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.

hawks-wizards-basketball-404cad4fc2ef7a1a.jpg

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.

getty-images-683505704.jpg

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 16: The Last Stand of Lob City

The Bonus is BACK!

It’s been a busy stretch for ya boy, and this is unfortunately not my real job, so, as much as I’d love to do nothing but watch the NBA Playoffs, it just isn’t possible. That being said, we’re back in full swing for now as the Conference Semifinals get underway.

Today we’ve got Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between my Boston Celtics and the Washington Wizards, two teams that do not quite get along. I’m doing my part by wearing my Larry Bird jersey and my Larry Bird socks.

Later on, the final game of the first round: Game 7 between the Clippers and the Jazz in what could be the final stand for the Lob City Clippers.

1:00 pm – We’re welcomed to Boston for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals by Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. Isaiah Thomas is back with the Celtics after attending his sister’s funeral yesterday, I don’t know how he’s doing it.

Both teams are here after wining their first round series in six games, and both teams didn’t look too sharp at times throughout their series. The Celtics, of course, lost the first two games of their series with the Bulls before winning four straight, while the Wizards struggled in Atlanta against the Hawks during Games 3 & 4. Making this matchup more enticing, these teams dislike each other for some reason, and they’ve shared many instances of chirping, pushing and shoving this season.

1:06 – The Celtics are sticking with their smaller lineup with Gerald Green starting. They’ve won four straight going with Green, who I am ready to anoint the 2017 NBA Finals MVP.

1:08 – The Wizards win the opening tip and quickly get the ball to Marcin Gortat in the paint for an easy hoop. They’re up 2-0 to start the game.

1:09 – Marcin Gortat makes a great bounce pass to Bradley Beal for a layup, and we’ve got our first time out already, as the Wizards are off to a quick start. It’s Washington 9, Boston 0 with with 10:14 left in the first quarter.

1:13 – With Marcin Gortat raising a lot of hell already, Celtics coach Brad Stevens inserts Amir Johnson into the game. Gortat immediately hits a floater over him, and the Wizards lead 11-0.

1:16 – Isaiah Thomas is fouled shooting a three. He hits his first free throw, and Boston crowd sarcastically erupts and starts chanting, “LET’S GO CELTICS!” Everybody’s in a bad mood. Thomas hits all three of the free throws, and the Celtics are finally on the board, trailing 16-3.

1:20 – After back to back threes from Isaiah Thomas, things are starting to look a little better, and as we go into a timeout, the score’s Washington 22, Boston 11 with 5:20 left in the first quarter. The Celtics are shooting 3-12 and are already being out-rebounded 12-2. Other than that, things are going just fine.

Also, apparently this happened…

I didn’t see how it happened, but he’s definitely down a tooth…

1:23 – Ah, the tooth got knocked out after he caught an elbow from Otto Porter. He went and picked up the tooth during the timeout and brought it back to the bench.

1:32 – The first quarter comes to a close with the score Washington 38, Boston 24. The Wizards are shooting 64% from the floor, led by Marcin Gortat with nine points. Meanwhile, Isaiah Thomas and Kelly Olynyk have combined for 22 of the Celtics 24 points. Outside of those two, the rest of the Celtics have combined to shoot 1-10.

1:37 – Jae Crowder knocks down a three to kick off the second quarter. The Celtics are 6-10 from three point line, which is keeping them in shouting distance as they trail, 38-27.

1:38 – Al Horford makes an awesome pass to Kelly Olynyk in the paint for a nice layup. It leads into a timeout with the score Washington 40, Boston 31 with 10:26 left in the first quarter. Kelly’s up to 12 points off the bench in what’s been one of the better stretches I’ve ever seen him play.

1:41 – Oh man, ABC shows awesome footage from the last time the Celtics and Washington, then called the Bullets, played each other in the Playoffs. It was back in 1984, and after the final buzzer of the final game, the two teams got into a big fight! Great stuff.

1:44 – More great stuff! The Celtics finish off a fast break with a three pointer from Marcus Smart, sending us into a timeout with the score Washington 40, Boston 37 with 8:45 left until halftime. Just after, Isaiah Thomas saunters out of the locker room with his tooth back in his mouth!. The Celtics have come all the way back to make this a one possession game with Thomas in the locker room for most of it.

1:49 – Oh no, Markieff Morris is on the ground and in pain after coming down on Al Horford’s foot after a shot attempt. We go to a commercial with him still down on the floor. Our score’s Washington 44, Boston 42 with 7:18 left in the first half.

1:52 – We’re back and Markieff Morris is at the free throw line so he can potentially remain in the game, but after he hits the free throw, the Wizards immediately foul Terry Rozier to get Morris out of the game. We’ll see if he ends up coming back, but he was definitely having a tough time walking on it as he went to the bench. Bad news for Washington as their thin up front.

1:53 – Morris is now seen hobbling to the locker room.

2:01 – Marcus Smart blocks a layup attempt out of bounds, and it’ll lead into a timeout with the score Washington 54, Boston 53 with 2:59 left in the second quarter.

2:09 – We’ve got a rousing “BULLSHIT!” chant after Al Horford is called for a loose ball foul. It was definitely a foul, but both Horford and the crowd are displeased. I am so glad that the Boston crowd still chants “BULLSHIT!” instead of the overwhelmingly lame, “REFS, YOU SUCK!” that you hear in so many other stadiums.

2:10 – We’re going to have a quick timeout with 28.7 seconds left in the half and the score Washington 64, Boston 58. Meanwhile, we’ve got some news for our next game…

All hands on deck for Game 7.

2:13 – Another quick timeout with 1.8 seconds on the clock and our score Washington 64, Boston 59. After Marcus Smart blocked a John Wall layup, coach Brad Stevens wanted to call a timeout and draw up a play for the final shot of the half.

2:15 – The Celtics do not score on the final shot of the half, and we go into halftime with the score Washington 64, Boston 59.

After falling behind 16-0, the Celtics have impressively made a game of it, getting a big shot in the arm from their often maligned bench, which came up big while Isaiah Thomas was in the locker room getting his tooth reinstalled. Speaking of Thomas, he’s got 19 points to lead the C’s, and Kelly Olynyk came off the bench to contribute 12 points.

Marcin Gortat leads the Wizards with 14 points and 10 rebounds, taking advantage of the Celtics lack of a big inside presence. John Wall has 13 points and 8 assists, and Bradley Beal also has 13. Kelly Oubre’s come off the bench to score ten.

What looked like a dreary afternoon is certainly looking up, both from the perspective of a Celtics fan, and someone who just wants to see a good-ass game. Both teams are really going at it, and we should be in for a great second half.

2:18 – It’s not just the return of The Bonus, it’s the return of Today in Playoff History!

Back in 1971, the Baltimore Bullets were swept by the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals, losing 118-106 in Game 4. Fred Carter led Baltimore with 28 points, but the Bucks got 30 from Oscar Robertson, 27 from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and 21 from Bob Dandridge. Now that’s a Big Three! It remains the Bucks lone championship. Of course, the Baltimore Bullets are now these Washington Wizards we’re watching this afternoon. I wish they were still the Bullets, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if they were still in Baltimore as well.

81802740-milwaukee-bucks-lew-alcindor-1971-nba-finals.jpg

2:32 – Al Horford corrals a pass from Avery Bradley and goes up for a dunk for the first bucket of the second half, cutting the Celtics deficit down to 64-61. In other news, Marcus Smart starts the second half for the Celtics, instead of Gerald Green.

2:33 – Bradley Beal hits a jumper to get the Wizards lead back up to five at 66-61.

2:35 – After John Wall gets stripped of the ball, the Celtics get a three pointer out of Isaiah Thomas, and they’re within two, trailing 66-64.

2:36 – Thomas knocks down a jumper, and we’re tied at 66. However, Otto Porter answers with a floater to put the Wizards back on top, 68-66.

2:38 – Al Horford wins a fight for a rebound and lays it in, tying us up at 68…

…but Otto Porter once again answers, this time with a three, and Washington leads, 71-68. Marcus Smart tries a three of his own, misses, but it’s rebounded by Jae Crowder who puts it in the hoop, and the Celtics trail, 71-70.

2:39 – After a wild fight for the ball under the bucket, which included some missed layups and blocked shots, the Celtics finally get control of the ball. They get it to Jae Crowder who knocks down a three, and the Celtics have their first lead of the game! It’ll bring us into a timeout with the score Boston 73, Washington 71 with 6:54 left in the third quarter.

2:43 – Kelly Oubre finishes off a fast break with a dunk, and we’re tied at 73.

2:44 – Jae Crowder hits another three! The Celtics go up, 76-73.

2:45 – Bradley Beal splits a pair of free throws, and the Wizards trail, 76-74. Isaiah Thomas follows it up with a pull up jumper, and he’s got 26 points, and the Celtics got a 78-74 lead.

2:46 – After a Marcus Smart steal, Avery Bradley knocks down a wide open three! We’ll have another timeout with the score Boston 81, Washington 74 with 4:45 left in the third quarter. The Celtics are shooting a robust 13-29 from three point land.

In other, unfortunate news…

2:50 – John Wall blocks an Avery Bradley layup, but the rebound goes to Al Horford, who finds Jae Crowder behind the arc for yet another three! It’s time for another timeout with the score Boston 91, Washington 80 with 2:24 to go in the third.

2:58 – A big third quarter for the Celtics comes to an end with the score Boston 95, Washington 80, after the home team outscored the visitors 36-16 in the quarter. In fact, after their disastrous first quarter, the Celtics have outscored the Wizards, 71-42.

3:01 – Jason Smith knocks down a jumper for the first points of the fourth quarter, but the Wizards have work to do, trailing 95-82.

3:03 – John Wall finishes a fast break by lobbing the ball up to Jason Smith, who coaxes it into the hoop. The Celtics take a quick timeout with the score Boston 95, Washington 84 with 10:48 left in the game.

3:14 – Bojan Bogdanovic knocks down a three, and suddenly, we’re back to a one possession game with the Wizards behind, 101-98. That’s followed by Al Horford cleaning up an Avery Bradley miss with a tip in, and the Celtics go up, 103-98.

3:16 – A Bojan Bogdanovic airball sends us into a timeout with the score Boston 106, Washington 99 with 5:41 left in the game. The Wizards have clawed back into this one, but they’re missing too many free throws as they try to get back into this one.

3:24 – We have a timeout after the ball goes bouncing out of bounds off the Celtics. The score’s Boston 116, Washington 105 with 2:46 left in the game. The Celtics have been able to maintain the hot three point shooting that got them back into the game in the first place to keep them ahead of the Wizards, who are putting up a worthy effort here in the fourth.

3:32 – A lively game comes to an end with a final score of Boston 123, Washington 111.

Isaiah Thomas, who was at a funeral yesterday, and lost a tooth early in this one, finished with 33 points and 9 assists. Jae Crowder added 24 points and 6 rebounds, and Al Horford orchestrated a lot of the offense, nearly earning a triple-double with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 10 assists. The Celtics tied a franchise Playoff record by hitting 19 threes.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 27, and John Wall sprung for 20 points and 16 assists. Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 13 rebounds, and Otto Porter chipped in with 16 & 11.

After falling behind 16-0, the Celtics caught fire, especially from three point territory, and pulled out quite a win to open the series. They also played some good defense on John Wall, forcing him into eight turnovers. Obviously, the Wizards missed Markieff Morris throughout the second half of this game, and if he ends up being lost for an extended time, they’re going to be in real trouble. Nevertheless, this series is off to a fantastic start, and it’ll be awesome to watch these two teams battle over the course of seven games.

getty-images-675185542.jpg

3:37 – We’re welcomed to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz. It’s sad to see this series come to an end. Watching these two teams battle it out has been a real joy. The Clippers are facing the prospect of not only seeing another Playoff run end prematurely, but potentially the end of this era, the most successful in their otherwise depressing franchise history. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick can all become free agents, so this is possibly the final game in their Clippers careers.

3:40 – Marc Jones and Hubie Brown will be our narrators for our second game this afternoon. I’ll take them over Breen, Van Gundy and Jackson all day, every day.

3:41 – The Jazz are wearing their dope green alternate jerseys. A good move for a Game 7. Like he did in Game 6, Austin Rivers will start for the Clippers, as they go with a smaller starting lineup.

3:42 – The Jazz win the opening tip, and Game 7 is underway over at the Staples Center.

3:43 – George Hill opens up the scoring with a jumper, giving the Jazz a 2-0 lead to start the game. Chris Paul answers with his own jumper, and we’re tied up at two.

3:46 – Joe Ingles traps Chris Paul in the corner, and the point god, as Paul’s been called lately, is forced to call a timeout with an early score of Utah 4, Los Angeles 3 with 9:04 left in the first quarter.

3:47 – Back from the timeout, we’re shown footage of the Clippers huddle, and needless to say, they’re already frustrated and kind of yelling at one another. Not a great sign.

3:48 – Luc Mbah a Moute draws the second foul on Rudy Gobert, and the Jazz big man heads to the bench early. Mbah a Moute makes his free throws, and the Clippers go up, 5-4.

3:50 – George Hill knocks down a three, and we have another early timeout with the score Utah 9, Los Angeles 5 with 8:07 remaining in the first quarter.

4:00 – Chris Paul takes it into the paint and hits a floater, and we’ll have a timeout with the score Utah 18, Los Angeles 15 with 3:56 left in the first quarter. As it’s been all series, I think we’re in for a close, low scoring affair here in Game 7.

4:03 – Beyonce, Jay-Z and Phillip Rivers are amongst the luminaries in attendance this afternoon at the Staples Center.

4:08 – We’re at the end of the first quarter with the score Los Angeles 24, Utah 24. It’s been more of the same we’ve seen all through this series. The Jazz grinding the pace down to a crawl and methodically searching for the best shot, while Chris Paul seems intent on having a big, heroic Game 7. He’s got nine points to lead the Clippers, and Gordon Hayward has seven for the Jazz.

4:13 – Rodney Hood battles through the paint for a layup, plus a foul. He misses his free throw, but he’s got the first points of the second quarter to put the Jazz on top, 26-24.

4:15 – Rudy Gobert is called for his third foul as he goes for an offensive rebound. He’s back on the bench, probably for the remaining ten minutes of the first half. The Jazz have been able to hang in without him so far, but can they keep it up until halftime?

4:17 – After an Austin Rivers layup, we’re heading into a timeout as the game remains close. It’s Utah 31, Los Angeles 28 with 8:47 left until halftime.

4:19 – Checking in on Markieff Morris and his ankle…

4:24 – George Hill hits a jumper, and the Jazz are on a 10-2 run, sending us into a timeout with the score Utah 41, Los Angeles 30 with 5:13 left in the first half. Of course, the Jazz are doing this with Gobert on the bench with his three fouls.

4:31 – DeAndre Jordan is wrapped up by George Hill on his way towards the hoop, and it’ll send us into another timeout with the score Utah 41, Los Angeles 32 with 2:17 left in what’s been a low scoring, Jazz paced first half.

4:35 – DeAndre Jordan goes 1-2 from the free throw line, and the Clippers trail, 41-33.

4:40 – The first half draws to a close with the score Utah 46, Los Angeles 39. The Clippers could use some more energy from people other than Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, who each have 11 points. Paul’s added five assists, and Jordan’s got 12 rebounds for a halftime double-double.

Derrick Favors, filling in off the bench for the foul troubled Rudy Gobert, has 10 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Jazz, who have controlled the game throughout the first half. It’s been a disappointing effort from the Clippers, especially with so much on the line for them. They scored only 15 points in the second quarter, and seem generally unexcited about things.

4:44 – It’s time for another exciting episode of Today in Playoff History!

Back in 2010, the Jazz closed out the first round of the Playoffs with a 112-104 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 6, winning the series 4-2.

Wesley Matthews led the Jazz with 23 points, and Carlos Boozer went for 22 points, 20 rebounds and 5 assists. Deron Williams added 14 points and 10 assists, and Paul Millsap came off the bench for 21 & 11.

Chauncey Billups, currently in the ESPN Halftime studio, led the Nuggets with 30 points and 8 assists. Carmelo Anthony had 20 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, and none other than Joey Graham came off the bench for 21 points and 10 rebounds.

The win marked Utah’s last Playoff series victory. They’re now 24 minutes away from changing that.

nba_g_jazz11_576.jpg

4:58 – Chris Paul is fouled by George Hill, and gets a ridiculous continuation call as he takes two more steps before laying it up and in. He misses the free throw, and the Clippers trail 46-41 to begin the second half.

5:02 – Rudy Gobert gets called for his fourth foul, and in comes Derrick Favors from the bench. Gobert has zero points in just eight minutes of action.

5:04 – Ah, here’s the lame “REFS, YOU SUCK!” chant from the Clippers fans after Boris Diaw knocks down a long two pointer, and is fouled by Paul Pierce. Any chant that requires a comma when writing it is lame as hell. Diaw knocks down his free throw, and the Jazz have opened up a 54-44 lead.

5:07 – Boris Diaw flips in a layup, and he’s fouled! Meanwhile, Chris Paul comes up hobbling a bit after the previous play, and things are starting to go down the drain for the Clippers. A timeout is called with the scoreboard reading Utah 58, Los Angeles 44 with 7:33 left in the third quarter.

5:11 – Boris Diaw hits his free throw, and the Jazz are on a 13-3 lead to open up the largest lead either team has had in this series. They’re up 59-44. By the way, Chris Paul is still in the game, and seems to be fairly fine.

5:19 – After Joe Ingles airballs a three pointer, we’ve got a timeout as the Jazz lead continues to grow. It’s Utah 71, Los Angeles 53 with 2:53 left in the third quarter. Things are starting to get dire for the Clips.

5:28 – In the final seconds of the third quarter, Joe Johnson attracts the attention of all of the Clippers, then makes a great pass to Rodney Hood who’s running down the baseline for a layup. It closes out the quarter with a score of Utah 79, Los Angeles 63. It’s been both disappointing and dispiriting for the Clippers, who are getting substandard performances from just about everyone on their roster, including Chris Paul, who is shooting just 6-15 for 13 points. There very well might be just twelve minutes remaining in the Lob City era.

5:33 – Rudy Gobert goes 1-2 from the line to get the first point of the fourth quarter, and his first point of the game. It extends the Jazz lead to 80-63.

5:37 – Rudy Gobert is called for his fifth foul. It’s been a lost afternoon for the big man, but it clearly hasn’t hurt his team. He returns to the bench.

5:39 – After Jamal Crawford lobs up a pass for a big slam from DeAndre Jordan, we have a timeout as the Clippers have shaved a little bit off their deficit. It’s Utah 84, Los Angeles 71 with 8:47 left in the game.

5:49 – Derrick Favors picks up his sixth and final foul, and it’ll take us to a timeout with the score Utah 96, Los Angeles 80 with 5:24 remaining. Favors finishes with 17 points and 11 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench, filling in for Rudy Gobert, who has been in foul trouble himself.

5:55 – A kickball sends us into a timeout with the score Utah 98, Los Angeles 87 with 3:33 left in the game. The Clippers are trying to hang in there for one last run, but the Jazz still seem to be controlling the game. Still, there’s plenty of time left for something goofy to happen.

6:02 – After a jump ball, George Hill gets the ball on the floor and calls a timeout as he’s surrounded by a couple of Clippers. It’s Utah 102, Los Angeles 90 with 2:02 left in the game.

6:04 – Another timeout, this time after the Clippers force the Jazz into a shot clock violation. The score’s the same, and there’s 1:39 left on the clock.

6:06 – Rudy Gobert gets called for his sixth foul, and he’s finally fouled out of this one. He finishes with just one point and four rebounds in 13 foul plagued minutes.

6:10 – As the clock winds down, sans a Clippers comeback, Paul Pierce is receiving hugs and well wishes from his teammates on the bench, as his career will come to an end with this game.

6:11 – We’ve reached the end. Our final score from a stunned and solemn Staples Center: Utah 104, Los Angeles 91.

DeAndre Jordan finished with 24 points and 17 rebounds for the Clippers, and Jamal Crawford came off the bench to score 20. Chris Paul, after a strong first quarter, finished with just 13 points and 9 assists on 6-19 shooting.

The Jazz were led by Gordon Hayward’s 26 points and 8 rebounds. Derrick Favors came off the bench for 17 points and 11 rebounds.

With the win, the Jazz move on to face the mighty Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Semifinals. Obviously, that’s a tall task, but the Jazz have great depth and are really good at dictating the pace of the game. They should be able to put up a fine fight against the Warriors.

gettyimages-675228776.jpg

As for the Clippers, they’re starting the offseason earlier than they expected, once again. They’ve been one of the defining teams of the 2010s, but their run with this crew could be over after today. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and JJ Redick, who was a non-factor throughout this series, can become free agents. They’ve never made it past the second round of the Playoffs, and have bowed out in the first round two years in a row. It could be time to blow it all up.

Furthermore, this game marks the end of Paul Pierce’s great career. I grew up watching him play for the Celtics, and needless to say, he’s one of my favorite players ever. I’m sure I’ll pen quite the opus about his entire career right here on The Bonus, but that’s a post for another time. Instead, we’ll leave you with this. As we’re back to continue our outlandish Playoff coverage, Paul Pierce walks off the court for the final time…

 

NBA Playoffs Day 2: Easter Sunday

Today’s got a tough act to follow. The Playoffs got underway yesterday with two games coming down to the last shot, and a whole bunch of interesting and exciting action. We’re hoping for more of the same today, with four more games as the rest of the series get themselves underway. Without further ado…

12:49 pm – Just sitting here waiting for this episode of The Librarians to end on TNT. It’s actually a pretty great show to just have on in the background, something which could be said for just about every TNT original.

12:51 – Kicking off today’s action: Game 1 between the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards have one of the best starting backcourts in the league, with John Wall and Bradley Beal providing a potent offensive punch. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s one of the trickiest teams to get a handle on in the league. You just can’t trust the Hawks, you never know what kind of shape they’re going to show up in. They can either be a pesky team that’s tough to deal with, or a team that doesn’t look like it even belongs on the floor. We’ll have to see which version of them shows up today.

12:55 – Before we get started, we here at The Bonus wish you a Happy Easter. It’s certainly happy for us, with all of this basketball for us to enjoy today.

1:00 – We’re welcomed into Studio J in Atlanta by Ernie Johnson! It’s always great to see the friendly confines of Studio J. It means we’re going to be in good hands.

1:02 – The gang starts off by acknowledging the horrible news about the sister of Isaiah Thomas, who passed away in a car accident yesterday. Isaiah plans on playing later today in what wills surely be an emotionally charged game in Boston. We express our best wishes and condolences to Isaiah Thomas and his family.

1:05 – Ernie Johnson informs us that the last time the Wizards franchise hosted a Game 1 was all the way back in 1979.

1:06 – Charles Barkley says the Wizards are not only going to beat the Atlanta Hawks down like dogs, they’re going to make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

1:09 – We’re brought to Washington DC for Game 1 between the Wizards and the Hawks! The awesome Ian Eagle will narrate the play-by-play, with former player Greg Anthony providing the color commentary.

1:11 – The Hawks win the opening tip, and yet another day of exciting Playoff action is underway.

1:12 – A jumper from John Wall gets us our first bucket of the ball game, and it gives the Wizards an early 2-0 lead.

1:15 – Paul Millsap gets himself a reverse layup, and the Hawks are finally on the board trailing 5-2.

1:20 – After a Hawks turnover, we’ve got our first time out with the score Washington 12, Atlanta 8 with 5:56 left in the first quarter. Neither team is off to a particularly rip-roaring start thus far.

1:24 – John Wall finds Markieff Morris for a big dunk at the end of a fast break! The Wizards are on an 8-0 run, and it takes us into another timeout with the score, Washington 18, Atlanta 8 with 4:33 left in the opening quarter. The Wizards are already outworking the Hawks on the offensive glass, and seem like they’ve got much more energy to begin the game.

1:26 – News for later today…

It was already going to be hard enough for Portland, and now, they’re officially without their starting center to begin their series with the Warriors.

1:33 – John Wall dives on the floor for a loose ball and calls a timeout to avoid a jump ball. With 2:34 left in the first quarter, it’s Washington 23, Atlanta 18. Wall’s off to a particularly fast start with 7 points, 5 assists, and one awesome chase-down block.

1:40 – Well, the Hawks end the first quarter on a 17-2 run, including a floater from Taurean Prince with one second left. Our score’s Atlanta 29, Washington 25. After a lively start, the Wizards finish the opening quarter shooting just 37.5% from the floor. The Hawks were able to use the free throw line to help take the lead, going 11-14 in the quarter, while the Wizards got just four chances from the line.

1:44 – Kelly Oubre gets a steal and a dunk to kick off the second quarter scoring, and get the Wizards their first basket after missing eight straight shots. They trail, 29-27.

1:50 – After another Hawks turnover, we’ve got our second quarter TV timeout. It’s Atlanta 31, Washington 29 with 8:45 left until halftime. The game’s gotten pretty sloppy, with both teams shooting a yucky 36.4% from the field.

1:59 – Taurean Prince gets to the bucket for a layup, and the Wizards take a timeout as the Hawks lead continues to grow. It’s Atlanta 39, Washington 31 with 6:23 left in what’s been an ugly first half. The Washington crowd has been quieted, and the energy the Wizards were playing with at the start has all but vanished.

2:02 – The Wizards started the game shooting 10-20. Since then, they’re 3-18. Make it 3-19 after Otto Porter misses a jumper.

2:07 – Bradley Beal knocks down a three, and the Hawks take a timeout as the Wizards are starting to drag themselves back into it. The score’s Atlanta 41, Washington 38 with 4:18 left until halftime.

2:09 – Arby’s commercials are the worst.

2:17 – Markieff Morris is fouled shooting a three at the halftime buzzer. He knocks down his three free throws, and we head into halftime with the score, Atlanta 48, Washington 45, but not before Morris and Millsap exchange a few unpleasant words! They’re separated without incident, and the two teams head to their locker rooms after a fairly uninspiring first half of basketball.

John Wall has 13 points and 7 assists to lead the Wizards, and Markieff Morris scored ten, but as a team, they shot a horrid 33.3%. For the Hawks, Paul Millsap and Dennis Schroder each have 12 points, with Schroder adding 5 assists. Dwight Howard scored just two points, but he has ten rebounds. The Hawks matched the Wizards horrid 33.3% shooting. They’ve been able to stay ahead thanks to a 19-22 showing from the free throw line.

2:24 – “We should be at church, we shouldn’t be working,” says Charles Barkley at the start of the halftime show.

2:27 – It’s time for our first episode of Today in Playoff History, brought to you by the good folks over at Basketball Reference!

Back in 1964, the St. Louis Hawks fell to the San Francisco Warriors, 105-95, in Game 7 of the Western Division Finals. Wilt Chamberlain led the way for the Warriors, scoring 39 points. Bob Pettit led the Hawks with 24, Richie Guerin netted 23, and Cliff Hagan scored 21, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Wilt and the Warriors, who went on to lose to the Celtics in the Finals.

Wilt-Chamberlain1-e1392818930510.jpg

2:38 – Markieff Morris kicks off what will hopefully be a better second half by knocking down a three to tie the game at 48.

2:40 – Tim Hardaway Jr goes 2-3 from the line after he’s fouled shooting a three. It puts the Hawks back ahead, 50-48. Morris answers with a jumper to tie us at 50, and Dennis Schroder explodes to the hoop for a layup, getting the Hawks back up, 52-50. Things are starting to look up.

2:41- John Wall spins into the paint, then kicks it out to Otto Porter who knocks down a three, giving the Wizards a 53-52 lead.

2:42 – Marcin Gortat hits a little one handed shot and Washington’s lead expands to 55-52.

2:43 – Markieff Morris drives in for a floater, and the Hawks take a timeout with the score Washington 57, Atlanta 52 with 8:56 left in the third quarter. The Wizards have come out of halftime on a 12-4 run, and Morris has seven of those points.

2:48 – Dennis Schroder goes along the baseline for a layup, but John Wall comes right back with a quick layup of his own, and the Wizards lead, 59-54.

2:54 – Tim Hardaway Jr gets to the bucket for a layup, and it leads to a timeout with the score Washington 67, Atlanta 61 with 4:37 left in the third. The Wizards have come alive here in the third, with Markieff Morris raising a lot of hell. He’s got 11 points in the quarter so far, and on the other end, he’s making things rough on Paul Millsap with his physical defense.

2:57 – Marcus Morris sighting! He’s in the stands watching his twin brother Markieff go berserk, live and in person here in the third.

3:07 – We’ve made it to an electrifying third quarter with the score Washington 83, Atlanta 76. Unfortunately, Wizards backup big man Jason Smith is on the ground and grabbing his knee in pain, a concerning end to what was a great quarter for the home team. John Walls scored 15 in the quarter, and now has 28 points and 11 assists.

That being said, if Smith is lost, it’ll be a bad blow to Washington, whose already thin bench hasn’t contributed much here this afternoon.

Nevertheless, the Wizards were able to grab control of the game thanks to Wall, and Markieff Morris, and they’re now twelve minutes away from wrapping up a Game 1 victory.

3:11 – Brandon Jennings corrals a steal, and passes the ball up to Bojan Bogdanovic for a layup that gets us our first basket of the fourth, as the Wizards go up, 85-76.

3:13 – As Jason Smith is the only backup center for Washington that wasn’t already hurt, Markieff Morris is out their in the middle for the Wizards here in the fourth.

3:16 – Kelly Oubre knocks down a three as the Wizards bench, fairly quiet through the first three quarters, have been maintaining the lead here in the fourth. It takes us into the TV timeout, and our score’s Washington 95, Atlanta 83 with 8:15 left in the game.

3:19 – Good news on Jason Smith from sideline reporter Allie LaForce. He’s just banged his knee, and he’s been cleared to come back into the game.

3:23 – A timeout with 5:56 on the clock and the score Washington 100, Atlanta 87. The Wizards bench got the job done early in the fourth, and it’s allowed John Wall to remain on the bench for some extra rest.

3:26 – We come back from the timeout with some great footage of the last Washington basketball team to win a division championship: the 1979 Washington Bullets. We saw some great uniforms, and the likes of Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge. I wish they were still called the Bullets, frankly.

3:31 – Marcin Gortat throws down a dunk on Paul Millsap, and he gives Millsap an extra shove and a few words afterwards. This leads to a lame technical foul against Gortat. Come on refs, this is the Playoffs. The Wizards lead, 108-97.

3:33 – Gortat gets an offensive rebound, then takes a knee to the eye. as Taurean Prince leaps over him in the rebound action. He collapses to the ground, hands over his face. It leads into a timeout with the score Washington 108, Atlanta 100 with 2:31 left in the game. The hit to Gortat’s face looked incidental, and was not retaliation for his loud dunk a couple of minutes ago.

3:36 – We’re back and Gortat is out on the floor and looking fine.

3:39 – A pair of John Wall free throws gets him up to 30 points, bringing us into a timeout with the score Washington 112, Atlanta 103 with a mere 1:13 left on the clock.

3:45 – We’ve reached the end of the game with a final score of Washington 114, Atlanta 107.

John Wall took control in the third quarter, and finished the game with 32 points and 14 assists. Bradley Beal added 22, and Markieff Morris, who had a fine third quarter himself, ended with 21 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, and some great defense on Paul Millsap. Marcin Gortat added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points and 9 assists, while Dwight Howard chipped in with 7 points and 14 rebounds.

After a listless first half, the Wizards turned on the jets and put the game away, hanging onto the lead with ease, as the Hawks turned the ball over 19 times.

staticviewlift-a.akamaihd.jpg

3:50 – Time to switch over to Game 1 between the Warriors and Blazers, already in progress over on ABC. As we saw earlier, the Blazers will be without starting center Jusuf Nukic, who was a key part to the latter stages of their season. Compounding his absence is the fact that pretty much all of their other big men are also shelved with injuries.

3:51 – As I tune in, the Warriors lead, 13-11, coming up on midway through the first quarter. Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson are our narrators. As much as I complain about them, I have to give props to all of the other ESPN announcing crews, which were top notch throughout the day yesterday.

Anyway, the Warriors enter the Playoffs looking like the team to beat, and their potent roster has earned a spot in the annals of NBA history. Obviously, a second championship and three years would make that spot significantly bigger.

3:57 – After Kevin Durant misses a dunk and is fouled, we have a timeout with the score Golden State 20, Portland 18 with 3:18 left in the first quarter. Kevin Durant’s leading the way for the Warriors with 9 points and 4 rebounds, while CJ McCollum is keeping things close for the Blazers with 12 points so far.

4:00 – Apparently a Steph Curry shot that was initially ruled a two has been reviewed and changed to a three. Kevin Durant then hits his two free throws from the foul on his missed dunk, and the Warriors lead 23-18.

4:07 – The first quarter comes to an end with the score Golden State 32, Portland 27. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have 12 to lead the Trail Blazers, while Kevin Durant has 11 points and 6 rebounds for the Warriors, with Steph Curry right behind him with ten. Even though I got to this game late, it’s clear that both teams have been bringing the intensity from the start, and they’re both fired up heading into the second quarter.

4:11 – Here at the start of the second quarter, the score has once again been amended. They took a point back off that Steph Curry three, changing it back to a two. The Warriors lead is cut to 31-27 without the Blazers having to do anything.

4:12 – CJ McCollum ventures to the bucket for a layup for the first basket of the second quarter, cutting the Warriors lead to 31-29 and giving himself 14 points already.

4:17 – We’re here at the early second quarter TV timeout, and the score’s Golden State 34, Portland 34, with 8:59 left until halftime. McCollum and Lillard have combined for 28 of Portland’s 34 points, something that’s probably not sustainable, but it’s made for a fun start to the game.

4:21 – CJ McCollum has 19 points already, singlehandedly keeping the Blazers in the game, and Jeff Van Gundy just said, “This isn’t special.” Go to hell. I can’t wait to get back to TNT.

4:23 – Ian Clark gets a steal, and a layup, and we’ve got a time out with the score Golden State 44, Portland 39 with 7:09 remaining in the first half.

4:27 – McCollum gets to the hoop, draws a foul and lays it in. He misses his free throw, however, but he’s up to 25 points on 10-14 shooting. Now Van Gundy says he’s mesmerized and ready to storm the court. Make up your goddamn mind. Anyway, the Blazers trail, 44-43.

4:32 – Maurice Harkless gets past Draymond Green for a layup, and the Trail Blazers continue to keep pace. It’s Golden State 51, Portland 51, with 2:38 left in the first half. “The Blazers are back to within two!” exclaims Mike Breen. Am I being too hard on these guys? McCollum’s up to 27 points on 11-15 shooting to tie the franchise record for points in a Playoff half.

4:36 – Ronnie Lott sighting! He’s sitting court side taking in what’s been an exciting game so far.

4:40 – After Draymond Green splits a pair of free throws, the Blazers call a timeout to plan their possession with 23.1 seconds left in the half. The score’s Golden State 56, Portland 56.

4:42 – We’ve reached halftime with the score still Golden State 56, Portland 56. The big story of the first half is of course the exploits of the Blazers backcourt. McCollum still has 27 on 11-15 shooting, and Damian Lillard has 21, giving them 48 of their team’s 56 points.

Kevin Durant leads the Warriors with 16 points and 7 rebounds, and Steph Curry’s got 13. Draymond Green’s been stuffing the box score with 7 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

What an entertaining first half. McCollum and Lillard are doing all that’s humanly possible to keep the Blazers even, but eventually, one or two other Blazers are going to have to contribute. The game’s also getting testy, with trash talk flying left and right. In other words, it’s been exactly what a Playoff game should be.

4:47 – It’s time for another intriguing episode of Today in Playoff History!

We’ve seen Wilt once already today, and we’re visiting him again, this time in 1967 when he hauled in 38 rebounds for the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of the Finals against his former team, the San Francisco Warriors.

It was a triple double for Wilt, as he finished with 10 points, those 38 rebounds, and 10 assists. Just ridiculous. Hal Greer nearly had a triple double himself, springing for 30 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists. Billy Cunningham added 28 points and 6 rebounds, while Luke Jackson chipped in with 6 points and 15 boards.

For the Warriors, Rick Barry scored 30 and grabbed 10. Nate Thurmond scored 7 points, but pulled down 29 rebounds of his own, and Jim King contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Your final score: Philadelphia 126, San Francisco 95. The win put the Sixers up 2-0 in the series, and they’d go on to win the Finals, 4-2.

Wilt-Chamberlain-Philadelphia-76ers-1967.jpeg

4:54 – In other news…

Kudos to Brad Stevens for letting Isaiah Thomas do what he’s gotta do during a tragic time.

4:59 – CJ McCollum gets into the paint, misses a floater, gets the rebound and puts it in. Kevin Durant answers right back with a jumper, and we begin the third quarter tied at 58.

5:00 – Steph Curry goes along the baseline and scoops in a shot, giving the Warriors a 60-58.

5:01 – Evan Turner nails a three, but Draymond Green answers quickly with a hoop. Maurice Harkless comes right back with another three for Portland, and they lead, 64-62.

5:02 – Zaza Pachulia takes a pass from Draymond Green for a basket in the paint, tying us at 64. Maurice Harkless then bounces a pass to Noah Vonleh all alone under the hoop for a dunk, but Steph Curry answers with a three, putting the Warriors up, 67-66.

5:03 – Vonleh hits a jumper in the paint, but it’s not long before a Steph Curry layup puts the Warriors back on top, 69-68.

5:04 – CJ McCollum gives a jumper to bounce in, and the Blazers go back up, 70-69.

5:05 – Steph Curry scoops in another layup, the Warriors go back ahead, briefly, before Damian Lillard drives in for a floater, putting the Blazers up, 72-71. Klay Thompson responds with a shot from the paint, returning the lead to the Warriors, who go up, 73-72.

5:06 – Steph Curry knocks down a three, but it’s waved off due to a moving screen called on Zaza Pachulia. It remains, 73-72, Warriors.

5:07 – The Blazers give the ball to Noah Vonleh for what should be a fastbreak dunk, but Draymond Green is there for an incedible block, and he lets out a big roar!

On their next trip down the court, the Blazers finally get their dunk, courtesy of Maurice Harkless. It leads to a time out with the score Portland 74, Golden State 73 with 5:33 left in what’s been a furious third quarter. I think I need another beer.

5:11 – Andre Iguodala throws a lob down the court to JaVale McGee, who slams it home to give the Warriors a 75-74 lead.

5:12 – Evan Turner knocks down a three, and Portland goes back up, 77-75. Klay Thompson responds by getting to the hoop for a layup to tie us at 77.

5:13 – JaVale McGee gets an offensive rebound and kicks it out to Steph Curry who knocks down a three! It’s ruined by Mike Breen, who yells, “BANG!” Anyway, it brings us into a timeout with the score Golden State 80, Portland 77 with 3:30 left in the third.

5:16 – Kevin Durant forays towards the basket, draws a foul and knocks down an off-balance shot! He nails the free throw, and he’s got 21 points, and the Warriors lead is up to 83-77. It’s a critical time for the Blazers. They can’t let the Warriors go on one of their big runs.

5:24 – CJ McCollum banks home a jumper, and the Blazers are down 88-85 in the final seconds of the third quarter.

5:25 – Fellow Massachusetts native Pat Connaughton draws a foul, and hits a goofy jumper in the final second of the third! He hits his free throw, and an exciting third quarter draws to a close with the score Golden State 88, Portland 88. That wasn’t an easy quarter to keep up with, as I’m writing this as the game goes on, but I’ll take it. The Blazers have been able to keep the game tied, trading blows with the best team in the league. CJ McCollum’s up to 34 points and 6 rebounds, while Damian Lillard’s got 28.

Steph Curry leads the Warriors with 27, and Kevin Durant’s got 24 points and 9 rebounds as we head into what should be a fantastic fourth quarter.

5:29 – Draymond Green gets a friendly bounce on a three, and the Warriors strike first in the fourth, going up, 91-88.

5:31 – Green goes 1-2 from the line to extend the Warriors lead up to 92-88. He’s closing in on a triple double with 12 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

5:33 – Another fellow Massachusetts native, Shabazz Napier, gets to the hoop along the baseline and lays it in, and Portland trails, 92-90. On the other end, Ian Clark misses a shot, gets his own miss, and puts it in, giving Golden State a 94-90 lead.

5:34 – Clark knocks down a three, and the Blazers need to take a timeout. Our score’s Golden State 97, Portland 90 with 8:57 remaining.

5:38 – You know what, Noah Vonleh is a Massachusetts native as well. For some reason, the Blazers are stockpiling us.

5:43 – CJ McCollum knocks down a three, but the Warriors have outscored the Blazers 15-5 here in the fourth quarter. A timeout is taken with the score Golden State 103, Portland 93 with 6:35 on the clock.

5:49 – After another emphatic block from Draymond Green, the Warriors get a layup from Kevin Durant on the other end, and a timeout is called with the score Golden State 109, Portland 99 with 4:39 remaining. Draymond’s two steals away from an elusive 5×5 game.

6:02 – The game comes to an end with a final score of Golden State 121, Portland 109. After keeping it close all game long, the Blazers were put away by a 33-21 fourth quarter run by the Warriors.

Kevin Durant, in his Warriors Playoffs debut, scored 32 and grabbed 10 rebounds. Steph Curry had 29 points and 5 boards, and Draymond Green was ridiculous with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and 5 blocks.

CJ McCollum finished with 41 points, and 8 rebounds, with Damian Lillard coming up with 34 points and 5 rebounds, giving them 75 of the Blazers 109 points. Evan Turner chipped in with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Blazers, while proving a worthy and valiant opponent, fell short.

getty-images-669185510.jpg

We’ve got a little bit of time before the Celtics and the Bulls face off, so I’m going to eat some lasagna, but before I do, I’d like to say that I’m happy to see that the Playoffs have picked up where they left off yesterday, and have continued to be awesome.

6:19 – Isaiah Thomas is out on the floor with the Celtics for the pregame warmups.

6:30 – It’s just about time for Game 1 between the Celtics and the Bulls. I’m doing my part, wearing my Bill Russell jersey, and watching the game on the local network, CSNNE, in the hopes that the Bulls won’t play as well if enough people aren’t watching on TNT. Mike Gorman and Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn will be our narrators.

Of course, hanging over this game is the tragic news about Isaiah Thomas’ sister, who passed away in a car accident yesterday. An emotional Isaiah has taken the court with his Celtics brethren, and will play this evening.

6:33 – CSNNE is showing the full pregame intro and the National Anthem. Before the anthem, there’s a moment of silence for Chyna Thomas, Isaiah’s sister.

6:39 – As you might have guessed, Isaiah gets a hell of an ovation as he’s announced during the starting lineups.

6:41 – The Bulls are wearing lousy sleeved jerseys.

6:42 – The Bulls win the opening tip, and Game 1 is underway. Jimmy Butler quickly hits a jumper for the first basket to put the Bulls up, 2-0.

6:44 – Isaiah Thomas goes 1-2 from the line to put the Celtics on the board. They’re down 2-1.

6:49 – Isaiah Thomas knocks down a three, and the Celtics are on an 8-0 run early on. The Bulls take a timeout with the score Boston 12, Chicago 6 with 8:33 left in the opening quarter. Thomas and Avery Bradley each have six points for the Celtics to begin the game.

6:56 – Jimmy Butler plows over Amir Johnson, but Amir’s called for the blocking foul. It gets us our first “BULLSHIT!” chant of the Playoffs, and my first outburst of the game. Butler goes 1-2 from the line, and the Celtics lead, 17-13.

7:01 – After a Robin Lopez jumper, the Celtics take a timeout with the score Boston 25, Chicago 21 with 3:02 left in the opening quarter. Lopez already has 10 points and 6 rebounds to keep the Bulls close. Meanwhile, Isaiah’s already up to 13 points for the Celtics.

7:08 – The opening quarter comes to an end with the score Boston 28, Chicago 23. Isaiah still has 13 to lead the Celtics, and Robin Lopez still has his 10 points and 6 rebounds for the Bulls. Chicago’s already got eight offensive rebounds, which is keeping them in the game, but to their credit, the Celtics have grabbed five offensive boards themselves.

7:12 – Jerian Grant takes it to the hoop for a layup, plus he’s fouled. He hits his free throw, and the Bulls are on the board first in the second quarter, trailing 28-26.

7:17 – We’ve reached the TV timeout and our score’s Chicago 33, Boston 28 with 8:41 left in the first half. The Bulls have scored the first ten points of the quarter, as the Celtics are getting absolutely nothing from their bench, which has combined to shoot 1-9 from the floor.

7:25 – After a turnover, Paul Zipser finishes off a Bulls fast break with a layup, and they’re maintaining the lead as the C’s call a time out with the score, Chicago 37, Boston 33 with 5:18 left in the first half. I am beginning to get grouchy. The Celtics are struggling to finish around the hoop, and are looking generally disheveled.

7:32 – Now everyone’s looking disheveled. Dwyane Wade just blew a dunk, then Avery Bradley missed a three, and the Celtics will have the ball after it’s poked out of bounds. First, we’ll have a timeout, though. The score’s Chicago 41, Boston 39 with 2:15 to go until halftime.

7:35 – CSNNE gives us a flashback to the last time these two teams battled in the Playoffs – that legendary first round series in 2009, which featured four games that went to overtime.

7:38 – Despite the missed dunk…

7:40 – Al Horford beats the halftime buzzer with a three! That makes me feel a little better about things, and Horford’s got the last nine Celtics points. Our halftime score’s Chicago 48, Boston 46.

Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 15, Avery Bradley has 11, and Horford’s scored 11, grabbed 6 rebounds, and distributed 5 assists. Robin Lopez leads the Bulls with 12 points and 8 rebounds, seven of which have been of the offensive variety.

We saw all of the things the Celtics are bad at: rebounding, and scoring with Isaiah Thomas on the bench, but they’re hanging in there here at halftime. Meanwhile the Bulls have been controlling the tempo and style of the game, mucking it up and holding onto a lead. They’re also dominating the offensive glass to the tune of 16 offensive rebounds. The Celtics are lucky to be down by just two points.

7:45 – Time for another educational episode of Today in Playoff History!

Back in 1963, Bill Russell, whose jersey I’m wearing as we speak, pulled down 38 rebounds in Game 2 of the Finals against the Lakers. The Celtics could really use Russell right about now. Anyway, he finished the game with 16 points, those 38 rebounds and 6 assists. Sam Jones scored 27 and grabbed 10 rebounds, Tommy Heinsohn, our current color commentator, added 26 points and 8 rebounds. Bob Cousy orchestrated the action with 18 points and 11 assists, while Satch Sanders chimed in with 9 points and 11 rebounds.

For the Lakers, Elgin Baylor had 30 & 10, Jerry West scored 28 and grabbed 6 boards, and Dick Barnett finished with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Last but not least, Rudy LaRusso added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

In the end, Boston won the game, 113-106 in what I’m sure was a great battle, taking a 2-0 series lead. They eventually won the series in six games.

Bill-Russell-99158375-NBA-Finals-Celtics.jpg

7:59 – Two free throws from Nikola Mirotic gives the Bulls the first points of the second half, extending their lead to 50-46.

8:00 – Al Horford knocks down a pair of free throws, and he’s got Boston’s last 11 points. It cuts their deficit down to 50-48.

8:01 – Avery Bradley pulls up and hits a three! I pump my fist as the Celtics retake the lead at 51-50. Rajon Rondo quickly puts the Bulls back ahead, 52-51, with a layup, but Al Horford shakes of Nikola Mirotic and hits a jumper to put the Celtics on top, 53-52.

8:02 – Jimmy Butler misses a tough reverse layup, but Dwyane Wade flies in and tips it in, putting the Bulls up, 54-53. “That’s the sort of thing that should never happen,” says Tommy Heinsohn.

8:04 – After the Celtics turn the ball over, Nikola Mirotic finishes off the ensuing fast break with a layup, and the Bulls lead 56-53. Avery Bradley then finds Amir Johnson under the basket for a dunk, plus he’s fouled! Johnson hits his free throw, and we’re tied at 56.

8:05 – Jimmy Butler misses a three, but Rajon Rondo gets an offensive rebound, and a layup, and Chicago takes a 58-56 lead.

8:06 – A perturbed Brad Stevens calls a timeout, and with 6:16 left in the third quarter, our score is Chicago 58, Boston 56. It’s not like the Bulls are playing well here this evening. Jimmy Butler’s 2-8 from the floor, Dwyane Wade’s 3-8 and Nikola Mirotic is 1-8. At some point, the Celtics have got to get this thing under control, right?

8:10 – Jae Crowder goes along the baseline for a tough layup, and the Celtics have tied the game at 58. On their next trip down the court, Al Horford finds Crowder for an easier layup, and the Celtics take a 60-58 lead.

8:11 – Bobby Portis hits a long jumper, tying us back up at 60.

8:12 – Isaiah Thomas draws contact from Rajon Rondo and knocks down a tough shot! That one got a chest pound out of me. He hits his free throw, and the Celtics go up, 63-60.

8:13 – Portis hits another jumper, and the Bulls make it a one point game, trailing 63-62. On the other end of the court, Isaiah does it again, drawing contact, this time on Portis, and knocking down the shot. Once again, he knocks down the free throw, giving himself 21 points, and the Celtics a 66-62 lead.

8:15 – Rajon Rondo takes it down the baseline for a reverse layup, and we’re right back to a one possession game with the Bulls down, 66-64. It’s short lived, as Marcus Smart nails a corner three, sending us into a timeout with the score Boston 69, Chicago 64 with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.

8:19 – Paul Zipser knocks down a pair of free throws, and the Bulls trail, 69-66. He was at the line after drawing a weak foul call against Isaiah Thomas, that prompted Tommy Heinsohn to say, “This guy’s gotta leave the building.”

8:21 – Jimmy Butler, who’s been quiet all night, ties us back up at 69 with a three.

8:23 – Marcus Smart answers with his own three pointer, and the Celtics go up 72-69.

Jimmy Butler comes right back with a layup, but Jae Crowder goes in for a floater, and the Celtics are ahead 74-71.

8:24 – Butler knocks down a three to tie us up, and Kelly Olynyk misses a three at the buzzer, and we’ll head into the fourth quarter tied with the score Boston 74, Chicago 74. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 21, and Jimmy Butler came alive towards the end of the third, and leads the Bulls with 15 points.

8:28 – Jimmy Butler kicks off the fourth quarter with a jumper to put the Bulls up, 76-74. It’s a critical stretch for the Celtics, as Isaiah begins the final quarter on the bench.

8:30 – Gerald Green splits a pair of free throws, and Boston trails, 76-75.

8:31 – Paul Zipser knocks down a pair of free throws, extending the Bulls lead to 78-75.

8:32 – Marcus Smart knocks down a three! We’re tied back up at 78. Bobby Portis answers soon after with a three of his own, and the Bulls lead, 81-78.

8:33 – Kelly Olynyk tips in an Al Horford miss, and we’ve got a one point game with the Celtics trailing 81-80. Soon after, we reach our TV timeout with 8:44 remaining and Isaiah Thomas primed to enter the game when we return.

8:37 – Bobby Portis hits yet another three, and Chicago takes an 84-80 lead.

Kelly Olynyk answers with a three, and it’s a one point game again, with Boston down, 84-83.

8:39 – Jimmy Butler knocks down a three, putting the Bulls up, 87-83. On the other end of the court, Isaiah Thomas picks up a technical after he disagrees with a non-call. Butler misses the free throw, and the score remains, 87-83.

8:41 – Al Horford fakes a three, then storms through the paint for a big dunk! The Bulls take a timeout with the score Chicago 87, Boston 85 with 6:11 to go.

8:46 – Tommy Heinsohn is so fed up with the refs, he just complained about a call that went against the Bulls. Anything is possible.

8:47 – After he’s fouled shooting a three, Isaiah Thomas knocks down all three free throws, giving the Celtics an 88-87 lead. The foul was the fifth on Rajon Rondo, and he heads to the bench.

8:48 – Jimmy Butler nails a fallaway, and the Bulls go up, 89-88.

8:49 – Jerian Grant cans a three, and the Bulls lead is up to four, at 92-88.

8:50 – Butler’s fouled shooting a three by Avery Bradley. He knocks down all of his free throws, and the Bulls are on an 8-0 run, and lead 95-88.

8:53 – Two Isaiah Thomas free throws bring us back to a one possession game with the Celtics behind, 95-92. Dwyane Wade pushes us back to two posses ions with a jumper to give the Bulls a 97-92 lead.

8:54 – We’ve got a timeout after Isaiah Thomas is called for fouling Dwyane Wade. Our score’s still Chicago 97, Boston 92 with 2:41 left in the ball game.

8:59 – Robin Lopez knocks down two free throws, and the Celtics take a 20 second time out with the score Chicago 99, Boston 92 with just 1:40 left in the game.

9:01 – Bobby Portis hits another jumper for the Bulls, and we’ve got another time out with the score Chicago 101, Boston 92 with 1:18 on the clock. This one seems out of reach for the Celtics.

9:04 – After Al Horford goes along the baseline for a dunk, the Celtics are able to trap the Bulls in the backcourt, forcing them to take a timeout with the score Chicago 101, Boston 94 with 1:04 remaining.

9:05 – Chicago takes another timeout.

9:07 – Jimmy Butler takes it to the hoop for a layup, giving the Bulls a 103-94 lead. Jae Crowder then hits a three, then draws an offensive foul on Butler! The Celtics can’t take advantage of it, however, and they’re down 103-97 as the game winds down.

9:09 – After Butler goes 1-2 from the line, Isaiah Thomas knocks down a three. As the Bulls inbound the ball, Avery Bradley gets a hand on it, and it goes out of bounds. The refs go to the screen to initiate what I imagine will be a 25 minute review to see who it went off of. The score: Chicago 104, Boston 100 with 13.7 seconds on the clock.

9:10 – This is one of those plays where one angle looks like it went off the Bulls, and the other looks like it went off the Celtics. Tie goes to the home team?

9:11 – Tie goes to the home team! It’ll be Celtics ball. The refs even added some time to the clock, so the C’s will have 14.1 seconds left to try and pull off a miracle.

9:12 – Isaiah Thomas takes it to the hoop for a layup, and the Bulls will take a timeout! It’s Chicago 104, Boston 102 with 7.5 seconds left on the clock.

9:14 – The Bulls get the ball into Jimmy Butler, who is able to evade the Celtics defenders until they finally foul him with 3.3 seconds on the clock. He’ll head to the free throw line, looking to ice the game.

9:15 – After hitting his first free throw, Butler is true on the second one. The Celtics take their final timeout with the score Chicago 106, Boston 102 with those 3.3 seconds remaining.

9:17 – Avery Bradley misses a three at the buzzer, wrapping up a rough loss for the Celtics. Our final score: Chicago 106, Boston 102.

Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 33 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 10-18 shooting, as well as 10-12 from the free throw line. He played his heart out under what must have been extreme emotional duress. I have two younger sisters myself, and just thinking about what he’s going through is upsetting. I feel terrible.

Jimmy Butler was quiet until the latter half of the third quarter. From then on, I feel like I typed his name a lot. He finishes with 30 points, and 9 rebounds. Robin Lopez destroyed the Celtics on the boards, ending the night with 11 rebounds and 14 points. The Bulls couldn’t have done it without Bobby Portis, who came off the bench for 19 points and 9 rebounds.

Towards the end of the game, Butler started covering Isaiah Thomas, and the Bulls were able to keep the ball out of his hands. This led to a lot of big shots coming from Marcus Smart, who, while a fine player, is just not good enough of a shooter to be handling that much of the clutch shooting load. Boston was also killed on the rebounds, and they’ve now lost home court advantage. This was not a good night for proving anything to the Celtics critics other than that they’re right.

chi-bulls-celtics0416c-wre0050733915-20170416.jpg

9:23 – We’ve got one last game left tonight, and it’s what many people consider to be the main event. Game 1 in Houston between the Rockets and the Thunder! As I join the action, we’re tied at 14 midway though the first quarter, with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller narrating. People are pumped for this series as it features a battle between the two MVP frontrunners, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

9:24 – Not long after I tune in, we’ve got a timeout with the score still Houston 14, Oklahoma City 14, with 5:54 left in the opening quarter, giving me a chance to catch up on the box score. Our leading scorers so far: the defensive specialists. Patrick Beverly has 8 already to lead Houston, and Andre Roberson has 6 for the Thunder. James Harden has started off scoreless and 0-4 from the field. Furthermore, the Thunder are wearing their yucky orange alternate jerseys.

9:32 – We’ve got another timeout with the score Oklahoma City 19, Houston 18 with 3:28 left in the opening quarter. I’m still recovering from that disheartening Celtics loss. Give me a few more moments to collect myself and open another beer, and I should be good to go.

9:39 – Enes Kanter misses a jumper at the first quarter buzzer, and our score after one is Oklahoma City 29, Houston 27. Russell Westbrook has 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on 2-7 shooting, while James Harden has 8 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists on 4-11 shooting.

9:44 – Patrick Beverly gets the second quarter scoring started with a lone free throw. He misses his second one, but Nene grabs the offensive board and slams it home, giving the Rockets a 30-29 lead with our two MVP candidates resting on the bench.

9:49 – We’re here at the TV timeout with the score Houston 38, Oklahoma City 37 with 8:38 left until halftime. Both teams have been content to exchange baskets since I’ve got here, and I’m okay with it.

9:55 – After Eric Gordon loses the ball out of bounds, we’ve got another timeout with the score Houston 40, Oklahoma City 39 with 7:07 left in the first half as these guys continue their basket exchange.

9:58 – Christ, another timeout with the score still Houston 40, Oklahoma City 39 with 7:03 left until halftime.

10:01 – After Russell Westbrook and Patrick Beverly tumble over each other, TNT gives us a flashback to the 2013 Playoffs when Beverly ended up injuring Westbrook, forcing him out of that year’s postseason. Here in 2017, Westbrook and Beverly hop back up from the floor, and Enes Kanter immediately comes flying in to keep them separated, despite the fact that neither of them caused any sort of a ruckus.

10:07 – Steven Adams knocks down a little hook in the paint, and it brings us to another timeout with the score Oklahoma City 52, Houston 51 with 2:41 to go until halftime. I am enjoying the back and forth nature of this game.

10:11 – Taj Gibson goes up over Clint Capella’s back and they both crumble to the ground. Capella flips up a shot as Gibson collapses on him, and it goes in off the glass! He misses the free throw, but he’s given the Rockets a 53-52 lead.

10:14 – We’ve reached halftime and the score’s Houston 59, Oklahoma City 54. James Harden’s taken 20 shots already. He’s hit nine of them and he has 18 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the way for the Rockets. Patrick Beverley’s added 11 points and 7 rebounds for the home team.

Russell Westbrook is shooting just 4-15, but he’s got 15 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Andre Roberson’s contributed 11 points on perfect 4-4 shooting for the visitors.

The big story here at halftime has been the rebounding and second chance points that the Rockets have racked up. They’re outscoring the Thunder 21-0 on second chance points, and they’re out-rebounding them 28-21. That seems to be making all the difference in what’s otherwise been a close game.

10:21 – It’s time for one last episode of Today in Playoff History!

Back in 1978, the Seattle Supersonics closed out their first round series against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 111-102 victory in Game 3, taking the series 2-1 back in the days when the first round was best-of-three.

Sonics rookie Jack Sikma scored 20 of his 24 in the second half as they held the Lakers at bay. Gus Williams added 22, and Marvin Webster went for 20 points and 18 boards.

Los Angeles was led by 31 from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who turned 70 today. Happy birthday, Kareem! Sorry to bring up this painful Playoff loss from your past. Anyway, Seattle made it all the way to the Finals that year, losing in seven games to the Washington Bullets.

Jack-Sikma.jpg
Jack Sikma is the most successful player in NBA history who had hair like David Bowie.

10:33 – James Harden beats the shot clock with a three pointer to start off the third quarter. He’s up to 21 points and the Rockets lead is up to 62-54.

10:34 – Patrick Beverly takes a long pass from James Harden, then goes into the paint for a floater, and the Thunder call a quick timeout as they’re now down ten. The score’s Houston 64, Oklahoma City 54 with 10:37 left in the quarter.

10:39 – Kevin Harlan tells us that Russell Westbrook has all seven of the Thunder’s turnovers. He’s well on his way to double-digits.

10:40 – Steven Adams just destroyed Patrick Beverly with a screen for the ages. Andre Roberson then knocks down a three, and the Thunder are down 64-62. After the screen, we get a look at JJ Watt in the stands, who I assume was nodding in approval. Reggie Miller loses his mind, saying “He is going to feel that tomorrow!” Reggie Miller is the epitome of the guy that ruins a moment by talking too much about it.

10:42 – James Harden draws a foul shooting a three, and knocks down all three of his free throws, putting the Rockets up, 67-62.

10:45 – Patrick Beverly knocks down a three, his second since getting laid out by Steven Adams. He’s got a Playoff career high 19 points, and the Thunder take a timeout with the score Houston 73, Oklahoma City 62 with 6:09 left in what’s turned out to be a very physical third quarter.

10:54 – After Andre Roberson steps out of bounds, we’re getting a timeout with the score Houston 83, Oklahoma City 70 with 2:36 to go in the third quarter.

11:02 – We’ve reached the end of the third quarter with the score Houston 89, Oklahoma City 74. James Harden scored 13 for the Rockets in the quarter, and Patrick Beverly added 8 as they pulled away from the Thunder. Harden’s up to 31 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists overall. For the Thunder, Russell Westbrook has 22 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 8 turnovers on 6-21 shooting.

11:07 – Patrick Beverly gets into the paint for a floater, scoring the first points of the fourth quarter, extending the Rockets lead to 91-74, and getting himself to 21 points so far.

11:11 – Lou Williams is fouled shooting a three, but first, we’re have a timeout with the score Houston 94, Oklahoma City 78 with 8:38 left in the first weekend of the NBA Playoffs.

11:14 – We’re back, and Lou Williams goes 2-3 from the line to get the Rockets lead up to 96-78.

11:16 – Patrick Beverly’s off to the Rockets locker room with Houston up, 100-78. Didn’t see what happened to him, but he seemed to be walking just fine. Maybe he just has to take a piss.

11:19 – James Harden uses some fancy footwork to get himself open for a three, and knocks it down. The Rockets are on an 8-0 run as their lead continues to grow, and Harden’s up to 37 points. It’s Houston 108, Oklahoma City 80 with 5:35 left in the game.

11:23 – Sideline reporter David Aldridge reports that Beverly was off to the locker room with a sore back, but he’s returned to the Rockets bench.

11:26 – After a Rockets turnover, we have a timeout with the score Houston 112, Oklahoma City 80 with 2:56 remaining. We’re firmly entrenched in Garbage Time as the starters have left the game.

11:34 – This one’s over with a final score of Houston 118, Oklahoma City 87. James Harden had a great night, and got better as the game went along, finishing with 37 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Patrick Beverly added 21 points and 10 rebounds in a scrappy performance.

Russell Westbrook ended up with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, but he shot just 6-23 from the floor, and turned the ball over nine times. Outside of Andre Roberson, he got little help from his teammates, particular Victor Oladipo, who shot just 1-12 in his forgettable Playoff debut.

What was an evenly matched game in the first half devolved into a blowout as the Rockets took off in the second half. Houston out-rebounded OKC 56-41 and dominated the second chance points, ending the weekend with a convincing victory.

getty-images-669227822.jpg

That does it for the first weekend of the 2017 NBA Playoffs. That last game was a bit anti-climactic, but after this weekend’s excitement, I think it’s safe to say that we’re in for a memorable couple of months. As for now, it’s time to sleep, because we’re right back at it tomorrow with our first batch of Game 2s, and I’m pretty damn tired (especially after that draining Celtics game). Until tomorrow…