If you’re going to win a championship in any sport, you’re going to have to grind out some ugly wins. Football teams are going to have to run the ball and eat some clock. Hockey playoffs are all grind.
And in the NBA, you are going to have to grind out a win with defense and grit.
Which is exactly what Miami did on Sunday night and is why they are up 2-1. Both teams were sloppy in the fourth — both teams have some long, athletic defenders who deserve some credit for this —but in an ugly game the Heat were more comfortable. They kept attacking and they made their free throws, the Thunder had ugly turnovers and missed shots from the charity stripe.
LeBron, he’s good with that. Here is what he told the press on Monday, with quotes via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.
“We can win 32-31, it doesn’t matter to me… Yeah, I don’t care how we get four [wins in this series]”
The folks at ABC probably don’t want 32-31. But as a playoff series moves on it tends to get uglier. Thunder coach Scott Brooks expects more of it (quote again via Winderman).
“Both teams don’t want to let their opponent get into their offense early, get to their spots.”
The challenge for the Thunder is this is not how they win games. They want to run, have Kevin Durant raining high-arc jumpers and Russell Westbrook carving up a defense with his speed. They are not grinders by nature.
But they are up against a team that can match their athleticism. This series is going to be tight and going to be a grind at points. They need to figure it out fast, because no team has ever come back from 3-1 down in the NBA finals.
Kawhi Leonard scored 16 straight points for the Spurs at the end of regulation to give San Antonio the lead and a chance. Then Mike Conley hit a floater in the lane forced overtime.
There Mike Conley hit a floating bank shot that had the Grizzlies up three with :47 seconds left, only to have Leonard answer with a three to tie the game. Marc Gasol would break that tie and get Memphis the series-evening win.
Conley and Leonard traded blows through the clutch parts of Saturday’s epic Game 4 between Memphis and San Antonio. It’s worth checking out the highlights again.
There’s not going to be many plays better than this in the entire playoffs.
There wasn’t a lot for Wizards’ fans to cheer in Game 3, the Hawks took control early and routed Washington, making it a 2-1 series. But there was this, John Wall going coast-to-coast with the ball, going around-the-back and throwing it down left handed.
Wall is just so fast end to end.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 34 points, Klay Thompson added 24 and the short-handed Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to take a 3-0 lead in their playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 119-113 victory on Saturday night.
The Blazers led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but couldn’t hold off the Warriors, who can clinch the series with a win Monday night in Game 4 at the Moda Center.
Golden State was without Kevin Durant, who was sitting for a second straight game cause of a left calf strain, and coach Steve Kerr stayed back at the team hotel because of illness.
The Warriors took a 108-100 lead after Andre Iguodala‘s dunk with 4:05 to go.
Noah Vonleh‘s dunk got Portland within four at 110-106 with 1:29 left, but Curry answered with a 3-pointer that all but sealed it, sending fans streaming for the exits.
CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 32 points, while Damian Lillard added 31.
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.