There comes a point in a seven-game series when the games get ugly. Teams have watched the film, lived the other team for a few games and they now anticipate everything. They know where the next pass is headed, the next cut is going. They can stop things before they happen.
We are there in the NBA finals. The first half of Game 4 was not pretty basketball.
The Lakers lead 45-42 at the half.
At this point it’s about which team can hit the contested shots, which team can win the scrambles. So far the Lakers have gotten good games from who you expect: Kobe Bryant has 12 points (on 5 of 8) and Pau Gasol with 12 (3 of 6).
The Celtics have had Paul Pierce, who has had his best game of the finals, with 12 points on 5 on 9 shooting.
The team that does the little things — wins on the boards, gets the loose balls, hits the tough shots. The Celtics need to play with some desperation and do that; they cannot afford to go down 3-1.
This sure didn’t look like just another game for Kevin Durant – and not only because the Thunder beat the Warriors for the first time since he left.
The 108-91 Oklahoma City victory didn’t look like just another game for Russell Westbrook (34 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals), either.
With the shot clock off in the fourth quarter and the game tied, Grizzlies big JaMychal Green put back Tyreke Evans‘ miss with a clutch flush. There’s a very fine line between ensuring the last shot and leaving time for an offensive rebound, and Memphis threated it almost perfectly.
Emphasis on “almost.”
The Grizzlies left the Mavericks 0.5 seconds, which Harrison Barnes used to bank in a 3-pointer – off a pinpoint bounce pass by Dennis Smith Jr. – to give Dallas a 95-94 win.
The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.
After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.
The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.
Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.
The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.