NBA Playoffs: Mavericks and Nets force game 7, while Damian Lillard eliminates Rockets
Never in NBA Playoff history have there been so many Game 7′s as we have in the first round of these Playoffs – five, to be precise. All five game 7′s are going to be played through this weekend so all you NBA fans around the world: clear your weekend.
Yesterday it was another three-game night with all three being possible series-ending games, but only one series was wrapped up. Also, earlier in the day some news off the court not concerning these six teams was released by the NBA – Zach Randolph of the Memphis Grizzlies will not be playing game 7 of their series with the Oklahoma City Thunder as he faces a one game suspension for throwing a punch at opposition center Steven Adams.
Getting back to the just concluded three games, here’s an analysis of each of them:
(3) Toronto Raptors vs (6) Brooklyn Nets (Brooklyn win 97-83, series tied 3-3)
The Raptors had a chance to close out the series on the road but instead were completely outplayed by the Nets who led by as many as 26 in this game. The Nets dominated right from the word “go”, outscoring the Raptors by 15 in the first half itself and heading into the locker room with a 19 points halftime lead.
All the heroic shots and plays that Kyle Lowry made in Game 5 seemed to be missing here as the Raptors struggled to find a flow to their game, hurt by center Jonas Valanciunas’ early foul trouble and Lowry’s woeful shooting performance of 4-16. Still, the young team came as close as 10 points with 5 minutes to go in the final period of play but lacked the temperament to finish it off. DeMar DeRozan’s performance of a game-high 28 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists deserves a mention despite the loss.
The Nets’ excellent effort in an elimination game was led by point guard Deron Williams who seemed to have an ankle injury scare in the third quarter but walked it off by playing in the game. He ended up scoring a team-high 23 points including 4 from long range, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Joe Johnson recorded 17 points, Paul Pierce scored 13 and Kevin Garnet 12.
The series shifts back to Toronto for Game 7 on Sunday as both teams look to advance to the next round of the Conference Semis where two-time defending champions the Miami Heat await them.
Deron Williams’ highlights from Game 6:
(1) San Antonio Spurs vs (8) Dallas Mavericks (Dallas win 113-111, series tied 3-3)
The Mavericks entered this game with a 0-7 record when trailing 3-2 in a Playoff series, but in an elimination game at home the Mavericks struck through to force a deciding Game 7 back in San Antonio.
Both teams offensively had a balanced outing, with six players scoring double figures. The Mavericks were led once again by the duo of Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki who scored a combined 51 points. But the game-changer was the spirited effort of Dejuan Blair who made his return from a one-game suspension with an inspiring double-double performance off the bench, scoring 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Meanwhile for the Spurs it was their point guard Tony Parker who was the leader on offence, scoring 22 points and dishing 6 dimes. Veteran Tim Duncan scored 16 points on an efficient 7 of 9 shooting from the field. Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Tiago Splitter were the other players in double figures.
On an inbounds play trailing by 2 and 1.3 second left in the game, the Spurs couldn’t get the ball in despite having 6 players on the court. They did get a clean look on the following in-bounds but only after time wore down, which meant there will be a Game 7 on Sunday.
(4) Houston Rockets vs (5) Portland Trail Blazers (Portland win 99-98, win series 4-2 and advance to Conference Semis)
The Portland Trail Blazers ended their Playoff series drought of 14 years by wrapping up their series with the Houston Rockets at home in Game 6 on the back of Damian Lillard’s clutch series-winning three pointer at the buzzer. Meanwhile the frustration for Dwight Howard continues – he either hasn’t made it to the Playoffs or hasn’t made it past the first round of the Playoffs despite playing for three different teams in the last three years.
Game 6 was another nail-biter of a game where the Rockets held the lead for the most part on the back of Howard’s aggressive play in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 straight points. Howard ended up with strong numbers of 26 points and 11 rebounds including 2 blocked shots. James Harden came up big as well for the Rockets with 34 points on 9 of 15 shooting from the field and 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, but he had no points in the fourth quarter and missed a clutch jumper with 7 seconds to go in the game.
For the Blazers it was the Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge show once again as the latter tallied 30 points and 13 rebounds while the former scored 25 points on 8 of 14 from the field and 6 of 10 from long range. This was Lillard’s reaction on the series winning three at the post game press conference:
“That’s definitely the biggest shot of my life — so far.”
On the other hand, here is Howard’s reaction:
“It hurts. When you put everything you got on the floor and somebody hits you with a dagger like that, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
The Trail Blazers are the first team in the West to advance to the Conference semis, where they await the winner of the Spurs-Mavericks series.
Here’s a look at the series winning shot by Lillard which will be seen thousands of times by Portland fans:
Top Plays of the Day
Pretty sure everyone knows which is the top play of the day, but here are the other four of the top 5: