Hello again, all. I apologize for missing a day of action, but I’m back now. Today’s post is a little longer than normal, so we’re going to skip the usual (somewhat) witty intro today and just dive in.
Indiana Pacers 94, Miami Heat 75: Pacers lead series 2-1
Ladies and gentlemen, meet Dwyane Wade. He is a man whose parents apparently forgot how to spell momentarily as they were filling out his birth certificate and is also one of the best basketball players alive. Apparently, someone forgot to inform him that his team was scheduled to play in Indianapolis Thursday night, because he was nowhere to be found.
Obviously I don’t mean that literally. He was there, on the court, but he wasn’t there, if you know what I mean. He recorded the first scoreless half of his playoff career in the first half and scored all of five points in the second, managing five turnovers throughout the game to boot. In other words, he scored five more points than you did, sitting at home on your couch. He also got in one more fight with Eric Spoelstra than you did. (That’s not a good thing, in case you couldn’t tell.) LeBron James didn’t exactly cover himself in glory either, but he was certainly better than Wade, finishing with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. Above-average numbers in the NBA, yes, MVP-winning numbers, not exactly.
Actually, just by looking at the box score, you’d have thought the MVP candidate on the Heat was Mario Chalmers, who threw up a 25-6-5 and appeared to be on the verge of single-handedly dragging the Heat back into the game at one point in the fourth quarter. He didn’t, obviously, but the fact that he even came close was impressive.
On the other side, Roy Hibbert was an absolute monster for Indiana. 19 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks is a Dwight Howard-esque statline, which is about the highest compliment you can give a center in today’s NBA. He all but snuffed out Miami’s Chalmers-led comeback when he went on a spree of shot blocking, sending Wade and Chalmers packing on consecutive possessions. George Hill added 20 points and 5 assists, David West had 14 points and 9 rebounds and Danny Granger chipped in 17-7-4 in a typically balanced effort from the Pacers.
Now, the attention turns to game four, also in Indianapolis. With this full-fledged butt kicking, game four is now an absolute must win for Miami, unless it prefers to return home down 3-1. It’s becoming clear that Miami has absolutely no answer for the Pacers inside and on the boards without Chris Bosh, and Indiana knows that. Do LeBron and Wade resolve to just put their heads down and go to the rim all night, trying to put the game away early? Or does the narrative take over and they start overthinking it while Indiana gets more and more confident? I’m guessing it’s the former, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
San Antonio Spurs 105, Los Angeles Clippers 88: Spurs lead series 2-0
Ho hum. Another night, another Spurs blowout. Seriously, this is starting to get old. Just like the Spurs. ZING!
I’m kidding, obviously. The Spurs may be getting older, but they’re still incredible. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Timmy Duncan are still doing their thing, and with Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and (somewhat improbably) Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson backing them, they’re probably the best team in the NBA. That Spurs-Oklahoma City Thunder Western Conference Finals is looking more and more like the real NBA Finals, what with the East falling to pieces.
Duncan had a workman-like 18 points, Parker had 22-5-5, and Diaw put up 17-4-4 mostly by virtue of refusing to miss a shot, going 7/7 from the field. Anyone who saw Boris Diaw doing that in the second round of the playoffs when he was languishing in Charlotte please raise their hand. I’ll wait.
Speaking of superstar no-shows, meet Chris Paul. He could not hit a shot in game one and couldn’t hang onto the ball in game two, turning it over 8 times. Yikes.
The Clippers actually played pretty well overall. They shot 49% from the field and were 9/13 from three. They had a decent-sized advantage at the foul line too. But they lost the turnover battle handily and their defense got shredded by the Spurs. I mean, anything can happen in the playoffs (and often does), but I’m having a hard time imagining the Clippers getting back in the series without some kind of extenuating circumstances, such as a San Antonio injury or Vinny Del Negro being kidnapped or something. And even then, I still would take San Antonio. We’ll find out when the scene shifts to Los Angeles, though.
Friday, May 18th:
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Game 4, 7 PM CDT, ESPN
Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers Game 3, 9:30 PM CDT, ESPN