NBA Playoffs: Dwyane Wade isn't quite ready for his season to be over, goes bonkers in the fourth to down the Celtics in Game 4

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Dwyane Wade had six turnovers, missed eight shots, and botched five free throws in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics. Other than that, he could do no wrong. An enormously impressive 46-point, five-rebound, five-assist performance stands testament to that, and Wade’s performance was capped off brilliantly by scoring 17 of Miami’s 30 points in the fourth quarter.

To put in perspective just how impressive Wade and the Heat were in the fourth:

  • Miami went scoreless for a little over three minutes in the fourth…and still outscored Boston 30-15.
  • The Heat had five straight three-point possessions, and six over the course of nine possessions (H/T: NBA.com’s John Schuhmann)
  • Wade went 4-of-4 from three-point range in the final frame, with three of those makes coming within the quarter’s first three minutes.
  • Miami went on a 19-3 run over the first five minutes of the fourth.

Wade and the Heat played like a team desperate to survive, and for once Dwyane had a little help: Quentin Richardson became the first non-Wade Heat player to score 20 points in a game this series, and Michael Beasley dropped 15, including an invaluable tip-in with 1:27 left in the game.

Oddly enough though, both teams played out the game’s final minutes as if they wanted to lose. Ray Allen — a 91.3% free throw shooter this season — missed three of four from the foul line in the game’s final minutes. Dorrell Wright and Mario Chalmers were forced into impossibly difficult shot attempts as the Miami offense was slow to develop. Rajon Rondo missed a wide open layup that could have brought Boston’s deficit to two at the 2:17 mark. Dwyane Wade looked to push the ball after a Celtic turnover and ended up giving Boston the ball right back. Neither team looked particularly polished to finish out a pretty close game, but the Heat were able to rely on incredible production from Dwyane Wade and just enough scoring, defense, and hustle from the rest of the rotation.

The Celtics still isn’t too much to worry about, though. Boston’s defense was very impressive for much of the game, and barring Miami’s dominant transition game in the first quarter (mostly due to flurry of Celtic turnovers), the C’s were able to lock down defensively and make things awfully difficult in a half-court setting. Even the subs were relatively strong in that regard, or at least strong enough to not surrender any substantial advantage to Miami. Boston withstood a hell of a first quarter from Miami and still came back to make the game competitive, and that should make an already confident Boston team even more so.

After all, Rajon Rondo (23 points, nine assists, three turnovers) was able to deep into the paint with ease, even against Miami’s pressure defense. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett combined for 49 points on 54% shooting, but they just didn’t have the scoring volume to keep up with Wade’s fourth quarter surge. If not for that explosion, this game easily goes to Boston, and that’s worth remembering. Wade had a 20-point night from a streaky teammate, 15 points from the inconsistent Beasley, a solid team defensive effort, and a decent night from Mario Chalmers, and he still needed to put up one of the finest performances of the season to pull out a victory much closer than the nine-point final margin indicates.

A win is a win, and the Heat have certainly saved some face in avoiding a sweep. That doesn’t change the fact that Boston is the superior team, and while watching Wade completely dominate the final quarter is a joy in itself, it’s not indicative of some series-changing swing. 

Markieff Morris calls Paul Millsap a “crybaby,” Millsap responds “It definitely got personal now”

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The Atlanta Hawks owned the Washington Wizards from the opening tip Saturday, making it a 2-1 series with an easy win.

It’s a series now — and that includes trash talk.

Paul Millsap had 29 points, pulled down 14 boards, got to the line 11 times, and led the Hawks to the win. He got the calls he wanted this game, but Washington’s Markieff Morris was not exactly down with high praise for Millsap.

The key line here: “”He just did more for his team. He’s a crybaby. Get all the calls and you a crybaby.”

Millsap was asked about that comment in his postgame presser — and the best part may be Dennis Schroeder’s reaction.

“It definitely got personal now, yes. I mean, I don’t care. So what? He can take his loss and go back to the hotel and be ready for the next game.”

These two have already had a beef this series.

Game 4 in this series just got a lot more interesting.

Marc Gasol game-winner tops Kawhi Leonard’s brilliance, evens Spurs/Grizzlies series 2-2

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Best. Game. Of. The. Playoffs.

So far at least.

Kawhi Leonard scored 16 consecutive points for the Spurs down the stretch of regulation to force overtime, then in OT hit a corner three with 7.2 seconds left to tie the game at 108-108. Leonard finished the game with a career playoff high of 43 points.

It wasn’t enough. Because in those final seconds Marc Gasol did this.

The 110-108 Memphis win ties the series at 2-2 as it heads back to San Antonio for Game 5. I might not want to sit next to Gregg Popovich on the flight home.

While Gasol hit the big shot, he never gets the chance if Mike Conley isn’t every kind of amazing through the clutch parts of this game. Conley finished with 35 points, and that includes a floater in the lane that forced OT (although Leonard got a pretty good look to end it in regulation and just missed). I’m surprised the Spurs switched on the pseudo pick on this play.

The Spurs struggled to get stops down the stretch, mostly because they had David Lee and Tony Parker both on the floor and Memphis did a good job getting switches onto those defenders. Spurs starting center and best defensive big Dewayne Dedmon missed the game due to an illness, and that ended up mattering.

Hawks take control early, romp past Wizards 116-98

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ATLANTA (AP) — Paul Millsap scored 29 points, Dennis Schroder had 27 and the Atlanta Hawks delivered an early knockout blow against Washington, cruising to a 116-98 victory Saturday that sliced the Wizards’ lead to 2-1 in the opening-round playoff series.

After two tight losses in Washington exposed some bad blood between the teams, Atlanta returned home and built a 25-point lead by late in the first quarter.

The Hawks were never seriously challenged by the Wizards, who were essentially a one-man team. John Wall kept up his dazzling play in the series, scoring 29 points, but the point guard got no help from his teammates.

The other Washington starters combined to score 30 points on 14-of-45 shooting.

Millsap also had 14 rebounds, while rookie Taurean Prince chipped in with 16 points.

Game 4 is Monday night in Atlanta.

The Hawks came out intent on moving the ball, getting open looks and cutting down on the turnovers that plagued them in the first two contests.

Talk about following the game plan.

Atlanta pushed out to a double-digit lead before the game was 3 minutes old and stretched the margin to 38-13 with just under a minute to go in the opening quarter on Schroder’s 3-pointer.

Wall did everything he could to spark the Wizards. He posed along the baseline after a thunderous dunk, which might have had more effect if the Wizards weren’t losing by 23 at the time. He also darted through the lane against a collapsing defense to bank in an improbable shot, drawing gasps from the Atlanta crowd.

Wall made all but one shot and scored 21 points in the first half, but the Wizards trailed 64-46 heading to the locker room. The other four Washington starters had just 18 points.

Beal, in particular, had a miserable night after averaging 26.5 points in the first two games. He was held to 12 points on 6-of-20 shooting, missing all six of his attempts beyond the arc.

TIP INS

Wizards: Wall is averaging 31 points per game in the series. … F Otto Porter Jr. left in the third quarter with a strained neck and didn’t return. … After a video review, Jason Smith was called for a flagrant foul against Millsap late in the third quarter.

Hawks: C Dwight Howard remains a non-factor in Atlanta’s offense. He scored five points and took just four shots, giving him a mere 15 attempts over the first three games. He did have 11 rebounds. … Schroder had some issues at the free-throw line, making only half of his eight attempts. Millsap did, too, going 5 of 9. … Atlanta had a double-digit lead for the final 44:24 of the game. … Prince picked up a technical foul for taunting the Wizards after an alley-oop dunk in the closing minutes. … The Hawks had just 11 turnovers.

 

Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic to play, start vs. Golden State in Game 3

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In 20 games after the Trail Blazers traded for him, Jusuf Nurkic averaged 15.2 points 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2 blocks per game. Portland was 9.7 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court and went 14-6, a surge that helped get them into the playoffs. Then a leg fracture had him sidelined for the end of the season and the start of the playoffs.

Until Saturday.

He will play limited minutes, but the Blazers will take it.

Portland is down 0-2 to the Warriors but are coming home to take on a Golden State team that will be without Kevin Durant again (strained calf) and coach Steve Kerr (illness).

Nurkic gives Portland some hope, he certainly helps their defense. We’ll see if that’s enough.