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Three Things to Know: Dwyane Wade turns back clock, but Durant leads Warriors to win

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Dwyane Wade jumped in the hot tub time machine for a night, but Kevin Durant is still clutch so Warriors win. When Dwyane Wade is inducted into the Hall of Fame, here is one thing that will not get enough discussion: He is the best shot blocking guard of all time.

Wade has 868 blocks in his NBA career, using a combination of athleticism and timing to rack up more blocks than former Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in his career. Those blocks are one of the reasons Wade is a three-time All-Defensive Team selection (he didn’t just do it on one end).

The 868th of those blocks he added on Sunday and it was a highlight play on a nearly highlight day for the Miami Heat — Wade helped from the baseline and blocked a Kevin Durant fadeaway ,then got out in transition and finished the play to give Miami the lead over Golden State with less than a minute left.

On the ensuing play, Josh Richardson — who had a career night with 37 points, including eight threes — got the steal and the breakaway dunk to put Miami up three with :51 seconds left in the game. The Heat were in position to steal their best road win of the season…

Then Kevin Durant did this.

This was followed by a Miami miss, and with 12 seconds left everyone in the building knew that Durant was going to take the final shot (he had 39 points on the night and the hot hand). The Warriors had DeMarcus Cousins come out and set the screen to force the switch, and Durant got a clean look but missed — however, Cousins had Justise Winslow switched onto him and just overpowered the wing to get the rebound, and Cousins was fouled on the putback attempt. Cousins sank the free throws and that was the game. (Miami had the last shot with 5.4 seconds left, but Richardson went to the ground in the corner trying to get open, that left it to Dion Waiters in isolation and he missed.)

Golden State escapes with the win at home, but Miami gave them a test and us one of the more entertaining games of the season.

2) The new Philadelphia starting five is impressive, the Sixers are playing with confidence. Just ask the Lakers. It’s only been two games, but damn the new-look Sixers are turning heads.

And they are fun to watch.

The addition of Tobias Harris to the starting lineup in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Jimmy Butler, and Joel Embiid has worked very well so far. Through two games, that fivesome is +17 in 30.3 minutes, and that includes a 14-7 run against Denver late in that game that helped Philadelphia seal a win.

What’s more, Brett Brown is staggering those stars with the bench and getting some punch — The Sixers are +13 in the minutes those five are not paired through two games.

The second of those was a win Sunday against LeBron James and the Lakers on national television, where it turned into the Joel Embiid show on his way to 37 points and 14 rebounds.

The Sixers are feeling so confident Ben Simmons pulled up for the first legitimate three-pointer of his career (as in non-desperation heave). It missed, but it stunned the Sixers — “I was like, ‘Oh, s—!’” Embiid said.

Maybe the biggest beneficiary of this new lineup is J.J. Redick. Defenses can’t focus on him the same way as he comes off screen after screen and he’s getting clean looks — Redick has 55 points over the past two games, and is 9-of-13 from three.

The rest of the East should be nervous, Philadelphia looks all kinds of dangerous.

3) Damian Lillard, Luka Doncic put on a show in Dallas Sunday. Portland went into Dallas needing a win. Sure, the Trail Blazers sit as the four seed in the West, but James Harden and his Rockets are right behind them, hard-charging Utah is closing fast, and in the big picture the Trail Blazers are still just 3.5 games from falling out of the playoffs all together in the wild West.

Lillard did his part to get the win Sunday — he had 16 consecutive points for Portland in the third quarter, and scored 21 of his 30 for the game in that frame.

Then Luka Doncic took over the fourth — he had 13 of his 28 in the final frame, the Blazers’ 15-point lead was gone, and in the clutch Doncic was hitting everything.

In the final three minutes of games within three points this season, Doncic 16-of-29 shooting (55.2 percent) including 5-of-11 (45.5 percent) from three. This rookie is already clutch.

Lillard was frustrated late in the game thinking he should have been sent to the line more, but Dallas hung on for the 102-101 win in another dramatic game.

Bam Adebayo: “I played like s***… I’ll put that game on me.”

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The Miami Heat were one half of basketball away from the NBA Finals when a desperate Boston team cranked up its defensive intensity, started attacking the rim, and started playing at a level Miami didn’t match. The Celtics dominated the final 24 minutes of Game 5, forcing a Game 6 and keeping the Heat out of the Finals for now.

Bam Adebayo took the blame for the Heat loss. Via Manny Navarro of The Athletic.

“I played like s***. Bottom line: I can’t. I’ll put that game on me. It’s not my teammates’ fault. It’s not my coaches’ fault. It’s me. I missed too many shots I should have made… I wasn’t being the defensive anchor I should’ve been. I don’t think I was communicating fast enough. I feel like I was a step behind today. I wasn’t a difference-maker today. I didn’t get us into fast enough triggers. That’s on me.”

Game 5 was not Adebayo’s best outing: 13 points, eight rebounds, and Boston did a better job with its scheme pulling him away from the basket to defend smaller players on the perimeter, opening up the paint. Adebayo and the Heat as a whole struggled to slow the Celtics’ pick-and-roll actions, and Boston has figured out how to play against Miami’s zone (so the Heat have gone away from it).

“It’s not (Adebayo’s fault). It’s on everybody,” Jimmy Butler said after the game. “He does so much for us that it can feel like that at times but it’s definitely not on him. It’s on us as a whole. We all understand that because nobody was playing the way that we are supposed to play; the way that we have to play in order for us to win, nobody. And for him to say that, I respect it. I love him for it. But he can’t do it by himself. We’ve got to be there with him.”

Bam Adebayo was wearing a sleeve over his left arm, where he aggravated a wrist injury at the end of Game 4. Both Adebayo and coach Erik Spoelstra said that was nothing and not what led to his off night.

Miami needs a lot of things to go differently in Game 6: It needs to start hitting its threes again (19.4% from beyond the arc in Game 5, and below 30% from deep in each of the last three games). Miami has to take care of the ball and it has to get back in transition defense — Boston ran right past the Heat in the second half and got a lot of easy transition buckets. Mostly, however, it comes back to Miami shooters hitting more of their threes — the Heat halfcourt offense needs that.

The Game 5 loss was not on Adebayo. But he can be part of the solution.

Backs against the wall, Celtics play dominant half to beat Heat, force Game 6

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For Boston, it was the worst of halves, it was the best of halves. It was a half of foolishness, it was a half of wisdom. It was a half of tight play, it was a half of free-flowing offense. It was a half of despair, it was a half of renewed hope.

With its season on the line down 3-1, Boston came out tight in the first half of Game 5, with guys trying to do everything themselves, showing no patience, no ball movement, players gunning from three, and nobody in green was defending well. Boston shot 5-of-20 in the first quarter, and while things settled down Boston was lucky to be only down seven at the half.

Then a different Boston team came out in the second half — a team that was defending with intent, pushing the pace, and watching their best player, Jayson Tatum, attack to the tune of 17 third quarter points. At the end of the third, Brad Stevens told his team, “with all sincerity, that’s the first time I’ve seen Celtics basketball in the past few games” (via the ESPN mic’d up segment of the broadcast).

The Celtics pulled away in the fourth to win 121-108. The Heat still lead the series 3-2, with Game 6 coming on Sunday.

“We did not compete hard enough defensively and we paid the price for that,” Erik Spoelstra said of his Heat team.

“I thought we played with great tenacity defensively, and I think our offense followed suit,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of the second-half turnaround.

That defense included much more ball pressure out high on Miami and it worked. The Heat shot 19.4% from three, that’s the third straight game under 30% from three for the Heat, but Tyler Herro wasn’t able to bail them out this time around.

For Boston, Tatum finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, and his third quarter helped save the Boston season.

Boston needs that Tatum from the opening tip on Sunday, not after 24 minutes (as we have seen the last couple of games). Boston is a good team but it needs Tatum to play at an All-NBA level to look like a contender.

Jaylen Brown added 28 points for the Celtics, while Daniel Theis proved an important role with 15 points and 13 rebounds plus some critical defensive plays down the stretch.

Miami may have led at the half, but when Boston started playing better out of desperation the Heat had no answers.

“No one was playing the way we’re supposed to play, the way we have to play for us to win,” Butler said.

Miami got 23 points from Goran Dragic and 20 from Duncan Robinson, who was a big part of Miami’s strong first half.

Miami was up 3-1, and they have seen how little that lead has meant in the bubble.

“I don’t think those series have anything to do with this. Our guys are well aware,” Spoelstra said. “We have great respect for Boston. We’re not expecting it to be easy. You have to earn it.”

Kings keeping Luke Walton, plan to play faster next season

Kings coach Luke Walton
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Kings coach Luke Walton works for a general manager who didn’t hire him and an owner who has shown frustration with him.

But Walton will keep his job.

New Sacramento general Monte McNair, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Luke is going to be our coach next year, I’m really excited to work with him and I think we’re aligned in our vision and we’re going to start implementing it,” McNair said.

“This team showed some flashes last year,” McNair said. “I think De’Aaron is certainly a great young talent and I think his speed ability offensively to create really is going to be a huge catalyst for how coach Walton and I envision this team being up-tempo, creating the space to shoot threes and attack the rim.”

Walton has had four losing seasons in four years as a head coach between the Lakers and Kings. But this is how it works out for him.

A distressing aspect of Walton’s first season in Sacramento: The Kings played far slower than they did the previous season under Dave Joerger, who successfully implemented a fastbreak-heavy attack that particularly suited De'Aaron Fox.

Walton can coach that way. His Lakers teams typically played quickly. But Sacramento too often stagnated last season.

The Kings are still building around Fox. It’s on Walton to figure out how to maximize the point guard. For now.

Anthony Davis listed as questionable for Game 5 with sprained ankle

Anthony Davis
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When Anthony Davis has been on the court in the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers have outscored the Nuggets by 9.4 points per 100 possessions. When he sits, the Lakers are -21.3 (stats via NBA.com).

Why that stat matters: Anthony Davis is officially questionable for Game 5 after spraining his ankle in the fourth quarter of Game 4.

“[My] Ankle feels fine. Got tonight, tomorrow before the game to get it back to, I don’t want to say back to where it was, but good enough to play,” Davis said postgame Thursday. “Rolled it pretty bad but not too bad. I’ll be fine.”

Players also are the worst judges of their returns from injuries. This is the playoffs, the Lakers need him on the court, and Davis wants to play. However, ankles are very easy to re-injure once the ligament is stretched, and the issue can become chronic. If Davis missing one game helps the ankle heal to the point it doesn’t linger into the NBA Finals the Lakers have to consider that option.

That said, expect Davis to play.

Davis has been the best Laker throughout the Western Conference Finals. He is averaging 32.3 points a game while shooting 55.3% from the floor, and as noted above the Lakers are dramatically better with him on the court.

The Los Angeles Lakers are up 3-1 on the Denver Nuggets and can advance to the NBA Finals with a win Saturday night in Game 5.