63-point swing between games largest in NBA Finals history

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  • Game 2: Warriors 110, Cavaliers 77
  • Game 3: Cavaliers 120, Warriors 90
  • What the heck?

    “It’s the NBA,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s just how it is.”

    Not at this level, it’s not.

    The 63-point swing – from the Warriors’ 33-point win to the Cavs’ 30-point win – is the largest in NBA Finals history. The previous record was Game 2 to Game 3 of the 2013 Finals, when a 113-77 Spurs win followed a 103-84 Heat win.

    These last two games had the fourth-largest swing in any playoff series. In the 2008 first round, the Cleveland beat the Wizards 116-86 then Washington won 108-72.

    Here’s every set of playoff games in NBA history that featured a swing of at least 50 – first-game score on the left, second-game score on the right and the swing in the middle:

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    Games Scores Swing
    2008 first round Game 2 to 3 CLE 116, WAS 86; WAS 108, CLE 72 66
    1958 div. finals Game 3 to 4 DET 109, STL 89; STL 145, DET 101 64
    1973 conf. finals Game 3 to 4 LAL 126, GSW 70; GSW 117, LAL 109 64
    2016 Finals Game 2 to 3 GSW 110, CLE 77; CLE 120, GSW 90 63
    2009 first round Game 3 to 4 NOH 95, DEN 93; DEN 121, NOH 63 60
    2015 first round Game 5 to 6 MIL 94, CHI 88; CHI 120, MIL 66 60
    1956 div. semis Game 1 to 2 STL 116, MNL 115; MNL 133, STL 75 59
    1956 div. semis Game 2 to 3 MNL 133, STL 75; STL 116, MNL 115 59
    1973 conf. finals Game 1 to 2 BOS 134, NYK 108; NYK 129, BOS 96 59
    2005 first round Game 6 to 7 HOU 101, DAL 83; DAL 116, HOU 76 58
    1995 conf. semis Game 2 to 3 PHO 118, HOU 94; HOU 118, PHO 85 57
    1965 div. semis Game 2 to 3 STL 129, BAL 105; BAL 131, STL 99 56
    2009 conf. semis Game 5 to 6 LAL 118, HOU 78; HOU 95, LAL 80 55
    2013 Finals Game 2 to 3 MIA 103, SAS 84; SAS 113, MIA 77 55
    2016 conf. finals Game 2 to 3 GSW 118, OKC 91; OKC 133, GSW 105 55
    1982 conf. finals Game 4 to 5 PHI 119, BOS 94; BOS 114, PHI 85 54
    1995 first round Game 1 to 2 ORL 124, BOS 77; BOS 99, ORL 92 54
    2005 first round Game 3 to 4 IND 99, BOS 76; BOS 110, IND 79 54
    2015 conf. semis Game 4 to 5 LAC 128, HOU 95; HOU 124, LAC 103 54
    1964 div. finals Game 5 to 6 SFW 121, STL 97; STL 123, SFW 95 52
    1971 conf. semis Game 4 to 5 SFW 106, MIL 104; MIL 136, SFW 86 52
    2009 conf. semis Game 4 to 5 HOU 99, LAL 87; LAL 118, HOU 78 52
    2013 Finals Game 3 to 4 SAS 113, MIA 77; MIA 109, SAS 93 52
    1972 conf. finals Game 4 to 5 MIL 114, LAL 88; LAL 115, MIL 90 51
    1980 conf. semis Game 4 to 5 PHO 127, LAL 101; LAL 126, PHO 101 51
    1995 conf. finals Game 6 to 7 IND 123, ORL 96; ORL 105, IND 81 51
    1997 first round Game 2 to 3 SEA 122, PHO 78; PHO 110, SEA 103 51
    1983 conf. semis Game 4 to 5 DEN 124, SAS 114; SAS 145, DEN 105 50

Jimmy Butler returns, hits clutch shots to lift Heat past Celtics

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Nick Grace/Getty Images
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BOSTON (AP) — Bam Adebayo scored 28 points, Tyler Herro had 26 and the Miami Heat completed a split of two games in Boston, beating the Celtics 120-116 on Friday night after Jaylen Brown banked in a long 3-pointer to force overtime.

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler returned to the lineup and had 25 points in 36 minutes after missing the previous seven games with a sore right knee. He added 15 rebounds.

“Obviously having JB back is big time for us,” Herro said. “He helps us in so many different ways.”

Kyle Lowry chipped in with 20 points before fouling out in OT for the Heat, who sent Boston to just its second loss in 16 games.

“My team welcomed me back and let me do what I do,” Butler said. “It was a big `W’ for the team.”

Brown sent the game to overtime by banking in his long 3 with 1.7 seconds to play in regulation. He finished with 37 points.

“It felt good coming off my hand,” Brown said. “I know we wanted to get a shot up off the rim as fast as possible, just in case we missed we could get a rebound, a tip out.”

The Celtics had won 10 straight at TD Garden.

Boston star Jayson Tatum scored just 14 points on a cold shooting night, going 5 of 18 from the floor, including 0 of 7 on 3-point attempts. He had 49 points in the Celtics’ 134-121 victory on Wednesday night.

“That’s the biggest thing about the league; you’re not going to stop anybody from just scoring,” Adebayo said. “I feel like (we’re) making him take tough shots every time we play him and living with the result.”

Butler hit a clutch jumper over Al Horford, making it 110-107 with 5.1 seconds left in regulation before Brown took a pass near midcourt, dribbled to his right and nailed his shot.

In OT, the teams were tied twice before Butler nailed a foul-line jumper over Horford with 1:45 left, but Brown hit two free throws to tie it.

Adebayo nailed two free throws and, after Tatum misfired on a 3, Butler hit a jumper to seal it.

“Jimmy made two tough, tough baskets,” Brown said. “That’s just a credit to his work and his skill and his development. He gets going in games like this; on the road in a hostile environment. … Tonight, two shots that in our defensive scheme we could live with, but Jimmy a big-time player made both of them.”

Unlike Wednesday, when shots were open more and both teams were making them effectively (each shot over 50%), defense was tighter and it resembled more of the postseason matchup last season between the pair that went seven games before Boston captured the Eastern Conference title.

Anthony Davis scores 44, outduels Antetokounmpo (40) leading Lakers past Bucks

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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Anthony Davis and LeBron James tore apart the NBA’s top-rated defense and gave Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham a triumphant return to Milwaukee.

Davis scored a season-high 44 points and James passed Magic Johnson on the NBA’s career assists list Friday night in the Lakers’ thrilling 133-129 victory over the Bucks.

It marked Ham’s first game in Milwaukee since taking over as Lakers coach after working as an assistant on Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer’s staff from 2018-22.

Ham and Budenholzer shared a big hug before the game.

“It was a beautiful night,” said Ham, who also played for the Bucks from 1999-2002.

It also was quite a night for Davis, a Green Bay Packers fan who delivered his big performance with Aaron Rodgers in the stands. Davis spoke with the Packers’ four-time MVP quarterback before and after the game.

“I saw him before the game and he said, `I need 30 tonight,”‘ Davis said. “I just saw him and he said, `I only said 30, not 40.’ It’s always good for him to come out and watch the Lakers play.”

James made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3:22 left and finished with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. He upped his career assist total to 10,144 and moved into sixth place, ahead of Johnson’s 10,133.

“It means a lot, obviously,” James said. “The way Magic approached the game, it was very infectious. His teammates loved playing with him because of the joy he played with and the ability to pass the ball and get other guys involved. He was always excited about seeing his teammates be great. I always admired that in him. What’s even more humbling and super duper cool is the fact that I’m doing it in a Laker uniform and knowing how much Magic means to the Laker franchise.”

The Lakers had the highest point total and field-goal percentage (.536) the Bucks had allowed all season. Milwaukee entered Friday with the NBA’s top defensive rating.

“It was too easy, too easy, too easy,” Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo said. “They were living in the paint. That’s not who we are.”

Los Angeles withstood a 40-point performance from Antetokounmpo, who also had seven rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers also spoiled the 2022-23 debut of Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton, who had 17 points and seven assists in his return from offseason wrist surgery.

Milwaukee missed two potential tying 3-pointers in the final 20 seconds.

After Davis missed a fadeaway jumper, the Bucks called a timeout with 21.4 seconds left and then found an open Grayson Allen, whose 3-point attempt went off the side of the rim.

The Lakers’ Russell Westbrook missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds remaining, but Jrue Holiday couldn’t connect on a 3-pointer with just over five seconds left. Davis made a clinching free throw with 4.5 seconds left.

“Grayson got a good look,” Budenholzer said. “Good execution. Good screening. We’ll live with that shot all the time. And Jrue, similar. We got the kick ahead, playing against a defense that’s not set. Jrue, kind of a good rhythm shot for him. It was contested, but Jrue was 6 of 12 tonight (from 3-point range). He was feeling it.”

Holiday had 28 points for the Bucks, and Bobby Portis added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Westbrook had 15 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds for the Lakers.

Hawks’ Collins out weeks with sprained ankle, Hunter also at least a week

Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks will be without both of their starting forwards for at least the next three games.

John Collins will miss at least the next two weeks with a sprained left ankle and De'Andre Hunter will be sidelined for at least one week with a right hip flexor strain, the Hawks said Thursday.

Both departed with injuries during Wednesday night’s win over Orlando. Hunter played only seven minutes and Collins was hurt after a dunk that didn’t count at the halftime buzzer.

Hunter is third on the Hawks in scoring at 14.9 points per game, and Collins is fourth at 12.3 points.

Hunter, a fourth-year player out of Virginia, has yet to play a full season because of various injuries.

Draymond Green wants to play 4-5 more years, ideally with Warriors, not stressed about contract

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Jordan Poole got a contract extension from the Warriors this summer. So did Andrew Wiggins.

Draymond Green did not — and he punched Poole and was away from the team for a time.

All this has led to speculation about the future of Green in Golden State. He has a $27.6 million player option for next season, but he could become a free agent this summer. With the Warriors’ payroll through the roof — Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are on max extensions, Poole and Wiggins just got paid, and contract extensions for Jonathan Kuminga and the rest of the young players are coming — there are questions about how long Green will be in the Bay Area.

In an open and honest interview with Marc Spears of ESPN’s Andscape, Green talked about everything from his relationship with Poole after the punch to his future. Here are a few highlights:

“I want to play another four or five more years. That would be enough for me.”

“You can look around the NBA right now. There are five guys that’s been on a team for 11 years-plus. We have three of them [along with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson]. It’s a very rare thing. There’s 470, 480 players in the NBA? There are five guys that’s been with his team for 11 years plus. That’s amazing. So, you don’t just give that away. So, absolutely I’d be interested in that.”

On rumors he wants to play with LeBron James and the Lakers: “I never said that. People can say what they want. I’m also not really one to react much to what one may say. I react to things when I want to react to it. I don’t react to things just because somebody said it.”

Is he worried about his next contract: “No, not at all. I have a great agent [Rich Paul]. The best agent in the business. That’s why you align yourself with an incredible agent, because they handle the business. I play basketball. That’s what I want.”

I don’t doubt there is mutual interest in Green staying with the Warriors, the question is at what price. It’s not a max. As for the threat of him bolting, Green is still an elite defender and secondary playmaker, but it’s fair to wonder what the free agent market would look like for him. Green is not the scoring threat he once was, and his unique skill set is not a plug-and-play fit with every roster and system (does he really fit on the Lakers, for example).

The conventional wisdom around the league right now is that Green will opt into the final year of his contract with the Warriors — especially if they make another deep playoff run — because that level of money is not out there for him. That said, it only takes one owner to fall in love with the idea and send his GM out to get the deal done. The market may be there for him after all, or he may be open to the security of three or four years with another team but at a lower per-year dollar amount.

Green also talks about his relationship with Poole in the Q&A and makes it sound professional and business-like. Which is all it has to be, but it’s not the “playing with joy” model the Warriors are built upon.