Today is Tuesday, April 24, 2018.
|Tuesday, April 24, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Heat||vs.||76ers||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
76ers aim to take next step in process vs. Heat
Monday, April 23 at 9:14 PM (EDT)
Even as the Philadelphia 76ers exceeded expectations this season, those who have indeed trusted the process still could not have imagined the team's quick ascension to the NBA's elite.
Joel Embiid, for one, isn't about to pump the brakes on what has been a whirlwind ride that has the 76ers heading into their Game 5 home matchup on Tuesday sporting a 3-1 lead over the visiting Miami Heat.
"A lot of people say we have a bright future," said Embiid, whose 76ers host the Heat at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. "But I think our time is now. We have a special team and I feel like now we have a pretty good chance to go forward."
Speaking of the now: With their backs against the wall, the Heat are not flailing their arms wildly, looking for any target.
They are pointedly focused on the present: Game 5 and the 76ers.
"It's not necessarily us against the world," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's us against the Philadelphia 76ers. We have to find a way to finish games. They've really nailed us in the fourth quarters of all four games, except the one we were able to pull away. We just have to do better. Through three quarters, we've been up. It's going to require a full 48-minute game of our absolute best effort."
Miami has been outscored by Philadelphia by an astounding 42 points in just the fourth quarters through four games. Even in the Heat's 113-103 Game 2 win at Philadelphia, the 76ers still outscored Miami 28-27 in the fourth quarter.
In a roundabout way, that Game 2 loss -- which snapped Philadelphia's 17-game winning streak -- actually gave 76ers coach Brett Brown some much-needed locker room material heading into the game.
"Everybody's trying to break somebody's spirit," Brown said Monday. "It's always the same thing. It happens on the other side of it. And I know (Spoelstra), who is a great coach, would be in his locker room saying, 'All we got to do is win a game and come home.'
"They're going to live in a really isolated, sort of roomed-in world of, 'Let's just win a game. We won a game last time we were here, and just come home and figure it out.' You can see it."
Knowing his team can close out a hungry opponent on Tuesday, Brown isn't changing his message too much.
"My intention is not to speak anything into existence," Brown said. "It's all about trying help the team win. Like, we want to get better. We're gonna. We're going to go into Tuesday night and we're going to get better. I believe that if we think like that, act like that, coach like that, then the habit becomes, I hope, we're going to win."
J.J. Redick, no stranger to heated playoff series, echoed his coach's thoughts on Monday.
In Game 4, Redick led the 76ers with 24 points en route to a 106-102 win in a game that Philadelphia trailed by four after three quarters.
"You're feeling each other out and then later on in the series you have to deliver a crushing blow," Redick said. "You have to finish that. A team like Miami, their culture, their organization, their group of guys, they have fighters. They have warriors on their team. Every game in this series has been tough and there's no indication that Game 5 will be different. It's going to be a tough game."
|Spurs||vs.||Warriors||10:30 (EDT) Preview|
Spurs aim to stay alive vs. Warriors
Monday, April 23 at 9:24 PM (EDT)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The San Antonio Spurs hope to take a second step on what would be an unprecedented journey in the NBA playoffs when they once again face elimination in Game 5 against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
No team has ever won a series in which it trailed 3-0, but the Spurs were able to stay alive at home with a 103-90 win in Game 4 on Sunday.
It was the first time in the Gregg Popovich era that the Spurs have as much as won one game after losing the first three of a series. They were swept in a similar situation last season by the Warriors in the Western Conference finals.
For the third game in a row, the Spurs will be coached Tuesday by assistant Ettore Messina, with Popovich having left the team after the death of his wife Erin last week.
The teams had different views as to what triggered the dramatic turnaround in Game 4. The Spurs had fallen behind at least 19 points in each of the first three games of the series but never trailed Sunday.
The Spurs cited improved shooting as one big difference. After connecting on a combined 20 of 83 (24 percent) on 3-pointers in the first three games of the series, San Antonio bombed in 15 of 28 (54 percent) in Game 4.
The result: A team that had been outscored 105-60 from beyond the arc for three games was able to turn the tables to the tune of 45-21 in the elimination game.
It was a team effort. LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Dejounte Murray and Manu Ginobili, who had combined to make just three 3-pointers in the first three games, dropped in a total of 10 when it mattered most.
"It was a do-or-die game," explained Aldridge, a predicament in which the Spurs also will find themselves in Game 5. "Make it happen or go home, and I think every guy played with that mentality, that focus, and we ended up getting it done."
Meanwhile, the Warriors weren't even getting shots time and again early in the loss. They committed seven turnovers in the game's first 5 1/2 minutes, fell behind by as many as 10 points in the first quarter and never caught up.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn't like seeing it live and enjoyed it even less when he got back to Oakland and watched it on tape.
"Lack of focus to start the game was really the key," he noted. "More than energy, it was a sense of purpose. And I take a lot of the blame for that. I should know better as a coach of a team that's been up 3-0 plenty times -- you gotta know you're going into the lion's den ...
"Looking back at the tape, I should have taken a timeout three minutes into the game and broken a clipboard. More than that, I should have had them prepared pregame for what was coming, and I didn't feel like I did a good job at that."
The Warriors had similar early-game issues at home during the regular season. It helped produce a record as good on the road (29-12) as at home (29-12).
Even with Sunday's loss, the Warriors have beaten the Spurs in 11 of their last 13 meetings, including both regular-season and playoff games.
If the Warriors win Game 5, they would advance to face the New Orleans Pelicans in the Western Conference semifinals.
|Pelicans||vs.||Trail Blazers||3:00 (EDT)|
|Bucks||vs.||Celtics||7:00 (EDT) Preview|
Bucks, Celtics gear up for pivotal Game 5
Monday, April 23 at 9:41 PM (EDT)
BOSTON -- The Milwaukee Bucks continue to battle history and the Celtics as they visit TD Garden for Game 5 of their opening-round playoff series with Boston on Tuesday night.
Despite winning both games in Milwaukee, the Bucks, looking for their first series victory since 2000, have never won a series after trailing 0-2, going 0-17 in such situations.
The Celtics, on the other hand, have never lost a series they led 2-0, winning all 35 times going into their current situations.
In league history, teams are 19-274 when trailing series 0-2, including the Portland Trail Blazers going out in four straight against the New Orleans Pelicans in the current first round.
But the Bucks, after a lineup change caused by the back injury to John Henson, guaranteed there will be another game at Bradley Center before the move to their new building next season.
They win Game 4 when Giannis Antetokounmpo tipped home the winning basket with 5.1 seconds left -- after the Bucks squandered a 20-point lead with what amounted to their season on the line.
"At the end of the day in the playoffs, we know we have the best player on the floor," Malcolm Brogdon, whose running hook shot was followed by Antetokounmpo, said after the win. "So we rely on him and he comes through."
Antetokounmpo said, "It means a lot," gutting out a critical victory that evened the series at two wins apiece. "I just want to say good job to everybody because everybody played hard. Whoever stepped on the floor played hard, played together. The most important thing is we trust one another."
But now, what comes down to a best-of-three series shifts to Boston, where the Celtics have gone 29-14, including playoffs, at home, this season. The Bucks are 19-24 on the road, but they opened the season with a win at TD Garden.
Antetokounmpo left a Milwaukee restaurant after a delay in seating after Game 4 but can now turn his attention to the Celtics, who are without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis. Marcus Smart, who has been out, has been upgraded to questionable for Tuesday's game.
Jaylen Brown scored a career-high 34 points, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range, in Boston's Game 4 loss.
"He's the only reason we were in the game in the first," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "And then in the second, he just continued and did a great job. Played with tremendous spirit, played with tremendous toughness and made shots. Kept us in it."
"Jaylen was great," teammate Al Horford said. "His energy on defense really translated to the offensive end. Hit some very tough shots and had a lot of timely plays. That's encouraging to see."
The Celtics called an isolation play for Marcus Morris after the final timeout but the shot didn't go.
"It's a shot that Mook makes 10 out of 10 times," Brown said. "It just didn't go in tonight. So, Game 5."
Horford said, "We're battling. We're playing hard, but it's not good enough just to play hard. This is why the playoffs are so challenging. But I think it's good for our group. I think we're learning. We're looking forward to being able to go back home."
Horford had 24 points and 12 rebounds in Boston's 113-107 overtime win in Game 1, and Brown scored 30 in a 120-106 victory in Game 2.
Antetokounmpo had 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists in Game 1 and 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in Game 2. He is averaging 27.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists through four games.
Brown leads the Celtics in scoring at 23.8 points per game.
|Monday, April 23, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Harden, Rockets soar past Wolves 119-100 with 50-point 3rd
By DAVE CAMPBELL - AP Sports Writer
Tuesday, April 24 at 12:25 AM (EDT)
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Though James Harden and most of the Houston Rockets were misfiring throughout the first half, their confidence never wavered.
In the third quarter, those sharpshooters sure came to life.
Harden had 22 of the team's near-record 50 points in the third, launching the Rockets past the Minnesota Timberwolves 119-100 on Monday night to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
''We had the mentality to be aggressive, make or missed shots,'' said Harden, who went 7 for 10 in the third quarter and finished with 36 points. ''That's what we do. We shoot the basketball, and eventually they'll start falling.''
Chris Paul scored 15 of his 25 points in the near-record third for the Rockets, who still had a 50-49 halftime edge despite their rough start. With those torrid 12 minutes, they built a 31-point lead and were up 104-69 about a minute into the fourth. The only team in the history of the NBA playoffs with more points in one quarter was the Los Angeles Lakers, who scored 51 points in the fourth on March 31, 1962, in a loss to the Detroit Pistons.
''It was a good time to do it. We've been talking about it for two years, putting the 50-piece up,'' Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''And that starts with the intensity and the right spirit and everything.''
Clint Capela added 14 points and 17 rebounds, Eric Gordon finally got going with 18 points off the bench and the Rockets left the Wolves wondering what hit them after 3 1/2 games of decent defense against one of the league's most dangerous offensive teams. The Rockets scored on 11 straight possessions after an opening stop by the Wolves, and Harden alone scored 17 of their first 20 points.
''I've got to watch it again,'' Paul said. ''We just, I don't know, got hot.''
Wolves star Jimmy Butler, on the other hand, began forcing off-balance shots. Teague and Paul, the two former Wake Forest point guards, engaged in some intense trash talk. Paul baited Teague into a pushing foul for a pair of add-to-the-pile free throws. Gordon tacked on another 3-pointer at the buzzer for the 100-69 lead.
''I think we came out a little flatter than last game. We didn't come out right away with that straight grit in the third quarter,'' said Karl-Anthony Towns, who had 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Minnesota missed 14 of 21 shots, producing several panicked possessions over the third. Perhaps that's because they were so rattled by how suddenly and quickly the Rockets were scoring.
''We came out lackadaisical on both ends of the floor,'' Butler said. ''We didn't take anything away from them. They got whatever shot that they wanted.''
The Timberwolves rebounded from their two defeats on the road by matching the Rockets with 15 makes from 3-point range in Game 3. They wisely took another tack for Game 4, attacking the basket in the first half with relentless abandon and plenty of success.
Derrick Rose, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, was the catalyst off the bench with multiple muscle-his-way-in layups on both fast breaks and in the half court. Starting point guard Jeff Teague, meanwhile, had only two points on 1-for-7 shooting while fighting through dislocated right pinky finger.
The Wolves were in front by as much a 36-29, but with as poorly as the Rockets were shooting they badly needed a larger lead than that. They went 21 for 44 from the field (47.7 percent) in the first half, but with all the layups and putbacks in the mix they easily could have made more.
Trevor Ariza made the first three 3-pointers attempted by the Rockets, who then missed on 13 of their next 14 tries from behind the arc. Harden didn't make a basket until 5:57 remained in the second quarter, when his 10-foot floater fell in to cut Minnesota's lead to 39-37. He swished one of his signature step-back 3-pointers on the next possession, and Houston was right back in front to sow the seeds for the staggering third quarter.
''Once we get going, it's hard to stop us,'' Capela said.
The last time the Timberwolves were in the first round of the playoffs in 2004, their opponent was Denver and Nene was a 21-year-old starter for the Nuggets. This is his 16th season in the NBA, the second with the Rockets.
Rockets: Ariza finished with 15 points, after missing his last eight 3-pointers. ... Harden is averaging 30.3 points in the series. He's 38 for 91 from the floor (41.8 percent). ... Capela is leading the league in the playoffs in rebounding, averaging 14 per game.
Timberwolves: Backup point guard Tyus Jones was available on an emergency-only basis because of a sore right knee. Rose played 33 minutes. ... Butler (19 points) and Andrew Wiggins (14 points) combined to shoot 12 for 31 from the floor.
The series shifts back south to Houston for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Mitchell scores 33, Jazz rout Thunder 113-96
By JOHN COON - Associated Press
Tuesday, April 24 at 3:35 AM (EDT)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Shutting down the Utah Jazz offense is proving easier said than done for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
For a second straight game, a late second-quarter surge by Utah carried over into the second half and it allowed the Jazz to pull away for a 113-96 victory Monday night. The Jazz used a 20-3 run spanning the end of the second quarter and the start of the third to break open the game.
Utah takes a 3-1 series lead back to Oklahoma City. Game 5 in the best-of-seven playoff is Wednesday night.
Donovan Mitchell had 33 points and seven rebounds to lead the Jazz to their third straight win in the series. Joe Ingles added 20 points, hitting five 3-pointers.
Mitchell's willingness to attack the rim put the Thunder on their heels throughout the second half.
''He's done a good job of getting in there and finishing or dropping it off,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ''It's an important part of what we do. He's our most dynamic offensive player.''
Rudy Gobert added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Ricky Rubio chipped in 13 points, eight assists and six boards. Derrick Favors also scored 13.
Paul George had 32 points and Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Thunder, who shot 39 percent from the field.
''I thought we played downhill a lot more,'' coach Billy Donovan said. ''I thought we were at the rim a lot more. From there, we probably missed some opportunities to move the ball. I thought our ball movement was sporadic and sometimes it was very good.''
The Thunder opened a 26-19 lead late in the first quarter when Carmelo Anthony capped a string of three straight Oklahoma City baskets with an alley-oop layup. They held onto the lead for much of the second quarter until Utah finally woke up on offense.
Starting with Gobert cutting to the rim for a dunk with 3:45 left in the second quarter, the Jazz scored on 11 straight possessions. Ingles fueled the surge by hitting three consecutive 3s to put Utah in front 58-52 before halftime.
''These guys are great at telling me to shoot it as much as possible within the flow of our team and our offense,'' Ingles said.
The surge Ingles kept going finally culminated in another dunk by Gobert that punctuated the decisive 20-3 run that gave Utah a 67-52 lead.
''The whole year, one of the things that we've wanted to do collectively is try to generate open shots,'' Snyder said. ''You're not always going to make them, but you want to keep taking them. Eventually, you're going to make some. We hit some timely ones in the second half.''
The Jazz led by as many as 21 in the third quarter. Utah went up 87-68 when Mitchell drained a jumper and then fed Ingles for a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
Physical play and heated emotions characterized the game. Both teams picked up two technical fouls before halftime. Jae Crowder was ejected after a technical foul with 5:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
''That's just what you're going to get with a playoff team,'' George said. ''It's playoff basketball. It's going to get chippy. It's going to get physical. We're in it for the fight.''
Thunder: Westbrook finished with his fourth consecutive double-double in the series. ... Anthony went just 5 of 18 from the field. ... Oklahoma City totaled one assist in the third quarter and finished with 10 for the game. ... The Thunder shot 5 of 26 from 3-point range.
Jazz: Ingles is 10 of 21 from 3-point range over his last two games. ... Utah forced 15 turnovers. ... Royce O' Neale finished with a career playoff-high nine rebounds. ... Rubio is averaging eight assists per game in the series.
WESTBROOK VS. RUBIO
Westbrook publicly promised to shut down Rubio in Game 4 after the Jazz point guard notched a triple-double in Game 3. His aggressiveness ended up with Westbrook drawing four personal fouls in the first half. In the end, Rubio shot just 4 of 12 from the field, but he finished with two fewer assists (eight) than the Thunder tallied as a team.
Following the game, Westbrook did not want to discuss how he guarded Rubio.
''It wasn't about me or him,'' he said. ''Let's get past that. We done with that.''
Mitchell set a postseason rookie scoring record for the Jazz, passing Karl Malone, who had 31 points on April 20, 1986, against the Mavericks. Mitchell is the first rookie to have a 30-point playoff game since Brandon Jennings did it in 2010. Mitchell is just the third rookie in the last 50 years to score 110-plus points in his first four playoff games, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan.
''It's definitely an honor to have a record like that,'' Mitchell said. ''Definitely an honor. No doubt about that, but we have one more game, so I'm focused on that.''
For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball