The Pacers can end the Wizards’ season Tuesday night, while we’re all hoping the Clippers/Thunder series goes seven because it’s by far the most entertaining series this round.
Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers (Pacers lead series 3-1). All season, the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat appeared on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, both teams are a win away, and the Pacers can get there tonight by beating the Washington Wizards. More importantly than beating Miami to the ECF, Indiana needs a win to maintain its rising confidence. Fall to the Wizards at home and go back to Washington, what does that do to Roy Hibbert, Paul George and crew? I don’t think that’s a bridge the Pacers want to cross.
Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder (series tied 2-2). In every series there comes a point when one coach knows he’s going to get beat going with what worked to get him this far, so he reaches for a desperation move. Doc Rivers did that in the fourth quarter of Game 4, down 16 with nine minutes to go he went to an ultra-small lineup — Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Danny Granger, and Blake Griffin — and put CP3 guarding Durant. It worked. The Thunder offense became obsessed with trying to exploit a couple mismatches to the point they stopped executing anything else and became easy to defend. On the other end the Clippers shot 12-of-15 and went on a 33-17 run that would win them the game. It was high drama.
But is that something that really can be repeated? Successfully? If the Clippers leave Paul on Durant for any stretch on Tuesday night I sense KD will find his MVP form and just shoot over the top of Paul all night long. Does Rivers have another rotation trick or motivational tool? Because what the Clippers did all season to get here was about to go down 3-1 to OKC and if the teams go back to form the Thunder will take the lead in this series. The pressure is still on the Clippers to find something that both works against the Thunder and is sustainable.
LOS ANGELES – LeBron James‘ team trailed by 13 midway through the fourth quarter of the All-Star game, but he led a competitive comeback.
This shot put his team up 146-145 over Stephen Curry‘s team, and Team LeBron held on for a 148-145 win:
Great penetration by Russell Westbrook, and he and Kyrie Irving moved the ball well. LeBron made it count.
LOS ANGELES — The new format for the NBA All-Star game brought a little more defense to the first half of the annual showcase, but it didn’t do much to enliven the game. That said, the game has been better than the pre-game “entertainment.”
Midway through the second quarter, his team down 15, LeBron James decided to make it a game again and played with some energy. That included a three, and a couple impressive alley-oop finishes. The best came via Russell Westbrook.
There also was this one courtesy Kemba Walker.
Those may be the two best dunks of the first half.
LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis often relies on his Pelicans teammates to set him up.
Tonight, he gave a nod to one of them.
Davis started the All-Star game wearing DeMarcus Cousins‘ No. 0 jersey. Cousins and Davis were both voted starters then drafted by LeBron James, but Cousins can’t play due to injury.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
Very cool gesture by Davis. He’s an excellent teammate.
The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.
Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.
During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.
We now know that’s not true.
According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.
Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.
Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.
Trust. The. Process.