Cavs, Celtics advance

LeBron James posted a near-triple-double (19-10-9) to help his Cavs fend off the feisty Bulls, 96-94. Antawn Jamison led Cleveland with 25 points.

In Boston, Dwyane Wade has his own near-triple-double (31-8-10) but the Heat fell to the Celtics, 96-86. Ray Allen caught fire from three (5-of-6, 24 points) and Paul Pierce chipped in with an efficient 21-7-6. Rajon Rondo posted 16-8-12 in the win.

The two teams square off in the next round — it should be a knock-down, drag-out battle. These two franchises simply don’t like each other.

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Wade’s 46 points keeps Miami alive

Check out this series of plays over a six-minute stretch of the Heat’s 101-92 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 4:

00:14.5 [MIA 71-75] Wade 3pt Shot: Made (27 PTS)
START OF 4TH QUARTER
11:45 [MIA 73-77] Wade Jump Shot: Made (29 PTS)
11:09 [MIA 76-77] Wade 3pt Shot: Made (32 PTS)
10:36 [MIA 79-78] Wade 3pt Shot: Made (35 PTS)
10:36 [MIA 79-78] Wade 3pt Shot: Made (35 PTS)
08:17 [MIA 86-80] Wade Free Throw 1 of 3 (39 PTS)
08:17 [MIA 87-80] Wade Free Throw 2 of 3 (40 PTS)
08:17 [MIA 88-80] Wade Free Throw 3 of 3 (41 PTS)
06:12 [MIA 93-82] Wade 3pt Shot: Made (44 PTS)

He did miss one shot during that stretch (tsk, tsk), so in that 6:03 span, he scored 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting (5-of-5 from 3PT) and almost single-handedly took the Heat from a seven-point deficit to an 11-point lead. Mike Breen called it one of the greatest playoff performances he’s ever seen.

Wade’s run of five-straight threes is especially impressive considering he is just a 29% career shooter from behind the arc.

If that wasn’t enough, a few minutes before Wade’s 20-point run, he posterized Kevin Garnett:

Even with the win, the Heat trail in the series, 3-1, and head back to Boston for Game 5 on Tuesday.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Paul Pierce’s buzzer-beater upends Heat

The Celtics went up 3-0 with a 100-98 win over the Heat. Here is Pierce’s game-winner:

Pierce always wants to get to the same spot — about 20-feet out to the right of the top of the key. The defender needs to force him left and make him uncomfortable. By having his left leg back, the defender invited Pierce to go right, and that played right into his hands.

It looks like Miami is done.

KG suspended for Game 2

Per NBA.com…

The NBA announced Sunday evening that Kevin Garnett has been suspended for Game 2 of the Celtics’ first round series with the Heat “for striking the Miami Heat’s Quentin Richardson in the head with an elbow.” In addition, Richardson has been fined $25,000 for his role in the altercation.

Some are saying that this suspension “opens the door” for the Heat, but the truth is that the door is pretty open with or without Garnett in the lineup. The Celtics did look good for a quarter and a half in Game 1, but that doesn’t mean that they were/are a shoe-in to win the series.

Did he deserve to be suspended? It would have been nice if the altercation could have been diffused without all the posturing, but that’s Kevin Garnett for you. He relishes in sticking his chin in his opponent’s face and this time he threw a (stupid) elbow. Now his team has to try to win without him.

Game 2 is on TNT Tuesday night.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Your quick and dirty NBA Playoffs preview

The matchups are set and the first round starts this weekend. In the East, the top four teams — Cleveland, Orlando, Boston and Atlanta — seem like good bets to advance, while in the West, I wouldn’t be shocked if the bottom four seeds — Utah, Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City — were to make the second round. Here’s a quick look at each series:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Cavaliers vs. Bulls
It’s not often that a team that had a 10-game losing streak end in mid-February recovers and makes the postseason, but that’s exactly what the Bulls have done, winning 10 of their last 14 to capture the final playoff spot in the East. Chicago has the tools to make this a series, and with Shaquille O’Neal coming back from a long break, there’s a chance this could go to six or seven games. But in the end, Cleveland should have plenty of firepower to put the Bulls away.

Celtics vs. Heat
If there’s going to be an upset in the East, this will probably be it. The C’s have limped into the playoffs, losing eight of their last 13 games. Meanwhile, the Heat went 18-4 in February and March, but were just 4-3 against teams with winning records. Boston swept the season series despite Dwyane Wade’s terrific numbers (34-5-9, 50% shooting), so if anyone else steps up, the streaking Heat have a good shot at stealing the first or second game and gaining control of the series.

Hawks vs. Bucks
If Andrew Bogut were healthy, I’d pick Milwaukee, but the Bucks are going to have a tough time winning a seven-game series against a pretty good Atlanta team that has won 13 of its last 19 games. The Bucks’ defense could keep the games (and the series) close, but the Hawks should have enough to move on.

Magic vs. Bobcats
Orlando is peaking at the right time, going 19-3 in February and March. However, one of those losses was at home against Charlotte. The Bobcats are playing well too — they’re 16-7 over their last 23 games. Both teams are excellent defesively; they’re tied for first in defensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions), so expect a few tight games. But Orlando just has too much talent.

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