Post Up: Hustle Points

Al Horford delivered a game-winner for ATL, and Warriors turned up the defense at Oracle.
by May 14, 2015

Hawks 82, Wizards 81 (Hawks lead 3-2)

Four days after his buzzer-beating bank in Game 3, Paul Pierce swished a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Wizards up 81-80 with 8.3 seconds remaining in Game 5. He turned to the Hawks bench and yelled, “Series.” For a brief moment, it looked like The Truth had done it again.

Then Al Horford happened. The veteran big man wasn’t supposed to be involved in Atlanta’s final possession in any form or fashion, but plans change. Dennis Schroder drove, John Wall blocked his layup attempt off the backboard, and Horford swooped in for the offensive board and put-back with 1.9 on the clock.

Many Washington fans were upset at Nene for not boxing Horford out, but if one takes a closer look at the play, Pierce left Millsap to try to commit the robbery from Schroder. Pierce’s gamble forced Nene to leave his man and box out the wide-open Millsap under the basket, which allowed Horford to crash the boards freely and win the game.

Horford’s game-winner capped off a helluva game. The veteran big man posted 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals and a whopping 5 blocked shots to lead Atlanta to a second straight victory. Paul Millsap added 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Jeff Teague contributed 14 points and 5 dimes.

But the story of the night—apart from Horford’s bucket—was John Wall’s return. The injured hand didn’t seem to pose any problems. At no point did Wall appear to be playing scared; although he was visibly more protective on drives than usual, in general, he was his usual play-making self. On one of his more brilliant plays, Wall came up with a steal on the defensive end and blindly whipped the ball over his head to Brad Beal, who was waiting past half-court and finished the easy deuce. The All-Star PG finished with 15 points, 7 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks.

Bradley Beal was again fantastic on the defensive end, holding Kyle Korver to just 3 points on 1-5 shooting. He also showed out on the other end of the floor. After a 34-point outing in Game 4, Beal went for 23 points to go along with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. However, Washington lacked post presence. Al Horford and Paul Millsap outplayed Nene and Marcin Gortat, as they have nearly all series long. The Wiz also failed to garner their usual bench production: Otto Porter, Drew Gooden and Ramon Sessions all had off-nights.

The Wizards will look to even the series at three games apiece back at the Verizon Center in DC on Friday night.

— Eli Schwadron

Warriors 98, Grizzlies 78 (Warriors lead series 3-2)

When Stephen Curry had the basketball in his hands last night and planted his feet behind the arc to set up for the release, there was an audible collective inhale from the Roaracle as his shot left his fingertips. Then when the ball dropped into the net (as the 3-pointer did six times for Curry last night), the golden fans in Oakland erupted:

In another MVP performance last night, Curry (18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 6 steals) became the fastest player to hit 100 playoff 3-pointers in NBA history. But the record was a simple perk that came second to a huge double-digit Game 5 win for the Warriors, putting ‘em up 3-2 over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Klay Thompson led the Dubs in scoring with 21, Harrison Barnes added 14, and Andre Iguodala finished with 16 off the bench, including a few dunks that looked like this:

With the Warriors’ lead reaching 24 in the second half, it’s easy to forget the Grizzlies had a short-lived upper hand at the opening of the game. Zach Randolph scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the first quarter, during which Memphis led by 13 and forced 7 Warrior turnovers. But before the initial 12 minutes ceased, Golden State went on a 16-2 run to earn a 1-point advantage. By halftime, the Warriors were up by 8.

The Dubs dominated from long range (14-30 from 3-point land) and on fast breaks, beating out the visiting Grizz 29-6, who played without injured Tony Allen. Marc Gasol was the high scorer and rebounder for his team with 18 and 12. But the Grizz were frazzled, scoring only 78 and getting blown out on the road.

Game 6 is tomorrow night at the Grindhouse, with the Warriors looking to end the series and move onto the Western Conference Finals for the first time in nearly 40 years. Either we’ll see another breathtaking performance from Steph and the Dubs or a recharged Memphis squad in Grizz Nation—or better yet, both.

Habeeba Husain