Heat come from seven down in final two minutes to beat the Cavs

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The Cavaliers had no business being in this game with the Heat, in Miami, without the injured Kyrie Irving. But they weren’t only in it, they were on track to win it — until the final two minutes, when it all fell apart.

The Heat beat Cleveland 110-108 on Saturday, but they waited until almost the last possible moment to do so.

Cleveland led this one by 11 at the half, and kept Miami at bay for 46 minutes. Every time the Heat made a run, the Cavs seemed to respond. The games are played for 48 minutes, however, and those last two were where Miami turned it on and made sure they’d leave with the victory.

How did the Cavaliers manage to control the game against the defending world champions, despite the disparity in talent? By getting everyone involved to where they had eight players score in double figures, hitting 14-of-31 three-pointers as a team which was good for over 45 percent, and turning the ball over just 11 times.

Still, it wasn’t enough. Because when the game got tight and the Heat had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Ray Allen all making plays down the stretch, the lack of star power on the Cavaliers finally was exposed.

Cleveland led 108-101 with under two minutes to play, after a three-pointer from LeBron’s former teammate, Daniel Gibson. Those would be the last points the Cavaliers scored all night.

On the next possession, James took the ball at the top of the arc and drove to the basket for a layup as if the defense wasn’t even there. After Chris Bosh stopped an attempt in the lane from Jeremy Pargo, Allen scored on a driving layup and was fouled, giving him the and-1 opportunity to cut the lead to just two, which he did after sinking the obligatory free throw.

With the walls beginning to close in on the Cavs, Gibson airballed a three-pointer from the left wing, and Anderson Varejao missed a 20-foot jumper after an offensive rebound from Alonzo Gee had given Cleveland another shot.

On the Heat’s next possession, Wade fed the ball to LeBron in the post, and when the help defenders came, he quickly tossed it out to an open Ray Allen, who calmly knocked down the three that would prove to be the game-winner. The Cavs had one more chance with possession and trailing by one, but Pargo dribbled into the teeth of the Heat defense, and had his shot blocked by Wade in the game’s final few seconds.

The Heat have talked about the fact that they’re experiencing what all champions experience, which is everyone bringing their A-game each and every night to try to take down the team that hoisted the trophy last June.

An undermanned Cavs team shouldn’t have been able to put up 108 points on the Heat’s home floor, no matter the ultimate result. But Miami turned it on when it mattered, and came away with the victory nonetheless.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.