Today is Friday, April 27, 2018.
|Friday, April 27, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Cavaliers||vs.||Pacers||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Pacers look to get even against Cavaliers
Thursday, April 26 at 9:58 PM (EDT)
The Indiana Pacers were winless in the seven games that leading scorer Victor Oladipo didn't play in the regular season.
In the past three first-round playoff games, Oladipo is 12 of 50 from the field. The Pacers won Game 3, thanks to Bojan Bogdanovic's 30 points, but lost the last two close games to Cleveland to fall behind in the series 3-2. Game 6 is set for Friday in Indianapolis.
"I think I got some pretty good looks. I just feel as though I missed," Oladipo said. "Credit them. They still did a great job on me, switching out. But I feel like I got pretty good looks, some open looks that I haven't gotten at all this series. I just missed."
The most important miss in his 2-of-15 showing was a controversial one. LeBron James blocked Oladipo's drive in the final seconds with the score tied at 95. However, the NBA admitted Thursday that it should have been called goaltending because the ball make contact with the backboard before James blocked it. James then drilled a 3-pointer to win it at the buzzer.
"The series ain't over," Oladipo said. "You got to win four games, right? We still got a game on Friday. I don't think anyone is discouraged or upset. It sucks we lose. But we can give ourselves a chance to come back (to Cleveland) for Game 7."
The Pacers were ahead 56-49 at halftime. The difference was the third quarter when the Cavaliers opened with a 21-4 spurt to take a 10-point lead. Kyle Korver said the third quarter has been an issue for the Cavs.
"I thought we had a good third quarter, finally," Korver said. "We've had leads going into the half the last few games, and third quarters have kind of been our Achilles heel, so it was good to come out motivated and playing hard in the third quarter. I thought guys responded well, and then at the end -- what a special finish. It was amazing."
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the coaching staff did a good job encouraging the players to come out strong.
"I think our guys responded," Lue said. "I thought JR Smith's defense in the second half was way better. We challenged him at halftime and he was great for us."
Lue just wanted an opportunity at the end.
"We have the best player in the world on the team," Lue said. "If we get the ball to him, you know he's capable of delivering."
James, who finished with 44 points, is averaging 34.8 points in the series.
"Kevin (Love) and JR didn't shoot it well, but defensively they were really good," James said. "Kevin rebounded the basketball. It was a total team effort."
Pacers point guard Darren Collison said the Pacers can't dwell on the missed call or loss.
"We've got to forget about it," Collison told Fox Sports Indiana. "You can't worry about what happened. That's not going to help us. We know (James) made a tough shot. We'll be prepared mentally coming in."
Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who said he should have played James tighter on the final shot, agreed the Pacers must have short memories.
"Hopefully, we get this home win and take care of business and force a Game 7," Young said.
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson offered the keys to winning Friday.
"We got to play hard, make the open passes, make the open shots, lock down LeBron and make his teammates play," he said.
After scoring 17 points in the first three games of the series, Pacers center Domantas Sabonis has scored 41 off the bench in the last two games.
"Every game I'm getting more comfortable," Sabonis said. "There are different lineups they are throwing at us and I'm just trying to take advantage of it."
James expects the Pacers to come hard at the Cavaliers.
"That team never stops and it's going to be even tougher on Friday," James told TNT after the game.
Cavaliers point guard George Hill has missed the last two games with back spasms and is questionable.
|Thunder||vs.||Jazz||10:30 (EDT) Preview|
Thunder take new life into Game 6 vs. Jazz
Thursday, April 26 at 9:30 PM (EDT)
SALT LAKE CITY -- After a huge Game 5 comeback that sent the first-round Western Conference series back to Utah for a sixth game Friday, the Utah Jazz tried to rationalize the finish of Wednesday's game as an aberration.
On the other side, the Oklahoma City Thunder tried to move on from their come-from-behind victory while also explaining why the team that came back from a 25-point deficit was more representative than the team that fell behind by 25 points in the first place.
"Once tomorrow starts, this is over with," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said after Wednesday's victory staved off eliminaton. "You've got a whole different set of things, so I don't look at it like we're carrying any momentum. We've got to go in there and we've got to play and play better. This is a team that had us down by 25 points.
"Now, I'm obviously thrilled with the comeback, but I don't look at it like, 'OK, we're riding some momentum wave.'"
The Jazz lead the series 3-2 and return home to Vivint Smart Home Arena trying to close out the Thunder and not have to return to Oklahoma City for Game 7.
"They have a lot of pride," Utah point guard Ricky Rubio said of the Thunder and especially stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George, who were dominant during Oklahoma City's comeback stretch. "They are not going to give up easy. They took pride and forced a Game 6, but we are going home. We've got to be strong and be confident."
Even with the collapse, Utah should be confident going home.
In their two home games in the series, the Jazz outscored the Thunder by 39 points in the 73 minutes played by Westbrook. Utah big man Rudy Gobert has helped slow Westbrook's attacks to the rim.
It was Gobert's foul trouble, in part, that helped Oklahoma City come back from 71-46 less than four minutes into the third quarter to win 107-99.
"It's a different feeling when you don't have big fella back there," Utah's Donovan Mitchell said. "It's hard that we put all the pressure on him. We have had success but eventually it's not going to work and we have to play better defense as guards ourselves."
Rubio has been another of the big keys of the series, averaging 20.3 points and shooting better than 41 percent from the floor in the Jazz's three wins but 11.5 points and 28.1 percent shooting in the two losses.
Wednesday's loss was a tough lesson for Utah, which is looking to advance in the playoffs for the second consecutive season despite losing Gordon Hayward to free agency in the offseason and looking like a franchise in rebuild mode after a rough start.
"It's the playoffs," Jazz forward Derrick Favors said. "We have to be mentally strong and the game isn't over until it's zero on the clock. I think we kind of relaxed in the second half and they got going."
Since trading for George and Carmelo Anthony, the Thunder have been maddening at times, looking underwhelming for much of the season but also flashing periods of greatness, as they did late in Game 5.
"We've got to come back and do it again, and this has been this team's greatest challenge," Donovan said. "The consistency to be able to come back the next game and do it again over and over and over, and that's what's going to be required to continue to advance the series."
|Raptors||vs.||Wizards||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Raptors look to close out Wizards
Thursday, April 26 at 10:16 PM (EDT)
Exactly one year ago, the Toronto Raptors clinched a postseason series on the road.
The location was Milwaukee, but the Raptors are hoping to experience the same feeling Friday night when they visit the Washington Wizards in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Toronto won two of three road games in last season's series, including a 92-89 win at Milwaukee in Game 6 when DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points.
The Raptors' series against Washington reached six games because the home team is unbeaten. Toronto allowed 122 points last Friday in Game 3 and then blew a double-digit lead and scored 18 points in the fourth quarter of a 106-98 loss in Game 4 on Sunday.
Toronto, which did not lose three straight all season, rebounded nicely Wednesday by getting a 108-98 win in Game 5 Wednesday. DeRozan scored 32 points on a night when the Raptors tried a different alignment down the stretch.
Center Jonas Valanciunas played fourth-quarter minutes for the first time all series alongside Delon Wright, Kyle Lowry, DeRozan and C.J. Miles. That group played seven minutes together, but the unit was put together with about nine minutes remaining and Toronto facing a five-point deficit.
DeRozan scored 30 points before the fourth quarter while Wright scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth, Valanciunas totaled six points and seven rebounds, helping the Raptors control the glass by a 15-12 margin in a game where they were outrebounded 50-35.
"We understand each other's capabilities," DeRozan said. "When guys line up out there, (we know) what we're all capable of doing offensively, defensively. It showed tonight. Everybody stepped up. Delon stepped up big. With C.J. out there, he spaces the floor tremendously. You've got to worry about a knock-down shooter like him. We just exploited everything individual-wise that we could do."
If the Raptors do everything DeRozan mentioned down the stretch like Wednesday, they will avoid a Game 7 at home on Sunday, something they were able to do last season.
Besides the relatively new lineup, the Raptors also reverted to its style emphasizing 3-point shooting. Toronto made 11 of 25 3-pointers after only attempting 18 in Game 5.
"We took the shots that we normally take, and there's nothing abnormal about it," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "That's what was uncharacteristic about the two games in Washington, the fact that guys were turning down shots. I thought ball movement was better (Wednesday)."
The Wizards have yet to lose to Toronto at home in a postseason game.
Three of Washington's four home postseason wins over the Raptors have been by double digits. The Wizards also won Games 3 and 4 of a first-round series three years ago when they swept Toronto.
Now they are facing elimination after fading down the stretch by shooting 8 of 24 in the final 12 minutes.
Washington guard John Wall is averaging 26.6 points in the series and was 2 of 6 in the fourth Wednesday. Bradley Beal scored 20 on 8-of-20 shooting but missed five of six shots in the fourth.
"We feel like we let one slip away," Wall said. "They made the biggest shots at the end of the game."
Those were Wall's words after the Wizards missed seven straight shots and now they are hoping to avoid a repeat display of stagnant offense on their home floor to keep their season going.
"For sure, to be that close at home against this team, it was there," Washington forward Markieff Morris said. "We just have to execute towards the end."
The Wizards have been able to execute at home in the postseason recently. They are on an eight-game playoff home winning streak in the postseason.
Washington's ability to execute might be missing a key component in Otto Porter Jr., who is dealing with a strain in the lower part of his right leg, his status is unknown and could be based on MRI results.
"We don't know yet, but he's banged up," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "So hopefully we will find out some good news and see how he feels tomorrow."
Porter was initially injured April 10 against the Boston Celtics. He averaged 14.7 points in the regular season but is averaging 10 points in the series.
"We need Otto," Brooks said. "We need Otto to be more of a nine or 10-point scorer for us to win this series."
|Thursday, April 26, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Giannis, Bucks beat Celtics 97-86 to force Game 7
By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
Thursday, April 26 at 11:07 PM (EDT)
MILWAUKEE (AP) Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away late to beat the Boston Celtics 97-86 on Thursday night to force a Game 7 in the first-round series.
Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon each added 16 points, with Brogdon hitting a momentum-swinging 3 from the left corner to give the Bucks a two-possession lead with 5:22 left. The Bucks held the Celtics at bay from there to force the winner-take-all game Saturday night in Boston.
The up-and-coming Bucks haven't played a seventh game in the playoffs since losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in 2010.
Both teams went on extended runs to take big leads.
The Bucks made the last big push to close out the Celtics.
Boston had to settle for perimeter looks down the stretch. They couldn't hit enough 3s, finishing 10 of 36 (28 percent) on the night, and the Bucks limited Boston on the glass.
On offense, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks' charge right at the heart of the Celtics' defense.
After Eric Bledsoe picked off Jayson Tatum's inbounds pass, Antetokounmpo converted an offensive rebound with a putback off the glass for an 89-81 lead with 3:08 left. It was part of an 11-3 run late to help the Bucks pull away for 10-point advantage.
With his team facing elimination, Antetokounmpo vowed to be more aggressive following a five-point loss in Game 5.
The two-time All-Star produced in the crunch time, scoring 20 points in the second half on 8-of-14 shooting.
Tatum finished with 22 points, and Terry Rozier had 18 for the Celtics. After holding the edge on the glass for most of the series, Boston got outrebounded 48-39.
Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens stuck with the same starting five he used for Game 5, with Semi Ojeleye in for Aron Baynes for a quicker frontcourt on defense. ... Former President Bill Clinton attended the game and exchanged handshakes with guard Marcus Smart. ... Jaylen Brown added 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
Bucks: C John Henson (back) missed his fourth straight game, with Thon Maker getting his first start of the series over Tyler Zeller. Maker finished with four points and one block. ... Held a 25-4 edge on transition points. ... Jabari Parker had another strong game off the bench with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Tony Snell had 13 points.
Game 7 is Saturday night at the TD Garden in Boston.
For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
|Trail Blazers||vs.||Pelicans||1:00 (EDT)|