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2014 NBA Playoffs: Spurs and Raptors take 3-2 leads, Rockets survive after first win at home

2014 NBA Playoffs: Spurs and Raptors take 3-2 lead, Rockets survive after first win at home

This post-season is turning out to be one of the best Playoffs in recent times with the level of competitiveness, number of overtime periods and high scoring bouts that we have seen so far in only the first round. Going into Wednesday night, two series were tied at two games a piece while the Rockets trailed 1-3 looking to keep their season alive with a win at home in the final game of the night.

Here’s a jist of all you need to know from the three games Wednesday:

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs (8) Dallas Mavericks (San Antonio won 109-103, lead series 3-2)

Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs gives his players direction against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2014 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Head Coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs gives his players direction against the Dallas Mavericks in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs on April 30, 2014 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.

After taking back home court advantage with a win in Game 4, the Spurs looked to take the lead in the series and did so winning the Game 5. It was one of the best in recent years for the veterans in the Mavs team; Dirk Nowitzki had 26 points, 15 rebounds on 10 of 20 shooting from the field, his best game in the Playoffs since 2012, while Vince Carter had his best game since 2010 with 28 points in 27 minutes of playing time, hitting 7 of 9 from 3-point land.

The Spurs rallied behind their point guard, Tony Parker, and their starting bigs, Tiago Splitter and Tim Duncan. Duncan (16 points and 12 rebounds) and Splitter (17 points and 12 rebounds) both had double-doubles, but Duncan also had three blocked shots to add on to his box score. Parker led the team in scoring with 23 points and dished out 5 assists in a game where Head Coach Gregg Popovich believed the Spurs played  ball more like what they did in the regular season.

“I thought we moved the ball better than we had in the past. We looked a little bit more like we have been playing offensively the rest of the year.” -Gregg Popovich

On Friday night at the American Airlines Center, home of the Mavericks, the Spurs would look to close out this series while the Mavericks would look to force the series back to San Antonio for Game 7.

Toronto Raptors vs Brooklyn Nets (Toronto won 115-113, lead series 3-2)

DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates during a game against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 30, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

DeMar DeRozan #10 of the Toronto Raptors celebrates during a game against the Brooklyn Nets in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 30, 2014 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Don’t let the scoreline confuse you, this game was not at all close for three quarters, until the Nets turned it on in the final period of play. The Raptors  led by 22 entering the fourth quarter, but blew it by allowing Brooklyn to tie it up with only 3 minutes left to play. However, they soaked in the pressure and point guard Kyle Lowry came up big for his team scoring a playoff career high 36 points and dishing out 5 assists that included a few clutch shots down the stretch late in the game.

Meanwhile the Nets’ fourth quarter 32-8 run was led by  guard Joe Johnson, who scored by 26 of his 30 points in the second half, as Mirza Teletovic and Allan Anderson came up big off the bench scoring 17 and 13 points respectively. Deron Williams was also instrumental in the late-game surge scoring 13 points and giving out 9 assists.

The Nets are a veteran team and at this point in the season have now understood how to balance the tempo of the game to suit their style of play, so expect them to bounce back strongly in Game 6 on Friday.

Houston Rockets vs Portland Trailblazers (Houston won 108-98, trail series 2-3)

Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets gets the crowd going after a defensive stop with less than two minutes to go in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Toyota Center on April 30, 2014 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 108-98.

Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets gets the crowd going after a defensive stop with less than two minutes to go in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2014 NBA Playoffs at the Toyota Center on April 30, 2014 in Houston, Texas. Houston won 108-98.

A series between two highly offensive minded teams saw defense win the game for Houston as they restricted Portland to under a 100 points en route to their first win at home in this series. Dwight Howard was fighting foul trouble early and James Harden couldn’t get out of the funk that he has been in the series, but  just when it seemed like it would be a tough task for the Rockets to force a Game 6, ‘Linsanity’ came to it’s rescue.

Jeremy Lin delivered off the bench to score 21 points in 30 minutes on 9-15 shooting to fend off the Trailblazers who made a run to remain close. However after a reverse lay-up by Harden with about 3 minutes to go in the game, the Rockets ran away with the game. Howard had a huge game with 22 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks, and despite fouling out Omer Asik had a double-double of his own with 10 points and 15 rebounds. The Rockets out-rebounded the Traliblazers by 14 and it hurt their chances of making a run late in the game.

The Blazers were hurt by LaMarcus Aldridge’s struggles, scoring only 8 points in a series where he is averaging 31, as they relied heavily on perimeter shooting and pick-and-pop type of play, considering their center Robin Lopez was of little help on the offensive end of the floor except on the boards. The Blazers still have two chances to wrap the series, but will want to do it at the earliest in Game 6 on their home floor on Friday.

Top 5 plays of Wednesday night

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI4mDtDdZjs

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