NBA Playoffs: Celtics/Wizards Game 7

Unfortunately, things have gotten pretty busy, which has severely curtailed my basketball blogging time. Maybe that’s good news for most people, but for the three of you that actually like to read this, I apologize. The Bonus is unfortunately not my real job, and life unfortunately doesn’t stop when the Playoffs start, as much as I think it should. That being said, we’ve got a Game 7 tonight with my favorite team (the Celtics) and like everyone else, I’ve got to step up and show up here in Game 7.

I’m wearing my Larry Bird jersey. I went and bought beer from a local brewery, Wormtown out of beautiful, scenic Worcester, Massachusetts, the same city in which Celtics legends Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn played their college ball. Will any of this help the Celtics tonight? I don’t know, but it certainly won’t hurt.

It’s been a heck of a series, with both close games and massive blowouts. The home team has won every game between these two in the Playoffs, and during the Regular Season as well. Both teams dislike one another, and we’ve seen ejections, scrappy play and hard fouls. It’s basically been what a Playoff series should be, and it’s culminating in tonight’s hopefully memorable Game 7. Good luck to us all.

7:43 pm – Just heating up some leftover pizza and waiting for Divergent to end on TNT…

8:00 – Divergent’s finally over, and we’re treated to an epic Game 7 intro video by our friends at TNT.

8:07 – Kenny Smith thinks the Celtics will win tonight, while Shaq and Chuck are going with the Wizards.

8:13 – We’re finally taken to the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals! Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony will narrate the action for us this evening.

8:15 – Coming into the game, the Wizards are 6-3 all time in Game 7s, while the Celtics, having played in more Game 7s than anybody, are 21-8. They win the opening tip, and another chapter of NBA Playoff history is underway.

8:17 – After he’s fouled shooting a three in the corner, Isaiah Thomas hits all three of his free throws to give the Celtics an early 3-0 lead.

8:20 – Markieff Morris gets the Wizards on the board with a two pointer, and the Wizards trail, 3-2.

8:21 – An Avery Bradley three sends us into our first time out! The score’s Boston 8, Washington 2 with 8:51 left in the first quarter. It’s very early, obviously, but the Wizards seem like they’re playing a little out of control to begin the game.

8:34 – Jaylen Brown drives down the baseline and draws a foul. He’ll head to the free throw line for a couple of free throws, but first, we’ll have a time out with the score Boston 22, Washington 17 with 1:58 left in the first quarter. The Wizards rebounded from their slow start with a 10-0 run, and obviously are playing a lot better.

8:37 – Jaylen Brown hits his free throws, and the Celtics extend their lead to 24-17 as we return to action.

8:38 – We have an early “BULLSHIT” chant from the rowdy Boston crowd after they disagree with a foul call that earns Bradley Beal a pair of free throws.

8:39 – A more furious “BULLSHIT” chant is unleashed after Ian Mahinmi gets away with sending Isaiah Thomas to the floor with what should have been an obvious foul.

8:42 – We’re here at the end of the first quarter with a score of Boston 27, Washington 23. Five different Celtics have scored five points to lead a balanced effort, while Markieff Morris has 7 points and 4 rebounds to lead the Wizards. So far, we’re off to a fine start here in Game 7.

8:46 – Otto Porter tips in a missed shot from Bradley Beal to get the Wizards the first bucket of the second quarter, cutting their deficit to 27-25.

8:49 – Isaiah Thomas finds Kelly Olynyk all alone under the hoop for an easy bucket, and the frustrated Wizards take a time out with the score Boston 31, Washington 25 with 10:11 left in the first half. Olynyk’s got seven quick points off the bench to contribute an early spark.

9:01 – We have a time out after the ball goes out of bounds off Bradley Beal. With 5:50 left until halftime, our score’s Boston 42, Washington 36. The Celtics have the advantage on hustle plays so far. For example…

Meanwhile, the Wizards are doing just enough to keep this one close, despite some less than sharp play thus far.

9:09 – Isaiah Thomas baits Marcin Gortat into committing a foul, and he’ll head to the line after a time out with the score Boston 46, Washington 45 with 2:31 left in the first half. The Wizards deserve a lot of credit for keeping this one so close, despite their continued sloppy play. If they can keep it this close, they’ll have a real chance to steal the game with the likes of John Wall on the team. It’s enough to make me admittedly nervous as a Celtics fan.

9:12 – Back from the time out, Isaiah hits his free throws, and the Celtics lead is 48-45.

9:19 – Another “BULLSHIT!” chant after a questionable foul call against Marcus Smart sends Bradley Beal to the line with six seconds left in the half. He hits both of his free throws, and the Celtics call a time out to organize their final play with the score Washington 55, Boston 53.

9:21 – Marcus Smart storms to the hoop for a layup, which he misses, plus he doesn’t get the foul call. It sends us into halftime with the score Washington 55, Boston 53. Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk lead the Celtics with 12 points. Bradley Beal has 14 to lead the Wizards, while John Wall has 13, Otto Porter has 12 (after a scoreless Game 6), and Markieff Morris has 11. For those of you scoring at home, that’s 50 of Washington’s 55 points, with the other five coming from none other than Bojan Bogdanovic.

Both teams are playing hard, both teams have been sloppy at times, both teams have had players sent to the floor, and both teams have a good shot at coming away with the victory. It is definitely a Game 7.

9:26 – Let’s try and relax a little bit with an episode of Today in Playoff History, brought to you by the scholars over at Basketball Reference.

We’re going all the way back to 2015 to see the Hawks defeat the Wizards, 94-91, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, putting an end to that series. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 29, and John Wall finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 13 assists. Nene chipped in with five points and 11 rebounds.

DeMarre Carrol led the visiting Hawks with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Jeff Teauge submitted 20 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists, while Paul Millsap finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds. With the win, the top-seeded Hawks went on to get swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

We’re probably in for a similarly close game here in Game 7, with tonight’s teams fighting to take on those very Cleveland Cavaliers in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. How will it play out? I don’t know, but I do know that I need another beer.

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9:38 – The third quarter’s about to get underway. Obviously, this could be a pivotal moment in the game. If one of these teams can get off to a good start to begin the second half, it could be the ball game.

9:39 – Bradley Beal opens up the second half with a jumper, and the Wizards go up, 57-53.

9:40 – Al Horford finds Avery Bradley cutting towards the basket for a layup, and the Celtics cut the deficit to 57-55.

9:41 – After an offensive rebound, the Wizards find Otto Porter for an easy bucket, and the Wizards go up, 59-55.

9:42 – Jae Crowder gets a layup, John Wall hits a three, and Isaiah Thomas gets a layup in rapid succession as the pace of the game is starting to ramp up. As the dust briefly settles thanks to a Marcin Gortat travel, the Wizards lead, 62-59.

9:44 – Bradley Beal hits a one handed shot over Isaiah Thomas, pushing the Wizards lead up to 64-59. He’s up to 18 points on the evening. Thomas answers with a step-back, and the Celtics trail, 64-61. Isaiah’s up to 16.

9:45 – Al Horford knocks down a straightaway three, and we’re tied at 64! Bradley Beal then takes it to the hoop for a layup, and the Wizards retake the lead at 66-64.

9:46 – After the Celtics miss a three, John Wall goes all the way down the court for a layup, plus he’s fouled. He misses the free throw, but corrals the offensive rebound, culminating in a shooting foul that puts Otto Porter at the line. He hits both his free throws, and the Wizards are up, 70-64.

9:48 – Al Horford barrels through the paint, draws a foul on Marcin Gortat, and flips in a goofy looking layup! It didn’t look pretty, but Horford hits his free throw, and it’s a one possession game again, with the Celtics down, 70-67.

9:49 – Otto Porter gets himself open with an up-fake and knocks down a two-pointer, giving the Wizards a 72-67 lead.

9:50 – Marcus Smart rises up and rattles in a three pointer that had me cringing when he let it fly, but cheering when it went down, Celtics trail, 72-70. On their next trip down the court, Smart makes a fairly atrocious alley-oop pass that Jaylen Brown catches anyway and somehow flips up and in off the glass. It leads to a time out with the score Boston 72, Washington 72 with 4:54 left in what’s been a stressful and lively third quarter.

9:54 – Marcin Gortat goes 1-2 from the line, and the Wizards go up, 73-72.

9:55 – Bradley Beal knocks down a three, and the Wizards lead goes up to 76-72. He’s made his last six shots, and has 23 points. Al Horford responds with a wild looking runner in the paint that bounces in, and the Celtics trail, 76-74.

9:56 – Marcus Smart blocks a John Wall layup out of bounds, and we’ve got a time out with the score still Washington 76, Boston 74 with 2:58 left in the third quarter. Both teams are flying up and down the court, diving for loose balls and fighting on every play. As much as it might take years off my life, it’s exactly what a Game 7 should be.

10:02 – Two Isaiah Thomas free throws tie us back up, this time at 76. It’s short lived, as Bradley Beal knocks down another three to put the Wizards ahead, 79-76.

10:03 – Isaiah Thomas ties us right back up with a three! It’s 79-79.

10:04 – Isaiah Thomas comes around a screen and knocks down another three! The Celtics take an 82-79 lead.

On the next trip down the court, Al Horford comes flying in for an offensive rebound, kicks it out to Kelly Olynyk, who makes the extra pass to the corner to Marcus Smart who knocks down a three! It puts the Celtics ahead, 85-79.

10:05 – Thanks to that volley of three pointers, the third quarter comes to an end with the score Boston 85, Washington 79. The Celtics responded nicely after the Wizards jumped out to a little lead earlier in the quarter. With the furious finish, the Celtics have the home crowd energized as we head into what should be a very exciting fourth quarter.

10:09 – Jaylen Brown opens the fourth quarter with a reverse dunk along the baseline! The Celtics lead increases to 87-79.

10:11 – With Olynyk at the free throw line, and continuing to contribute well off the bench, the Garden unleashes a “KELLY! KELLY! KELLY!” chant. He hits his free throws, and the Celtics lead is up to ten at 91-81.

10:12 – Isaiah Thomas knocks down a three! The Celtics are on an 18-3 run to inspire the Wizards to take a time out with the score Boston 94, Washington 81 with an even ten minutes left in the game.

10:17 – The Wizards respond with a 7-0 run, and after a Markieff Morris three, we’ve got a time out with the score Boston 94, Washington 88 with 8:48 left in the ball game.

10:25 – Kelly Olynyk and Markieff Morris just each earned a technical for some trash talk. Kelly’s got 21 off the bench so far, plus the T for the usually mild mannered Canadian. This is easily the best game I have ever seen him play, and it’s happening in Game 7.

10:28 – Kelly Olynyk knocks down another three, sending myself, and the Garden, into a fucking frenzy. I don’t know what’s gotten into him, but he’s out there looking like Larry Bird right now. The Wizards take a time out with the score Boston 110, Washington 100 with 3:25 left in the game. I’m pretty sure Kelly has like 47 points off the bench. Okay, he has 26, but it feels like he has 47.

10:32 – I would have continued embedding Kelly Olynyk tweets, but the game is back underway.

10:36 – John Wall goaltends a Jae Crowder fast break layup, and we’re heading into a time out with the score Boston 112, Washington 103 with just 1:01 remaining in the ball game. While Bradley Beal has been doing every thing he can for the Wizards, John Wall has absolutely disappeared, missing his last nine shots.

10:42 – The final buzzer sounds, and our final score is Boston 115, Washington 105. In what was a fun Game 7, the Celtics close out the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they’ll face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams exchange handshakes and well wishes as they head off the court.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 29 points and 12 assists, but it was Kelly Olynyk off the bench who really took them home. He finished with 26 points on 10-14 shooting, leading a trio of great efforts off the bench from himself, Marcus Smart (13 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and the rookie Jaylen Brown (nine points). Meanwhile, the Wizards bench managed just five points.

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Speaking of the Wizards, they were led by a worthy effort from Bradley Beal, who finished with 38 points, but ended up being the only Wizard with a pulse down the stretch. Otto Porter 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Marcin Gortat added six points and 11 rebounds. John Wall missed his last eleven shots, on his way to 8-23 shooting on the night finishing with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 11 assists.

Despite their disappointing finish, the Wizards had a great season, rebounding from a lousy start to take the top seed in the East to a Game 7. They’ve got a bright future, although, they’re going to need to do something about that lousy bench of theirs, and this Game 7 could stick with John Wall for awhile. Nevertheless, this team will be back next year, and they should be one of the better teams in the East.

As for the Celtics, their reward for winning this competitive battle is a daunting matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. It’ll be the fifth time the Celtics have faced LeBron in the Playoffs, but the first since 2012. Boston’s also the last Eastern Conference team to defeat LeBron in the Playoffs, not that it matters that much for this series. It should be a good fight, but even a staunch Celtics supporter such as myself has a hard time seeing LeBron losing to anybody in the East over the course of seven games. That being said, the Celtics will be ready for battle, and so will the Cavs, and I think we can all hope, regardless of who we root for, that it will be a fun and competitive affair.

As for now, I’m going to do what anyone should after a Game 7, win or lose. Have a goddamn beer. See you guys in the Conference Finals.

 

NBA Playoffs Day 19: Game 2 Blowouts

As we did the other night, we’re joining the Cavs and the Raptors at halftime because I don’t get out of work in time for these 7:00 pm starts. Also, who cares about this series, anyway? Just kidding, I care about all of the series, but we do sort of know what to expect from it at this point. For instance, at halftime, it’s Cleveland 62, Toronto 48. Let’s head to Twitter to try and get a feel for what’s going on here…

See what I mean? We know what to expect from this series, right down to the Cavs having the same 14 point lead at halftime that they did in Game 1.

LeBron has 19 points to lead Cleveland, and Channing Frye has come off the bench to score ten. The Cavs are shooting 57.9% from the floor, and they’re a scorching 10-15 on their threes. Again, more of the same.

Not more of the same: Jonas Valanciunas leads the Raptors off the bench with 19 points! Kyle Lowry’s added 15 points, and you’d think this would be good news for the Raptors, but, DeMar DeRozan has scored just one point on 0-7 shooting.  Yuck!

Also, once again, it looks like the Cavs aren’t too worried about this one. Observe LeBron James messing around with the basketball before draining a three…

While we’re here, there was no Bonus for Tuesday’s games because I was at that Celtics game! What can I say about Isaiah Thomas that hasn’t already been said? Simply put, that was one of the most memorable individual performances I’ve ever seen, in one of the most most memorable games. Over the first half, I thought John Wall was going to have one of those games where he just wins it all by himself, and under normal circumstances, he did. Isaiah just outdid him, and it was awesome.

8:24 pm – All right, we’re back to Cleveland for the second half of Game 2 between the Cavs and the Raptors. Marv Albert and Brent Barry will narrate the action. How much do you want to bet that, like Game 1, the Cavs will win this game, 115-104?

8:26 – The second half is off to a horrendous start as it seems Kyle Lowry is injured underneath the basket. A reminder that things can always get worse. We solemnly go into a timeout. During the play, Serge Ibaka goaltended a shot from LeBron James, so our score’s Cleveland 64, Toronto 48 with 11:33 left in the third quarter.

8:29 – Looking at the replay, it seems that a falling Norman Powell careened right into Lowry’s knee. Lowry then dragged himself out of bounds to avoid any further contact with anyone. He walked off to the locker room with a limp, and as action continues, Cory Joseph is into the Raptors lineup to replace him.

8:30 – After Serge Ibaka sends LeBron to the ground with a hard hit, Tristan Thompson steps in and exchanges a few words with Serge. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry is making his way back to the Raptors bench with an ankle injury, according to sideline reporter Kristen Ledlow. She reports he’ll test it out and see if he can get back into the game. After review, Ibaka gets called for a common foul.

8:33 – Kyle Lowry comes back into the game for the Raptors. Let’s see how effective he is going forward.

8:34 – Lowry immediately gets a layup, but he’s still hobbling around, as Marv Albert points out. Toronto trails, 66-52.

8:35 – Kyle Lowry gets called for a technical foul after he’s called for a foul slapping the ball away from Kyrie Irving. Lowry contends that it was a clean strip, but the refs don’t see it that way. Irving knocks down the technical free throw, plus the two he earned from the original foul, and the Cavs lead is 69-52. Lots of stuff is happening here to start the third, none of it good for the Raptors.

8:36 – LeBron James hits a three, tying him for second all time in NBA Playoff scoring with none other than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

8:37 – After Lowry’s fouled shooting a three, he knocks down his first two free throws, and before the third, the Cavs call a timeout with the score Cleveland 72, Toronto 56 with 8:52 left in the third quarter. Lowry deserves a hell of a lot of props for staying in the game, but he’s definitely struggling out there, despite how active he’s been since his return.

8:40 – Back from the timeout, Lowry knocks down his third free throw, and he’s up to 20 points, but the Raptors are down, 72-57.

8:43 – And with another three, LeBron is now in sole possession of second place on the NBA’s all time Playoff scoring list.

8:47 – Kyrie Irving finds Tristan Thompson all alone in the paint for one of the easiest dunks he’ll ever get. It leads to a timeout with the score Cleveland 85, Toronto 65 with 5:41 left in a third quarter that I am only half paying attention to.

Kyrie’s only shooting 4-15, but DeMar DeRozan’s at a lousy 0-8 from the field.

8:51 – DeRozan’s now 0-9 after missing a runner, but Serge Ibaka cleans up the mess with an offensive rebound and gets a bucket. Toronto’s down, 85-67.

8:59 – After Jonas Valanciunas tips the ball out of bounds, we’ll have a timeout with the score Cleveland 97, Toronto 73 with 2:40 left in the third quarter. The Cavs are pretty much openly dicking around with fancy passes as their lead continues to grow. The Raptors have started turning the ball over, and they look generally hopeless, I have to say.

9:01 – Back from the timeout, we learn that Kyle Lowry has limped back to the Raptors locker room.

9:03 – Not that it was in question, but, Kyle Lowry’s officially done for the night.

9:04 – The third quarter comes to an end without any Raptors field goals over the last four minutes and ten seconds, according to Marv Albert. As a result, the score’s Cleveland 99, Toronto 73. LeBron James is up to 36 points and seems to be genuinely delighting in ruining the Raptors season. Kyrie Irving, despite lousy 6-19 shooting, is up to 22 points and 11 assists. Meanwhile, the Raptors just lost their most important player to an injury, and their co-most important player is shooting 0-9.

9:07 – DeMar DeRozan kicks off the fourth quarter by making his first shot! Unfortunately, it’s still worth just two points, and the Raptors are down, 99-75.

9:12 – Another Raptors turnover as DeMarre Carroll steps out of bounds, and it’ll take us to another timeout with the score Cleveland 107, Toronto 79 with 8:53 remaining.

9:23 – The Cavs turn the ball over, and it’ll take us into a timeout. You know the game’s gotten bad when it’s turnovers, and not big baskets, that are sending us into timeouts. Anyway, it’s Cleveland 113, Toronto 90 with 5:09 left in the game.

9:29 – Iman Shumpert goes driving to the hoop for a layup, plus a foul, and finally it’s not a lousy turnover taking us into a timeout. Our score’s Cleveland 122, Toronto 97 with 1:39 mercifully remaining.

9:33 – Shumpert hits his free throw, and the Cavs lead goes up to 123-97. Marv Albert and Brent Barry are talking about volleyball movies, and I’m spending more time texting with the groom for the Bachelor Party I’m in charge with this weekend, than I am watching the game.

9:35 – The game comes to a close with a final score of Cleveland 125, Toronto 103. The 125 points set a Cavaliers franchise record for points in a Playoff game.

LeBron James had another great game, dropping 39 points on 10-14 shooting. That’s some efficient work. James also grabbed six rebounds, and shot 15-21 from the free throw line. Kyrie Irving added 22 points and 11 assists as the Cavs shot 54.1% from the floor, including an 18-33 effort from downtown.

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Jonas Valanciunas came off the bench to score 23 and grab 5 rebounds for the Raptors, and his fellow benchman, Cory Joseph, added 22 and 6. Kyle Lowry finished with 20 points and 5 assists, but he of course had to leave the game, and Raptors fans everywhere will hold their breaths until his status going forward is revealed.

I said this after Game 1, but, the Cavs just own the Raptors. Toronto has no answers for anything Cleveland throws at them, and everyone seems pretty resigned to an unfortunate Raptors fate.

9:43 – We’re whisked down to San Antonio for Game 2 between the Spurs and the Rockets. Game 1 was a surprising Rockets blowout, and the Spurs are looking to bounce back. Pau Gasol joins the starting lineup for San Antonio, replacing David Lee. Will this be more of the same like we saw up in Cleveland, or can the Spurs make the right adjustments to get themselves into this series?

9:45 – The Spurs take the opening tip, and Game 2 is underway at the AT&T Center.

9:46 – Kawhi Leonard knocks down a three, and the Spurs strike first. Trevor Ariza comes right back for a layup, and the Rockets are on the board, down 3-2.

9:52 – After Danny Green knocks down a three, we’ll head into our first timeout with the score San Antonio 19, Houston 16 with 6:22 left in a frantically paced first quarter. Obviously, this one’s off to a much better start for everyone than Game 1 was, but we already have a cause for concern…

9:55 – Back from the timeout, James Harden is still on the floor for the Rockets, but we’ll keep an eye on him.

9:58 – Ryan Anderson knocks down a transition three, and it’ll take us into another timeout as Anderson’s already up to ten points. The score’s San Antonio 25, Houston 19 with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

10:07 – David Lee finds LaMarcus Aldridge for a layup a mere 0.02 seconds before the first quarter expires, and it makes the score San Antonio 33, Houston 30 after one. Now this is more like it! Danny Green’s got nine points on 4-4 shooting to lead the Spurs, while Ryan Anderson has ten for the Rockets. The pace has been fast, and it seems like the Spurs are not so much disrupting the Rockets as they are just staying ahead of them. Nevertheless, it’s been awesome, but we’ll see if they can continue to hang at such a fast pace.

10:11 – Patrick Beverly kicks off the second quarter by getting to the bucket for a quick layup, plus a foul. He knocks down the free throw, and we’re tied at 33.

10:14 – Eric Gordon knocks down a shot, and we’ve got a timeout as the game continues in a fast paced, razzle-dazzle fashion. It’s San Antonio 39, Houston 37 with 9:19 left in the first half.

10:22 – The ball goes bouncing out of bounds for a timeout with the score San Antonio 50, Houston 46 with 5:50 left in the second quarter. After struggling in Game 1, LaMarcus Aldridge is contributing nicely for the Spurs here in Game 2.

10:32 – Tony Parker hits a three from the corner, and thanks in part to some sloppy possessions by the Rockets, the Spurs have been able to pull away to a double digit lead. It’s San Antonio 61, Houston 48 with 2:29 left until halftime.

10:40 – We’re here at halftime with a score of San Antonio 65, Houston 55. Kawhi Leonard’s been magnificent with 20 points and 5 assists on 7-9 shooting. Danny Green’s got 12 on 5-5 shooting, and Tony Parker’s added 11. Ryan Anderson has 15 points and 5 rebounds on 6-6 shooting to lead the Rockets, and Eric Gordon’s come off the bench to score 12. James Harden’s shooting just 1-9, and most surprisingly, has yet to attempt a free throw, but Houston is still well within shouting distance. Despite their deficit, the game is being played at their pace, which gives them a great shot at erasing this deficit if they can come out strong in the second half.

10:45 – I think it’s time for tonight’s episode of Today in Playoff History, brought to you by the scholars down at Basketball Reference!

It’s been a great bounce back for the Spurs so far tonight, but back in 1988, they suffered a first round sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, thanks to a 109-107 loss in Game 3.

Walter Berry came off the Spurs bench to lead them with 27 points and 7 rebounds, Frank Brickowski had 22 points and 7 boards, and Alvin Robertson had 8 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists and 4 steals. However, 25 points, 5 rebounds and 11 assists from Magic Johnson led the Lakers to the close victory. He had help off the bench from Mychal Thompson who submitted 23 points and 9 rebounds, while James Worthy contributed 16 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.

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10:58 – Kawhi Leonard cans a jumper to start off the second half, and the Spurs lead swells up to 67-55.

11:01 – A Spurs turnover leads to Clint Capella, of all people, taking the ball down the court for a layup, and that Spurs lead is starting to shrink. A timeout is called with the score San Antonio 71, Houston 65 with 9:22 left in the third quarter.

11:11 – James Harden misses a three, and then he’s sent to the floor due to an accidental elbow from LaMarcus Aldridge after they both chase after the rebound. It leads into my least favorite aspect of the Playoffs – a long video review, coupled with Reggie Miller’s running commentary. It ends up being a common foul. Also, Harden appears to be okay, and he has one or two things to say to Aldridge as both teams get set to continue the game.

11:18 – After James Harden draws one of those infuriating fouls as he’s shooting a three, we have a timeout with a score of San Antonio 82, Houston 76 with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter. When we return, Harden will have a chance to make this a one possession game with his three free throws.

11:22 – James Harden goes 2-3 from the line, and the Rockets have cut this down to a four point game, trailing, 82-78.

11:24 – James Harden finds Eric Gordon behind the arc for a three, and it’s finally a one possession game with the Rockets behind, 84-81.

11:25 – Jonathan Simmons gets a bucket along the baseline, and the Spurs get their lead to 86-81. Lou Willams then fights his way inside for a layup, and the Rockets get the deficit down to 86-83.

11:26 – After a Jonathan Simmons jumper to close out the quarter, the score’s San Antonio 88, Houston 83. The Rockets are right back in this one, even with James Harden shooting a disgusting 3-15 from the floor. If they can keep the pace to their liking, they’ll have an excellent shot at overtaking the Spurs and heading home to Houston with a 2-0 series lead.

11:30 – Tony Parker misses a short shot, but Manu Ginobili “flies in untouched” as an excited Kevin Harlan puts it, and tips in the miss. It’s the first basket of the fourth, and it extends the Spurs lead to 90-83.

11:33 – Tony Parker finds Pau Gasol with a great bounce pass for a big dunk! The Spurs are on an 11-0 run after the Rockets got to within one possession, and we’ll have a timeout. The score’s San Antonio 97, Houston 83 with 10:07 left in the game after a perfect start to the fourth quarter for the Spurs.

11:38 – Oh dear. Tony Parker is sitting on the ground by himself, holding his knee. Looks like he had an awkward landing after attempting a runner. It’ll bring us into a timeout with the score still San Antonio 97, Houston 83 with 8:42 to go.

11:41 – We’re back, and Tony Parker was indeed carried off the court after taking a few painful steps himself. Kawhi Leonard replaces him in the Spurs lineup.

11:50 – Kawhi Leonard knocks down a three, and we’re getting a virtuoso performance out of the MVP candidate tonight. As we go into a timeout, it’s San Antonio 111, Houston 88 with 4:54 remaining. Kawhi’s up to 34 points on 13-16 shooting.

11:55 – Another timeout with the score San Antonio 114, Houston 88 with 3:57 left in the ball game. At this point, we’re all holding our breaths, waiting for news on Tony Parker.

11:59 – Allie LaForce, our intrepid sideline reporter, tells us that the Spurs say that Tony Parker has a “left leg injury”, and that he will go in for an MRI tomorrow. Eek.

12:04 am – This one draws to a close with a final score of San Antonio 121, Houston 96. Kawhi Leonard finishes with 34 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists on 13-16 shooting. Pau Gasol, inserted into the starting lineup, ended the night with 6 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks.

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Ryan Anderson led the Rockets with 18 points and 8 rebounds, while James Harden struggled mightily, shooting 3-17 and ending up with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 10 assists.

As much as things went well for the Rockets in Game 1, they went equally as bad here in Game 2. The Spurs also made some nice adjustments, starting Gasol and getting a nice spark from Jonathan Simmons. Of course, Kawhi Leonard played much better as well, leading his team to an important victory, tying the series after these teams have swapped blowouts.

Obviously, Tony Parker’s status is looming over an otherwise successful night for the Spurs. If he’s lost, it’ll be a serious blow to a team that doesn’t have a ton of point guard depth. We’ll know more after tomorrow’s MRI, but for now, best of luck to the Spurs veteran.

Each of the series we heard from tonight have been built upon blowouts, but at least the Rockets and Spurs seem equally likely to hand out a shellacking. As for the Eastern half of tonight’s action, it certainly looks like the Cavs are still looking for a worthy challenger in the Eastern Conference.

Remember earlier when I mentioned a Bachelor Party? That’s this weekend, so I won’t be around to cover the Playoff action. On top of that, a cousin I’ve never met before is in town, so I’ll be meeting him tomorrow, and as a result, The Bonus will return next week. Hopefully nothing exciting or interesting happens in the NBA Playoffs between now and then, but I wouldn’t count on it. So, with that in mind, dear readers, keep watching, because it’s been a great Playoffs so far, and keep me in your thoughts this weekend as I try and survive what promises to be a lively bachelor party.

NBA Playoffs Day 17: Game 1 Blowouts

I went out for dinner tonight over at the Nashoba Club in beautiful Ayer, Massachusetts. If you’re ever in Ayer for some reason, definitely check out the Nashoba Club. Speaking of checking things out, let’s switch on TNT and Twitter and see how Game 1 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors are going.

Well then. Meanwhile, Charles Barkley is saying on TNT’s halftime show that he doesn’t even think the Raptors themselves believe that they can beat the Cavaliers. Jesus. Looks like it was a less than inspiring first half for the Raptors. In other news, I had a very inspiring Pastrami sandwich and a Wachusett Country Ale at the Nashoba Club for dinner.

Okay, we’re joining this on in progress at the start of the third quarter with the score Cleveland 62, Toronto 48. Our narrators are Marv Albert and Grant Hill. Let’s see if the Raptors can make any progress here in the second half.

8:23 pm – After Kevin Love is fouled shooting a three, he goes 2-3 from the line as Kristen Ledlow tells us that the Raptors led the league in double-digit comebacks during the year, and Marv Albert informs us that the Raptors did manage a 19-3 run during the first half. They’re obviously going to need more of the same as our score’s Cleveland 64, Toronto 48 to start off the third quarter.

8:26 – Jonas Valanciunas hits a little jumper, and the Raptors have this one within single-digits. It inspires the Cavs to call a timeout with the score, Cleveland 65, Toronto 56 with 9:29 left in the third quarter. This seems like a good time to scan the box score. Kyrie Irving has 16 to lead the Cavs, LeBron’s got 14, and Kevin Love’s contributed 13. For the Raptors, Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry each have 15, and DeMar DeRozan’s not far behind with 13.

8:34 – Tristan Thompson spins through the paint and then flings a pass to the corner to Kyrie Irving, who cans the three. It’ll bring us into a timeout with the score Cleveland 79, Toronto 64 with 5:56 left in the third quarter. The Raptors did briefly cut their deficit down to seven, but that’s about as close as the Cavs seem willing to let them get.

8:42 – The Raptors have resorted to intentionally fouling lousy free throw shooter Tristan Thompson, trailing 85-69. He hits both of them, and the Raptors are now down, 87-69.

8:44 – LeBron just got fouled on his way to the hoop, couldn’t quite finish the layup, then galloped down the baseline into the crowd, and quickly grabbed a beer from an usher, and pretended to take a sip. Fantastic stuff from the king. Obviously, the only way it’d be better is if he actually drank the beer. Anyway, he hits two free throws, and the Cavs go up, 89-71.

8:49 – Well, the third quarter is over with the score Cleveland 96, Toronto 74. They seem to be in complete control of the game, in a free-flowing, beer drinking groove. You know you’re in trouble when the Cavs have reached “just fucking around” mode.

8:54 – Norman Powell knocks down a three to kick off the fourth quarter for the Raptors, but they’re in dire-ass straights, trailing 96-77.

8:56 – PJ Tucker hits a long jumper, and it’ll take us into a timeout as the Cavs look to put a halt to the wave of momentum the Raptors have suddenly built up to cut their deficit down to…sixteen. It’s Cleveland 98, Toronto 82 with 10:23 left in the ball game.

9:06 – Deron Williams gets to the hoop for a little runner, and we’ll take a timeout with the score Cleveland 106, Toronto 87 with 6:13 left in the game. Ugh.

We can probably start looking ahead to our next game – Game 1 between the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets, a marquee matchup if ever there was one. Can the well oiled Spurs machine find a way to subdue the Rockets free wheeling, three point shooting high powered attack? At the very least, it should be better than what we’re seeing in Cleveland, where the Cavs just flat out own the Raptors, and there’s just no way around it.

9:16 – Kevin Love hits a pair of free throws, and the Cavs lead has reached 20 points. It’s Cleveland 112, Toronto 92 as we have another timeout with 3:17 left in the game.

9:25 – Dahntay Jones throws down a mean dunk, then trash talks Raptors rookie Jakob Poetl, and somehow gets himself ejected with a pair of technical fouls. There’s 18 seconds left in the game. What the hell?

9:27 – This game comes to an end with a final score of Cleveland 116, Toronto 105, and it wasn’t even that close. I do not regret missing the first half.

LeBron James finished with 35 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. Kyrie Irving had 24 points and 10 assists, and Tristan Thompson chimed in with 11 points and 14 boards. Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 20 points and 11 assists.

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Well, the Cavs looked a lot better than they did in that first round series against the Pacers. They don’t seem to be worried about the Raptors at all, and the Raptors didn’t give them any reason to change their minds. As the Playoffs roll along, the Cavs just seem to get stronger and stronger. Unless the Raptors can find a way to put up a real fight, this is going to be a depressing series. At least it’ll be short.

Respect to Raptors writer Eric Koreen for the Simpsons reference. Give that man a Twitter follow if you haven’t already.

9:35 – We’re just getting ready for Game 1 between the Spurs and the Rockets, one of the most anticipated series of the Playoffs.

9:36 – Down in Studio J, Charles Barkley apologizes to the women of San Antonio…because now that he’s eaten churros, he now understands the excitement people feel about the city of San Antonio. Shaq is so vexed he gets up from the desk and walks away laughing.

9:38 – And we’re off to San Antonio for Game 1 down at the AT&T Center. Kevin Harlan and, sigh, Reggie Miller will narrate the action for us. For the second straight series, James Harden faces off against one of his fellow MVP candidates, this time San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard.

9:40 – The Spurs are gonna roll with David Lee in the starting lineup to begin the series.

9:41 – The Spurs win the opening tip, and this much anticipated series is underway! Kawhi Leonard gets the scoring started with a pull up, and the Spurs take a 2-0 lead. The Rockets quickly answer with a Clint Capella dunk, and we’re off to a fine start, tied at two.

9:42 – After a James Harden three, the Spurs call an early timeout with the score Houston 5, San Antonio 2 with 10:40 left in the first quarter. Apparently Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is displeased with David Lee’s less than stellar defense after that Harden three.

Hilarious.

9:48 – Damn, TNT shares a graphic that tells us that the last time anybody had 71+ free throws through the first five games of the Playoffs, as James Harden does this year, was all the way back in 1965 when none other than Jerry West pulled it off.

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Now THAT’s an All Star jersey!

9:50 – James Harden lobs up a pass to Clint Capella who is able to coax it into the hoop, and an angry Gregg Popovich calls another timeout with the score Houston 15, San Antonio 6 with 7:54 left in the first quarter.

9:58 – Pau Gasol takes a nice pass from Kawhi Leonard and goes storming through the paint. He’s fouled on his way to the hoop by Lou Williams, and he’ll get a couple of free throws, but first, we’ll have a timeout with a surprising score of Houston 28, San Antonio 13 with 2:21 left in the first quarter.

10:01 – What is this…

10:02 – Back from the timeout, Pau Gasol knocks down his free throws, and the Spurs trail, 28-15.

10:05 – The first quarter draws to a close, and the Spurs have started to look a little more like themselves. That being said, our score after one is Houston 34, San Antonio 23. We know the Spurs, and you have to think they’ll close the gap, especially with after a fairly encouraging end to the quarter. Kawhi Leonard’s got 10 points and 5 rebounds to lead the home team, and James Harden’s got 11 for the visitors. This marks the first time in these Playoffs that the Rockets have had a lead after the opening quarter.

10:10 – Lou Williams nails a three, and the Rockets start off the second quarter with a 37-23 lead.

10:13 – Patrick Beverly knocks down a three, and the Rockets are on a 19-4 run and are shooting 9-16 from downtown. That’s good enough to run any team off the floor, and here at the second quarter TV timeout, it’s Houston 47, San Antonio 25 with 8:59 left in the first half.

10:19 – Hey, check this out…

10:22 – Manu Ginobili knocks down a three, and he’s fouled! That’s the good news for the Spurs. The bad news is, as we head into a timeout, the score’s Houston 58, San Antonio 34 with 5:13 left in the second quarter, as the Rockets haven’t slowed down and are now up to 11-23 shooting from downtown.

10:26 – Back from the timeout, Ginobili knocks down the free throw to complete the four point play. They’re down, 58-35.

10:28 – We’re here at another timeout after Tony Parker turns the ball over. The score’s Houston 60, San Antonio 35 with 3:29 left until halftime.

10:35 – This is disappointing. -10 points, LeBron.

10:38 – So, we’re at halftime of a game that prompted Kevin Harlan to at one point exclaim, “I don’t believe what I’m seeing!” and Reggie Miller to describe the proceedings as, “An old fashioned, take you behind the woodshed beatdown.” As you might imagine, the score’s Houston 69, San Antonio 39.

Kawhi Leonard has 12 points and 9 rebounds, but the rest of his teammates have been scarcely heard from. James Harden has 16 points and 7 assists to lead the Rockets, Trevor Ariza’s right behind him with 15, and Ryan Anderson’s chipped in with 11 points and 5 rebounds.

Houston utterly dominated every aspect of the game. The Spurs seem disheveled, like they don’t know what hit them. Since they’re the Spurs, they’ve earned the benefit of the doubt, but, it certainly doesn’t seem like tonight’s the night for an epic San Antonio comeback. They head to the locker room facing the biggest halftime deficit in Spurs Playoff history.

10:44 – Since I got home late, we’ve only got one episode of Today in Playoff History, so let’s make it a good one.

Back in 1977, the Houston Rockets put the finishing touches on the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 108-103 victory over the Washington Bullets, winning the series 4-2. For some reason, Houston was in the Eastern Conference back in those days. It’s just as perplexing as this first half was.

Phil Chenier led the Bullets with 21 points, while Elvin Hayes added 20 points and 8 rebounds. Mitch Kupchak chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Wes Unseld finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists.

Rudy Tomjanovich led the Rockets with 26 points and 8 boards. Mike Newlin scored 21, and Moses Malone went for 14 points and 14 rebounds. The win sent the Rockets to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost to the Philadelphia 76ers in six games.

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10:56 – Clint Capella gets an easy bucket to start off the second half, and the Rockets lead balloons up to 71-39.

11:03 – The Spurs get back to back threes from Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard, and it’s enough to get Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni to call a timeout with the score Houston 73, San Antonio 45 with 8:02 left in the third quarter.

11:07 – James Harden makes an awesome pass to Clint Capella for a dunk, and the Spurs need another timeout with the score Houston 80, San Antonio 45 with 6:28 left in the third. Harden’s done an excellent job tonight drawing attention from defenders and finding people like Capella for easy buckets. Harden’s got 16 points and 12 assists so far, while Capella has really benefited from Harden’s fine passing, racking up 17 points and 10 rebounds on 8-10 shooting.

11:22 – Things are starting to get a little chippy. During some Kawhi Leonard free throws, Trevor Ariza and Jonathan Simmons mouth off to one another, and engage in some minor shoving. After Kawhi’s free throws, Nene sends Simmons to the floor with a big pick on everyone’s way back up the floor.

11:25 – RUCKUS! RUCKUS! RUCKUS!

After the third quarter comes to an end, the Spurs Dewayne Dedmon gets into it with Nene, and both teams square off a bit. An angry Dedmon is led away by his teammates, while Reggie Miller goes on his usual, “THIS IS PLAYOFF BASKETBALL! I LOVE IT!” rants.

Anyway, our score’s Houston 96, San Antonio 67. As you can see, not a whole heck of a lot has changed.

11:29 – We’re back for the start of the fourth quarter, and the refs are reviewing the ruckus, which means we get to hear even more from Reggie Miller! It is unenjoyable. Dedmon and James Harden get technical fouls, and Nene is ejected for some strange reason.

Looking at the replay, Nene grabbed Dedmon’s throat, earning the ejection. Fair enough.

Patty Mills misses a technical free throw, and the Rockets lead remains 96-67.

11:35 – After another obnoxious replay of a foul committed on Lou Williams while he was shooting a three, Williams hits all of the free throws for the first points of the fourth quarter, and the Rockets lead is up to 99-67. This game is starting to become insufferable.

11:40 – We have a timeout with the score Houston 106, San Antonio 72 with 8:49 left in the game. I apologize for saying this was going to be a better game than the Cavs and Raptors.

11:45 – Oh man…

11:46 – Dewyane Dedmon just got ejected as he was about to shoot some free throws. Patrick Beverly sort of incited him into some trash talk, and the refs got fed up, slapping Dedmon with his second technical foul, an automatic ejection. Amazing stuff. Beverly hits the technical free throw, and the Rockets select David Lee to shoot the free throws that Dedmon were about to. Lee hits them both, and the Spurs trail, 112-78.

11:52 – We’re here at another timeout as this game draws closer to finally ending. It’s Houston 119, San Antonio 82 with 5:24 left in what has to be one of the most bizarre Playoff games I have ever seen.

11:55 – Legendary NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein is sticking this one out to the bitter end…

11:59 – Jonathan Simmons takes it to the hoop for a layup, plus he’s fouled. Before he heads to the line, we’ll have a timeout with the score Houston 120, San Antonio 88 with 2:54 remaining.

12:01 am – TNT shows us some footage of the last time these two teams tangled in the postseason. It was back in 1995, and just before Game 1, Spurs center David Robinson was awarded that season’s MVP instead of Houston’s Hakeem Olajuwon, who took it super personally and pretty much eviscerated Robinson and the Spurs throughout the six game series, on his way to a second straight championship with Houston. Legendary stuff.

12:07 – This one finally comes to an end with a final score of Houston 126, San Antonio 99. You expect this sort of behavior out of the Cavs/Raptors series, but this was legitimately surprising.

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Kawhi Leonard finished the night with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists for the Spurs. A fine line, but he somehow didn’t make much of an impact on the game, and the rest of the squad was nowhere to be found as the Rockets really dominated the game. They got 23 points from Trevor Ariza, 20 points and 13 rebounds from Clint Capella, and 20 points and 14 assists from James Harden. They shot a ludicrous 22-50 from three point land, setting a franchise Playoff record for threes in a game, and last but not least, they had 30 assists on 40 baskets. It was pretty much a flawless victory against the team with the second best record in the league, and in their home court, nonetheless.

That was a wacky game, bringing an end to a wacky night of basketball. I missed the first half of the Cavs/Raptors game, but I feel like I didn’t really miss anything. Sorry, Raptors. As for tomorrow night, I’m going to Game 2 of the Celtics/Wizards series! Obviously, I won’t be writing a running diary, but, maybe I’ll tweet during the timeouts. It’s not like you’ll notice if there’s no running diary. We just went ten days without one, and nobody said a word. Anyway, keep enjoying these wild and wacky Playoffs, and we’ll see you later in the week.