NBA Playoff Update, U.S. Names Preliminary World Cup Squad

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Heat won a tight one to take a 3-1 series lead, while the Blazers took control in the third quarter to stay alive in their series against the Spurs.

The Nets had 21 second chance points. The Heat had LeBron James. The Nets had huge plays from Paul Pierce. The Heat had LeBron James. The Nets had 26 bench points. The Heat had LeBron James. And in the end, they had Chris Bosh hitting a tie-breaking three pointer in the final minute after missing two threes in the previous couple of minutes.

There were moments in the first half when it looked like the Heat would run away with this one on the strength of some incredible offense--63% shooting and only 3 turnovers, with James scoring 24 in the first half. But they were only up seven at the break thanks to a successful parade to the free throw line by the Nets.

The second half was a back and forth affair, as the Nets refused to go away and the only player who could get anything done offensively for the Heat was James, who finished with 49 points. Down the stretch, Paul Pierce had a three point play to give the Nets their last lead with just over four minutes left. The Nets would make only one field goal the rest of the way. LeBron answered with a massive three to give the Heat a two point lead, and after Kevin Garnett made two free throws to tie it at 94, the Heat got the ball in the paint to James, who passed out of a double team, and the ball eventually found Bosh in the corner where he made the decisive three.  A fantastic playoff game.  The Heat head back home with a 3-1 lead.

The Blazers looked much sharper tonight then they have all series, executing on offense and dominating the offensive glass to stay alive in their series with the Spurs.  Looking to avoid the sweep, the Blazers got off to a good start behind LaMarcus Aldridge, and played solid basketball throughout the first half, but only had a two point lead at the break thanks to some good bench play from the Spurs.

The third quarter was all Blazers, though, as they extended their lead out to 17 and didn't look back.  The key sequence occurred with the Blazers nursing a four point lead.  Back to back Nicolas Batum threes (one of them a 4 point play), a Thomas Robinson dunk, and a Damian Lillard three and the Blazers were up 15.  The Spurs never challenged after that and the final score was 103-92.

The Spurs really struggled from behind the arc (3-18) and the free throw line (11-19), and could never get the offense running on alll cylinders like they did so often in the first three games.

A special mention of Will Barton, Canis Hoopus 2012 draft favorite. After playing sparingly over his first two seasons in the league, he's actually having an impact off the bench in this series for a team that desperately needs depth.  He scored 17 points tonight on 7-13 from the floor.

Tonight's games

Wizards at Pacers
6:00 pm Central
TNT

The Pacers will look to close out the Wizards at home after taking two in Washington. The Wizards looked so good in beating the Bulls and taking the first game from a struggling Pacers squad, but since then their shot selection has gone south under Indiana's defensive pressure, Roy Hibbert has found his game, and Paul George looked like a superstar in bringing the Pacers back from a huge deficit in game four.  I would like to see the Wizards rage against losing this series and come up with something big tonight.  They have really impressed, especially in the post-season, which is a first shot at the playoffs for several of their major players.

Clippers at Thunder
8:30 pm Central
TNT

The best series going, even at two and featuring two of the most explosive offenses in the NBA.  It's been a back and forth slugfest between these squads, and the stars have taken turns dominating.  Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, they have all had their moments.  As has Darren Collison, who was one of the big heroes of the Clippers' sensational game four comeback.  Scott Brooks on the other hand...when the Clippers go small and put Chris Paul on Kevin Durant, you have to be able to figure out a way to take advantage of that.  We'll see tonight.

Notes:

  • Cheryl Reeve, Lynx head coach, has been named an assistant coach for the USA Basketball's Women's World Championship team which will be coached by UConn's Geno Auriemma.
  • Yesterday was Lynx media day.  Check out the Lynx site for pictures and stuff.
  • Another Lynx note: you will notice that the WNBA has sold uniform sponsorships.  The Lynx will feature the Mayo Clinic on their jerseys.
  • Mike Brown was fired (again) by the Cleveland Cavaliers, which adds to the list of teams that need to hire a coach.
  • The Cavs also named David Griffin permanent GM (he had been acting GM since February).  He spent the bulk of his career before Cleveland working for the Phoenix Suns.
  • Donald Sterling was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN yesterday.  He's nuts. I don't know what else to say about it.  It was a train wreck.  His PR people should have physically restrained him before allowing him to do this.
  • Jurgen Klinnsman named 30 players to his preliminary World Cup squad yesterday.  That will be cut to 23 for the final roster.  Among those left off are Eddie Johnson, Brek Shea, and Tim Ream.
Today in history

1607: English colonists led by John Smith land in Virginia. 
1787: 11 ships of criminals set sail from England for Australia
1830: Republic of Ecuador is founded
1865: Final engagement of the Civil War at Brownsville, TX
1943: German and Italian forces in Africa surrender
1976: Final ABA championship won by New York Nets (over Denver Nuggets)
1989: Students begin hunger strike in Tiananmen Square

Today's musical birthday is Stevie Wonder, born in 1950.



Tuesday. Is. Open.









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