NBA Playoffs – Day 21

The Cavs are still hot from deep, and the Spurs and Thunder fight to the finish.

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After a couple of single game nights, we’re back to a doubleheader as the third week of the NBA Playoffs comes to an end. Tonight, I’m joined by The Bonus social media manager, and my good buddy, Ian. If you’re annoyed by our tweets, he’s the man to complain to!

In our first game, the Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off of setting a record for three pointers made in a game, look to go up 3-0 on the Hawks, who looked listless in Game 2. They also were complaining that the Cavs were running up the score and gunning for that three point record. All the Hawks need to do is shut up and play harder, and things like that won’t happen to them. It’s a big game for them to prove that they have some fight in them, as they’re facing the dreaded 0-3 series hole.

In our second game, the Spurs and Thunder square off in Game 3 of their series. That one’s tied at one after the ridiculous ending to Game 2, and those two teams will be grappling for a series lead in tonight’s main event.

7:00 pm – We’re down at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta for Game 3 between the Cavs and the Hawks! Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown will narrate for us here on ESPN.

7:09 – The Hawks are making a change to their starting lineup, sending Kyle Korver to the bench and having Thabo Sefolosha start in his place, apparently feeling that they need Sefolosha’s defense to start the game instead of Korver’s offense.

7:10 – The Hawks win the opening tip, and we’re underway at Phillips Arena. Jeff Teague quickly makes a layup for the home team, and Kevin Love nails a three for Cleveland, putting them up 3-2 to start the game.

7:13 – Thabo Sefolosha goes in for a dunk, and we’ve got an early time out with the score Atlanta 8, Cleveland 3 with 10:23 left in the first quarter. The Hawks are off to a great start, and seem to be responding well after their big loss in Game 2. That being said, we are less than two minutes into the game.

7:20 – It seems like the Hawks have completely fine tuned their lineup, as Kris Humprhies, who has only appeared in Garbage Time so far in the Playoffs, is out there. Not only that, but he just knocked down a three to put the Hawks up, 11-8.

7:23 – LeBron James gets to the hoop and scores over Paul Millsap, and we’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 15, Atlanta 13 with 6:41 left in the first quarter. LeBron’s basket is the first points for the Cavs that haven’t come from Kevin Love, who already has 13.

7:30 – After seeing their quick early lead disappear, the Hawks have resorted to intentionally fouling lousy Cleveland free throw shooter, Tristian Thompson. He goes 1-2 from the line, and Cleveland’s up 21-15.

7:33 – After a collision with LeBron James, Thabo Sefolosha is having a tough time picking himself up on the ground. The Hawks take a time out with the score Cleveland 23, Atlanta 18 with 4:03 left first quarter.

7:35 – We’re back from time out, and Sefolosha is off to the locker room to get checked out.

7:39 – Word from the sidelines is that Sefolosha hurt his elbow, but is expected to return to the game.

7:40 – JR Smith gets hit with a technical foul after throwing a bit of a fit after not getting a foul call he wanted. Kyle Korver knocks down the free throw, and the Hawks have the lead again at 24-23. Meanwhile, Thabo Sefolosha is making his way back to the Atlanta bench.

7:45 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with the score Cleveland 31, Atlanta 28. The Hawks got off to a fast start, but the Cavs were unfazed, and they hold the lead after one. Cleveland’s still hot from downtown, going 6-10 to start the game. Kevin Love already has 13 points and 7 rebounds for the Cavaliers. The good news is, the Hawks are right behind them, and we could be in for a much closer game than the last one.

7:50 – Channing Frye hits a three, and the Cavs score first in the second quarter, extending their lead to 34-28.

7:53 – I love Hubie Brown’s reactions to every elbow or other somewhat physical play between players. For example, Matthew Dellavedova just elbowed his defender, earning him an offensive foul, and inspiring Brown to yell, “WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! WHOA!”

7:55 – We’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 41, Atlanta 35 with 8:22 left in the second quarter.

8:02 – Another time out! It’s Cleveland 48, Atlanta 40 with 6:18 left until halftime. The Hawks are playing better than they did in Game 2, but they haven’t really done anything to make me think they can win tonight, much to the chagrin of Ian, who seems to be rooting against the Cavs tonight.

8:08 – Thabo Sefolosha finds Kris Humphries with a nice pass for a dunk, and just when I say the Hawks haven’t done anything to make me think they can win, they go ahead and take the lead. It’s Atlanta 53, Cleveland 50 with 3:56 left in the first half, and let me tell you, the Hawks have Ian all fired up right now.

8:12 – The Hawks send Tristian Thompson to the line again, and he goes 1-2, cutting the Hawks lead to 53-51.

8:16 – Um, Kris Humphries just broke Kevin Love’s ankles…

8:18 – We’ve made it to halftime, and, well, the Hawks are on a 20-5 run to close out the first half! Serves me right for saying that they weren’t doing anything to make me think they could win. Not only are they making me look like an ass on my own blog, this is also the response they needed after their unfortunate experience in Game 2. Let me tell you, Ian is loving it. Anyway, the score’s Atlanta 63, Cleveland 55. Al Horford has 15 points to lead the Hawks. Kyle Korver’s got 13 off the bench and Jeff Teague has 12 points and 6 assists. Kevin Love has 13 points and 8 rebounds for Cleveland, but those 13 points were the first 13 points Cleveland scored in the game. He hasn’t done much since, except get embarrassed by Kris Humphries. LeBron James has 10 points and 5 rebounds, but for the first time all series, the Cavs are the team that is searching for answers.

8:25 – It’s time for Today in NBA Playoff History! As always, thanks to the friars over at Basketball-Reference for looking after all of this basketball history.

We’re going back to May 6, 1986 when the Hawks ran afoul of the Boston Celtics. It was Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, and the Celtics ran the Hawks off the floor with a 132-99 victory, winning the series 4-1. During the game, the Celtics had one of the greatest quarters anybody’s ever had, outscoring Atlanta 36-6 in the third quarter. Larry Bird had 36 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists to lead the Celtics. Kevin McHale scored 25 and Robert Parish had 15 points and 13 boards. Spud Webb came off the bench for 15 points, 5 rebounds and 8 assists to lead the Hawks, but it wasn’t nearly enough, as nobody was going to beat the Celtics that night.

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8:36 – Tristian Thompson goes 1-2 from the line to score the first point of the second quarter, cutting the Hawks lead to 63-56.

8:37 – Al Horford just posterized Kevin Love! Poor Love, first he gets his ankles broke, now he’s ending up on an Al Horford poster. The Hawks lead 65-56.

8:40 – Kevin Love just picked up his fourth foul, and he’ll have to head to the bench. Instead, he storms straight up to one of the refs to give him a piece of his mind, and several of his teammates literally came off the bench and dragged him away. Kevin Love is just having a tough time.

8:41 – We have a time out as the Hawks have been able to maintain their lead. It’s Atlanta 71, Cleveland 62 with 9:08 left in the third quarter.

8:44 – The Hawks intentionally foul Tristian Thompson again. They’re not even over the foul limit yet, they just fouled him away from the ball before it was inbounded. The goal is to keep the Cavs from getting into any sort of an offensive groove, and I have to say, it seems to be working so far.

8:45 – Adam Silver sighting! The commissioner is in attendance down in Atlanta tonight. If I were the commissioner and could go to any game I wanted, I think I’d pick Spurs/Thunder over this one tonight.

8:48 – JR Smith knocks down a three, and the Cavs are closing the gap here in the third. It’s Atlanta 77, Cleveland 73 with 6:05 left in the quarter.

8:52 – Another intentional foul against Tristian Thompson. He goes 1-2 from the line, and the Cavs trail 79-74.

9:03 – The third quarter comes to an end with the score Atlanta 91, Cleveland 85. The Cavs were able to make some progress, but the Hawks have held them off so far. This is the best I’ve seen the Hawks play in awhile, but they’re not out of the woods yet, as the Cavs are well within striking distance.

9:07 – Kyle Korver knocks down a long three, kicking off the fourth quarter and extending the Hawks lead to 94-85.

9:08 – Kyrie Irving nails a three, and it’s suddenly a three point game with the Cavs behind, 96-93.

9:09 – Dennis Schroder answers with a three for Atlanta, and they’re back up by six at 99-93.

9:10 – Channing Frye knocks down a three, and the Hawks call a time out as the Cavs are breathing down their neck. “Goddamn it,” says Ian, “go away!” I don’t think the Cavs are going anywhere with the score Atlanta 101, Cleveland 99 with 8:38 left in the ball game.

9:14 – Jeff Teague hits a floater in the paint to get the Hawks lead up to 103-99.

9:16 – LeBron James explodes to the hoop for a dunk! It makes it a two point game with the Cavs behind, 103-101.

9:17 – LeBron knocks down a three, and Cleveland’s on an 11-2 run to take a 104-103 lead. On the next possession, the Hawks turn the ball over, and the Cavs find Channing Frye all alone at the other end of the court for an easy dunk, and the Hawks need a time out with the score Cleveland 106, Atlanta 103 with 5:56 left in the game.

9:22 – LeBron hits a jumper, and he’s up to 21 points, and the Cavs lead is up to 108-103.

9:25 – We have a time out with the score Cleveland 113, Atlanta 106 with 3:13 remaining. The Cavs have gone berserk from beyond the arc again tonight, and they’re up to 20-35 shooting from downtown. I wonder if the Hawks think they’re gunning for the record again.

9:31 – We’ve got a time out as this game has pretty much gotten away from the Hawks. With 1:28 on the clock, it’s Cleveland 117, Atlanta 106. I told you I didn’t think they were going to win!

9:37 – A flagrant foul has been called on Jeff Teague after he kind of shoved LeBron out of bounds, sending him careening into the stands and right into some dude. Of course, the guy got completely steamrolled by LeBron, and James went back into the stands to make sure he was still alive, which he is. Afterwards, he hits both free throws, and Cleveland’s up 121-108 in the final minute of the game.

9:38 – Dennis Schroder solemnly dribbles out the end of the game, and the final buzzer sounds with the score Cleveland 121, Atlanta 108. The Cavs outscored the Hawks 36-17 over the final twelve minutes of action to snatch this game from the Hawks and go up 3-0 in the series. Channing Frye came off the Cavs bench to score 27 points on 7-9 shooting from beyond the arc. LeBron went for 24 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Kyrie Iving also scored 24, Kevin Love had 21 points and 15 boards, and Tristian Thompson chipped in with 7 points and 13 boards. Al Horford led the Hawks with 24 points, while Jeff Teague added 19 points and 14 assists.

Atlanta played at their best over the first three quarters, but unfortunately, they faltered in the fourth. They now face an insurmountable 3-0 series deficit, as the Cavs are all but guaranteed a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.

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9:43 – We’re live in Oklahoma City for Game 3 between the Spurs and Thunder! Hopefully we’re in for another wild game between these two Western Conference powerhouses. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson will unfortunately be our narrators.

9:46 – The Spurs win the opening tip and this one’s underway! Tony Parker nails a jumper for the game’s first points, giving the Spurs a 2-0 lead. It’s short lived, as Serge Ibaka cans a three pointer, putting OKC up, 3-2. By the way, the Thunder are wearing their terrible pajama jerseys.

9:52 – Kevin Durant gets to the hoop for a nifty lefty layup, and this one’s off to a great start. The score’s San Antonio 12, Oklahoma City 11 with 7:02 left in the first quarter.

10:02 – We got a time out with the score San Antonio 22, Oklahoma City 20 with 3:14 left in the first quarter. I think we’re in for a good one tonight.

10:08 – The Thunder turn the ball over, and it leads to an easy dunk from Manu Ginobili at the other end. It leads to a time out with the score San Antonio 27, Oklahoma City 20 with 1:31 left in the opening quarter.

10:11 – The first quarter’s over, and the score’s still San Antonio 27, Oklahoma City 20. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be on fire in this series, with 11 early points.

10:17 – LaMarcus Aldridge hits a jumper to start off the second quarter scoring. It puts the Spurs up 29-20.

10:20 – We have a time out, as the Spurs are on a 13-0 run to make the score San Antonio 35, Oklahoma City 20 with 8:22 left until halftime. I might have been wrong about this being a great game. Ian attributes the Thunder struggles to their crummy sleeved jerseys, and I have to agree.

10:24 – Enes Kanter causes a Spurs turnover, and Kevin Durant takes it and goes all the way in for a layup, and the Spurs call a time out with the score San Antonio 35, Oklahoma City 24 with 7:24 left in the first half. Maybe this will get the Thunder back into a groove.

10:35 – Another time out with the score San Antonio 42, Oklahoma City 34 with 2:43 left until halftime. Neither team has been particularly crisp on the offensive end here in the second quarter, but at least the Thunder have been able to chisel away at the big lead the Spurs built up.

10:45 – We’re here at halftime with the score San Antonio 47, Oklahoma City 42. The Thunder were down 15 at one point, but they’re staying in this one, and have their deficit down to five. LaMarcus Aldridge leads the Spurs with 13 points and 6 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard is right behind him with 12 points and 6 boards. Russell Westbrook has 15 points for OKC, but is shooting 6-17. That’s a lot of shots to have at halftime. Kevin Durant has ten points on a much more efficient 4-7. It hasn’t been the prettiest game, but it’s a close one as these teams battle for a 2-1 series lead.

10:53 – Time for another educational episode of Today in NBA Playoff History!

We had a Game 7 back on May 6, 2006. It was in the Western Conference First Round, and in it, the Phoenix Suns obliterated the Los Angeles Lakers, 121-90, to move onto the Semifinals. The Lakers were up 3-1 in that series, but lost the final three, culminating in this embarrassing Game 7 defeat. Leandro Barbossa scored 26 points off the Suns bench. Boris Diaw, who is participating in the game I’m currently watching, went for 21 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists, and Shawn Marion scored 14 and grabbed 10 boards. Kobe Bryant scored 24 to lead the Lakers, but it wasn’t nearly enough to avoid a horrible end to the 2006 Lakers season.

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11:03 – Kawhi Leonard bounces a nice pass to Tim Duncan for an easy hoop, and the Spurs strike first in the second half, extending their lead to 49-42.

11:06 – Kawhi Leonard gets under the hoop and somehow works his way to a basket against four defenders. It leads to a time out with the score San Antonio 54, Oklahoma City 44 with 9:40 left in the third quarter.

11:12 – Russell Westbrook hits a three, and the Thunder are once again trying to chip their way back into the game. It’s San Antonio 56, Oklahoma City 50 with 7:47 left in the third quarter.

11:19 – Kevin Durant hits a shot, and we have ourselves a one possession game with the Thunder trailing, 56-53.

11:20 – Danny Green nails a jumper, and the Spurs extend their lead to 58-53.

11:21 – Serge Ibaka cans a three, and we have a two point game with the Thunder behind, 58-56!

11:22 – Tony Parker hits a three from the corner, putting this back to a two possession game with the Spurs on top, 61-56.

11:24 – Russell Westbrook goes zooming down the court, and when Tony Parker runs in front of him, Westbrook launches a three, and draws the foul on Parker! He’ll get three free throws and a chance to make this a one point game.

11:25 – Westbrook hits his free throws, and it is indeed a one point game as the Thunder fans rise to their feet. They are quickly told to sit down thanks to a big dunk from Kawhi Leonard, and the Spurs lead 63-60.

11:26 – Kawhi Leonard misses a shot, but goes up for the miss and rips the rebound away from Enes Kanter, and flips up a shot, and draws a foul! He goes 1-2 from the line, and the Spurs lead is up to 64-60.

11:32 – Dion Waiters hits a three from the corner, and it’s back to a three point game, but LaMarcus Aldridge hits another one of his patented jumpers, and the Spurs lead 72-67.

11:33 – Kevin Durant gets a friendly bounce on a tough fall away, and it’s back to a three point game, with the Thunder trailing 72-69.

11:34 – We’re here at the end of the third with the score San Antonio 72, Oklahoma City 69. It’s been a tough game and both teams are battling. Can the Spurs hang on to snag a win on the road, or will the Thunder rally with a rowdy home crowd at their back?

11:39 – Enes Kanter gets a little shot to go from close range, and it’s a one point game, until David West gets his own shot from short range to fall, and it’s the first points of the fourth quarter, making the score San Antonio 74, Oklahoma City 71.

11:40 – Kanter grabs an errant three point attempt from Durant and puts it into the basket, but Kawhi Leonard is true on his own three point attempt, and the Spurs go up, 77-73. Cameron Payne then floats in a shot after grabbing a loose ball, and the Thunder are back to within two, trailing 77-75.

11:42 – We’ve got a time out with the score San Antonio 77, Oklahoma City 75 with 9:27 left in the game. Why do I have the feeling that Russell Westbrook is going to shoot the Thunder out of this game?

11:47 – Serge Ibaka hits a three from the corner, and the Thunder have finally taken the lead! They’re on top 78-77, and it’s their first lead since they had a commanding 5-4 lead in the first quarter.

11:48 – Russell Westbrook heard what I said about having a feeling that he was going to shoot the Thunder out of the game, and knocks down a three! The Spurs take a time out, and the Thunder are on an 8-0 run to make the score Oklahoma City 81, San Antonio 77 with 7:11 left in the game.

11:52 – Tony Parker scoops in a layup, but Kevin Durant answers with a jumper to keep it a four point game. Kawhi Leonard comes right back with a jumper of his own, and the Spurs trail 83-81.

11:54 – LaMarcus Aldridge hits another jumper, and this one’s tied up at 83. Kevin Durant unties it right away with a nice fall away, and the Thunder go up, 85-83.

11:55 – Kawhi Leonard hits two free throws, and we’re tied back up, this time at 85.

11:56 – Tony Parker gets an open jumper, and the lead returns to the Spurs. Parker’s having his best game in awhile, with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists so far. The Thunder take a time out with the score San Antonio 87, Oklahoma City 85 with 4:24 left in this exciting ball game.

12:01 am – A pair of LaMarcus Aldridge free throws extends the Spurs lead up to 89-85.

12:04 – Russell Westbrook grabs a rebound and zooms coast-to-coast for a layup, and the Thunder are back to within two, trailing 91-89.

12:05 – LaMarcus Aldridge goes 1-2 from the line, and the Spurs lead is up to three, at 92-89. Kawhi Leonard then steals the ball from Russell Westbrook and goes all the way down the court for a basket, and the Spurs are up 94-89.

12:06 – Kevin Durant throws the ball out of bounds, and it’s another untimely turnover for the Thunder, who still trail 94-89 with just 1:37 left on the clock.

12:07 – David West gets into the paint and hits a lefty hook shot, and the Thunder need to take a time out as their turnovers have proven costly. The score’s San Antonio 96, Oklahoma City 89 with 1:19 remaining. The Spurs are on a 17-6 run, thanks in part to four Thunder turnovers down the stretch.

12:10 – Kevin Durant misses a three, but Russell Westbrook comes flying in for a put back slam, plus he’s fouled! He hits his free throw, and the Thunder are down 96-92 as we go under a minute to play. Then, Kawhi Leonard coughs up the basketball, and Westbrook grabs it and goes flying all the way to the hoop, and he’s fouled again! He’ll have a chance to make this a two point game with a couple of free throws.

12:11 – Westbrook hits the first free throw…and the second! The Thunder trail 96-94 with 46 seconds to go.

12:12 – LaMarcus Aldridge misses a jumper, but Kawhi Leonard grabs the offensive rebound! The Thunder have to foul the Spurs, and finally send Tony Parker to the line with 18.3 seconds on the clock.

12:13 – Parker makes his first free throw…and he’s good on the second one! The Thunder take a time out with the score San Antonio 98, Oklahoma City 94 with 18.3 seconds to go.

12:15 – Dion Waiters finally banks home a shot, but the Thunder took way too much time to get off a shot. The Spurs call a time out with the score San Antonio 98, Oklahoma City 96, with just 4.8 seconds to go. The Thunder might have shot themselves in the foot by using up that much time.

12:17 – The Spurs inbound to Kawhi Leonard, who is chased down and fouled with 2.7 seconds on the clock. He’ll have a chance to ice the game from the line, where he’s 8-12 tonight.

12:18 – Leonard hits his first free throw…and hits the second one! The Thunder call their final time out, but they are most likely out of time with the score San Antonio 100, Oklahoma City 96 with just 2.7 seconds on the clock.

12:19 – Russell Westbrook air-balls a three, prompting a disgusted Ian to exclaim, “Ohh, for fuck’s sake!” That’s how this game comes to a close with a final score of San Antonio 100, Oklahoma City 96.

It was another exciting battle between these two, and unfortunately for the Thunder, a couple of miscues down the stretch led to their demise. Kawhi Leonard had a huge game, scorning 31 points and grabbing 11 boards, on top of making some big plays down the stretch, whether they were baskets, rebounds or steals. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t have the lights out performance he did in Games 1 and 2, but he still finished with 24 points and 8 rebounds. For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook sprung for 31 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists, but he shot a yucky 10-31 from the field. Kevin Durant had 26 points and 5 rebounds, shooting a much more efficient 10-18. No other Thunder player shot the ball more than eight times as OKC did that thing that drives Charles Barkley crazy: they didn’t trust their supporting cast enough. Now they’re down 2-1, and while the series isn’t over, they now face the tall task of having to defeat the Spurs three times within four games.

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What a night! I’m taking the day off tomorrow to go out to UMass Amherst for my youngest sister’s graduation. Some things are bigger than basketball. Not many things, of course, but your youngest sister graduating college certainly applies here. That being said, nothing too interesting better happen in tomorrow’s games, or I’m going to hold it against her.

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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