What part of Game 4 will we see repeated in Game 5?
The start where the Celtics looked poised and crisp and raced out to a 14 point lead? Or the second half where the Sixers dominated the offensive glass, got fantastic bench play from Lavoy Allen (guarding Kevin Garnett) and Thaddeus Young, they had Andre Iguodala knocking down big shots.
Game 5 is back in Boston Monday night and the pendulum of momentum has swung pretty quickly from side to side in this series. From game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter.
The Sixers had it last in a Game 4 where they forced 17 turnovers, grabbed 17 offensive rebounds allowed and raced out to 27 fast break points. That is exactly what Philadelphia needs in Game 5 — those are hustle points where they outworked and used their youthful athleticism to get the shots that worked for them.
But Boston is back home and they will be trying to get Paul Pierce — who has woken up and had 24 points in Game 4 — hot at the same time as Kevin Garnett. With the defense form Allen as the key, KG was held to 9 points on 25 percent shooting in Game 4 and Boston needs his points against a stingy Sixers defense.
After how it went late last game, don’t expect Doc Rivers to go with his small lineup for very long, we may see more Brandon Bass. And Boston needs him to contribute.
That ties into the real key in this game — and with it maybe the series —which team will get an unexpected pickup from a guy who is struggling? Will Ray Allen start knocking down shots? Can Philly get production out of Evan Turner or Jrue Holiday? (I’m not holding out much hope for Elton Brand there.)
This has been a back-and-forth series and predicting which bench fickle lady momentum will start or finish this game on is impossible. This is the kind of game we have grown to expect Boston to step up in, but Philly has answered every call.
Steve Kerr needs a lot of things to go differently Thursday night if his defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors want to avoid elimination. That starts with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green needing to play much, much better.
But another is for Andrew Bogut to stay on the court — the Warriors defense is 15.9 points per 100 possessions better this series when he is on the court compared to off it. The Warriors are outscoring the Thunder when he plays.
So why not more minutes? Foul trouble, and Kerr wants that to change, as Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News reports.
“He’s fouling,” Kerr said. “He’s got 13 fouls in 56 minutes. He’s almost fouling out of every game in 10-15 minutes. He’s got to be smarter with his fouls. We need him out there — he was plus-7 (Tuesday) night in 11 minutes…
“When he’s out there, we rebound better,” he said. “We’ve got a good passer out of the post. We want to play Bogut more, but he’s got to stay on the floor.”
It’s not that simple for Bogut — the Thunder are aggressively attacking the rim and in the NBA the aggressors usually get the calls. Certainly Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and the rest of the Thunder front line is more athletic than Bogut.
Doesn’t matter, Bogut must figure out a way to impact shots in the paint, grab boards, and not foul. The Warriors are not winning this series going small, and if they are going to mount any comeback with a big on the court, it’s going to have to start with Bogut.
Everyone else thinks Dwight Howard is getting out of Houston this summer.
Jason Terry isn’t convinced.
Dwight Howard has a player option this summer, which he is expected to exercise and become a free agent. For one thing, he’d do it for the pay raise — he wants a max contract, starting at about $30 million. The other reason is he and James Harden have not blended in Houston, and Howard wants a fresh start.
But Jason Terry isn’t convinced yet. Terry was on SiriusXM NBA Radio and told Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson Howard may stay put. Here is the quote, via Hoopshype.
“I wouldn’t rule (a return) out. He has yet to opt out. Again, it’s just going to depend on if you get the right coach in there. At this point in his career, he’s not going to be the focal point offensively. They’ve made that clear. He’s gonna have to, if he remains in Houston, buy into the role fully, commit himself to setting screens, rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots and working on his free throws, obviously.”
In theory, a coach could come in and convince Howard to stay. In theory, I could capture Bigfoot and prove his existence to the world. Those have about the same odds of happening.
Forgetting the whole “Howard wants another max contract” thing, what Terry said about Howard accepting a role is the issue. Howard said he went directly to Rockets GM Daryl Morey and asked for a bigger role — and he was shot down. Howard does not want to accept a lesser role where his primary job is rebounding and defense, just like he never wanted to accept running more pick-and-roll and working less from the post even though he was much better at the former than the latter. Howard wants what Howard wants.
And I’d be shocked if he doesn’t want out of Houston.
A good rule of thumb: If LeBron James is getting few breakaway dunks, the other team is in trouble.
Enter the Toronto Raptors, who got to watch a dunking clinic by LeBron as he had multiple breakaways during the Cavaliers’ 38-point win on Wednesday night. LeBron played well, and the Cavaliers got a balanced attack from their stars — 25 points from Kevin Love, 23 each from LeBron and Kyrie Irving.
Watch LeBron’s night above. Toronto needs to find a way to keep him from having another game like this Friday.
After a beatdown at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 — a loss where he was just 5-of-12 shooting, a loss that has the Raptors on the brink of playoff elimination — Kyle Lowry did what he had to do and went in front of the media to answer questions and try to explain that loss.
But really, his face when he walked into the interview room and saw the box score summed up the Raptors night perfectly.
Lowry and the Raptors need to turn it around and win at home Friday night to keep their playoff dream alive another day.