Last night was collectively the most entertaining evening of playoff basketball thus far this postseason. Three elimination opportunities that left two teams cleaning out their lockers, anda third who stayed alive by way of a last second shot from an undrafted free agent rookie. 16 points was the total margin of victory in these latest three games, as Miami and OKC move on while Memphis is left wondering how they let one slip…details below:
Game five: (2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Philadelphia 76ers, United Airlines
- Final Score: Heat 97, 76ers 91
- After following up their game four win by giving the Heat everything they could handle during game five, the Heat eventually closed out this young Sixers squad in a hard fought win in front of the home crowd. I guess LeBron is done eating breakfast now, or something.
- Heat’s Dwayne Wade: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists on 10 of 25 shooting from the floor.
- Sixers’ Andre Iguodala: 22 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists.
- Key Stats: The Heat hung around for most of the night by way of the three point line. Mario Chalmers led the way shooting 6 of 12 from three point range, and Miami shot 40% as a team (12 of 20). Conversely, Philly hit only 2 of 12 from deep.
- “We knew it, they knew it, everyone knew it,” Heat forward Chris Bosh said of facing the Celtics. “It wasn’t if, it was when.”
- Before the game, James referred to closing out the Sixers as “finishing our breakfast.” It caused a minor stir in the hours before Wednesday’s tipoff but the Sixers found the analogy amusing after the game. “It was a long buffet because we kept coming,” Elton Brand said.
- Miami moves on to the 2nd round after eliminating Philly 4-1. First game vs. Boston is Sunday at 3:30 ET back down in Miami.
Game five: (1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Memphis Grizzlies, AT&T Center
- Final Score: Spurs 110, Grizzlies 103 in OT
- This close-out game opportunity for the Grizzlies surpassed the Brandon Roy led comeback against the Mavs a few days ago as this postseason’s most exciting game as far as my viewership is concerned. I imagine Jeff and Mike would agree. Manu was ridiculous and Gary Neal hit a monster shot, right after Zach Randolph connected on few monster shots of his own, as the Spurs stay alive.
- Spurs’ Manu Ginobili: 33 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists.
- Grizzlies Zach Randolph: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists.
- Key Stats: You can point to a few different stats, but it came down to Gary Neal being a big shot maker with 1.7 seconds left. It looked and felt like Memphis was moving on, then Neal buries a three to tie and keep the Spurts alive. The drama continues.
- “I had good legs going into it. It felt good,” Neal said after the game, “I followed through and it went in.”
- “However we have to get it,” said Memphis’ Tony Allen after the game, “it’s going to take everybody and everyone focusing to fight against the former champs.”
- Memphis leads San Antonio 3-2. Game Six is back in Memphis on Friday at 9pm ET.
Game five: (4) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (5) Denver Nuggets, Amway Center
- Final Score: Thunder 100, Nuggets 97
- The Nuggets lead by 9 points with less than four minutes to go, but Kevin Durant went Lee Corso on their hopes to take this thing back to Denver. Durant slammed the door by way of scoring 16 of his team’s final 20 points, and addeda blocked shot in the final seconds for good measure, as the Thunder move on to round two.
- Thunder’s Kevin Durant: 41 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists on 52% shooting from the field.
- Nuggets’ Kenyon Martin: 14 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists.
- Key Stats: While Denver did have five guys in double figures, nobody scored more than Aaron Afflalo’s 15. Russel Westbrook only went 3 of 15 from the floor (14 points, 4 assists, 5 rebounds) but at least didn’t take the 30 shots he took in game four, and Perk went for 11 and 9.
- “I just tried to seize the moment and take advantage of it,” Durant said. “They kept feeding me the rock, I was able to get to some good spots and fortunately I made some shots.”
- “We didn’t close out this game, we didn’t close out Game 1 and … they’re both very difficult to swallow right now,” Denver coach George Karl said. “We will somewhere in the next week or wake up and realize that we had a hell of a season.”
- Oklahoma City eliminates Denver 4-1. The Thunder will play the winner of San Antonio / Memphis once that’s decided. If it is the 8th seeded Grizzlies, OKC will have homecourt in the next round as well.