Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

James Harden struggles in Game 3 loss to Warriors

The Houston Rockets got smoked at home by the Golden State Warriors last night. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

James Harden struggles in Game 3 loss to Warriors

Harden and the Rockets had their first off night of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday night. Instead of having a chance to be their hero, Harden was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter watching his team fall to the Warriors 115-80 and fall to 0-3 in the series.

“They outworked us,” Harden said. “They played a lot better than us tonight. They played downhill all night and we never recovered.”

Harden was stellar in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland, averaging 33 points, shooting .585 from the field. He also averaged 10.5 rebounds, nine assists and 3.5 steals in the first two games.

On Saturday in Game 3, Harden had 17 points, shot .187 from the field, dished out three assists and had four rebounds.

After the first two games, guarding Harden was key for the Warriors.

“I mean, it’s hard to stop him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s got an incredible pace to his game. He sees angles. He gets into the cracks of the defense and there’s little subtle things you do that he may exploit, he may not. I thought we did a better job taking away some of the angles that he was attacking on us in the first couple games.”

Stephen Curry shines, Warriors take 3-0 lead vs Rockets

Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry, who was even more brilliant than usual Saturday night in Houston, helping his team dominate the Rockets 115-80 to take a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals:

Stephen Curry shines, Warriors take 3-0 lead vs Rockets

Curry was marvelous in Game 1 and deadly in Game 2. He was both and more in Game 3, pouring in a game-high 40 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including a sublime 7-of-9 on 3-pointers.

The scrawny, tiny Curry has never stood larger in his basketball career. He broke Reggie Miller’s NBA record for 3s made in a playoff year. He’s averaging 35.6 points on 61.2 percent shooting (38 of 62) from the field and 58 percent (18 of 31) beyond the arc. He’s made Harden forgettable, placed his name among the league’s historic greats and put once-forgotten Golden State within sight of the only series that matters.

Curry was very, very good before the 2014-15 playoffs. Thanks to three games against the once-resilient Rockets, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard has become indisputably great.

“Steph was Steph. He’s the MVP,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, whose highly confident team blew out the fight-less Rockets 115-80 Saturday at the Toyota Center. “He’s had a brilliant season. The shooting is hard to describe because I don’t think we’ve ever seen anybody shoot the ball the way Steph does off the dribble, off the catch. Seven-for-nine from 3. I mean, it was remarkable. Just a tremendous performance.”

Atlanta Hawks guard/forward Kyle Korver suffered a right ankle injury with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter of last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. X-rays performed at Philips Arena last night were negative. A follow-up MRI and examination this morning at the Peachtree Orthopaedic Clinic confirmed a severe high right ankle sprain. Korver will see a foot and ankle specialist to determine the best course of treatment. He is out for the remainder of the postseason.

Cavs take 2-0 series lead vs Hawks

Cavs take 2-0 series lead vs Hawks

The Cleveland Cavaliers are rocking, and leave Atlanta with two wins, heading to Cleveland for Game 3. No Kyrie Irving in Game 2, no Kevin Love for the rest of the playoffs, yet no problem so far for LeBron James and company. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

The Cavaliers are down to one superstar and plenty of helping hands.

The Hawks might be down to their last rites.

LeBron James had 30 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists and the Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks 94-82 Friday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. And they did it without Kyrie Irving.

Irving was held out of Friday’s game because of tendinitis in his left knee, yet his absence was barely noticeable.

Matthew Dellavedova had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists in place of Irving, Iman Shumpert scored 16 points and the Cavs held the high-powered Hawks to 42 percent shooting while dismantling the best team in the East on their own floor.

Tristan Thompson grabbed 16 rebounds and Timofey Mozgov had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving and Cavaliers head team physician Dr. Richard Parker traveled today to see Dr. James Andrews of the Andrews Institute. Irving’s left knee was evaluated and his diagnosis (tendinitis) confirmed and treatment plan agreed upon. Irving will be with the team tonight in Atlanta, but will not play. He will continue treatment and is currently listed as Questionable for Sunday’s game in Cleveland.

Check this video of the top five plays from Rockets at Warriors, Western Conference Finals Game 2, which Golden State won 99-98 to take a 2-0 series lead.

Kyrie Irving health update

Kyrie Irving health update: questionable for tonight’s Game 2

Kyrie Irving health update

Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving will not attend the team’s shoot around this morning in Atlanta in order to undergo additional evaluation with head team physician Dr. Richard Parker. After continuing his treatment following Wednesday night’s game, symptoms related to his left knee tendinitis had not diminished and additional evaluation was recommended. He will be listed as Questionable for tonight’s game.

Warriors edge Rockets 99-98 to take 2-0 series lead

James Harden had Game 2 on his fingertips - and then he didn’t.

Now the Golden State Warriors have the Western Conference finals in their grasp.

Stephen Curry scored 33 points before Harden lost the ball in the closing seconds, and the Warriors held off the Houston Rockets 99-98 on Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in the series.

Harden rallied the Rockets from 17 points down in the second quarter and had a chance to finish off the comeback in the fourth. Instead, Klay Thompson harassed him and Curry came over to trap Harden, who lost the ball as time expired…

Harden had 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, and Dwight Howard overcame a sprained left knee that slowed him down to finish with 19 points and 17 rebounds for a Rockets team headed home in a major hole.

– Associated Press

DeMarre Carroll health update: knee sprain, questionable for Game 2 vs Cavs

Atlanta Hawks forward DeMarre Carroll suffered a left leg injury with 4:59 remaining in the fourth quarter of last night’s game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. An X-ray was negative and an MRI revealed a left knee sprain. Carroll will be listed as questionable and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Stephen Curry fined for flopping

Stephen Curry fined for flopping

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry has been fined $5,000 by the NBA for violating the league’s anti-flopping rules during Game 1 of the Warriors’ Western Conference Finals series against the Houston Rockets.

The incident occurred with 3:07 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 110-106 victory over the Rockets on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

UPDATE: According to AFP, “I don’t agree with it,” Curry said Wednesday. “I watched the play over and, transition play, so obviously balance is not very good in that situation.” Added Curry: “That play happens countless times. I wasn’t even looking for the foul. I was just reacting to the contact.” Warriors coach Steve Kerr also disagreed with the fine — not because Curry’s move wasn’t a flop, but because such falls, from minimal contact, are so common.”

Cavs take 1-0 series lead vs Hawks

Cavs take 1-0 series lead vs Hawks

J.R. Smith knocked down a tough 3-pointer, then another. Turning toward the fans, their heckling transformed to groans, he blew off his right index finger and motioned toward his side, like he was holstering his pistol.

Yep, Smith was that hot.

While LeBron James led Cleveland with 31 points, it was Smith who ignited the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. He made eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points in a 97-89 victory over the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.

”When he gets hot,” Cleveland coach David Blatt marveled, ”he gets smoking hot.”

Intent on bringing Cleveland its first NBA title, James sealed the victory with a soaring dunk in the final minute.

– AP

J.R. Smith steps up in Game 1 vs Hawks

J.R. Smith steps up in Game 1 vs Hawks

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks 97-89 on Wednesday to open the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

With a berth in the NBA championship finals on the line in the best-of-seven series, J.R. Smith set a Cavaliers club record for three-pointers, draining eight from beyond the arc.

His 28 points accounted for all of the scoring by Cleveland reserves.

“I was just trying, if anything, to take good shots,” Smith said. “I got in a rhythm early and just stayed aggressive.”

– AFP

Kyrie Irving health status for Eastern Conference Finals: good to go

Kyrie Irving says he will play in Game 1 vs Hawks

The Cleveland Cavaliers are still without Kevin Love, who is out for the rest of the playoffs and inactive for months beyond that, but banged-up guard Kyrie Irving appears healthy enough to play in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

Kyrie Irving worked overtime Monday, bouncing around the court during a shooting drill with LeBron James long after the formal portion of practice had ended.

Irving is still fighting injuries to both his left knee and right foot, but he moved fluidly and without a limp. And most importantly, he declared himself ready for Wednesday’s opening game of the Eastern Conference finals at the Atlanta Hawks.

“I’m going to go,” he said.

Irving’s availability was never really in doubt, although Cavaliers coach David Blatt cast a temporary shadow when he said he was hopeful Irving would be ready. After Irving was a full participant on Monday, Blatt said he was “encouraged’ by the progress his star guard made in a relatively short amount of time.

Rockets complete comeback, eliminate Clippers in seven games

James Harden scored 31 points, Dwight Howard had 16 points and 15 rebounds and the Houston Rockets never trailed in a 113-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, sending them to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 1997.

It’s the ninth time in NBA history that a team has overcome a 3-1 series deficit to win a playoff series.

The Rockets needed an epic comeback to overcome a 19-point third-quarter deficit and force Game 7. No such heroics were needed Sunday when they were up by 17 after three and Howard opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point play to push it to 88-68.

Blake Griffin scored five points in a 9-0 run to cut the lead to eight points with less than 2 1/2 minutes remaining. Harden made a pair of free throws after that, but a dunk by DeAndre Jordan got the Clippers within eight again. This time Trevor Ariza hit a 3 from the corner to secure the victory.

– Associated Press

Wizards put up fight but fall to Hawks

Here’s CSN Washington reporting on the Wizards, whose offseason has begun:

Yes, the Eastern Conference semifinals with the Atlanta Hawks, was super duper close, painfully so for the Washington Wizards. Historically so at that. The last four games were decided by five points or less. That hadn’t happened in an NBA playoff series since 2006. The Wizards lost the last three of those games en route to dropping the series 4-2.

John Wall’s fractured left hand and wrist stands out as the obvious “What if” question of the series. Even with the All-Star point guard missing three games and playing the last two with those five fractures, Washington took Atlanta, a team that ran away with the Eastern Conference regular season title, to the brink.

Get past Wall and the question is what differences led to the Wizards thinking about summer vacations instead of meeting LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.

“I guess little details,” center Marcin Gortat said after revealing details of food poisoning that kept him on the bench for most of the series finale. “Little details in our game. Scrappy little details and that’s why we get punished for I guess.”

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

The Cleveland Cavaliers recently proved they can win a big game while LeBron James’ shot is off and Kyrie Irving (and Kevin Love) aren’t on the floor, but it’s not something they care to attempt on a regular basis. Ideally, Irving will be out there, making defenders look slow while he racks up points. But he’s banged up. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting the latest:

Kyrie Irving sits out Saturday practice

Cavs’ All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was held out of practice Saturday after reaggravating a left knee injury in Thursday’s closeout Game 6 against the Chicago Bulls.

An MRI on Monday revealed tendinitis in Irving’s knee. Irving has also been battling a right foot strain suffered in Game 2 of the first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

Cavs coach David Blatt said Irving saw the doctors again Friday. Blatt couldn’t give a definitive assessment of Irving’s status for Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Hawks in Atlanta, but said the Cavs “hope” he can play.

Kyrie Irving resting his sore knee

Kyrie Irving resting his sore knee

All-Star guard Kyrie Irving has stayed off the practice court to rest his injured knee as the Cavaliers began preparing for the Eastern Conference finals against Atlanta.

Irving sat out nearly three quarters of Game 6 in Chicago on Thursday night after aggravating tendinitis in his left knee. Irving was seen by team doctors on Friday and on Saturday Cavs’ coach David Blatt says he’s hopeful his starting point guard will play in Wednesday’s Game 1 in Atlanta.

– Associated Press

James Harden on bench during wild Rockets Game 6 comeback win

The Rockets unleashed an amazing comeback Thursday to win Game 6 in Los Angeles against the Clippers, and they did so with their star guard on the bench watching the show. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

James Harden on bench during wild Rockets Game 6 comeback win

James Harden never heard his name, never asked to go back in.

The Rockets reserves were rolling, the Clippers lead shrinking and Harden kept sitting. As the Rockets rallied from a 13-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, a 17-point hole when Harden sat and a 19-point Clippers lead when it had swelled to its largest, Harden remained on the Rockets bench.

He did not play even a full second in the fourth quarter (he entered the game, but no time expired before he was back out) as Rockets coach Kevin McHale stayed with the players that turned the game around and sent the series to a Game 7 on Sunday. Harden had no complaints.

“Amazing. It was really amazing. Just really proud of those guys in that fourth quarter, man, to keep fighting, keep battling. They did a tremendous job on both ends of the floor, battling, holding that team to 15 points. Being down 13, … those guys kept battling and it was an amazing job.”

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

The Houston Rockets face elimination tonight in Game 6 unless they can step up and once again beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Rockets star James Harden, who is averaging 24.8 points, 6.0 assists and 9.2 assists per game in this second round series through five games, is shaking off the effects of the flu. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

James Harden trying to shake off effects of flu

James Harden was coughing and trying to clear his throat during his chat with reporters on Thursday morning.

The Houston Rockets’ starting guard will play in Thursday’s critical Game 6 against the Los Angeles Clippers while still feeling the effects of the flu.

“I’m all right, I’m good,” said Harden, who played through the illness and needed IV fluids the morning of Game 5 on Tuesday. “I’m all right, I’m in a good place right now.”

His team isn’t.

The Rockets trail the Western Conference semifinal best-of-seven series 3-2, and to force a Game 7 at home, they must win in a place where they have played badly.

The Clippers lead the Rockets 3 games to 2 in their second round playoff series. Tonight’s Game 6, in Los Angeles, is must-win for Houston. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Josh Smith will start Rockets-Clippers Game 6

Rockets coach Kevin McHale said he would start forward Josh Smith again in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Smith started in Game 5 and forward Terrence Jones came off the bench.

“We just tried to change some things up, tried to get (Jones) with that second unit, maybe get him some more looks, get him going,” McHale said. “Josh is a very good passer. We gotta use another guy out there to break them down.”

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