Cleveland 35, Atlanta 25. The Hawks are shooting just 29% so far, and their pair of all star big men, Al Horford and Paul Millsap, are a combined 1-11 so far.

7:46 – Paul Millsap finishes off a fast break by banking in a shot, but the Hawks are still down ten with the score Cleveland 43, Atlanta 33 with 4:56 left in the second quarter. The Cavs continue to light it up from downtown, as they’re up to 9-18 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Hawks shooting is down at 28.9%.

7:51 – Kyrie Irving gets a jumper to flush through the hoop, and we have another time out with the score Cleveland 49, Atlanta 37 with 3:13 remaining until halftime.

8:00 – We’re here at halftime with the score Cleveland 51, Atlanta 41. It’s been a pretty uneventful half of basketball, although it does seem like the Hawks should be down even more. The Cavs are kind of doing to the Hawks what they did to the Celtics in the First Round, and as a forlorn New Englander, that’s been sort of fun to watch. Okay, no it hasn’t. LeBron James has 13 points and 5 assists already, while Kyrie Irving has added 12 points. Dennis Schroder leads the Hawks with 12 off the bench, and Kent Bazemore has 11 points and 7 rebounds, but Al Horford and Paul Millsap have combined to shoot 2-16, which has ruined any chance the Hawks have had to be competitive in this one.

8:07 – Time for our first episode of Today in NBA Playoff History! As always, thanks to the curators over at Basketball-Reference for keeping track of all of this nonsense.

Things aren’t going well for the Hawks so far today, and they didn’t go well for them back on May 2, 1995 either. That’s because they got swept out of the First Round by the Indiana Pacers, who defeated them 105-89. The color commentator of tonight’s Hawks game, Reggie Miller, scored 32 points to lead the Pacers back in 1995. Rik Smits, one of my favorite players from the 90s, went for 17 points and 14 rebounds. Dale Davis contributed 6 points and 10 rebounds. Mookie Blaylock led the Hawks with 20 points and 5 assists, and Grant Long chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent a sweep.

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8:19 – JR Smith cans a three for the first points of the second half, and the Cavs extend their lead to 54-41.

8:22 – Oh my god, shut up, Reggie Miller. How long should it take someone to explain to us that they don’t think a foul should be a flagrant foul? Now take your answer and quadruple it, and you have how long Reggie Miller takes. The only people taking a longer time right now are the damn refs. All of this is happening because JR Smith hit Paul Millsap in the dome with an elbow. Millsap misses both flagrant free throws, as Reggie Miller says, “Wow. Wow, wow, wow.” I regret featuring him in Today in NBA Playoff History.

8:26 – Paul Millsap gets to the hoop for a layup, and we have a time out as this is somehow now a single digit game. The score’s Cleveland 54, Atlanta 45 with 9:47 left in a third quarter that has suddenly made me ornery.

8:36 – We’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 67, Atlanta 52 with 4:56 left in the third quarter. The Hawks inability to find ways to put the ball in the basket has caught up with them as the Cavs have opened up a 15 point lead.

8:42 – Dennis Schroder knocks down a three, but the Hawks are still down double digits with the score Cleveland 72, Atlanta 60 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

8:43 – Ben Simmons sighting! The young forward from LSU is expected to be one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft. He’s here tonight watching a couple of teams that won’t be employing him next year. Here’s hoping the Celtics can snag him with that Nets pick that they own!

8:49 – We’re here at the end of the third quarter and after a 16-3 run from the Hawks, it’s Cleveland 75, Atlanta 70. Just when I was ready to check out on this game, Dennis Schroder caught fire and led the Hawks back into this one. He’s got 20 points off the bench, and Atlanta has put themselves in position to maybe steal this game if they can keep up the good work.

8:53 – Oh man, a three pointer from Channing Frye was reviewed and ruled a two pointer, so our score’s now Cleveland 74, Atlanta 70 as the fourth quarter begins. Iman Shumpert quickly gets a layup to extend the Cavs lead up to 76-70 with the first points of the fourth quarter.

9:00 – Three Kyle Korver free throws make this a one point game as the Hawks are on a 24-7 run to cut their deficit all the way down to 79-78.

9:02 – A time out with the score still Cleveland 79, Atlanta 78 with 8:51 left in the ball game. I’m not sure what the hell’s happening here, but we suddenly have a good game on our hands as the Cavs have fallen asleep, allowing the Hawks to swoop in on their once large lead.

9:06 – Dennis Schroder lobs one up for Al Horford who slams it down, and the Hawks, at long last, have their largest lead of the night! They’re on a 10-0 run, and they lead 80-79!

9:07 – The Hawks lead is short live as Kyrie Irving nails a three from the corner, but Dennis Schroder gets to the hoop for a layup to ties us up at 82, but Irving does him one better and gets a layup of his own, and the Cavs go up 84-82. Kent Bazemore then snatches an offensive rebound and passes it to Paul Millsap for a layup, Kyrie Irving hits a jumper and Schroder gets to the hoop for another layup, and once all of the dust settles, we’re tied at 86 after a fantastic sequence of basketball. My wrists hurt from typing too fast as I try to keep up with all of the action.

9:10 – Goddamn. We have a time out with the score still Cleveland 86, Atlanta 86 with 5:23 remaining. The Hawks have ramped up their defense, blocking several shots at the rim to keep the Cavs from scoring.

9:14 – Tristian Thompson goes 1-2 from the line, putting the Cavs up, 87-86.

9:15 – Al Horford drives into the paint and hits a little floater to give the Hawks an 88-87 lead.

9:16 – JR Smith knocks down a three! It gives the Cavs back the lead at 90-88.

9:18 – Kevin Love goes 2-3 from the free throw line, making the score Cleveland 92, Atlanta 88 with 3:30 left in the game. Love was fouled on a three, and seems to be feeling some discomfort in his shoulder afterwards…the same shoulder that knocked him out of last year’s Playoffs after he injured it in the First Round against the Celtics.

9:25 – Kevin Love, who remained in the game after the last time out, nails a pair of free throws, and the score’s Cleveland 97, Atlanta 88 with 1:40 remaining on the clock. As he often does, LeBron James has ramped up his energy level down the stretch, and came up with a couple of big steals as the Cavs look to finish this one off after a scare from the Hawks.

9:29 – LeBron James gets himself a layup, putting the score at Cleveland 99, Atlanta 90 with 1:05 remaining as he continues to put the game away.

9:31 – Now Kevin Love is walking pretty gingerly after landing awkwardly after fighting for a rebound. He’ll leave the game with under a minute left on the clock.

9:34 – This game comes to a close as the Cavs end it on a 17-5 run. Our final score: Cleveland 104, Atlanta 93. After battling all the way back, the Hawks went cold at the absolute worst time, and the Cavs took advantage, putting them away with some great defense down the stretch. LeBron James led the way, finishing with 25 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 steals. Kyrie Irving scored 21 points and dished out 8 assists. Kevin Love shot just 4-17, but still finished with 17 points and 11 boards, while Tristian Thompson chipped in with 8 points and 14 rebounds. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 27 points off the bench, while Paul Millsap had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and scored 16 and grabbed 12 boards. After lulling us to sleep, this game took off towards the end of the third quarter, and the Hawks almost pulled off quite a comeback, but they just couldn’t keep up the momentum. As a result, the Cavs emerge with a 1-0 series lead.

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9:40 – We’re live in San Antonio for Game 2 between the Spurs and the Thunder! Marv Albert welcomes us to the AT&T Center, where he’s joined by Chris Webber. The Thunder are looking for a strong response to the pounding they took from the Spurs in Game 1.

9:42 – The opening tip heads out of bounds, and Russell Westbrook tries to track it down, but instead, knocks it out, and the Spurs will have the ball first. Not exactly the start the Thunder want to see after their Game 1 disaster. By the way, the Thunder are wearing their normal away jerseys for what I believe is the first time all Playoffs.

9:44 – A lone Russell Westbrook free throw gives us our first point of the game, and puts the Thunder up, 1-0. LaMarcus Aldridge answers by hitting a jumper, and the Spurs take an early 2-1 lead.

9:47 – We have a quick time out after a reverse dunk from none other than Steven Adams makes the score Oklahoma City 7, San Antonio 2 with 8:46 left in the first quarter. The Spurs are shooting just 1-8 to start the game, ensuring that we’re in for a different kind of experience than we had in Game 1.

9:52 – We’ve got another early time out with the score Oklahoma City 9, San Antonio 4 with 6:42 left in the first quarter. Things continue to go awry for the Spurs, as they’re now a yucky 2-14 from the field. Knowing them, they’ll get their groove back before too long, so the question is, how big of a lead can the Thunder build while they still can?

9:56 – Kevin Durant hits a three, and the Spurs take yet another time out with the score Oklahoma City 14, San Antonio 4 with 6:11 left in the first quarter.

10:09 – The first quarter comes to an end with the score Oklahoma City 29, San Antonio 21. Unsurprisingly, the Spurs awoke, and got themselves closer to the Thunder. Now it’s OKC’s job to fend them off and protect their lead. Russell Westbrook has 14 points already to lead the Thunder.

10:16 – Patty Mills hits a three so deep, it inspires Marv Albert to say his patented, “from WAY downTOWN!” line. It’s the first points of the second quarter, and it cuts the Thunder lead to 29-24. On the next possession, Danny Green hits a three, and it leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 29, San Antonio 27 with 10:16 to go until halftime, as the Spurs are on a 9-0 run.

10:29 – We’ve got a time out with the score San Antonio 39, Oklahoma City 37 with 6:01 left in the first half. The Spurs have taken the lead as their defense has gotten better as the game has continued on. It also doesn’t hurt that LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard have begun to heat up.

10:44 – After a great second quarter, we’ve reached halftime with the score Oklahoma City 56, San Antonio 53. Now this is more like what we expected to see out of this series! Russell Westbrook has 18 points and 7 assists for the Thunder, and Kevin Durant isn’t too far behind with 13 points. Enes Kanter has come off the bench for 10 points and 5 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge went on a rampage through the second quarter, and has 22 points to lead the Spurs, who had a ghastly start to the game, but never panicked, and are right in it at halftime. If the rest of the game was like that second quarter, I think we’ll all be able to go to bed happy.

10:50 – It’s time for another exciting episode of Today in NBA Playoff History!

Back on May 2, 1979, the Spurs won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 111-108 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers to advance to the Conference Finals. Don’t ask me what San Antonio was doing in the Eastern Conference. Nobody knows. George Gervin scored 33 to lead the Spurs, while Larry Kenon scored 27 and Mike Green chipped in with 20. Julius Erving scored 34 for the Sixers, and Maurice Cheeks got himself 20, but the Spurs prevailed to win an epic seven game series, which featured four games that were decided by less than three points. Between that, a great Iceman/Dr. J battle and the mystery of why the Spurs were in the Eastern Conference, this series deserves an NBA TV documentary that only I would watch.

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George “The Iceman” Gervin, who you might know now as the older dude in that Gatorade commercial with Dwyane Wade, was a hell of a player in his day.

11:03 – Serge Ibaka knocks down a three for the first points of the second half, extending the Thunder lead to 59-53.

11:05 – Tony Parker gets to the hoop for a layup, and he’s fouled! He hits the free throw, and the Spurs trail, 59-56.

11:06 – Kevin Durant hits a jumper and he’s fouled! He hits his free throw, and the Thunder’s lead is back up to six, at 62-56.

11:09 – Serge Ibaka hits a jumper, and the Thunder are off to a strong start here in the third quarter. We have a time out with the score Oklahoma 68, San Antonio 60 with 7:30 left in the quarter.

11:18 – We’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 75, San Antonio 66 with 3:41 left in the third quarter. The Thunder have opened up a nice lead for themselves, but you have to think the Spurs will make a run to try and close the gap.

11:24 – Kawhi Leonard takes a handoff and goes along the baseline for a tough reverse layup, and the Spurs have scored six straight points! It leads to a time out with the score Oklahoma City 77, San Antonio 74 with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

11:25 – LaMarcus Aldridge takes the ball straight down the lane, and the Spurs are down one at 77-76!

11:27 – The third quarter comes to an end with the score Oklahoma City 77, San Antonio 76 after the Spurs close out the quarter on a 10-2 run. We should be in for a fine fourth quarter here at the AT&T Center.

11:30 – As always, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich provides us with a stirring interview to begin a quarter.

11:32 – After a steal, Kevin Durant takes the ball all the way in for a dunk, scoring the first points of the fourth quarter and getting the Thunder lead up to 79-76. Durant’s up to 20 points on the night.

11:33 – Durant knocks down a pair of free throws, getting the Thunder’s lead up to five at 81-76.

11:34 – Dion Waiters horribly misses a three, but Enes Kanter is there for the rebound and the bucket, and we have a time out as the Thunder have scored the first six points of the fourth quarter, making the score Oklahoma City 83, San Antonio 76 with 9:40 remaining in the ball game.

11:41 – Danny Green hits a three, his second in a row, and the Spurs are right back to within three with the score Oklahoma City 85, San Antonio 82. OKC calls a time out with 6:46 remaining.

11:45 – Kawhi Leonard spins in the paint and banks home a shot, and the Spurs are on an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 85-84!

11:46 – Kevin Durant answers with a jumper, and he’s got 26 points and has the Thunder ahead, 87-84.

11:47 – Russell Westbrook takes a rebound and goes coast-to-coast for a layup to extend the Thunder lead to 89-84.

11:49 – LaMarcus Aldridge secures a loose ball and puts it in the hoop, cutting the Thunder lead to 89-86, but Steven Adams retrieves a stray lob and slams it home to keep the Thunder up five at 91-86.

11:50 – LaMarcus Aldridge gets into the paint and hits a shot over Serge Ibaka, plus he’s fouled! He’ll have a chance to make this a two point game, but first, we’ve got a time out with the score Oklahoma City 91, San Antonio 88 with 3:09 left.

11:53 – Aldridge nails the free throw, completing the three point game to give himself 33 points, and cutting the Thunder lead down to 91-89. Dion Waiters responds with a three for the Thunder, and they keep their five point lead at 94-89.

11:54 – Aldridge gets a little shot in the paint to fall, and we’re back to a three point game with the Spurs trailing, 94-91.

11:55 – We have a time out with just 41.7 seconds on the clock, and the score still Oklahoma City 94, San Antonio 91. The Thunder will have the ball when we return after they rebounded a missed three from Kawhi Leonard.

11:57 – Kevin Durant gets into the paint and gets a little shot to fall, but LaMarcus Aldridge answers with a three!! Russell Westbrook is then fouled with 19.5 seconds on the clock, and the score Thunder 96, Spurs 94.

11:58 – The Spurs foul Westbrook again to stop the clock and send him to the line with with 18.3 seconds remaining. He hits the first free throw…and is good on the second! The Spurs take a time out with the score Oklahoma City 98, San Antonio 94.

12:02 am – We have another time out. It should be illegal for teams to call back to back time outs like that. They’re always talking about speeding up the game, well, this would help.

12:03 – The Spurs inbound to Kawhi Leonard, who passes it to LaMarcus Aldridge beyond the arc. He goes up to shoot a three…and he’s fouled by Serge Ibaka! Aldridge will head to the line for three big free throws.

12:04 – Aldridge hits the first…hits the second, giving him 40 points…and he hits the third free throw as well! OKC calls a time out, their last one, with the score Thunder 98, Spurs 97 with 13.5 seconds remaining! What an unfortunate foul from Serge Ibaka!

12:06 – Dion Waiters pushes Manu Ginobili before inbounding the ball…the Spurs then steal the pass and get it to Patty Mills in the corner who shoots a three…and it’s no good! Time runs out in the ensuing scrum for the rebound, and the Thunder are going to escape with a 98-97 win. Color commentator Chris Webber is on the warpath after the non-call on Waiters pushing Ginobili, astounded that no foul was called. Nevertheless, this one is over after a wild finish, and if you don’t think I could have possibly done the whole sequence justice, you can watch it for yourself thanks to the magic of Twitter and embeded videos…

That was nuts. Once again, our final score: Oklahoma 98, San Antonio 97 after a controversial finish. Russell Westbrook finished with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists, and Kevin Durant was right behind him with 28 points and 7 boards. Steven Adams had a big game with 12 points and 17 rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge had a fantastic game, finishing with 41 points on 15-21 shooting, and a perfect 10-10 from the line, including hitting all three of those big free throws to make this a one point game. He also grabbed 8 boards, but it will go in the books as a losing effort.

I’ve got to say, if I were on the Spurs, I’d be pretty pissed off. That being said, it looks like Manu Ginobili could have also stepped on the line on that final play, which he’s not supposed to do, and there could have probably been a foul called on the ensuing scrum under the hoop, but nothing was more egregious than Dion Waiters shoving Ginobili before making his inbounds pass.

Lost in the ruckus is that the Thunder held on, after having a season of blowing games in the fourth quarter. On top of that, they shook off their humiliating Game 1 loss to escape with a win in San Antonio, a place the Spurs had only lost once during the season. Now this series is tied at one with the next two games taking place in Oklahoma City. Frankly, we should just be excited that it looks like we’re in for a memorable series.

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It wouldn’t be the Playoffs without a good ruckus, and we finally have one. Hopefully the rest of the Conference Semifinals will be as competitive as the games we saw tonight. As the teams get closer to their goal of a Championship, the intensity rises, so forget about that lackluster First Round, because I think the real contests are just getting started.

 

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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