NBA Playoffs: Zach Randolph and the most unlikely Spurs possession ever

5 Comments

With the home team who has never won a playoff game in Memphis up two in a pivotal Game 3 between the 4-time-in-the-last-12-years-champion San Antonio Spurs and the Memphis Grizzlies, where would this sequence rank in terms of likelihood ?

1. Zach Randolph hits a pull-up, contested 3-pointer.

2. Manu Ginobili answers with clutch free throws.

3. Randolph misses another pull-up jumper with time remaining.

4. George Hill grabs the rebound, and instead of calling timeout, which the Spurs had one, Hill instead takes off for half-court.

5. Hill throws it to Ginobili, who is trapped in the corner as Matt Bonner frantically calls for the ball instead of for timeout.

6. Tim Duncan comes roaring up the floor screaming for the timeout, which isn’t awarded because of the official not seeing it and coach Gregg Popovich not having called it.

7. Time expires, Grizzlies win, Memphis leads 2-1.

I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 1800-1 odds. Maybe. If we’re being generous.

Check it out.

Here’s the 3-pointer from Randolph, a career 28 percent shooter.

And here’s the final possession, which is just downright bizarre.

So that happened.

Memphis wins its first home playoff game in franchise history while the Spurs face a 2-1 deficit, which they’ve rallied back from once, and that wasn’t in a series where they blew home-court advantage. The Grizzlies are clutch, the Spurs are bumbling. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria!

How did it get to that point?

The Grizzlies got back to what worked in Game 1. They pounded it inside. Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 42 point and 14 rebounds, while Darrel Arthur added nine points and six boards. The difference in Games 2 and 3? The Grizzlies did a much better job with interior spacing, creating more room for passes and not getting bogged down. Throw in some effective cuts by guards and wings and you had an offense the Spurs couldn’t just bum rush with traps down low.

Ginobili was the would-be savior for the Spurs, causing havoc, and picking up six fouls on Tony Allen nearly all by himself. Ginobili finished with 23 points, five assists, and three turnovers, not counting the final possession. But the Grizzlies answered with … Shane Battier? (I told you it was a weird game.) Battier had nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, with most of them coming on post-ups of Ginobili. While Ginobili was able to get past Battier because of his speed, Battier used his size to overwhelm Ginobili. The Spurs most definitely did not see that one coming.

The Spurs had a stellar third-quarter performance to get back in the game after being down 10 at halftime. They outrebounded the Grizzlies 15-5. But down the stretch, the Grizzlies kept making plays by turning over the inexperienced point guard for the Spurs … Tony Parker? (Again, have I mentioned this game was weird?) Parker was stripped on several possessions and when that wasn’t happening, he was throwing it out of bounds.

So, just to recap. We live in a world where the Grizzlies have the advantage in a playoff series, where the Spurs don’t execute down the stretch, where Shane Battier is a beast in the post, and where Tony Parker has trouble in the clutch.

If you guys need me, I’ll be in the basement with bottled water and Spam.

No motivational material: LeBron James, Cavaliers respectful when asked about Warriors

Getty Images
4 Comments

The rubber match. The trilogy. Whatever you want to call the historic third meeting between the Cavaliers and Warriors in the Finals — never in NBA history have two teams met three years in a row in the Finals — it’s what fans have been waiting for. The inevitability of this Finals matchup sucked some of the drama and fun out of the postseason so far, but now these two teams are ready to go.

It’s the best rivalry in the NBA, two teams not afraid to mix it up with each other, but when Cavaliers players were asked about the Warriors after eliminating the Celtics Thursday night, there was nothing but respect.

“We just got to play defense,” LeBron James said in a televised postgame interview. “We’re going to face adversity. That’s been the best team in our league the last three years, and they added an unbelievable player in Kevin Durant this year, so that makes it even more difficult. So they’re gonna challenge us a lot: offensively, defensively, mentally, physically, but we’re going to have to be ready for that challenge.”

LeBron stuck to that theme in his postgame press conference.

“I’ll be honest, I’m not really in the right mind to even talk about Golden State right now. It’s too stressful, and I’m not stressed right now,” LeBron said cracking a smile. “Golden State, they’ve been the best team in our league the last three years, then they added an MVP. That’s all I can give you right now, because I’m happy and I don’t want a lot of stress, and they cause a lot of stress.”

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said he had yet to start any prep for the Warriors.

“Of course I watch every game, because I’m a basketball junkie, and they’ve been playing great,” Lue siad. “But you can’t get too far ahead of yourself.”

“The Celtics and Brad Stevens, the team they have, they throw a lot of different lineups at you and a lot of different stuff on the offensive end, so as far as how they play I think it definitely prepared us for what’s ahead,” Kevin Love said, discussing how the Celtics prepped the Cavaliers for the next round.

The Cavaliers are veterans on this stage, and they both respect the Warriors and don’t need the distraction of a war of words, so they stayed on message all night.

But with a week to go before Game 1, you can bet someone will say something inflammatory. We’re looking at you, Draymond Green.

Watch 36-year-old James Jones throw down a putback dunk vs. the Celtics (VIDEO)

AP
1 Comment

LeBron James is on his way to his 7th-straight Finals after the Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics, 135-102, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night.

The game was out of hand from the beginning, with the Cavaliers scoring a franchise playoff high 75 points in the first half.

At one point in the fourth quarter, Tyronn Lue emptied out his bench and we got to see some of the Cavaliers garbage time guys get run. One of those guys was James Jones, 36, who has been around so long he was a rookie with Reggie Miller in Indiana.

He also dunked!

Via Twitter:

Let’s all just bask in the glory that is that putback dunk and in our little vacation until the Finals start on June 1.

LeBron James, Cavaliers advance past Celtics to meet Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals

AP
5 Comments

Let’s line it up and run it again. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are going to meet in the 2017 NBA Finals after LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 5 on Thursday, 135-102.

It wasn’t much of a contest from the outset as Cleveland looked determined to put away their opponent. The Cavaliers played strong, shot well from 3-point range, and forced the Celtics into 18 turnovers over the course of the game.

The Cavaliers set a franchise playoff record in the first half, scoring 75 points in the first two periods. LeBron had 20 before the third quarter started, putting him just inches away from passing Michael Jordan to top the list for most points scored in NBA playoff history.

That moment came in the third quarter, with James dropping in a sweet 3-pointer from the left side of the arc to push him past Jordan. LeBron finished the game with 35 points, going 4-of-7 from 3-point range will adding eight assists, eight rebounds, and three steals.

Kyrie Irving was another bright spot for the Cavaliers, scoring 24 points to go along with seven assists. Kevin Love added 15 points, and Deron Williams had a rejuvenation off the bench with 14.

For Boston, yet another game without Isaiah Thomas forced their offense into stagnation. Avery Bradley — who had a considerable series in an effort that should not be overlooked — scored 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Gerald Green was Boston’s second-leading scorer in a bench role, adding 14 points.

Now we get to wait until June 1, when what seemed an inevitability way back in training camp has indeed come to pass. The Warriors get their shot at redemption after the worst breakdown in NBA playoff history, and the Cavaliers get a chance to solidify themselves over their peers and galvanize LeBron’s position as the best player of a generation.

The Finals don’t start for anther week. We’ll all be champing at the bit to see if Cleveland really does have what it takes to guard the Warriors offense. Likewise, a top defensive team in Golden State will need to prepare themselves for the LeBron that showed up against the Celtics in Game 1 and 2.

LeBron James on passing Michael Jordan: “I fell in love with the game because of Mike” (VIDEO)

Twitter
Leave a comment

LeBron James passed Michael Jordan for most points scored in NBA playoff history on Thursday night during the Cleveland Cavaliers’ win over the Boston Celtics, 135-102.

After the game, LeBron and his teammates took to the podium to speak on their accomplishment of making it to yet another Finals as they settle in for a rematch with the Golden State Warriors.

LeBron was humble about his accomplishment, crediting Jordan for driving him to play the game of basketball as well as shaping his own game.

“I wear the number [23] because of Mike. I think I fell in love with the game because of Mike,” said James. “When you’re growing up and you’re seeing Michael Jordan, it’s almost like a god.”

James and the Cavaliers will take on the Warriors in Game 1 of the 2017 NBA Finals on June 1.