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Sunday, May 6th, 2012 at 10:00 am  |  54 responses

Post Up: OKC Sweeps

OKC eliminates the former Champs and the Spurs go up 3-0.

Pacers 101, Magic 99 (OT) (IND leads 3-1)

The collective sigh of relief could be heard all the way back in Indianapolis as the final buzzer sounded in Orlando. The Magic started a furious rush at a comeback with an 18-2 run to pull the game within one. George Hill came up with his first set of late game heroics of the series and nailed a monster three pointer to keep the Pacer lead. He netted the last six points of overtime for the Pacers, and his two free throws with 2.1 seconds left eventually won the game. “I get to ride my teammates coattails and fill in a little bit,” Hill joked.

Every time the game seemed relatively out of reach, the Magic fought back with offensive firepower. That offensive firepower came at the hands of Glen Davis for most of the game. Davis is having the best stretch of basketball he’s played since he’s been in the league, averaging a double-double (18 points and 10 rebounds) for the series.

Tonight, his 24 points and 11 rebounds led the Magic in both respective categories, and his stretch of buckets at the end of the fourth quarter plus overtime kept the Magic in the game. As has been the case the entire series, however, David West came up big for the Pacers and helped balance out Davis’ work by putting up a game high 26 points. His 12 third quarter points fueled a run that the Pacers have become all too familiar with against the Magic.

Let’s face it: the Magic are all but done for. They worked their buts off and came two inches away from completing the second biggest comeback of the playoffs, but they stare a 3-1 deficit square in the face as they make their way back to Indianapolis. We all knew the Magic would bring the effort, the attitude, the competitiveness, and the “We all we got” mentality to every game they were fortunate enough to play in the post season. The Pacers just have too many fresh legs and a deep bench that the Magic can’t keep up with.

Give credit to the Magic for how close they came tonight to evening a series they have no business being even in. They got throttled in Game 2 and Game 3, yet they were one play away from having a 2-2 series. The intensity and hustle has not gone unnoticed, but in the end, the Magic just don’t have the firepower without Dwight to win the series. Maybe the Magic will prove me wrong, but I see a hard fought series coming to a close in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. —Dave Spahn (@DaveSpahn)

Clippers 87, Grizzlies 86 (LAC leads 2-1)

Here’s the turning point of that Clippers-Grizzlies game yesterday, the one that Chris Paul held together for 44 minutes with some hot glue and a staple gun until someone new and exciting came along:

Reggie Evans stole an offensive rebound on a missed Nick Young free throw with 4:10 left and flicked it in off the glass. It was a little fluky, but those kinds of things are going to happen when you have a Street Fighter character on the floor for the whole fourth quarter.

That gave the Clippers a two-point lead and momentum that didn’t really stop, and they won 87-86.

It must piss you off a little if you’re Chris Paul. Here you are doing a Michael Jordan impression for 45 minutes, but it’s too usual, too plain. It’s not sexy enough. You have to count on this guy who looks like the secret weapon in a ’70s action movie to make a hustle play for your team to wake up.

The best possessions for the Clippers, again, were broken plays that partnered Chris Paul with his impatience. Blake won’t roll on a pick and roll? Okay, let CP get about an inch of space from 18 feet so he can hit a stepback jumper over a longer defender.

Is it a good basketball play? No. But the good basketball plays aren’t working. Paul had 24 and 11, but more importantly, the wheels flew off when he wasn’t in the game. Under Eric Bledsoe’s plus/minus stat in the box score, it just says, “Please help.”

So now the Clippers have to decide if they can stick it out with this Reggie Evans thing. The question in the next few days will be if he’s a better fit for the end of games than Kenyon Martin or DeAndre Jordan.

And, really, Blake Griffin should be on that list, too. But I can hear the fine folks at Kia coming to rip my tongue directly out of my face.

They got away with having both Evans and Griffin out there for extended minutes, but that was more or less a fluke. Marc Gasol was in foul trouble, then Lionel Hollins forgot he was on the bench entirely. (Yes, this was weird even when it was happening.)

Griffin was rewarded for all the extra work, having to face up all of those bigs on defense. He made a pretty dive cut after Paul hypnotized the Grizzlies into tripling him at the free throw line. Blake got a bounce pass and made dinner out of it. It’s what he does. That gave them a four-point lead with 32 seconds left.

When Memphis got it all sorted out, Rudy Gay had to get all clutch on us. And he did. He hit back-to-back threes from space. Bledsoe missed a pair of free throws, but nobody’s hitting three triples in a row in 18 seconds. We’ve filled our weekly miracle quota.

That last Paul pass, by the way, should’ve brought the discussion back to how good he is. But it didn’t. The scrum that circled Reggie Evans after the game was suffocating.

That’s probably why neither of these teams feel like championship teams. Championship teams don’t get beaten by novelty, nor do they rely on it. Reggie Evans felt like the hero du jour for a team constantly looking for a spark.

But the spark’s there. It’s Chris Paul. His teammates need to pay attention.

There was some slight buzz amongst some media after the game that maybe Chris Paul was the best point guard in the NBA after all. Rajon Rondo had been claiming the title all week, and they felt that was unfair. They’re right, but they’re not going far enough.

It’s not that Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA. It’s that he might be the best player. —Ben Collins

Thunder 103, Mavs 97 (OKC wins 4-0)

A 3-0 advantage in most 7-game series generally denotes a mismatch of major proportions. In the case of the first-round Western Conference series between Oklahoma City and Dallas, the Thunder are in that comfortable position; just one game away from the second-round. But despite Thursday night’s blowout win by OKC, this has been a series that could just as easily be tilted in the Mavericks advantage.

In Games 1 and 2, the Thunder overcame tough shooting nights from the league’s scoring champ Kevin Durant and nabbed late-game home wins. The Mavericks were not so fortunate in Game 3 back in Dallas and now face the dreaded 3-0 deficit.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair that ended with the score knotted at 47. The Thunder got an incredibly efficient half from the league’s best reserve in James Harden. The “Bearded One” hit all of his first-half 3-pointers and ran the offense for much of his 17 minutes on the court.

But the home team would not go quietly. Their leader, Dirk Nowitzki wasted little time in the second half hitting his first four shots, quickly giving the Mavs the advantage back. The Mavericks shot the ball beautifully in the fourth as Jason Kidd and Delonte West each hit 3-pointers to help swell the difference to 13 at 81-68 with 12 minutes remaining.

But, the fourth quarter has been the Thunder’s time and after a 12-0 run early in the quarter, things evened up. Once again, it was Harden spurring on his team, hitting mid-range jumpers, dunking in traffic and setting up his teammates for easy looks. Head Coach Scott Brooks went small for the game’s final six minutes, stymieing the Mavericks.

The backcourt of Harden and Russell Westbrook proved to be the difference in the series as a whole. Despite the latter being listed as the team’s point guard (and who had his first off night from the floor in the series), it was Harden on this night whose mix of creativity, athleticism and gumption was a force of nature. An epic display of postseason lore. A career playoff high 29 points and a fourth quarter performance that shall be the standard of a franchise that has been in the Midwestern state for only four years.

And as they say, “That was that.” The Mavs coughed up the lead with just over five to play and never led again. They struggled to knock down shots in the game’s final minutes and the defending champs were swept, losing Game 4, 103-97.

Now with a week off before the likely start of the second-round, the Thunder’s start to the postseason begs the question, ‘Despite being the #2-seed in the West, is this the conference’s best team?’

After watching the team unite on the floor and proudly display a unity that has been publicly scrutinized for the past couple years, they are surely at the forefront of the discussion. —Cub Buenning (@cubbuenning)

Spurs 102, Jazz 90 (SAS leads 3-0)

Even though the Jazz put up resistance, the San Antonio Spurs continue their dominance in the Western Conference Playoff series winning 102-90. With the win, the Spurs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the series.

The Spurs showed veteran composure in Game Three in Salt Lake City. They executed their offense early in the game and withstood the early runs by the Jazz, and held a small lead of 52-50 at half.

In the second half, the big three for the Spurs took over. Tim Duncan was solid scoring 17 points and ripping down 6 boards. Tony Parker was amazing in the second half, scoring 27 points while making 7 of 8 from the line.

Free throws were a a huge factor in the game. Despite playing at home, Utah shot 14 of 26 from the charity stripe. San Antonio connected on 17 of 22 from the line.

Utah did have some bright spots in the game. Al Jefferson and Devin Harris scored 21 apiece for Utah, while Derrick Favors added 15 points, 11 rebounds in his highest minute total in a game thus far in the playoffs.

No NBA team has overcome an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Spurs can close it out Monday night in Salt Lake City. —Christian Mordi (@mordi_thecomeup)

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  • Deedre

    Some people see it as the Mavs underachieving. I see it as a 2nd seed sweeping a 7th seed. Not surprising at all. The Mavs have played like absolute trash all season long compared to last year and I would’ve been more surprised if they made it to the second round regardless of who they played. Kudos to the deep Thunder for not garnishin under pressure cause this has definitely been their most media frenzied year. Go Celts

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    Fear the beard! James Harden has to be the 3rd best SG in basketball right? I know the SG position is not the most loaded position in the NBA today and the gap between Kobe-Wade and Harden is pretty big but that doesn’t deminish Harden’s skills. This guy is special, half-PG, half-scorer, really talented and willing to come of the bench. Harden-Kobe might be the best matchup in the Thunder-Lakers 2nd round series if the Lakers advance. I’m so happy the playoffs are here.

  • logues

    Jahmai: i dont think harden is on monta’s level. his overall floor game is prolly better tho.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    I gotta give the Magic credit, they keep fighting, even if they’re gonna lose. Ryan Anderson has been the worst player in the playoffs BY FAR. Can’t shoot, can’t play defense, doesn’t look at the basket when he gets the ball, and has inexplicably lost his handle and ability to rebound.

  • All Day

    @Jahmai: The gap between Kobe, Wade, and Harden is not big at all. Kobe and Wade are starters for their teams so they play more minutes, take more shots, and score more points. Just because Harden is coming off the bench doesn’t mean he’s not as good as those two guys. Harden is on the same level as Kobe and Wade.

  • All Day

    @Iogues: You meant to say that Monta is not on Harden’s level. Monta is a good scorer, average facilitator, and poor defensively. Harden is a good scorer, good facilitator, and good defensively.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    All Day. Let’s be as diplomatic as possible: you know very very little. Harden is on Kobe and Wade’s level? Do I even need to address this? You clearly have zero grasp of the game of basketball and must have some obvious bias either towards Harden or against Kobe and Wade. Go and watch a basketball game, look up ANY statistics, or read a basic article about the NBA before commenting with something that outlandish. You really shouldn’t be trying to correct people when your knowledge is so limited.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    So is everyone just going to give a pass to Dirk after another first round flameout?

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    it’ll be a while before Harden is on the level of 2 finals MVP’s smh… he’s had an excellent season and that was an incredible game… but no. also I can’t really believe the thunder just swept the defending champs… like a couple of those games were VERY contested but otherwise….. also conley f*cked memphis w/ his lack of aggressiveness. just saying.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    JT: I sure hope not. Dude played pretty well, but yeah, that was ugly.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    f*ck dirk.

  • All Day

    @Caboose: Apparently you haven’t watched the Thunder against the Lakers this season. Harden has more than held his own against Kobe. You say lets be diplomatic, then you say I know very little about the game. Remember those words when the Lakers meet the Thunder in the second round of the playoffs. If you happen to forget, I’ll be here to remind you and datkid!

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    All Day: Just because someone has “held his own” with somebody does not mean they’re on the same level. Last year, Nazr Mohammad had a 20-20 game against Amare. Does that mean Nazr is on Mohammad’s level? No. You are using nothing more than subjective generalities to prove a concrete point. In logic, we call that clear fallacy. In here, we call that stupid.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Sorry, does that mean Nazr is on Amare’s level?

  • All Day

    @Caboose: Of course Harden is not going to have the same stats as Kobe or Wade. 1) He doesn’t start and 2) he has two other players (Durant and Westbrook) who put it more shots, so he doesn’t need to do the bulk of the scoring like those guys do.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Because Wade and Kobe don’t have 2 other superstars next to them either. Give me something concrete to prove your point and I’ll argue with you like you’re a grown up.

  • All Day

    Dude, on you on something? Wade has Bosh and LeBron.

  • http://slamonline.com datkid

    lmaooo caboose is going in

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Called sarcasm. That clearly reveals to me your utter lack of ability to grasp this situation.
    ——-
    Watch how easy I can make your argument sound ridiculous. Nikola Pekovic held his own with Dwight Howard this season (he put 16-13 on him). He just plays less minutes than Dwight, that’s why his stats aren’t as good. Therefore, Pekovic is on Dwight’s level. See the fallacies there?

  • http://www.optimabbc.be Max

    There should be something on the internet when you use sarcasm the letters will appear in red or something like that..

  • All Day

    Caboose, the problem with your argument is that you’re comparing an average player against a good player. Harden is not an average player, he’s a good player. Is Pekovic a starter or does he come off the bench?

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Who says Harden is different? YOU HAVE NOT GIVEN ANY FACTS OR STATS TO BACK UP WHAT YOU ARE SAYING. See, you have to give -evidence- when you make any claim. This isn’t FOX News.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Nick Tha Quick

    ^^ Lol @ Fox News

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Haha I hope y’all don’t mind when I go on my argumentative rants. I enjoy proving a point, but I won’t push so hard if it gets annoying for the Slamily.

  • All Day

    Caboose what point did you prove? Is using a flawed argument along with a heavy dose of sarcasm your definition of proving a point?

  • Niio

    I don’t really seeing it as them underachieving it’s more that they no longer have a shot blocking presents anymore. I saw it time and time again how OKC would slash to the bucket without any regard of a shot blocker

  • Mike From Spain

    Wow, just wow, it looks like the Bulls are facing a first round exit. This might be an upset as great as the Spurs last year.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    A flawed argument? Ok, let’s do this. I’m just going to compare Harden to Kobe, ok? Acceptable?
    1. Per 36 minutes, Harden: 19/5/4…Kobe: 26/5/4. That’s a 7 point per 36 minute difference. That’s huge. So there goes your little theory that with more minutes Harden would score more.
    2. Defense. Kobe is a consistent All-Defense team member. Harden is average at best.
    3. If Harden was on the Lakers, he would still be the third option on offense. Bynum and Gasol both have better offensive games than Harden.
    4. If Harden isn’t the primary scorer, he would logically be a better passer to Durant and Westbrook right? Nope. Kobe has a 4.4% higher assist percentage than Harden.
    See? That’s what using stats to prove points means. Now will you shut up and stop embarrassing yourself?

  • All Day

    1. I never said that Harden would have a similar scoring average to Kobe or Wade. Again that’s not his role on his team.
    2. To say that Harden is average defensively is silly. Give him more credit than that.
    3. If you replace Kobe with Harden, I seriously doubt Harden would be the third option on the Lakers.
    4. I would expect Kobe to have a higher assist percentage, because of Bynum and Gasol. Both players play closer to the basket and have a higher field goal percentage.

  • whooo!

    I put Harden as part of the second tier. Kobe and Wade at the top. Ginobili when he used to be healthy could be considered on their level, but he’s too banged up, that’s why he and Harden are part of the second tier. If Harden can do the types of things Manu did in the 05 finals run, I could see him in that first tier, but he’s still unproven.

  • JUNKIE

    All Day i still don’t think you see Caboose’s point about using evidence to prove a point.. hahaha

  • JUNKIE

    And if you were to compare players without evidence the argument can be made that joe johnson, monta ellis, ray allen, eric gordon, manu ginobili, aaron afflalo and a whole other group of players are better than james harden. Much love to harden though, he’s a stud and my fantasy player too

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Haha thank you Junkie. All Day is just saying words. I can do that too.
    -Bogut is on Dwight’s level, he just has all those injuries and perimeter players who wouldn’t give him the ball.
    -Derrick Rose is about the same in passing skill as Nash, he just has to score.
    -Blake Griffin is as skilled as Pau Gasol, Blake can just use his athleticism better.
    -Jason Richardson is just as good a perimeter defender as Tony Allen. JRich just has Dwight behind him so he doesn’t need to try as hard.
    In case you were uncertain All Day, that was all sarcasm. See how easy your style of arguing (like watching Ben Wallace shoot a 3) is to manipulate? You STILL HAVE GIVEN ZERO FACTS TO BACK UP WHAT YOU SAY. I’m starting to think you have some sort of selective blindness to intelligent things.

  • All Day

    @JUNKIE: I get the whole stats argument. Harden is a sixth man…he doesn’t start so comparing his stats to Kobe or Wade is not a fair comparison. Now comparing Harden and Ginobili’s stats would be a fair comparison, because both players are in similar roles.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    All Day, I agree straight stats aren’t fair for the two. How about per 36 minutes though? That directly counters your claim that Harden’s lack of minutes hold him back. If you think it’s his role holding him back, then why isn’t he in a better role if he’s in the top 15 or so players in the league? Again, you are an intellectual troglodyte. I’m trying my best to educate you in basketball, but I guess I can’t fit a gallon into a thimble no matter how fast or determined I pour.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Look All Day, it’s ok to admit you were wrong. If you say that, you will have way more respect from me (and everybody else here) than if you just agreed with me in the first place. I’ll offer you that chance, it really is the logical thing to do, ok?

  • JUNKIE

    if you compare the per 36 minutes stats between james harden and kobe/wade you’ll see that your argument is hardly valid.

    http://www.nba.com/advancedstats/

    Use this.

  • jeremys6226

    I’m a massive Thunder fan and have been for 3 years but even I can see that Harden is not on the same level as Wade or Kobe yet. He definitely has time and potential to reach the top level but still cannot be compared to two finals mvps

  • All Day

    I attribute Harden’s role to the team dynamics, with Durant and Westbrook being the primary scorers for the team. Why isn’t Harden in the starting line-up? Clearly, Thabo isn’t a better player than Harden. I think they bring Harden off the bench for second unit offensive scoring.

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Still not giving facts. Dude, do you understand anything? If you’re really just some 14 year old who knows nothing but the Thunder, then I’m sorry.

  • http://www.yahoo.com The Fury

    He’s not even in the Joe Johnson level yet let alone Manu.

  • blackice87

    Although Caboose is right, he is really coming off as a jack@$$

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Blackice, if he responded to reason, I’d be courteous. He doesn’t, so I’m not.

  • http://www.yahoo.com berkamore

    Once again, working on your game in the offseason pays HUGE dividends. During the lockout, I uased to go down to the Drew League in Los Angeles and Harden was always there. Dude was playing like everyday. I am not surprised that he’s doing so well now.

  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    honestly If I wanted to just use stats, I could easily make a case that harden has been just as good or better then kobe this year. I think sometimes that people forget to use common sense though and realize that harden is the third option on the perimeter for his team this year. Teams are doing everything to slow down westbrook and durant which makes it easier for Harden alot of times. Kobe faces double teams and defenses that are focused on doing everything possible to not let him beat them and he still does it.

  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    LOVE Harden’s game though. Probably one of my top 5 favorite players to watch.

  • http://www.slamonline.com megatron

    @Logues, ill take Harden over Monta every single day

  • http://Roosterteeth.com Caboose

    Oh cosign megatron on everything.

  • http://thetroyblog.com Teddy-the-Bear

    Never knew Caboose had this mean streak in him… lol… Take it easy buddy.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    Mike “rubberface” dunleavy jr is better than harden.

  • Bola

    Is Harden a good player? Yes, is Harden On KObe/Wade level? NO. But i like Harden he can attack the passing lanes well. I see him as someone who never gives up when he attacks. What i respect about the thunder was Durant and Westbrook in their own humble self esteem allowed Harden take over the offense for the good of the team. i mean Westbrook literally handed harden the ball. That made me realise the thunder might actually be a deep team. But no doubt he’s the best 6th man in the game right now.

  • Bola

    Man, Like i said Kobe was on fire against Denver. Kobe’s Offense can’t be matched when he’s on fire. Dude just plays NBA 2K on teams.

  • http://slamonline.com Tae

    I had to come in here n defend my SG. @Allday, Harden is not on Kobe’s level at all. He is a good player, but to say he’s up there with Kobe is crazy. He’s closer to Wade but he’s not even on His level yet either. Just let him ball

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Ben Collins killed that post-up.

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