NBA Playoffs Heat Celtics Game 5: Celtics move on, Heat move to summer of mystery

Leave a comment

The rumors of the demise of the Boston Celtics have been greatly exaggerated.

The Celtics didn’t dominate the Heat in Game 5 of their first round series in Boston, but they left no doubt. They are still a contender, and Miami is not. Boston, looked at by many, including your devoted author here, as a team primed for an upset, won the series comfortably, easily, efficiently, keeping the Heat at arm’s length for all but one Wade-Nova game.

Paul Pierce was the hero, clocking in 21 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, including a variety of up and under moves that left the Heat defenders looking downright silly. On top of that, Ray Allen had the stroke tonight, scoring 24 points including 5 of 6 from the arc. When those things happen, and the Celtics play defense at the absolute apex of their potential, they’re pretty tough to beat, for any team.

But let us not go forward without taking a moment to celebrate the spectacular fail of the Miami Heat in this series. Tonight the Heat outside of Dwyane Wade shot 38% from the field. Take Mario Chalmers one, useless good night (6-13, 20 points, 2 unimaginably stupid fouls), and you’re looking at 35%. The Heat weren’t just off. No one wanted to shoot. It was an epic fail.

So now Boston advances to face Cleveland, with LeBron James dealing with an elbow injury. A chance for redemption and to advance to the Finals is before them, and they now firmly believe that they can accomplish whatever they need if they focus and execute.

The Heat? They turn to free agency, hoping to pull in enough talent to wash away the horrifically bad taste of this playoff run and re-sign the franchise, Dwyane Wade.

One team has young talent and one of the top five players in the league. The other is an aging squad trying to hold on to relevance. And yet that’s the team that looks like it’s ready to compete for a championship, while the other looks like a lottery team that snuck in the back door.

Get ready for the bloodbath, Celtics-Cavs starts Saturday.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

Leave a comment

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

Leave a comment

Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.

How to start your Saturday night: Watching 15 minutes of best plays from NBA season

Leave a comment

There are no NBA playoff games Saturday night, the first night since the start of the postseason there hasn’t been one game. Don’t worry, there are two games on Sunday, including Game 7 between the Jazz and Clippers.

But if you need a Saturday night fix, this will have to do: 15 minutes of the best plays from last season, as compiled by NBA.com.

Go ahead, watch it. You’ve got nothing better to do.

 

Paul Millsap says the expected, he will “most likely” opt out of contract

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This is ranked right next to “overeating can lead to weight gain” on the list of surprising things, but we will dutifully report it anyway:

Paul Millsap is going to opt out and officially become a free agent this summer.

Atlanta’s owner as well as Mike Budenholzer, the coach and head of basketball operations, have both said they plan to do whatever it takes to re-sign Millsap with the Hawks. Millsap didn’t sound like someone eager to leave after the Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs Friday.

“It’s been great. I’m looking to expand this and see where the franchise can go. These last four years has been great. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Even with both sides singing Kumbaya, keeping Millsap in Atlanta likely means a five-year contract at or near the max, which for a 32-year-old player means the Hawks would regret the last year or two of that deal.

Not that the Hawks have much of a choice here, they have to come in big and keep him. For one, they can’t afford to lose Al Horford and then Millsap for nothing in back-to-back years. If they were going down the rebuilding road, they needed to trade Millsap at the deadline (or last summer) to make sure they got something in return. Atlanta explored trade options at the deadline, but then pulled back (rumored to be because of an edict from ownership, which didn’t want to see the team blown up after the Kyle Korver trade).

By not making that trade the Hawks signaled their intention to remain a good team — a 43-win team this season that got them the five seed — with Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard, one that draws well at an arena that historically has not been that full, and see if they can add on. They strike me as a team that will win between 42-50 games a year and be middle of the pack in the East for the next few years, unless they can find a way to add an elite player (which is incredibly difficult).

But if the Hawks can’t re-sign Millsap, then the plan gets blown up. So expect them to come in with a big offer come July 1.