Post Up: Home Court Advantage

by April 26, 2013

Heat 104, Bucks 91 (Miami leads series 3-0)

As Ray Allen secured the NBA career playoff record for three-pointers made, the Miami Heat once again turned it on late in the second half to lock up win No. 3 in their best-of-seven series against the Milwaukee Bucks. In NBA history, no team has ever come back after going down 0-3.

The Bucks jumped out to an early lead in the first half once again, shooting 57.1 percent from the field in the first quarter, while hitting five treys. With eight minutes left in the second quarter, Miami was shooting 16 percent from long range and looked to be out of sync. The one bright light was LeBron James, who put up 11 of the Heat’s 29 points while shooting 66 percent from the field. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh were a combined 0-for-9.

Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, and Brandon Jennings led the way for the Bucks early on, keeping Milwaukee within striking distance. At halftime, the Bucks were still in the game, leading the Heat 50-48. But with 5:41 left in the third quarter, and the score tied 61-61, the Heat came to life and closed out the quarter on a 17-7 run. It would be the last time the game was tied up and the Bucks had any semblance of hope in the series.

Ray Allen led the way for the Heat with 23 points, shooting 5-for-8 from downtown en route to securing the record for career three-pointers in the postseason (322). Dwayne Wade struggled from the floor, scoring only four points on 1-for-7 shooting, but he contributed by dishing out a team-high 11 assists. LeBron finished with 22 points, six assists and five rebounds. Chris Bosh added 16 points and Chris Anderson shot a perfect 5-for-5 in 14 minutes to tally 11 points and six rebounds.

Jennings and Sanders led the Bucks with 16 points each, and Ilyasova added 15 points and eight rebounds. Mike Dunleavy and JJ Redick contributed off the bench, combining for 22 points on 8-for-15 from the field. Monta Ellis continued to struggle with his shooting percentage, putting up only seven points on 2-for-9 from the field, and 1-for-6 from downtown.

With 8:40 left to go in the game, Heat point guard Norris Cole ran underneath the basket and spotted Allen in his favorite corner spot, all alone. And with one quick pass, Allen surpassed Reggie Miller for the most threes in postseason history. That also put the Heat up by 14, and secured the win.

At this point, Jennings may want to rethink giving out predictions in the future. A series win in six games is now mathematically impossible. The Heat instead have the opportunity to sweep the Bucks on Sunday afternoon in Game 4 at 3:30PM EST in Milwaukee. –Daniel Friedman

Bulls 79, Nets 76 (Bulls lead series 2-1)

Four quick turnovers, and the Bulls were reeling. The Nets made Chicago pay for their early errors with a fast-paced start, not allowing the Bulls’ vaunted defense to set up. The lead grew to 17-5, and then almost on cue, Reggie Evans missed an ill-advised 20-foot jumper.

The miss triggered a 14-0 Chicago run in which Brooklyn missed 15 straight shots to end the quarter. The Nets would never lead again.

The second quarter began with Jerry Stackhouse continuing his airball streak, Evans turning the ball over and Andray Blatche and CJ Watson combining to shoot 1-9 before coach PJ Carlesimo pulled them mid-way through the second quarter.

They managed just one field goal over 14 minutes of game action until Joe Johnson hit a 12-foot fadeaway along the left baseline. The Nets shot just 22.5 percent for the half and miraculously finished the second quarter down by just seven. They were held to just eight points in the paint.

In arguably the most important quarter of their season, the Nets came out slow to start the third. Luol Deng connected on three pull-up jumpers off of high screens from Joakim Noah. Deng dropped 12 of his 21 points in the first four minutes of the quarter.

Carlos Boozer, who continued to have his way against the Nets’ frontcourt, made it his mission to ensure the Nets were finished in the third quarter, clearing the defensive glass and hitting several high-arching jumpers. Getting multiple defense stops, connecting on back-door cuts, swinging the ball like a pinball, the Bulls built their third-quarter lead to 17.

Carlesimo went with an all-offensive lineup to start the fourth, and the Nets slowly began to push the ball and break out of its slump.

Bookending the game with another five-minute burst of energy, the Nets outscored the Bulls 12-0 to come as close as two points. The Bulls scored just two points in the final six minutes—one off of a Nate Robinson free throw, and the other from a then-scoreless Noah, who was put at the line with 4.4 seconds remaining. The Bulls center split the pair to put the Bulls up by three.

On the final play, the ball came to a very cold Watson, who airballed an open corner three at the buzzer that could have tied it.

The Nets missed a total of 53 field-goal attempts. Makes you wonder if the game would have had a different outcome had the Nets managed more than just seven offensive boards. But Brooklyn has yet to prove that they can play a Tom Thibodeau-styled ballgame.—Ryne Nelson / @slaman10

Grizzlies 94, Clippers 82 (Clippers lead series 2-1)

When Zach Randolph flows like this, good luck.

Z-Bo was on point last night during game three in Memphis: pivoting dudes in all directions in the post, fighting for offensive rebounds and picking off Chris Paul entry passes. His 27-points and 11 rebounds on 9-of-18 from the field fueled Memphis to a 94-82 victory. Dipped in a crispy brown suit during the post game presser, Randolph said it was critical to get touches early, scoring 13 points in the first quarter and setting the tempo for Memphis for the night. “They’ve been double-teaming, triple-teaming me,” Randolph explained. “So just go fast, hit a couple of jump shots and open it up. Most definitely, I wanted to come out and be aggressive.”

The Clippers big three–Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford–struggled and combined for 12-for-33 from the field. Griffin led the team with 16 points but managed only 2 boards in about 33 minutes of action. Crawford had a cold shooting night, going 3-10 from the floor and CP3 didn’t look like the same player we saw in the first two games of the series. Paul finished with 8 points, 4 assists and 5 turnovers–the rock just didn’t seem right in his hands at times. “Our turnovers led to 17 of their points,” Paul said. “They got offensive rebounds, things we hadn’t let them do in game 1 and game 2.”

Marc Gasol complemented Randolph’s play with his own dominance on the block, finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds on the night he was honored as the League’s Defensive Player of the Year, accepting his hardware prior to tip from four-time DPOY Dikembe Mutombo. The Grizzles bench made significant strides, led by Quincy Pondexter who added 13 points. Tony Allen finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds while Mike Conley had an off night with his 1-of-9 shooting, but he added 10 assists, 6 rebounds and four steals to make up for his shooting woes.

LA didn’t get their usual output from their highly touted reserves. In addition to Crawford, PG Eric Bledsoe had his share of struggles, finishing 0-4 from the field and adding little spark. Matt Barnes (12 pts) and Lamar Odom (9pts) did their part, but it wasn’t enough.

Despite their struggles, LA cut Memphis’ lead to 78-71 with seven minutes remaining in the game, but the Grizzles went on an 11-4 run to put it out of reach. “The tempo of the game and the second chance points with their rebounds was the difference,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said.

Game 4 is Saturday afternoon in Memphis.–Nima Zarrabi