NBA Playoffs: Heat win Game 1, but Bosh injured

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After the 1st half of Game 1 of the Pacers-Heat series, things did not look good for the defending conference champions. Miami couldn’t get anything going offensively, Roy Hibbert was beating them up inside, and Indiana was moving the ball crisply to get good looks. Miami was able to keep the game close thanks to Indiana’s foul problems, but the Heat were clearly getting outplayed.

To make matters even worse, Chris Bosh, who had the best 1st half of any of the big 3, was forced to leave the game after he strained his abdominal while dunking and getting fouled.

The only way for the Heat to turn things around in the second half was to have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Bosh’s replacements step up, and that’s exactly what happened. James remembered that he’s a 3-time MVP in the second quarter, and started absolutely destroying the Pacers with tough drives to the hoop, pinpoint passes, some midrange jumpers, absolutely great work on the glass, and flat-out suffocating defense on Danny Granger, who finished the game with 7 points on 1-10 shooting from the field.

Wade was relentless as well — his shot wasn’t really falling for him on Sunday, and he didn’t grab a single rebound, but he went to the line seven times and made 13 of his 14 free throws, which helped the Heat get in the bonus while keeping the Pacers in foul trouble for the vast majority of the game.

What may have been even more important for the Heat was the play of Joel Anthony and Ronny Turiaf, who have both spent considerable portions of this season out of the rotation entirely. With Bosh injured and Udonis Haslem completely ineffective, Miami’s high-energy bigs stepped up and saved the game for Miami. Even though Indiana came into the game with a significant size advantage, Miami outscored the Pacers 52-40 in the painted area on Sunday, and somehow grabbed 15 offensive rebounds while Indiana managed to grab only 30 defensive boards. On top of that, Turiaf and Anthony actually managed to make an impact offensively, finding seams in the basket and catching and dunking when the opportunities were there.

This is going to be a tough one for Indiana to take — they led for much of the way, and had a tie game coming into the fourth quarter, but missed a rare opportunity to steal a game on the road from a team as good as the Heat.

On Miami’s side of things, they have to be hoping that Chris Bosh can get back to 100% as soon as possible. LeBron and Wade going into overdrive in the 2nd half and Turiaf and Anthony having great games saved the Heat in Game 1, but the Heat will need Bosh going forward, especially if their secondary perimeter players continue to do as badly as they did on Sunday. The Heat should be happy with this win, but they should also be very nervous about the health of the 3rd member of their all-important “big three.”

Fast start, LeBron James enough for Cavaliers to hold on to win, even series

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For the first time in 11 days, we had an NBA playoff game that finished with a single-digit margin. Barely.

It didn’t look like it would be early — Boston missed lay-ups and dunks all through the first quarter, LeBron James was being LeBron James, and the Cavaliers had a 16 point first quarter lead. It was 15 at the half.

But these Celtics would not go quietly.

Boston started to find it’s offensive groove — hunting Kevin Love incessantly — but in the end couldn’t get enough stops because, well, LeBron James. He finished with 44 points on 17-of-28 shooting, his sixth 40-point game of these playoffs. No other Cavalier had more than 14 points (Kyle Korver), but they made enough defensive and hustle plays to hang on.

@realtristan13 with the swat and @kingjames with the finish!

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Cleveland got the win, 111-102, and evened the series at 2-2. Game 5 is Wednesday night back in Boston.

What Celtics fans can feel good about is their team’s resilience and grit. Down big for the second-straight game on the road in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics fought back from as much as 19 down earlier in the game to get it to single digits and make the fans in Quicken Loan Arena nervous in the fourth quarter. That is something the team can carry over to Game 5.

What should bother Celtics fans was another night where they struggled to generate offense in the face of more intense defensive pressure.

That came from the opening tip, with the Celtics missing a few layups and a couple of Jaylen Brown dunk attempts — all of which allowed the Cavs to get early offenses and mismatches going the other way. Those missed shots fueled a 10-0 Cavaliers run that had Cleveland up 19-10 early. The Celtics shot 3-of-10 at the rim in the first quarter, shot 26 percent overall, and trailed 34-18 after one.

The second quarter saw the Celtics start to find their offense — they scored 35 points on 50 percent shooting — but they only gained one point on the Cavaliers lead because Boston couldn’t get stops. LeBron had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting in the first half to pace a Cleveland team that shot 61.5 percent overall and hit 6-of-11 threes. That’s why the Cavs were up 68-53 at the half.

The Celtics energy was better than Game 2, but in the first half they looked like a young team, one that made a lot of mistakes.

In the second half, the Celtics started to figure things out — they started making the extra pass, they looked more like a young team figuring things out. They finished the night with 25 from Jaylen Brown, 17 from Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier had 16 points and 11 assists.

They just couldn’t completely close the gap because they couldn’t get stops — the Cavaliers shot 60 percent as a team for the game, and a ridiculous true shooting percentage of 59.6. Cleveland mercilessly hunted Rozier on switches — forcing him on to LeBron or Kevin Love then attacking — and the Cavs got enough from their role players. Tristan Thompson did what he needed to bringing energy in the paint and some defense, plus he had 13 points. Korver was diving on the floor for loose balls. Larry Nance Jr. had his second good game in a row. George Hill had 13 points.

And whenever the Cavaliers needed a play, they had LeBron to turn to. He set another NBA record on Monday night, most playoff field goals made for a career.

LeBron is what needs to worry Boston most of all. The Celtics will be better at home in Game 5 — they have not lost in TD Garden all postseason — but if this thing goes seven, it’s a dangerous thing when the other team has the best player on the planet.

LeBron James passes Kareem to become all-time leader in playoff made field goals

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LeBron James is already the NBA’s all-time leading playoff scorer, having passed Michael Jordan last postseason.

However, LeBron racked up his buckets in the era of the three-point shot (as did Jordan, to a lesser extent), so Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the all-time leader in field goals made in the postseason. A lot of them beautiful skyhooks that still give Celtics fans nightmares.

Monday night, LeBron made history passing Abdul-Jabar for the top spot in NBA playoff made field goals.

Just add that to the already insane resume.

Kevin Love with insane touchdown outlet to LeBron James for bucket

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Not sure what part of this was better.

Was it Kevin Love‘s length-of-the-court outlet touchdown pass that was right on the money, where only the receiver could get it?

Or was it LeBron James, with a catch in a crowd that would make Julio Jones’ draw drop?

Either way, this first quarter bucket from the Cavaliers may well be the play of the game.

Spurs disbanding all-female dance team in favor of co-ed hype team

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Is this the wave of the future?

Since then newly-minted owner Jerry Buss started the Laker Girls’ in 1979, all-female dance teams have become standard around the NBA. However, with how things are now viewed through the prism of the #metoo movement, and reports on how NFL cheerleaders were treated in places such as Washington and Miami, a lot of professional sports teams are re-thinking the concept of female dance teams.

The Spurs are apparently doing away with theirs, to be replaced by a 35-person co-ed “hype team.”

The Spurs have not said officially that this is the end of the Silver Dancers. “Lack of interest” is an odd reason to give — is there suddenly less interest now than there was five years ago? A number of teams have both female dance teams and co-ed “spirit” or “hype” teams.

Far more likely, this is about perception in what is a conservative state and marketplace.

The question is will this become a trend, both around the NBA and professional sports. As the teams try to evolve and make more dynamic their in-arena experiences, are the dance teams going to fade from view?

Just something to keep and eye on going forward.