Heat 98, Bucks 86 (Heat lead series 2-0)
The Miami Heat held their ground against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 with an impressive push late in the game. Up until the end of the third quarter, it looked as if the Bucks had a shot at stealing one on the road. But, the Miami Heat quickly changed gears defensively and thoroughly handled Milwaukee throughout the fourth quarter en route to a 2-0 series lead.
Milwaukee put up a fight early on as Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova finally woke up. The Bucks jumped out to a 17-13 lead with four minutes to go in the first quarter and things were running smoothly. The offense was mainly going through Ilyasova and at one point the Bucks were shooting 10-for-18 from the field. All the Bucks had to do was keep it together.
At halftime, the score was 47-43, with the Heat having gotten back in the flow, sort of, while Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, had only combined for a single point. The Bucks continued to give the Heat a fight into the third quarter, and Ellis and Jennings began to try and pry their way into the offense little by little.
In the third quarter, the Heat became stagnant on offense. There wasn’t much execution or movement, only one-on-one’s and isolation plays that weren’t producing enough momentum. The Bucks took advantage of their sleep-walking opponents, keeping the game close.
The Heat opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run and completely stalled any momentum the Bucks had built up throughout the game. They took complete control on the defensive side of the ball and were able to operate the way they like to, quickly and efficiently. Even when the Bucks stopped the run, they couldn’t get back in the flow due to head coach Jim Boylan tinkering with the lineup, putting out inexperienced rotations that soured the team’s chemistry.
Dwayne Wade led the Heat with 21 points, and LeBron added 19 with 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Shane Battier, Chris Anderson and Chris Bosh also added 10 points each in the winning effort. Anderson provided valuable energy off the bench that incited the final effort in the fourth quarter.
For the Bucks, Ersan Ilyasova led the way, scoring a team-high 21 points and pulling down six rebounds. Mike Dunleavy was crucial to the Bucks’ effort in Miami with 16 points, six rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Larry Sanders scored 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis both had off nights, combining for 15 points on 5-for-18 from the field.
As always, Miami wasn’t lacking in showmanship. LeBron casually saved passes while falling out of bounds between his legs and slammed home put back dunks after the whistle had rendered them unplayable.
The Bucks struggled with their shot selection. At one point in the fourth quarter, Ellis and Jennings were passing the ball back and forth at the top of the key as if neither wanted the responsibility of missing the shot. Things will need to change if they have any chance evening the series in Milwaukee, mainly shot selection and consistency on offense.
Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. EST in Milwaukee, WI. —Daniel Friedman
Knicks 87, Celtics 71 (Knicks lead series 2-0)
For the Knicks, it’s been a season of great highs and great lows.
There have been glorious winning streaks and ghastly losing streaks, moments of euphoria and examples of ineptitude. In the end, though, the good managed to outweigh the bad, and because of that, the Knicks were able to earn the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed and the home court advantage that came with it.
Tuesday night, New York was able to hold said home court, as the saying goes, and take a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics with a resounding 87-71 in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Like the regular season, though, and just like Game 1, it was not in the prettiest of ways.
For the second straight game the Knicks entered the half trailing, this time by a score of 48-42. The offense looked inept, with players appearing unwilling to move the ball, or their bodies. The defense looked confused, constantly switching on pick-and-rolls, allowing Paul Pierce to pick out desired matchups and leaving Jason Terry open for 3s.
Then halftime came, and with it an apparent set of adjustments that would leave Doc Rivers’ Celtics looking lost and Mike Woodson looking like he was the coach with a championship ring. Suddenly, the Knicks’ pick-and-roll attack was effective. Instead of relaying on the heroic and erratic ways of newly anointed Sixth Man of the Year JR Smith, the Knicks swung the ball side to side, giving both Carmelo Anthony—who finished with a game-high 34 points on 11-24 shooting—and Raymond Felton—who added in 16 points and didn’t turn the ball over once—the space they needed to operate.
”I thought in that third quarter we were as good as we’ve been all year in terms of ball movement and pushing it and making shots,” Mike Woodson said.
The defensive miscues also disappeared, as Woodson’s Knicks were able to hold Boston to 22 points on 19 percent shooting in the second half, which is the worst a team has a shot in the second half of a playoff basketball game in n 15 years, per ESPN Stats and Info.
“The way we’ve been buckling down, Woody has really been challenging us coming in at halftime,” said JR Smith, who added in 19 points and a surreal 35-foot buzzer-beating shot of his own. “Today he told us that they were flat out playing harder than us on the defensive end, and that’s why they were beating us. The way K-Mart responded to that and got all of us into it with his blocks, we were able to get out and run and play our type of basketball.”
The result was a 32-11 third quarter run, one which would put the game out of reach, and with it, possibly the series.
“Well I guess they say the series hasn’t started, I’ve heard this corny line a million times, you know, until the road team wins,” Doc Rivers said, “but, I’m positive the series has started because we’re down 2-0.”
The Celtics were led by Paul Pierce, who danced and frequently walked his way to a team-high 18 points on 8-19 shooting, and Kevin Garnett, who finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Garnett, however, was only able to play 24 minutes after being whistled for five fouls.
His coach was not happy with the calls.
“I thought the fouls on Kevin, first of all they were horrendous, and secondly, I thought they had a huge affect on us,” Rivers said. “Kevin had three fouls I was…him not being on the floor, you know, playing 24 minutes and never getting in a rhythm when it looked like he was going to have a big game, it hurt us.” —Yaron Weitzman / @YaronWeitzman
Warriors 131, Nuggets 117 (Series tied 1-1)
“In case I forget to tell you guys, I love you. I love y’all. Lets go.” —Warriors head coach Mark Jackson in the huddle to his players
The losing team scored 117 points, shot 50 percent from the field and went to the free throw line 36 times, and the 14-point defeat that the Golden State Warriors handed the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday night must’ve felt like twice as much. The Dubs went off on Denver like a volcano erupted in the Rockies in Game 2 of the playoffs. 131 points, 65 percent shooting from the field, 56 percent from three and a +10 advantage in the rebound department. So much happened in this display of offensive nuclear warfare, allow me to make a few points with some bullets: (pa-dum, ching)
The Warriors (Inadvertent) Tactical Genius Of Going Small: When the starting lineup for Golden State was announced for Game 2, an eyebrow was raised by many who watch the Dubs on a regular basis. The three-guard lineup of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jarrett Jack is usually seen during key stretches for head coach Mark Jackson, but not to start the game. Moreover, the addition of Harrison Barnes (not Carl Landry) at the four signaled the coaches true intent in trying to outscore the league’s #1 scoring offense in Denver. The result? Jack and Barnes addition allowed the offense more room, thus allowing Curry to get off to a hot start. Oh, and those three guards…yep, they account for 77 points on 63% shooting…and none of the three were the most impressive player in Game 2.
Because Harrison Barnes Grew Up In Front Of Us: They say if you give someone an inch, they’ll usually end up taking a mile. When the epiphany hit Coach Jackson to play Barnes at the four, with the floor spread out and more room to operate, it was as if Barnes actually transformed into this “Black Falcon” identity that we’d only heard of in an urban legend out of Chapel Hill. Slashing to the rim, drilling key threes, aggressively crashing the boards and playing with a poise of a player 10 years his senior. 24 points, 6 rebounds and one play of the playoffs thus far, and the Black Falcon soared to new heights on Tuesday.
Reason #238 Why Bazemore And Draymond Are Awesome: Because theycelebrate like this.
Unbelievableness: Every Warriors player who scored shot 50 percent or better from the field. Incredible.
The Quietest 18 Points Ever: Andre Miller’s heroics and 28 points in game 1 got a poor shooting Nuggets a big win in a game they played poorly in. In game 2, Andre Miller’s 18 points was quieted by the fact that his team turned into the Enver Nuggets. (No D guys…get it? No D-efense? Eh? No? Ok.)
Inside Job: The Nuggets did score 50 points in the paint against the Warriors, even with Javale McGee and Kenneth Faried putting up a combined 4 shots (they made all 4 of them) and being outscored by Anthony Randolph (14-11) in the process. Nuggets head coach George Karl has a conundrum on his hands as going small for once might not be in his best interest against Golden State.
Both teams will make more adjustments for Game 3 on Friday, but the reality is that we get the treat of having playoff basketball in Oakland for the first time since the “We Believe” Warriors from 2007. The Oracle Arena will be a madhouse, two teams will be wearing uniforms of the blue and gold variety, and we will continue to witness best series in the first round of these here playoffs. —Eduardo Maisonet, III / @edthesportsfan