We’re slowly but surely making progress towards the NBA Finals. Three of four semifinal series are now underway after the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Lakers senseless last night, and the fourth tips off tonight in San Antonio. In fact, one series already has two games in the books, so that’s something. Let’s go ahead and get into a fairly boring night in the NBA.
Philadelphia 76ers 82, Boston Celtics 81: Series tied 1-1
Yes, this was a one-point game, but that’s a touch misleading. The Sixers led by five before Ray Allen hit a three with less than five seconds left and then led by four with two seconds left before Kevin Garnett hit a meaningless three at the buzzer. Unfortunately, after a surprisingly watchable game one, game two devolved into the ugly slugfest we’d feared might occur. The Celtics probably should have won this game, but an abysmal third quarter, in which they posted 46.2 points per 100 possessions, less than half of the historically terrible mark belonging to this year’s Charlotte Bobcats in the regular season, derailed them and they couldn’t finish the game in the fourth. Several questionable calls went Boston’s way down the stretch, but then Garnett was called for an illegal screen as the Celtics had a chance to tie down three and it was all over but the crying.
Philadelphia got solid efforts from Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday, and their center combo, Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, combined for 18 points and 18 rebounds. Boston, meanwhile, got another pretty good Garnett game, a good Ray Allen game and an OK Brandon Bass game. Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo, however were MIA for much of the game. They’re going to need to step up if the Celtics are going to win at all in Philly.
Yep, they really won by 29 points. And really, it wasn’t even that close.
After a first half that was at least somewhat competitive, even if the Thunder led by 15 at the end of it, OKC came out and put in the killshot just over a minute into the game when Kevin Durant hit a three in semi-transition. There were still nearly 23 minutes left in the game, but everyone knew it was over.
The Lakers actually got pretty good games from Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, but they couldn’t match OKC’s firepower. Russell Westbrook went bonkers and tossed up a 27-7-9, while Kevin Durant added 25-8-4. James Harden put up 17 off the bench to complete the triad.
Honestly, the Thunder certainly seem to be in a position to cruise in this series. Their only real concern at this point is the health of Kendrick Perkins, who left with a groin injury partway through the third quarter, but unless Bynum and Pau Gasol decide to play well in the same game, that’s probably not an issue. The important point is that the Lakers have no real answer for Russell Westbrook. He could easily average a triple-double in this series.
May 15th, 2012: