Saturday’s Eastern Conference Game 3 action was off the charts for excitement. The Boston Celtics eked out an overtime win in Philadelphia to take a commanding 3-0 series lead; it’s hard to imagine this series going past Game 5, and that’s if the Celtics don’t just sweep the Processors out of the playoffs entirely.
Plus, LeBron James tossed up one of those shots that we call a desperation effort…unless it goes in, in which case it’s proof that LeBron is the greatest of all time.
In fact, let’s start with the Cavs’ extending their series lead to 3-0 at home against a Raptors squad they’ve already beaten twice in Toronto.
We’ll start at the end and work backwards…
LEBRON DOES IT AGAIN
— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) May 6, 2018
Cleveland won 105-103, but it was not just those two points that made the difference.
Sure, LeBron had 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting, but throughout these playoffs, the sole question has been which of his teammates will step up on any given night. If he does it all himself, well, that’s how Games 1 and 6 of the Pacers series happened, two games Cleveland lost by a combined 200 points.
This time it was Kevin Love, who had 21 points on 7-of-14 and added 16 rebounds and a plus-20 plus/minus.
Kyle Korver was also his usual self, hitting 4-of-6 from long range, adding a couple of two-pointers as well (2-of-2 from two), and ending up with 18 points and a plus-11 in a game Cleveland won by two points.
And Toronto? Well, DeMar DeRozan is picture-on-milk-carton at this point, and his 3-of-12, eight-point, minus-23 stinker of a game (Toronto was plus-21 in the 20 minutes DeRozan sat) shows that LeBron can punk him at will.
Oh, and the Raptors lost the game the old-fashioned way too, by committing 17 turnovers to Cleveland’s ten.
But all that mattered was that magical shot at the end. All hail LeBron James.
Average Al Strikes Again!
Seriously, Al Horford was supposed to be the Chris Bosh-in-Miami third option on this team, but what he’s become is veteran leadership and mentoring to a young roster as the elder statesman on the Celtics’ diaper brigade of rookies and other early-career folks pilfered off Brooklyn.
— NBA (@NBA) May 5, 2018
Oh, and that clip forgets the context…the go-ahead layup:
— ESPN (@espn) May 6, 2018
Oh, and Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double, notching 16 points and eight each of boards and assists just to remind everyone that he’s still the future superstar in the room.
Philly shot just 39.2 percent from the floor; they did everything in their power to give the game away before literally giving it away with a turnover.
How The West Was Dull
I’m just going to lightning round the Western Conference Game 4s because we learned what we needed to know, which is that Utah and New Orleans made fine roadblocks but were never going to deny us the Houston-Golden State “Real NBA Finals” we’ve been waiting for since the season started.
Golden State thrashed New Orleans 118-92 as Kevin Durant had 38, Stephen Curry had 23, Draymond Green posted an eight-nine-nine (points-rebounds-assists), and Klay Thompson…stunk out the joint, with 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Whoops.
Meanwhile, the Pellies shot just 36.4 percent from the field and a horrendous 15.4 percent (4-of-26) from three.
And that’s how 118-92 happens.
Highlights from Durant’s big show as the Warriors seem set to take this one in five:
— NBA (@NBA) May 6, 2018
Meanwhile, in Salt Lake City, not only was order restored when the Rockets won Game 3 but dominance restored when Game 4 happened.
Houston beat Utah 100-87 behind a 12-of-23 shooting night from Chris Paul, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell had 25 points, but he shot 8-of-24 to get it.
Counting stats are nice, but with that as context, that was a 25-point performance by a guy who sucked on offense. You don’t win games when your leading scorer plays like trash.
And even though Houston won by 13, they didn’t even play their best game, making just 10-of-38 three-pointers, a 26.3 percent clip.
They were vulnerable. They still won easily.
Chris Paul celebrated his 33rd birthday in style as the man of the match:
— NBA (@NBA) May 7, 2018
There’s a pair of Game 4s in the East Monday. It’s possible I’ll be talking about how there won’t be any Game 5s in the East. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading!