Post Up: True Believers

Hawks 94, Wizards 91 (Hawks win series 4-2)

Anxiety. Elation. Heartbreak.

These emotions permeated the Verizon Center within a span of just a few minutes Friday night. The nervous energy in the arena was palpable throughout the Wizards’ 15-point, second-half comeback. Paul Pierce’s 3-ball at the buzzer to (seemingly) send the game to overtime was the tension release, as fans erupted from their seats like thousands of red, white and blue fireworks on the Fourth of July. But then the referees conferred, and the shot was waved off. Just like that, an air of jubilation was replaced by the feeling of overwhelming distress so commonly associated with DC sports teams. As Bradley Beal put it in his post-game presser, “It’s probably every synonym of ‘sad’ you can think of.”

Neither team could buy a bucket to start the game; in the opening twelve minutes, Washington and Atlanta shot 36.4% and 32% from the floor, respectably. The home team finally got it going, as Bradley Beal scored 7 points during a 13-4 Wizards run to close out the quarter. In the final seconds, John Wall maneuvered through the defense with Nash-like craftiness, bobbing and weaving and eventually finding Kevin Seraphin for an easy deuce as time expired.

The Hawks controlled the second quarter, outscoring the Wiz 26-19 thanks to the all-around team effort we grew accustomed to watching over the course of the 82-game regular season. Coach Budenholzer’s offense clicked on all cylinders. Everyone got in on the action, but Paul Millsap (20 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks) did the most damage — he scored 8 of his 15 first-half points in the period.

Atlanta extended its lead in the third quarter and led by as much as 15 at one point. DeMarre Carroll haunted the Wizards all night long, cutting to the hoop and banging down low to finish with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Al Horford (13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) simply outplayed Nene (5 points, 11 rebounds), who’s had a pretty miserable series apart from Game 3. Jeff Teague (20 points, 7 assists) was a blur with the basketball and finished at the cup regularly, which in turn opened up passing lanes and allowed him to dish to open teammates.

Beal was sensational yet again, as the young’n posted 29 points and 6 rebounds. Meanwhile, John Wall had another helluva game — broken hand and all — going for 20 points, 13 dimes and 2 steals. But Washington lacked production from its bigs, and the bench support just wasn’t there, either. Marcin Gortat started the game but played only 12 minutes due to sickness. Seraphin picked up the slack a little with 13 points and 8 rebounds. However, Drew Gooden and Otto Porter, the Wizards’ two best bench players in these playoffs, scored just 7 points apiece.

And Pierce, despite nearly pulling off yet another incredibly clutch shot, put up just 4 points on 2-7 shooting in 26 minutes of play. After the game, The Truth said, “I don’t even know if I’m going to play basketball anymore … These seasons get harder and harder the older you get.”

Congrats to ATL — the Hawks have reached the Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. They’ll play host to LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Wednesday.

Eli Schwadron

Warriors 108, Grizzlies 95 (Warriors win series 4-2)

Steph Curry with the shot, boy!—and girl, mom, dad, baby, dog, cat. Everyone needs to witness this dude.

With a shot like that falling from ¾-court, you know things in last night’s Game 6 between the Warriors and the Grizzlies were going some type of way—Dub Nation’s way. Despite playing in the Grindhouse, the League’s leaders opened their last Conference Semifinals game with a splash. Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 22 points, including six 3-pointers in the first quarter alone, and Golden State led by as many as 15.

Also, this happened. Where you going, Courtney?

I joke, I joke. Lee, who finished with 12 points, hit a pretty nice shot at the halftime buzzer to cut the Grizz’s deficit to just 8.

After allowing nearly 60 points in the first half, the Grizzlies picked up their defense in the third quarter, limiting the visiting Dubs to 18. Marc Gasol (21 points, 15 rebounds) earned 4 of his 5 blocks in the quarter, and Memphis came within a single point. But in the final two and a half minutes of the third, Curry dished out 3 assists—two to Andre Iguodala for a couple 3-pointers and one to Festus Ezeli for a dunk before sinking the otherworldly shot you saw above. Curry recorded a double-double of 32 points and 10 assists in the series win.

Klay Thompson contributed 20, while Draymond Green added his own double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also kept Steph laughing in the post game press conference.

The Warriors shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 46.9 percent from the arc. The Grizz’s numbers weren’t as pretty—they shot 37.4 percent from the field and 25 percent from long range. The win advances the Dubs to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 39 years. Their opponent will be decided after the Rockets-Clippers Game 7 on Sunday afternoon.

So take this basketball-less Saturday to get ready for more jump-outta-your-seat, scream-at-your-screen, tweet-in-all-caps shots, boy—and girl, mom, dad, baby, dog, cat. The best of the 2015 NBA Playoffs has yet to come.

Habeeba Husain