Post Up: 76ers And Warriors Advance, Celtics Sneak Past Bucks

by April 25, 2018
1,651
Joel Embiid

Celtics 92, Bucks 87 (Celtics lead 3-2)

This wasn’t the cleanest game of the playoffs, which usually works in Boston’s favor, but it managed to stay a close one to the end of regulation. The Celtics were the aggressors early on, holding Milwaukee to 15 first quarter points and leading by 11 at the half. However, with Jayson Tatum (8 points on 2-7 shooting) and Jaylen Brown (14 points on 5-13 shooting) struggling to make shots, Boston couldn’t put Milwaukee away.

The Bucks shot just 37 percent from the field as a team, but Khris Middleton (23 points) kept them in the game with contested makes whenever they needed one. Giannis (16 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) had a solid all-around night yet only took 10 shots and wasn’t able to get as much space as he likes offensively. Credit the return of Marcus Smart for that, at least partially.

Jabari Parker and Eric Bledsoe (33 points combined) helped out, and Milwaukee somehow wound down 81-77 with 3:24 to play after a Bledsoe triple. But the Bucks just couldn’t get that next bucket, with missed free throws and open jumpers dooming them.

Al Horford (22 points, 14 rebounds) was probably the best player for either team. He committed six turnovers but spread the floor well, as he usually does, and bolstered Boston’s interior defense which limited what Giannis could do. The Celtics can clinch on Thursday night in Milwaukee.

76ers 104, Heat 91 (76ers win 4-1)

With Meek Mill sitting courtside as his hometown 76ers had the chance to clinch their first playoff series win since 2012, Wells Fargo Center sounded like its roof was going to burst all night long. All Brett Brown’s team needed to do was hold up its end of the bargain, which was in doubt after an even first half. The Heat even took a four-point lead a few minutes before the break.

Then, in the third quarter, Philly started to flex its muscles a bit. A 11-0 run put the 76ers in control and they went up by as much as 18 in the frame. Miami kept it a game, hanging around down 10-12 points the rest of the way, but Philly wasn’t blowing that lead. The final minutes felt like a real culmination of the Process, with fans ready to party and 76ers — namely Joel Embiid (19 points, 12 rebounds) — pumping them up even more.

But it was one of Philly’s veterans — J.J. Redick (27 points) — that pushed the 76ers over the hump in a tough, physical game. It felt like he was constantly open and his off-ball movement wore Miami down as the Heat chased him through screen after screen. He made 5 of Philly’s 7 threes on a night when the 76ers shot just 25 percent from behind the arc.

It’s a frustrating end to a good season for the Heat, who withstood a lot of injuries and a letdown campaign from Hassan Whiteside to get back to the playoffs. Kelly Olynyk (18 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists) did it all for Miami off the bench, while Goran Dragic (15 points) and Tyler Johnson (16 points in just 19 minutes due to foul trouble) anchored a starting lineup that got crushed by Philly’s starters. Josh Richardson was dealing with a shoulder injury that limited him to seven minutes while Whiteside and James Johnson scored a combined total of six points.

Warriors 99, Spurs 91 (Warriors win 4-1)

Without their coach and best player, there was every reason to think the Spurs were going to fold in a decisive Game 5 in Golden State. And, for awhile, it seemed as if they might. The Warriors built a double-digit lead behind big nights from Kevin Durant (25 points, 6 rebounds) and Klay Thompson (24 points) and were ahead 82-67 with 10 minutes left in the game.

Slowly but surely, as the Spurs have done forever under Gregg Popovich, San Antonio crawled back into this one. All of a sudden, a Davis Bertans triple cut the deficit to five. A minute later, the Dubs were up just 93-91 after LaMarcus Aldridge (30 points, 12 rebounds) knocked down a pair of free throws. However, it wasn’t meant to be, as KD drilled a 20-footer on the next possession. When Manu Ginobili threw a pass out of bounds right after, the comeback attempt was foiled.

Aldridge absolutely took over down the stretch and nearly led the Spurs to one of the most improbable playoff comebacks in recent memory. Patty Mills (18 points) hit some huge threes for San Antonio, which might have a very different roster come October. Draymond Green (17 points, 19 rebounds, 7 assists) did it all for Golden State on both ends of the floor. He even assisted KD on the dagger jumper.

With their series win, the Warriors will take on the Pelicans in the second round. KD and Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday and Steph Curry (should he come back), doesn’t get much better than that.