NBA Playoffs – Day 23

The Hawks bow out in heartbreaking fashion, and the Thunder roll.

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It’s Mother’s Day! I hope all mothers, both near and far, have a great day with their family. I just got off the phone with my mom, and she’s spending her Mother’s Day doing what she loves: not watching basketball. I, of course, will be doing the opposite, but before we get to today’s game, let’s take a look at what happened yesterday while I was at UMass Amherst for my sister’s graduation. She doesn’t like basketball either, but congratulations to her nonetheless.

Raptors 95, Heat 91

The Raptors got a win on the road to take a 2-1 series lead against the Heat. It was a costly win, however, as Jonas Valanciunas sprained his ankle, and is out for the rest of the series. This is terrible news, because he’s been maybe their most reliable player in the Playoffs thus far, especially with the struggles of their star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Speaking of Lowry, however, he picked a great time to have his best game of the Playoffs, scoring 33 points on 11-19 shooting. They needed every bit of it, because Dwyane Wade submitted a throwback performance by scoring 38. The Heat are also dealing with an injury to their important big man, as Hassan Whiteside left the game, and is now day-to-day with a sprained MCL.

Trail Blazers 120, Warriors 108

Portland came up with a big win to remain undefeated at home in the Playoffs, and also cut their series deficit to 2-1. Damian Lillard went for 40 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists for the Blazers, and Al-Farouq Aminu added 23 points and 10 rebounds. CJ McCollum scored also scored 22, as Portland was firing on all cylinders. Draymond Green scored 37 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 8 assists, and Klay Thompson scored 35, but the rest of the squad was quiet.

As for today’s games, we could see our first team advance to the Conference Finals if the Cavs can close out the Hawks. Atlanta just doesn’t seem to have enough defense or firepower to overcome the Cavs, who have yet to lose a game here in the Playoffs. Frankly, I’ve had enough of this series, and having to watch the Hawks. They might be the least interesting team remaining in the Playoffs, so I’m hoping that this is the last we’ll be seeing of them for awhile. They’ll win just because I wrote that.

In the late game, it’s Game 4 between the Spurs and the Thunder. OKC’s down 2-1, after losing a close one at home in Game 3. They can’t afford to fall any further behind, so we should be in for a good one as they’re sure to come out with a sense of urgency.

3:28 pm – Mike Tirico and Hubie Brown welcome us to the Phillips Arena in Atlanta for Game 4! The Cavs have been otherworldly shooting threes in this series. Can they keep it going this afternoon, or can the Hawks salvage a win, avoid a sweep and keep this series alive?

3:40 – The Cavs win the opening tip, and we’re underway down in Atlanta.

3:41 – Jeff Teague knocks down a three for the first points of the ball game, putting Atlanta up, 3-0.

3:42 – Kevin Love hits a three of his own, tying the game at, well, three.

3:43 – JR Smith cans a three, and we have our first time out with the score Cleveland 11, Atlanta 7 with 9:33 left in the first quarter. If the first few minutes are any indication, the Cavs are still on fire from downtown, starting the game 3-3 on their three point attempts.

3:52 – Kent Bazemore knocks down a three, and the Cavs take a time out as the Hawks have taken the lead. It’s Atlanta 18, Cleveland 15 with 6:11 left in the first quarter. Both teams have come out of the gate shooting 6-10 from the field.

3:55 – ESPN just showed a graphic highlighting LeBron James’ record in each round of the Playoffs, conveniently leaving out the Finals, where he’s 2-4. That being said, LeBron hasn’t lost a pre-Finals series since 2010, when the Celtics defeated the Cavs in the Semifinals.

4:00 – Kevin Love can’t handle a pass from LeBron James, earning a look of scorn. Love will now head to the bench, taking with him a terrible 1-6 start from the field, and LeBron’s disappointment.

4:06 – The first quarter comes to an end with the Hawks scoring the last eight points to make the score Atlanta 36, Cleveland 27. Paul Millsap already has 15 points and 5 rebounds for the Hawks, and the Cavs were looking sloppy towards the end of the quarter.

4:10 – Kent Bazemore hits a three from the corner, extending their run to 11-0 with the first basket of the second quarter. They lead, 39-27.

4:16 – We’ve got a time out with the score Atlanta 47, Cleveland 39 with 8:06 left until halftime. The Cavs look like they’re starting to wake back up, and Kevin Love even hit a couple of threes in a row as Cleveland looks to get back into this one.

4:19 – Looks like that Kent Bazermore three pointer to start off the quarter has been reviewed and determined to be just a two pointer, so our new score is Atlanta 46, Cleveland 39.

4:25 – Another time out with the score Atlanta 50, Cleveland 44 with 5:31 left in the second quarter. The Hawks have been able to stay in front, but the Cavs are heating up. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cleveland had the lead by halftime.

4:28 – Before the ball is inbounded, the Hawks purposefully foul Tristan Thompson to send him to the line. He goes 1-2, and the Cavs lead, 50-45. Atlanta’s taking intentional fouls to a new level by doing it on inbounds plays instead of waiting until they’re over the foul limit.

4:39 – We’ve reached halftime with the score Atlanta 58, Cleveland 56. The Cavs continue to shoot the lights out from downtown. They’re 10-16, and they’ve got what was a double-digit deficit down to two. Paul Millsap has 17 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Hawks. Kyrie Irving leads Cleveland with 14, Kevin Love has 12, and LeBron’s got 10 points and 5 rebounds. Despite getting off to a good start, the Hawks haven’t been able to keep the Cavs from breathing down their necks, and they could be in for a difficult second half.

4:44 – Time for a Mother’s Day edition of Today in NBA Playoff History. Thanks to the keepers of knowledge over at Basketball-Reference for, well, keeping this knowledge.

Back on May 8, 1988, the Hawks closed out the First Round with a 121-111 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, winning the series, 3-2. Dominique Wilkins led the way with 33 points and 10 rebounds. Randy Wittman scored 29 points and dished out 5 assists, and Kevin Willis added 20 points. Doc Rivers set the pace with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 15 assists. Terry Cummings scored 28 points and grabbed 5 rebounds for the Bucks, and Larry Krystkowiak chipped in with 5 points and 10 rebounds in the losing effort.

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4:57 – Jeff Teague takes the ball to the hoop for a layup, and the Hawks score the first points of the second half and extend their lead to 60-56.

4:58 – LeBron James hits a three, and the Cavs close the game down to 62-59.

4:59 – Kevin Love knocks down a three from the corner to tie us at 62! Kent Bazemore answers for the Hawks with a two pointer, but Kevin Love adds another three to the tally, and the Cavs have taken a 65-64 lead.

5:00 – Paul Millsap hits a pair of free throws, and the Hawks retake the lead, at 66-65.

5:01 – Kevin Love cans another three! The Hawks have to take a time out with the score Cleveland 68, Atlanta 66 with 8:56 left in the third quarter. The Cavs have now hit 14 threes, half of which have come from Kevin Love.

5:05 – Love hits a long two pointer, and the Cavs lead goes up to 70-66.

5:06 – Paul Millsap gets a layup, as the Hawks try to keep this one close, trailing 70-68.

5:08 – Kyrie Irving uses some fancy footwork to knock down a jumper, and the Cavs lead is back up to four at 72-68.

5:10 – After Thabo Sefolosha misses two free throws, the Hawks get the offensive rebound, then find Sefolosha for a three, and the Hawks are within one, trailing 72-71.

5:11 – A Kris Humphries block ignites a Hawks fast break with Dennis Schroder zooming down the court. He dumps it off to Sefolosha who misses a layup, but tips in the miss, and the Cavs call a time out as the Hawks have reclaimed the lead! It’s Atlanta 73, Cleveland 72 with 4:07 left in the third quarter.

5:14 – Kyrie Irving gets through the paint for a nice layup, plus he’s fouled! He knocks down the free throw, putting the Cavs ahead, 75-73.

5:17 – Dennis Schroder hits a long two pointer, and this game’s tied up at 75.

5:18 – Kevin Love hits a three, plus he’s fouled! He hits the free throw, completing the four point play and giving the Cavs a 79-75 lead.

5:21 – Kris Humphires knocks down a pair of free throws, and the Hawks get this back to a two point game, trailing 79-77.

5:22 – LeBron James nails a jumper to put the Cavs up 81-77.

5:23 – The third quarter comes to an end with the score Cleveland 81, Atlanta 77. With their continuing three point barrage, the Cavs have taken the lead, and they’re twelve minutes away from sweeping the Hawks and advancing to the Conference Finals. Can Atlanta recover, or is their season about to be over?

5:27 – Dennis Schroder gets a steal, and a layup, scoring the first points in the fourth quarter, and cutting the Cavs lead to 81-79.

5:32 – Schroder nails a three, and the Hawks have the lead at 82-81!

5:33 – Matthew Dellavedova hits a close range shot, and the Cavs go up, 83-82.

5:34 – We’ve got a time out with the score still Cleveland 83, Atlanta 82 with 9:37 left in the game. The Hawks aren’t letting this one go without a fight, but can they regain the lead, and hang on to it?

5:38 – Iman Shumpert hits a jumper, extending the Cavs lead to 85-82. Dennis Schroder comes back with a layup, cutting that lead down to 85-84.

5:39 – Al Horford knocks down a three! The Hawks go up, 87-85, but Channing Frye ties it right up by hitting a floater in the paint.

5:40 – Kevin Love misses a shot, but Tristan Thompson tips it in! The Cavs take an 89-87 lead.

5:41 – Kent Bazemore gets to the bucket for a layup, and we’re tied at 89.

5:44 – Kyrie Irving goes along the baseline and banks in a little left handed shot. It gives the Cavs a 91-89 lead.

5:45 – LeBron James gets to the hoop for a layup, and we’ve got a time out with the score Cleveland 93, Atlanta 89 with 3:28 left in the ball game. This is it for Atlanta, either they need to go on a run here, or there season will be over.

5:46 – A nice pass from Al Horford leads to a Kent Bazemore dunk, but Channing Frye answers with a three to put the Cavs ahead, 96-91.

5:47 – Al Horford gets a friendly bounce or two on a floater in the paint, and the Hawks trail, 96-93. On the next Hawks possession, Dennis Schroder gets in for a layup, and it’s a one point game with the Hawks behind, 96-95.

5:48 – Schroder gets to the hoop for another layup, and the Hawks have retaken the lead! It’s Atlanta 97, Cleveland 96 with 1:31 left in the game! Schroder’s up to 19 points off the bench.

5:52 – LeBron James gets the ball under the hoop, but he’s blocked by Al Horford! LeBron tips it back up, and it rolls off the rim! He gets another tip, and it misses again! After yet another attempt, the ball goes out of bounds, but off of whom? The refs are reviewing the replay to find out.

5:54 – The refs determine that Al Horford hit the ball out of bounds, so the Cavs retain possession of the ball. They inbound to LeBron cutting to the basket, he goes up, and he’s blocked by Millsap, but they call a goaltend! The refs are going to review it, and it did, in fact, hit the backboard before Millsap hit it, so it is a goaltend, and the Hawks take a time out with the score Cleveland 98, Atlanta 97 with 1:16 remaining.

5:57 – Dennis Schroder goes in for a layup, but he’s blocked by Tristan Thompson! The Cavs have the ball and bring it up over half court, then call a time out with just 53.6 seconds on the clock, and the score still Cleveland 98, Atlanta 97.

6:00 – LeBron hits a long two pointer to beat the shot clock and put the Cavs on top, 100-97! The Hawks take their last time out with 39.2 seconds to go.

6:02 – Dennis Schroder gets to the basket for a layup, and the Hawks are within one, trailing 100-99. LeBron then misses a three, and the Hawks have a chance! Schroder gets into the paint, and he gets tied up by LeBron! We’re going to have a jump ball between LeBron and Schroder with 2.8 seconds on the clock.

6:04 – The jump ball is tipped towards the corner. After a scramble for it, Paul Millsap launches a three, but it’s not off in time, nor is it good, and this one’s over with a final score of Cleveland 100, Atlanta 99.

Kevin Love led the way for Cleveland with 27 points and 13 rebounds on 8-15 three point shooting. LeBron James almost had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists, plus he made the big defensive play at the end, forcing a jump ball against Dennis Schroder. Kyrie Irving scored 21 and dished out 8 assists, and Tristan Thompson chipped in with 5 points and 10 rebounds. Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 21 points and 6 assists off the bench, hitting several big layups down the stretch, only to get stopped on the biggest one at the end of the game.

Well, the Hawks played hard, and had a chance at the end, but they couldn’t pull off a win, and their season is over. As for the Cavs, they’ll have another long rest as they wait to see who they’ll play in the Conference Finals. They still haven’t lost in the Playoffs so far, and they’ve gotten even scarier now that they’ve gone nuts from the three point line. I don’t think either of the teams still left in the Eastern Conference have a chance to beat the Cavs in a seven game series, especially with all of the rest they’re about to get.

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There’s some time to kill before the next game, so I’m going to clean up around the apartment. Thankfully for everyone involved, I will not be providing a running account of that, but I will be back for the next game…

8:00 – We’re on TNT for Game 4 between the Spurs and the Thunder! Marv Albert and Chris Webber will narrate the action as OKC will be looking to even this series up. Hopefully we’re in for another good one between these two!

8:02 – The Spurs win the opening tip, and we’re underway in OKC!

8:03 – Kawhi Leonard hits a pair of free throws for the first points of the game, as the Spurs take a 2-0 lead.

8:04 – Serge Ibaka hits a jumper for OKC, and they’re on the board, tying this one up at two. More importantly, they’ve ditched the pajama jerseys and are wearing their normal home uniforms tonight.

8:12 – We have our first time out with the score San Antonio 12, Oklahoma City 9 with 5:24 left in the first quarter. Russell Westbrook, after dominating the ball in Game 3, is already going out of his way to pass the ball more. The only problem is, they’re off to a cold start as OKC is shooting 36.4% and just 0-5 on their threes.

8:19 – Another time out with the score San Antonio 18, Oklahoma City 15 with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Both teams are playing aggressively, and we could be in for a gritty one tonight.

8:22 – During the time out, Russell Westbrook gets hit with a technical foul for flipping out at the ref! He had to be dragged away by assistant coach Maurice Cheeks, but it was too late to prevent the technical foul. LaMarcus Aldridge hits the technical free throw, and the Spurs lead, 19-15.

8:24 – After unleashing some of their trademark beautiful ball movement, David West hits a jumper for the Spurs, and they’re starting to roll. The Thunder call a time out with the score San Antonio 25, Oklahoma City 15 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.

8:28 – The first quarter comes to an end with the score San Antonio 27, Oklahoma City 17. The Spurs really got into a groove towards the end of the quarter, and the Thunder remained cold from the field, and turned the ball over too often. OKC better get on the ball quickly, or this one will quickly escape their grasp.

8:32 – Dion Waiters steals the ball and takes it all the way for a layup, scoring the first points of the second quarter as the Thunder cut their deficit to 27-19.

8:34 – Technical foul on David West! He gave Steven Adams an extra shove after they were battling for a rebound, and got caught. Kevin Durant hits the technical free throw, and the Thunder trail, 29-20.

8:37 – Kevin Durant hits a runner, and the Spurs take a time out with the score San Antonio 31, Oklahoma City 23 with 9:21 left until halftime.

8:48 – A time out with the score San Antonio 40, Oklahoma City 34 with 5:52 remaining in the first half. Durant and Westbrook are struggling, but Dion Waiters has scored ten quick points off the bench to keep the Thunder close.

8:53 – Russell Westbrook finishes of a fast break by bouncing a pass to Serge Ibaka for a dunk, and the Thunder have this down to a two point game. It’s San Antonio 40, Oklahoma City 38 with 4:38 left in the first half, thanks to an 8-0 run by the Thunder.

8:57 – Another time out with the score San Antonio 42, Oklahoma City 40 with 2:36 left until halftime. Now this is the kind of game I was hoping to see from these teams.

9:05 – We’re here at halftime with the score San Antonio 53, Oklahoma City 45. The Thunder briefly took the lead, but the Spurs got their lead back up to eight with a 9-0 run to end the quarter. Kawhi Leonard has 15 points and 5 rebounds for the Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge has 13 points and 5 rebounds, and Tony Parker has put in 11. Steven Adams has been the beneficiary of  Russell Westbrook’s newfound love of passing, and he has 12 points and 6 rebounds. Kevin Durant has 12, and Dion Waiters has come off the bench for 10. Westbrook is shooting just 2-9, but he’s got 8 assists. The Thunder showed they can play the team game well during that second quarter, but they sputtered a bit towards the end, and they’ll have to climb back into it in the second half.

9:10 – Time for another exciting episode of Today in NBA Playoff History!

Back on May 8, 1993, the Oklahoma City Thunder were still the Seattle Supersonics, as they should be. On that day, they beat the Utah Jazz, 100-92, to finish off the First Round with a 3-2 series win. Sam Perkins, one of my favorite random players when I was a kid, led Seattle with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Karl Malone had 26 and 12 for the Jazz, and John Stockton scored 19 and dished out 11 assists, but it was the Sonics who’d win and advance on to the next round.

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Sam Perkins later in his Sonics career.

9:24 – Steven Adams gets yet another dunk for the first points of the second half, and the Thunder cut their deficit to 53-47. Adams is 5-5 from the field, all on dunks.

9:31 – Russell Westbrook hits a three, and the Spurs call a time out because their lead is down to three. It’s San Antonio 59, Oklahoma City 56 with 7:48 left in the third quarter. Last time the Thunder had this down to a one possession game, the Spurs built their lead back up with a 9-0 run. Can the Thunder avoid falling back behind?

9:36 – Kawhi Leonard knocks down a pair of free throws, and the Spurs are up 61-56. Leonard’s up to 17 points. Kevin Durant then answers with a jumper, and it’s a three point game again with the Thunder down, 61-58. LaMarcus Aldridge comes back with his own jumper, and the Spurs are back up five at 63-58.

9:37 – Kevin Durant gets his hands on a deflected ball under the basket and puts it in, cutting their deficit to 63-60.

9:38 – Tony Parker hits a jumper, but Russell Westbrook finds Steven Adams for another dunk, followed by a Kawhi Leonard hook shot to put the Spurs up 67-62.

9:39 – Kevin Durant hits a pair of free throws, and we’re back to a three point game with the Thunder trailing 67-64.

9:40 – Kawhi Leonard hits a jumper, but Serge Ibaka answers with a three! It’s a two point game with the Thunder trailing, 69-67, until Russell Westbrook gets all the way to the hoop on the next possession and ties this game up at 69 with a layup.

9:42 – Kawhi Leonard picks off an errant pass from Andre Roberson and gets it up to Patty Mills for a layup, giving the Spurs a 71-69 lead.

9:43 – We’ve got a time out with the score still San Antonio 71, Oklahoma City 69 with 2:29 left in the third quarter. The Thunder keep knocking at the door, but the Spurs have been able to keep them from taking the lead.

9:46 – Dion Waiters gets to the hoop for a layup, and we’re tied up at 71. On the next possession, Waiters goes zooming into the paint for another layup that rolls around the rim and through the hoop, and the Thunder take a 73-71 lead.

9:47 – LaMarcus Aldridge ties us back up with a close range shot, and then Boris Diaw gets the Spurs the lead back by banking a turnaround off the glass. San Antonio leads, 75-73.

9:48 – Randy Foye goes down the baseline for a layup, but Manu Ginobili rattles in a three! The Spurs lead, 78-75.

9:49 – Kevin Durant knocks down a pair of free throws to make this a one point game as his Thunder trail, 78-77.

9:50 – Boris Diaw knocks down a three right before the quarter ends, and Steven Adams misses a full court shot at the buzzer. Now that the dust has settled, it’s San Antonio 81, Oklahoma City 77 after a very entertaining third quarter. OKC is good enough to keep the game close, but they’re just not quite good enough to snag a lead and hold onto it against the Spurs. That being said, they’re right behind San Antonio, and do have a chance to even up this series if they can play some really inspired ball over the next twelve minutes.

9:55 – Boris Diaw stars off the fourth quarter by getting a bucket for the Spurs, extending their lead to 83-77.

9:56 – Randy Foye knocks down a three, making this a one possession game again with the Thunder trailing, 85-82.

9:57 – Enes Kanter nails a three, and this one is tied back up, but Patty Mills quickly answers with a jumper, and the Spurs lead 87-85.

9:58 – Kevin Durant hits a jumper, and we’re tied once again, this time at 87. Durant’s to 26 points.

9:59 – We’re going to have a time out in between a pair of Kevin Durant free throws. After hitting the first one, the score’s Oklahoma City 88, San Antonio 87 with 9:18 left in the game.

10:02 – Durant misses the second free throw, but the Thunder get the offensive rebound, and get it back to Durant who knocks down a three, much to the delight of his mother, who is in the stands tonight. It gives the Thunder their largest lead of the night at 91-87, and they’ve gotten there thanks to a 12-2 run.

10:07 – We have a time out with the score Oklahoma City 95, San Antonio 91 with 5:48 left in the game. This has been just a fantastic second half of basketball, and I have no idea how this game is going to end, but I’m confident that it’s going to be awesome.

10:12 – We’ve got a time out, and the Thunder are trying to pull away down the stretch. It’s Oklahoma City 100, San Antonio 93 with 4:13 left in the game.

10:21 – Russell Westbrook steals the ball from Tony Parker and gets it ahead to Kevin Durant who outruns Kawhi Leonard for a layup! The Spurs need a time out with the score Oklahoma City 105, San Antonio 97 with 2:10 left in the game. Durant’s scored 37 so far.

10:26 – Kevin Durant leaves the game to a thunderous applause as the Thunder are up 111-97 in the final minute, thanks to his monster performance in the second half. He scored 29 points in the second half, 17 in the fourth quarter and has 41 for the game, tying his Playoff career high.

10:27 – This one comes to an end with a final score of Oklahoma City 111, San Antonio 97. I just told you all about Durant’s numbers, but I’m going to repeat that he finished with 41 points, hitting countless clutch shots throughout the second half. Steven Adams had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Russell Westbrook shot just 5-18, but he went out of his way to do a better job distributing the basketball to his teammates, and it worked well. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds and 15 assists, and most importantly pushed the Thunder to a faster and faster pace as the game continued on, and it got them the win. Tony Parker scored 22 to lead the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard had 21 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 6 boards, but the fast pace was just too much for the Spurs, and they ran out of gas and looked a little tired during the end of this game.

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Kevin Durant lets out a mighty roar during his 41 point performance.

It was a good day of basketball. The Cavs continued their stampede through the Eastern Conference, and will now have at least a week of rest before the Conference Finals, and with both Miami and Toronto banged up, things are looking good for LeBron’s sixth straight trip to the Finals. Meanwhile, the Spurs and Thunder are in the midst of the best series of the Playoffs so far, and I can’t wait to see what happens in Game 5 when they battle to take a 3-2 series lead.

Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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