Post Up: No. 1s Get Right

by May 12, 2015

Hawks 106, Wizards 101 (series tied, 2-2)

For the first time in the series, the Hawks played like their regular season selves. And they still almost let Game 4 slip away to the John Wall-less Wizards.

Atlanta’s All-Stars stormed out of the gates, as Jeff Teague, Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver combined for 43 first-half points. The Hawks ran their free-flowing, unselfish style of offense to near-perfection, and in doing so, they reminded us how they earned the top seed in the East. ATL set off-ball picks, made backdoor cuts and made the extra pass en route to a 65-55 lead through one half of basketball.

The Wizards closed the gap thanks to 13 fourth-quarter points from Bradley Beal (34 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals), who had easily the best playoff performance of his young career. The third-year shooting guard was the antidote to Atlanta’s lights-out shooting time and time again; he knocked down jumpers, drove hard to the bucket and played terrific individual defense on Kyle Korver (2-4 from the field, 6 points). With Wall sitting out again, Beal’s play is what kept Washington in the game.

Down by three with 9.5 seconds on the clock, Randy Wittman drew up the perfect play. Nene set a monster screen on Paul Pierce’s defender, positioning The Truth for a wide-open look from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, Pierce (22 points, 3 blocks) couldn’t recapture his Game 3 magic as the shot bounced off the back of the rim. Korver clearly traveled on the ensuing ATL possession, but the referees missed the call. Instead of getting another crack at tying the ballgame, the Wizards were forced to foul Paul Millsap, who sank two free throws to put Game 4 out of reach.

The Hawks finished with 30 total assists. Teague dropped 26 points and doled out 8 dimes, Horford posted 18 points, 10 boards and 2 blocks, and Millsap put up 19 points and dished out 6 assists. They each snagged 2 steals. Dennis Schroder added 14 points and 8 assists and was responsible for the biggest cheer of the night: the second-year backup PG missed two free throws in the fourth quarter, which meant free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches for everyone in attendance.

The series will head back to Atlanta for Game 5 on Wednesday night.

—Eli Schwadron

Warriors 101, Grizzlies 84 (series tied, 2-2)

Stephen Curry is that guy that’s hard to hate. I would say the only exception is a Memphis Grizzlies fan, but, um…

Curry got his flair back in last night’s Game 4 in Memphis, and even the Grizz fan above showed him love. After averaging 21 points in Games 2 and 3 and not attempting a single shot the first 8:30 of Game 4, The Can’t Miss Kid went off. In the remaining 11:30 of the first half, he matched his previous two games’ average to give the Warriors a 17-point lead. By the end of the game, the series was tied and Curry had 33 points.

Not included in the video above are these clips of Steph’s on-court style. First, this fancy assist to Draymond Green in the opening quarter:

Second, this dime to David Lee followed by a little shimmy:

And y’all already saw this steal plus dunk in that first video, but it needs to stand independently because, hops:

Safe to say Steph’s back in his MVP form. He improved his field goal percentage from 38 in Games 2 and 3 to 50 last night, and from 4-21 shooting beyond the arc to 4-9.

When Curry has it going like that, so do the Dubs. The League-leading visitors at the Grindhouse were up almost the entire game, with their advantage hitting its peak at 26 points. Any time the hometown Grizz (who shot 37.5 percent from the field and 22.2 from the arc) tried to get things going, Golden State sank a silencing shot. Curry led all scorers with 33, plus 8 boards and 5 assists. Four more Warriors were in double-figures, including Green with a 16-point, 10-board double-double and 4 assists (…plus 7 turnovers, oops).

The Grizzlies had two of their own with double-doubles in Zach Randolph (12 points, 11 boards) and Marc Gasol (19 points, 10 boards, 6 assists). But the team didn’t show the same intensity on the defensive end of the floor, even with all the encouragement from a female fan who probably sat right behind the scorer’s table, allowing her voice to be broadcast (sometimes over the commentators’) to all those watching on TNT.

The pivotal Game 5 will be at the Oracle tomorrow night, and I doubt any #DubNation fan will offer a Grizz player a high-five. There’s just too much on the line.

—Habeeba Husain