NBA Playoffs Update, Coaching Notes

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Both the Heat and Spurs close out their 2nd round series in five games and advance to their respective conference finals.

The Heat made a furious 4th quarter comeback, closing the game on a 13-3 run to snatch a series clinching win from the Brooklyn Nets and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Nets led 91-83 with under five to play behind several huge buckets by Joe Johnson. But the Nets went away from Johnson on the next few possessions, and huge baskets by Dwyane Wade and LeBron James set up a Ray Allen three that gave the Heat a 93-91 lead and capped a 10-0 run.

The game was almost overshadowed by the exact same controversial play that happened at the end of last night's Clippers-Thunder game.  Here, with the Heat up two and under 10 seconds left, LeBron James hacked Paul Pierce, sending the ball flying out of bounds. There was no foul called, and the officials went to replay. It was even more clear than last night that the ball was touched last by Pierce, but presumably to make up for the foul not being called, they awarded the Nets the ball.  Small consolation, as Pierce would have had two free throws had they correctly called the foul, and the Nets were unable to get off a shot in the final seconds.

It's silly.  Why have a rule on replay at all? If the the refs are going to use it blatantly for reasons that aren't spelled out in the rules? Ultimately, in both cases, a bit of rough justice was done, but that was never the intended purpose.

The Heat move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they await the winner of the Pacers-Wizards series.

No Tony Parker, no problem for the Spurs who closed out the Trail Blazers in five games.  The Spurs were hot from behind the arc, and when that happens (which is quite often), they are impossible to beat. Tonight it was Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green who went a combined 7-10 from three. Leonard had a terrific game, scoring 22 points on a variety of shots, while also collecting seven rebounds and five steals.

The key was the 3rd quarter when the Spurs extended a seven point halftime lead to 14 behind some stifling defense that forced several turnovers. For the game, the Blazers turned it over 18 times to the Spurs six.

In Parker's absence (left the game after 10 minutes and didn't return) Patty Mills got extensive playing time and showed no reluctance to shoot, going 7-15 from the field for 15 points.

The Blazers were unable to get anything going consistently on offense due to the turnovers and spotty shooting, especially from behind the arc where they went only 5-18. Threes are a huge part of their game, so that was lethal to their chances. LaMarcus Aldridge led them with 21, but it took him 21 shots to get there.

It was a terrific season for the Blazers, who most did not expect to make the playoffs. That they won 54 games in the regular season and won a playoff series is surprising and impressive.

The Spurs move on to the Western Conference Finals where they will face the winner of the Thunder-Clippers series. Hopefully a few days off will get Tony Parker healthy and ready to go, because no matter who wins that series, it sets up another fantastic point guard match up.

Tonight's Games

Pacers at Wizards
7:00 pm Central
ESPN

The Wizards will look to stay alive again after staving off elimination in game five in Indiana. In truth, they have been much better on the road this post season then at home, but will need to use the home court to their advantage tonight. John Wall broke out of something of a shooting slump on Tuesday night, and Marcin Gortat was awesome.  Can the Wizards find other guys to step up tonight? The Pacers have a real ability to look awful, as they did on Tuesday when nobody seemed to show up.  They will need Paul George to be a star tonight if they want to wrap this series up without a seventh game.

Thunder at Clippers
9:30 pm Central
ESPN

Will their brutal loss in game five have a hangover effect on the Clippers?  They need to shake that one off and take care of business at home to force a game seven back in Oklahoma City.

This has been a great series, with the last two games featuring fantastic comebacks, one by each team, and some terrific play from star players. Russell Westbrook stole the show in game five, dominating proceedings (mostly for good), while Chris Paul made a couple of terrible mistakes down the stretch.

Doc Rivers needs to get his team refocused after he lambasted the officials for their use of instant replay. That one is over, and the Clippers need to concentrate on game six.

Notes

  • Steve Kerr has accepted the job at head coach of the Golden State Warriors, snubbing Phil Jackson and the Knicks. Kerr got an amazing 5 year/$25M contract given that he has never coached before. By contrast, when Mark Jackson was hired, he got a 3 year/$6M deal.
  • Tony Parker missed most of last night's game with a tight left hamstring, which has been a persistent problem for him recently.
  • If you are interested, ESPNU will be showing the draft combine beginning at 9:00 am.
Today in History

1536: Anne Boleyn and brother accused of incest and adultry
1602: Cape Cod "discovered" by Bartholomew Gosnold
1905: Las Vegas, NV founded
1911: Supreme Court orders dissolution of Standard Oil under Sherman Anti-Trust Act
1943: Warsaw Ghetto uprising ends as ghetto is finally liquidated by Nazis

Today's musical birthday is Brian Eno, born in 1948.



Good Thursday. What's on your mind?










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