NBA Playoffs Day 3: Comebacks Fall Short

Now that the weekend’s over, we’re into our first couple of Game 2s! First, the Cavaliers host the Pacers after they survived a close call in Game 1. A missed shot at the buzzer from CJ Miles ensured a victory for the Cavs, and Pacers star Paul George apparently had a word with Miles after the game, saying that he’s the one that needs to be taking those sorts of shots. Regardless of who took the shot, it was an unfortunate miss, robbing the Pacers of a chance to steal Game 1. You’re not going to get many chances like that to best LeBron and the Cavs, and if the Pacers can’t hang like they did on Saturday, this will loom as a big opportunity lost.

Later tonight, the Spurs host the Grizzlies in Game 2 of their series, following a big blowout win by San Antonio in Game 1. Hopefully Memphis can bounce back to make that series a little more interesting, but that’s a tall task against a team like the Spurs.

6:55 pm – Just waiting for this episode of of Once Upon A Time that my girlfriend is watching to end…

7:01 – With not a moment to lose, the episode ends, and I tune into TNT for tonight’s exciting NBA Playoffs action. Looks like Kenny Smith is back in action after losing his voice last night.

7:03 – Charles Barkley is unimpressed with Paul George saying he needed to get the last shot. Shaq says George absolutely needed to get the ball back on the final play of Game 1.

7:06 – The Cavs have a moment of silence before the game for Robert Godwin Jr, the victim of the shooting that was uploaded to Facebook over the weekend.

7:10 – We’re welcomed to the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio by the legendary Marv Albert. He’ll be joined by Brent Barry on color commentary, and Kristen Ledlow, who will be roaming the sidelines, reporting. Can the Pacers give the Cavs another scare, and maybe steal the game, or did they blow their shot in Game 1?

7:11 – The Pacers win the opening tip, and our first Game 2 is underway.

7:13 – The Pacers come up with a steal, and it leads to an easy dunk for Paul George, giving us our first two points of the game.

7:15 – Kevin Love finds Tristan Thompson rolling through the paint with a nice pass, and Thompson throws down a dunk, getting the Cavs on the board, trailing 3-2.

7:16 – Paul George knocks down a three, and we have our first timeout as the Pacers are off to a nice start. The score’s Indiana 9, Cleveland 4 with nine minutes left in the opening quarter.

7:28 – Another Celtics legend has been passed in the all time Playoff rankings.

7:29 – An errant Pacers pass is scooped up by the Cavs, and it leads to a big dunk by LeBron all alone on the fast break. As a perturbed Pacers President Larry Bird shakes his head in the stands, we have a timeout with the score Cleveland 24, Indiana 21 with 2:48 left in the first quarter.

7:37 – The first quarter comes to an end with an 8-2 run from the Cavs to make the score Cleveland 32, Indiana 29. Kevin Love has 10 points and 7 rebounds already for Cleveland, and Paul George has scored ten for the Pacers. We’re off to a good start so far, with the Cavs defense continuing to look less than sharp. Luckily for them, their offense has been in fine form.

7:41 – LeBron gets an easy basket in the paint, scoring the first points of the second quarter to extend the Cavs lead to 34-29. Brent Barry notes that LeBron should have been called for a travel.

7:45 – LeBron James gets by everybody for a thunderous dunk, and we’re going to have a timeout as the Cavs have scored the first eight points of the quarter, and they’re now on a 16-2 run. The score’s Cleveland 40, Indiana 29 with 8:40 left in the first half.

7:54 – Paul George finishes off a 3-on-1 fast break with a nice pass to Thaddeus Young for a soft dunk, but things haven’t been going particularly well for the Pacers as we head into a timeout. The score’s Cleveland 56, Indiana 45 with 5:07 left until halftime. The Cavs are shooting 61.8%, including a 9-15 showing from beyond the arc. Looks like they might be on their way to having one of those games.

8:01 – Larry Bird’s now chewing his fingernails in the stands.

8:03 – LeBron James is fouled while going up with a shot, and he’ll head to the free throw line, but first, a timeout. Our score’s Cleveland 62, Indiana 53 with 2:19 remaining in the first half.

8:07 – Back from the timeout, LeBron goes 1-2 from the free throw line to give the Cavs a ten point lead at 63-53.

8:11 – We’ve made it to halftime with a 7-1 run from the Pacers. Our score’s Cleveland 63, Indiana 58. It feels like the Cavs should be up by a lot more, but their defense continues to be less than stellar. On top of that, they’ve turned the ball over 11 times, and the Pacers, after being behind double digits earlier, are well within shouting distance.

LeBron James has 17 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists…and six turnovers for Cleveland. Kevin Love has 13 points and 7 boards, and Kyrie Irving’s added 12.

Paul George has been playing like a man on a mission, pacing the Pacers with 18 points on 6-9 shooting, including several ferocious dunks. Jeff Teague’s added 12 points and 4 assists on 5-6 shooting, Thaddeus Young has contributed ten points.

8:16 – It’s time for tonight’s first episode of Today in Playoff History, brought to you by the librarians over at Basketball Reference!

Back in 1977, the Cavaliers found themselves eliminated from the Playoffs, losing Game 3 of their first round series, 104-98, to the Washington Bullets.

Tom Henderson scored 31 to lead the Bullets, and Elvin Hayes added 23 points and 15 rebounds. Elmore Smith led Cleveland with 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to win the decisive Game 3, back in the days when the first round was best-of-three.

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8:29 – As the second half begins, Iman Shumpert is on the floor for the Cavs as JR Smith is back in the locker room with some sort of injury. Meanwhile, Kyrie Irving gets a layup for the first points of the quarter, putting the Cavs ahead, 65-58.

8:30 – JR Smith is making his way back to the Cavs bench.

8:31 – Iman Shumpert knocks down a three, and the Cavs have opened up the third quarter on a 7-0 run. It’s enough for the Pacers to take a timeout with the score Cleveland 70, Indiana 58 with 10:25 left in the third quarter.

8:34 – Sideline reporter Kristen Ledlow tells us that JR Smith will not be returning to the game due to a left hamstring injury. He’s solemnly sitting on the Cavs bench.

8:36 – And now Jeff Teague seems like he’s in distress after landing hard on his wrist on a drive to the hoop. Kevin Love is called for a blocking foul on the play, and LeBron James disagrees with the call, earning a technical foul for arguing with the ref. Paul George hits the technical free throw, and Teague hits both free throws, but he’s holding that wrist on his way back on defense. The Pacers trail, 73-62.

8:41 – Jeff Teague is once again seen clutching his wrist as he remains in the game.

8:43 – LeBron continues his climb up the all time Playoff leaderboards…

8:45 – Not to be outdone, Kyrie Irving is rising up the Cavs all time Playoff scoring ranks, passing one of my favorite players, Mark Price, for second on their list.

8:47 – Myles Turner finally scores his first couple of points, courtesy of a jumper from near the free throw line. It leads to a timeout with the score, Cleveland 79, Indiana 68 with 4:43 left in the third quarter.

8:59 – Lance Stephenson makes a nice pass to Kevin Seraphin for a layup, but nice plays like this have been few and far between. A timeout is called with a minute left in the third and the score Cleveland 91, Indiana 75. Kevin Love’s been particularly dominant here in the third. The Pacers haven’t been able to guard him with their smaller lineup, and he’s been especially making life hell for Stephenson, much to the delight of the home fans.

9:03 – Kyrie Irving knocks down a three woth .02 seconds left on the clock, then Lance Stephenson throws in a bomb after the Pacers inbound the ball, but it will unfortunately not count. Thankfully, Jeff Van Gundy isn’t around to call him Lance Romance.

Anyway, a rough third quarter for the Pacers has come to an end with the score, Cleveland 96, Indiana 78. The Cavs are shooting 60.3% from the field, and they really dominated their opponents throughout the quarter. Each of Cleveland’s big three are over 20 points, with Irving leading the way with 26. Kevin Love feasted on Lance Stephenson in the paint on his way to 23 points and 9 rebounds heading into the fourth. LeBron’s been orchestrating the show, and he’s got 21 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks and 8 turnovers. Paul George has 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists for the Pacers, but things are looking quite dire for them as we enter the final twelve minutes of the basketball game.

9:07 – CJ Miles kicks off the fourth quarter by hitting a jumper, cutting the Pacers deficit down to 96-80.

9:09 – Kevin Seraphin hits a jumper, and the Cavs call a timeout as the Pacers have chiseled a little bit away from their lead with a 7-0 run. It’s Cleveland 96, Indiana 85 with 10:07 left in the game.

9:19 – After Paul George misses a layup, he fouls Kevin Love after he grabs the rebound. It leads to a timeout with the score Cleveland 109, Indiana 96 with 5:37 left.

9:25 – Paul George ventures into the paint and shovels a nice pass to Myles Turner for a dunk, and suddenly, the Pacers are on a 8-0 run to make the score Cleveland 109, Indiana 102 with 3:14 remaining.

9:27 – Another timeout after Kyrie Irving misses a jumper, and Tristan Thompson and Myles Turner fight over the rebound, with a jump ball finally being called. The score’s still Cleveland 109, Indiana 102, but now there’s 2:49 on the clock.

9:31 – Myles Turner wins the jump ball for the Pacers. Down the court, Paul George thinks he’s fouled and throws up a shot. He doesn’t get the call, but the shot goes down! The Pacers run is up to 10-0, and they trail, 109-104.

LeBron answers with a floater with the shot clock running down to put the Cavs ahead, 111-104 with just about two minutes to go.

9:32 – Two free throws from Paul George make this a five point game again, with Indiana behind, 111-106.

9:35 – We have a key review here as the refs take a look at who hit the ball out of bounds after LeBron misses a shot from close range. Looks to me like it will be out on Myles Turner. The refs eventually agree with me, and it will be Cleveland’s ball with six seconds on the shot clock, still ahead 111-106 with 30.9 seconds left in the game.

9:36 – Kyrie Irving gets free for an easy layup. Inexcusable defensive lapse for the Pacers, who take a timeout with the score Cleveland 113, Indiana 106 with 29.6 seconds to go.

9:39 – Myles Turner goes up for a layup, but it’s sent away by LeBron James! The Pacers will retain possession of the ball with 23.3 seconds left.

9:40 – Paul George knocks down a three, and the Cavs take a timeout with the score Cleveland 113, Indiana 109 with 18.1 seconds remaining.

9:42 – Two Kevin Love free throws put the Cavs ahead, 115-109 with 17.5 seconds on the clock. Indiana calls a timeout.

9:44 – Before Indiana can inbound the ball, CJ Miles is called for an offensive foul, giving the ball back to the Cavs. For fuck’s sake.

9:46 – Time runs out on this game with a final score of Cleveland 117, Indiana 111. Kyrie Irving poured in 37 points for the Cavs. Kevin Love added 27 points and 11 rebounds on 6-7 shooting in a highly efficient performance. LeBron James filled the box score with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 4 blocks and 8 turnovers.

Paul George finished with 32 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while keeping things interesting down the stretch. Jeff Teague chipped in with 23, but the Pacers fell short with some unfortunate miscues after fighting their way back into the game.

The Cavs are lucky they had such a great third quarter, because the Pacers came back and outscored them, 33-21, in the fourth. Once again, the Cavs defense looked shaky, and they were fortunate that the Pacers didn’t have enough juice to overtake them down the stretch.

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9:47 – We’re immediately sent out to San Antonio for Game 2 between the Spurs and Grizzlies. San Antonio has a 2-0 lead. Hopefully we get a more competitive game than the big Game 1 beatdown the Spurs unleashed on the Grizzlies.

9:57 – We have our first timeout with the score San Antonio 17, Memphis 10 with 6:22 remaining in a first quarter that I haven’t been able to pay attention to because I’ve been finishing up my recap of our first game.

10:01 – Zach Randolph hits a jumper to take us into another timeout with the score San Antonio 20, Memphis 14 with 5:01 to go in the first quarter. By the way, Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller are our narrators.

10:12 – Kevin Harlan tells us that the Grizzlies have lost nine straight Playoff games to the Spurs over the years. Oof.

10:14 – After Pau Gasol fights his way through the paint for a bucket, the first quarter comes to an end with the score San Antonio 29, Memphis 16. Kawhi Leonard has ten points to lead the Spurs, and Mike Conley leads Memphis with eight. The Grizzlies are shooting just 6-24 from the field, and it’s already looking like we’re in for another depressing Spurs/Grizzlies experience.

10:18 – LaMarcus Aldridge hits a turnaround to kick off the second quarter scoring. The Spurs lead is up to 31-16.

10:20 – After Tony Parker knocks down a three from the corner, his second of the quarter, the Grizzlies take a timeout with the score San Antonio 37, Memphis 20 with 9:37 left in the first half. Parker has matched Kawhi Leonard with ten points to lead the Spurs.

10:28 – RUCKUS! RUCKUS! RUCKUS!

All of a sudden, Vince Carter gets into Kyle Anderson’s face with some trash talk, and he’s called for a technical foul. A replay shows that Carter was upset after he felt Anderson gave him a push on the previous possession. Not much comes of it, and Carter is led away from the scene. LaMarcus Aldridge misses the technical free throw.

10:29 – After Danny Green goaltends a layup attempt from Mike Conley, we’re going to have a timeout. The score’s San Antonio 42, Memphis 23 with 7:48 left in the first half. Thanks to the goaltend, even when the Grizzlies score, they still can’t put the ball in the basket.

10:40 – Kawhi Leonard hits a jumper for his 14th point, and it brings us into a timeout with the score, San Antonio 52, Memphis 28 with four minutes to go until halftime.

I ain’t going to bed.

I ain’t reading no book, although, I am kind of listening to my scanner. Seems there’s a brush fire in the nearby town of Pepperell.

10:47 – Pepperell summons their tanker truck to respond and standby on the road near their brush fire.

10:50 – The Grizzlies call a quick timeout with 31 seconds left in the half and the score San Antonio 56, Memphis 35. In other news, let’s go to Kristen Ledlow with an update on JR Smith, who left our first game with a hamstring injury…

10:52 – We’ve made it to halftime with the score San Antonio 56, Memphis 37. Kawhil Leonard leads the Spurs with 18 points on 4-7 from the floor, and 10-10 from the free throw line. LaMarcus Aldridge has 11, and Tony Parker has 10.

Mike Conley has 14 points and 4 assists for the Grizzlies, and Zach Randolph has come off the bench for 10 points and 8 rebounds. Marc Gasol, who had 27 points at halftime in Game 1, has 3 points on 1-8 shooting here in Game 2. As a team, the Grizzlies have hit just a third of their shots, and have inspired people on Twitter to suggest straight up going to bed, while others prefer to read a good book, or in my case, listen to a scanner.

10:58 – Time for our second episode of Today in Playoff History!

We’re going back to 1981 to see the Spurs fall to the Rockets, 105-100, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals.

George Gervin had 21 to lead the Spurs, and Mark Olberding scored 20. However, Calvin Murphy, his era’s Isaiah Thomas, scored 42, and Moses Malone added 21 to lead the Rockets to a rare Game 7 win on the road. They’d go on to the Finals that year, losing to the Boston Celtics.

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11:02 – Pepperell has the majority of their fire knocked down.

11:11 – Zach Randolph, starting the second half for the Grizzlies, knocks down a jumper to cut their deficit to 56-39 and give us our first points of the second half.

11:21 – Mike Conley flies in for a steal and takes it all the way for a layup, and the Grizzlies are on a 7-0 run, prompting the Spurs to take a timeout. The score’s San Antonio 61, Memphis 50 with 6:07 to go in the third. It might be time to put down that book or turn off the scanner if the Grizzlies can keep this up.

11:26 – Danny Green’s climbing the Spurs franchise Playoff ranks…

11:29 – We got a timeout as the Grizzlies are battling, but still down double digits. It’s San Antonio 70, Memphis 58 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

11:33 – We’re back from a timeout and apparently, the Grizzlies JaMychal Green got called for a technical foul while we were gone. Kawhi Leonard knocks down the technical free throw, and the Spurs are up 71-58.

11:37 – Mike Conley knocks down a three to close out the third quarter, and it’s just a ten point game heading into the fourth. The scoreboard reads San Antonio 75, Memphis 65. Kawhi Leonard is up to 27 points, thanks to 15-15 shooting from the free throw line. Conley’s got 19 points and 6 assists for the Grizzlies, and Zach Randolph has a double-double off the bench with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

You have to hand it to the Grizzlies. After taking a beating in Game 1, and taking another one here in Game 2, they’ve gritted and grinded a big Spurs lead down to a manageable deficit. Plenty of teams would have folded by now, but these guys keep fighting on.

11:43 – Mike Conley nails a three for the first points of the fourth, and the Grizzlies deficit is down to 75-68.

11:47 – Kawhi Leonard hits a little one handed shot from close range, but we’ve definitely got a game on our hands going down the stretch as the Grizzlies refuse to quit. It’s San Antonio 77, Memphis 71 with 8:27 left in the game. I am no longer paying attention to the scanner.

11:53 – Zach Randolph battles his way into the paint and hits a little shot over LaMarcus Aldridge, taking us into a timeout with the score San Antonio 80, Memphis 75 with 6:41 remaining.

11:58 – Pau Gasol knocks down a three, as Kevin Harlan yells, “He will rip your heart out!” After Memphis got this down to a five point game, the Spurs have responded with an 8-0 run. The Grizzlies call a timeout with the score San Antonio 88, Memphis 75 with 4:56 to go.

12:08 am – Vince Carter knocks down a three, but time has run out on the gallant Grizzlies. It’s San Antonio 94, Memphis 82 as we head into a timeout with 1:06 remaining.

12:10 – Kawhi Leonard throws down an exclamation point dunk to put this one away by getting the Spurs up, 96-82, with under a minute left.

12:11 – The game comes to an end with a final score of San Antonio 96, Memphis 82. Kawhi Leonard was tremendous tonight, scoring 37 points and grabbing 11 rebounds on 9-14 shooting from the floor and 19-19 from the free throw line.

Mike Conley had 24 points and 8 assists to lead the Grizzlies, and Zach Randolph came off the bench for 18 points and 10 rebounds. With their trademark grittiness, the Grizzlies made a game of it, forcing turnovers and fighting back by hitting some tough shots. Kawhi and the Spurs were just too much to handle down the stretch, ending the game on a 16-7 run to secure a 2-0 series lead.

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Both games tonight featured home teams building a big lead, then seeing it chipped away by a feisty opponent, reminding us all that even when a game is looking like a depressing slog, it can turn on a dime at a moment’s notice. Later this week, both the Pacers and the Grizzlies will have a chance to get over the hump on their home floor, otherwise, they’ll have to face the dreaded 0-3 hole.

That does it for tonight. Tomorrow brings three games, with the Raptors, Celtics and Clippers, all three of the higher seeds that lost their Game 1, looking to bounce back and even their series. It promises to be an eventful evening.

As this eventful evening draws to a close, we leave you with the following tweet, a reminder that, no matter what adversity you might be going through, teams like the Grizzles can provide a noble light in these dark times.

 

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Author: tomeagher

Watching too much basketball.

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