Two games on Monday night in the NBA — and we have our first closeout game.
Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets (Heat lead series 2-1). Can the Brooklyn Nets replicate what they did to beat Miami in Game 3? The Nets hit 15-of-25 from three and hit 11-of-18 on threes above the break — that will be tough to do again. What the Nets can do again is get great play off its bench and count on Joe Johnson and Paul Pierce to make plays. The Nets can be aggressive in transition again. For Miami, someone other than LeBron James needs to show up and play like the game matters, that was not the case on Saturday night.
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail Blazers
(Spurs lead series 3-0). The Trail Blazers look done. NBA teams have won all 108 best-of-seven series when leading 3-0, according to WhoWins. In fact, most of those series ended in sweeps. If Portland wins Game 4 at home to extend the series, that would be a nice accomplishment — one more win in front of a loyal home crowd — before bowing out in Game 5 in San Antonio. To get that bonus victory, the Trail Blazers must better defend Tony Parker, who’s averaging 26.0 points and 8.3 assists per game in the series.
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.
The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.
It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.
Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.
Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.
Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.
Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.
Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?