Raptors tie series up with 87-76 win

After their game three 104-point outburst the Milwaukee took a two steps back in game four. The adjustments from Toronto’s end could be seen as they held the Bucks to 37-percent shooting from the field (23.8-percent from three). The Bucks only managed to squeeze in 76 points in game four as well. Perhaps some of the “baby” of the Bucks showed itself in Saturday’s game as Giannis Antetokounmpo failed to lead all Bucks in scoring, assists and rebounds in the same game.

The second half was all Toronto as they stretch the lead to 11 points, which was the biggest of the game. Defensively, the Raptors forced 20 Milwaukee turnovers which is the most in a single game in this series so far. After his 0-of-8 performance in game three DeMar DeRozan bounced back with a 12-of-22 shooting performance for a game high 33 points. Five Raptors were able to score double-digits to support DeRozan’s offense.

In an up and down series the Raptors will head back to Toronto for game five where they will need to continue the defensive force. The talent and firepower lies on the Raptors side as the have two All-Stars in the backcourt. Should Dwane Casey have his team properly adjusted the Bucks will need to adjust accordingly on the offensive end.

Thunder hold off Rockets to claim first win

The Thunder finally hang a W in the win column last night, as they hold off another late charge by the Rockets, winning on their home court 115-113. Harden lead the way for the Rockets with 44 PTs, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Westbrook and Co. Westbrook joins Oscar Robertson as the only NBA players with consecutive 30-point triple-doubles in the playoffs finishing with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists.

This game started out just as the first two of the series had, with OKC jumping out to a big lead early. Up by 15 points in the first quarter, a haunting feeling of “can they hold on” creeps back up. This time the early lead withstood the Rocket’s again better second half play. The end of the game was not, as Westbrook went 3-6 with clutch free throws in the fourth. However, Harden missed two 3 pointers down the stretch they could have put HOU over for the win.

Thunder

Playing behind a controlled Westbrook for the entire game, the Thunder essentially played a perfect game on Friday night. Shooting 55% from the field and 47% from deep, it’s hard to see The Thunder emulating these numbers for the remainder of the series.

Taj Gibson was able to pour in 20 points tonight on 10-13shooting from the field. Three other Thunder finished in double figures as well with Roberson, Kanter, and Oladipo pushing the offense as well. The Thunder were able to get the offensive bursts they needed, allowing Westbrook to put trust in his teammates throughout the night. Even Norris Cole was able tochip in 5 points tonight in the win.

Rockets

Despite heavy support from Lou Williams and Ryan Anderson, the Rockets weren’t able to overcome the concert of scoring behind Westbrook. Going an uncharacteristic 10-35 from deep this game didn’t help their cause tonight. Harden also wasn’t his usual efficient self only going 11-21 from the field.

Despite this being a loss, HOU may not be feeling too bad. With an off night from their MVP and the Thunder playing spectacularly, they were still within reach of the win on the road.

Moving Forward

Houston still has control of the series, but Oklahoma City at home is a different animal. Roberson is continuing his silently great series and is a big reason OKC can push this series to 2-2 after Sunday’s afternoon game. If Adams can awaken next to Gibson this series can turn around for the Thunder and this MVP duel can become even more exciting.

Markus Murden
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@MXMurden

Celtics draw win against Bulls

The Chicago Bulls came into game 3 of this first round series with a 2-0 lead, but they learned they were going to be missing a key part of their team in Rajon Rondo. Averaging 11.5 points, 10 assists, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals in the first two games, it was revealed that Rondo suffered a right thumb fracture in game two. He will be evaluated in 7-10 days. Jerian Grant started at point guard in his place.

The loss of Rondo was clear at the beginning of the game. The Celtics came out firing, going on a 14-4 run to begin the game. The Bulls started to make a comeback, but that was shot down quickly. The Celtics shot 7-11 from 3-point range in the first quarter which led to a 33-15 lead. Boston had an insane 11 assists, while Chicago only had 1. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley combined for 18 points, while Jimmy Butler started cold with only 2 in the first quarter.

The second quarter was much different than the first, as the Bulls pulled it together under the wings of Dwayne Wade. They pulled to within 3 going down at the half 41-44.Wade’s veteran leadership came out to play, as he went for 8 points and 3 assists in the quarter. Boston cooled way down shooting just 5-22 from the field, including just 1 of 8 from behind the arc. Chicago ended the quarter on a 24-7 run, and Wade led all halftime scores with 14.

While the second quarter was Dwayne Wade’s, the third quarter belonged to the Celtics. Isaiah Thomas led the way with 8 points and 4 assists in the quarter, while Al Horford had 8 points and 5 rebounds. Although Jimmy Butler started the game 1-12, he scored 6 points in the last 2 minutes of the quarter.The Rondo effect came back into play, as Chicago had 0 assists in the quarter to Boston’s 10. The Celtics took a 76-63 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The Celtics handled their business in the fourth, winning the game 104-87. They never let Chicago go on a run to get back in the game. Terry Rozier saw the floor for most of the quarter, scoring 8 points to lead the way for Boston. Horford played a great game, scoring 18 points to go with 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals. Thomas ended with 16 points and 9 assists, while Avery Bradley finished with 15 points, 7 boards, 7 assists and shot 4-6 from deep. On the other side, Butler and Wade combined for 32 points on 13 of 39 shooting. Chicago dearly missed Rondo, as 8 of their 14 assists came before the fourth quarter. His replacements Jerian Grant and Michael Carter-Williams combine for 8 points and 3 assists on 3-10 shooting. It will be interesting how the Bulls handle the point guard situation for the rest of the series. They are going to need improved played from that position and Butler/Wade or this series is going to swing in the opposite direction very fast.

Game 4 is Sunday at 6:30 EST on TNT.

Calder Hill
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BT_Calder

Rajon Rondo out indefinitely due to thumb injury

Today the Chicago Bulls announced that Guard Rajon Rondo will be out indefinitely due to a fracture thumb. The news comes prior to Game three tonight in which the Bulls seek to go up 3-0 in their series against the Boston Celtics.

In the first two games on the series Rondo is averaging 11.5 points and 10 rebounds as the starter playing a major role in the Bulls performance. Jerian Grant will replace Rondo in the starting line-up.

Source: Chicago Bulls

Grizzlies take data to the Spurs

How does paying a $30K fine and a playoff victory after the fact of the fine sound?

Memphis made a statement in game three they came out with a fire and did not let the their playoff hopes get snuffed in the wake of the Spurs playoff ambitions .The hometown underdogs pulled out a win thanks to Marc Gasol and making a reutrn to the starting line-up,  Zach Randolph. Memphis certainly ignited by David Fizdale’s defense of them,, shot over 50% from the field and 40% from three. Oh by the way, Kawhi Leonard only shot four free-throws this game in which he was perfect from the line. Memphis showed their normal grind and grit play in a total team effort with no true superstar.

Thanks to Coach Fizdale the Grizzlies now have a cool slogan in “take that for data”. The crowd stood behind him during the pregame and the energy could be felt as the Grizzlies pushed their lead to 22 points in the second half. Mike Conley Jr lead Grizzlies in scoring with 24 points alongside a team high 8 assists.

The Grizzlies have defended home court and will attempt to do so again Saturday night in Memphis. Game four is set for an 8:00 PM EST tip-off.

Jason Tyson
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@tandrew_3

Lebron James makes history again in Cavaliers come from behind win

It appeared to be an easy Indiana Pacers victory on Thursday night as the Cavaliers were down by as much as 25 points. The comeback win was the largest come from behind win from a halftime deficit in playoffs history. Maybe, just maybe Lebron James and company wanted to prove a point.

The Cleveland Cavaliers know how to flip the switch on and go to work.

The historical come from behind win happened with James leading his Cavaliers in a complete turnaround in the second half. This all in part started with the Cavs outscoring the Paces 35-17 int he third quarter. James would go on to score 13 of the 35 while also connecting on three shots from behind the the three-point line. It wasn’t all an offensive outburst but the Cavaliers maintained a tighter defense in which they held Indiana to 19-percent shooting in the third quarter.

Whether it was a three-point shot from Kyle Korver or Channing Frye it was Lebron James assisting or taking driving to the lane for an easy basket. James would finish with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. Imagine this, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving did not play any of the fourth quarter. The pair shot a combined 8-of-29 in the first three quarters which gave enough reason to pass on to a line-up that was more productive. The Lebron vs Kobe debates get more interesting as Lebron passes Kobe Bryant in total playoffs points scored. Now of course, with Kobe holding on to two more rings there is plenty more to discuss.

The Pacers would be led by none other than Paul George who had crucial three-point baskets in the final minutes of the game to keep the Pacers afloat. George would finish the game with 26 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. There no answer defensively in the second half as Thaddeus Young took multiple attempts at guarding James but some how contested three-point shot just fell for the 3-time Finals MVP. The Cavaliers will have a chance to close out the series and complete a first round sweep in game four.

Game four is Sunday in Indiana. Tip-off is at 1:00 PM EST on ABC.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Bucks trounce Raptors and take 2-1 lead

The Milwaukee Bucks gave reason Thursday night as to why the Raptor is an extinct animal. The funny animals puns or the Toronto Raptors being introduced with Barney’s theme music could be the funniest thing about this series. In a 104-77 victory the Bucks lead all the way as much as by 34 points. After a failed comeback attempt in game two a motivated young Bucks showed no remorse to lose another lead. All series long the talk will be how well did the Raptors All-Star guard play. Can the duo maintain consistency this playoffs?

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combined for 50-percent shooting in game two. Their follow-up in game three? A combined 4-of-18 for 21 totals in total. A caveat to that stat line is that DeRozan did not register a single field goal in the game as he shot 0-for-8 while hitting on all eight free-throw attempts. The Raptors struggled all night offensively as they were held to 34-percent from the field (27-percent from three) and did not get the same assistance from Serge Ibaka as in game two. Ibaka would finish with six points on 3-of-8 shooting and grabbing three rebounds in 25 minutes.

For the Bucks the usual leader delivered. Giannas Antetokounmpo dropped in 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. Khris Middleton led all Bucks in scoring with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting alongside seven assists. The Bucks were able to get a balanced scoring attack with six player sin double figures. Overall they shot 53-percent from the field (52-percent from three) and maintained a 30-point lead for majority of the game.

Certainly, the Raptors are running back to “The Six” with some woes should they lose game four. a potential elimination game where the Bucks already have confidence winning on Toronto should not rest easy. “Fear the Dear” was the slogan on display all throughout the arena, clearly something a raptor did not like on Thursday night.

Game four is Saturday in Milwaukee. Tip-off at 3:00 PM EST on TNT.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy

Warriors without Kevin Durant blast Trailblazers to up 2-0

Is it safe to this series is over yet? KD who?

Without Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston due to injuries the Golden State Warriors cruised to a   110-81 victory in game two.

The Warriors appeared to be the fun team to watch again as Stephen Curry was back to hitting 36-foot three-point shots. Klay Thompson’s prettiest jumper in the NBA and Draymond Green with the all around play looked all familiar, without KD. The the Warriors held the Blazers to 12 points in the third quarter (lowest this season) and held the Blazers to 81 points total. The Warriors had 11 blocks with two players getting more than one block. JaVale McGee lead the defensive showing with 4 blocks and 15 points in 13 minutes.

Only 11 healthy Warriors for game 2, but that didn’t really matter. The Warriors had five players in double digits. Without Durant, others would have to step up but then again three other All-Star such as Curry (19points) Thompson (16points) Green (9points, 12 rebounds, 10 assist) can contribute. Another strong showing in game two was Ian Clark who scored 13 pointsoff the bench. By inserting a guy like McCaw, a rookie, into the starting lineup shows how much head Coach Steve Kerr believes in McCaw’s abilities.  McCaw did not disappoint him by playing good defense and finished the game with nine points and a huge block late in the game. Look for McCaw to get more playing time especially if Durant is out another game.

Coach Terry Stotts sure enough should burn the game tape. The Blazers shot 20% from three on 34 attempts, and got destroyed in the paint allowing a jump shooting team to get 50 points in the paint, while also loosing the rebounding battle 54-66.

“The Mid-Majors Brothers”

Damien Lillard finished the game with 12 points missing all four of his three point attempts. CJ McCollum on the hand had 41 points in game one but in game two did not even reach 15 points finishing with 11 points 4-of-17 from the field and 1-of-3 from the three point line.

Moe Harkless (15 points 8rebounds), Evan Turner ( 5points 7 assist), and Al-Farouq Aminu (9 points 7 rebounds) displayed better contributions than in game one.. Turner lead the Blazers in assist and Harkless lead them in rebounds. All three of these guys played solid but the Mid-Major brothers did not. With Durant being out Harkless was able to play better on the offensive end instead of focusing defensively on the craft seven-foot in Durant.

The Blazers are awaiting word to see if Jusuf Nurkic can play. He can be an added boost to help defensively in the paint and create more of a challenge for McGee and Green to defend in the paint. The Blazers will have a chance with the next two games at home to tie up the series.

Game three is on Saturday in Portland. Tip-off at 10:30 EST on ESPN.

Billy Aristide
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@JeffAristide

Rockets comeback from double-digit deficit to go up 2-0

Game 2 is in the books and the Rockets successfully protected home court advantage with a 2-0 lead heading back to The Thunder. Westbrook put on a show dropping 51-13-10, but needed 43 shots on the night to do so. Harden finished the night going 35-8-4 but only took 17 shots on the night. Harden feasted on the line with 20 free throw attempts. Looking at the box score tells the tale of this game as three other Rockets finish with 15 points with Eric Gordon and Lou Williams finishing with 20-plus. This game more than the last showed the separation between the two teams and why the rest of this series may seem eerily like this game moving forward.

Again, The Thunder took control of this game early. At one point The Thunder enjoyed a 15-point lead in the first quarter. The Thunder’s offense was rolling in the first period, being able to draw the Rocket’s big men out of the paint and score on easy layups by Westbrook or rely on his ability to find someone for a dish. This was The Thunder’s winning formula for most of the year and it again seemed to be working heading into the fourth quarter. However, the end of the third quarter showed why The Thunder is the Westbrook show while The Rocket is Harden and Co. The Thunder had a 12-point lead towards the end of the third, then Westbrook sat down for the final 2 minutes and the lead was cut to three going into the last period. The glaring difference in team quality with Westbrook off the floor is staggering.

Thunder

The Thunder’s frontcourt in this game shined in the first half. Both Gibson and Adams shot 50-percent from the field and I would like to see the ball put into their hands more to slow the game down. Westbrook is a dynamo, yes, but he can’t play 48 minutes a night and the Thunder look vacant if he’s not on the floor. Mix this with a still struggling Oladipo (11pts on 4/14(1-7 3Pt)), the Thunder’s offense is non-existent without Westbrook on the floor.

This causes problems for a guy who wants to get his teammates involved but doesn’t know who to turn to. The Thunder’s offense by committee after Westbrook is not working out. Especially with the team shooting 7-30 from 3-point range. The Thunder have not been a good 3PT team all season long and that won’t change now.

The Thunder need to lean on their experienced front court more going forward. Adam and Kanter are more than capable of carrying a scoring load and Westbrook is just going to have to trust one of them.

Rockets

The depth of scoring for the Rockets might be too much for Oklahoma. Despite only playing an eight-man rotation, four of those players scored in the high double figures. With Harden abusing the paint for free throws, it allowed for Beverley, Gordon, and Williams to all come up big on the perimeter, al shooting 50-percent or above from deep. The Box score shows this game as being close, but had it not been for Westbrook’s herculean effort, this game could have easily been a blowout victory for the Rockets.

The Rocket’s backcourt has been feasting on anyone not named Westbrook or Roberson. Capela is slowly turning into a presence in the middle and if he can turn into Biyombo from last year, The Rocket could be looking at a solid chance of making it to at least the Western Conference Finals, maybe even a title.

Moving Forward

The Thunder need an offensive answer besides Westbrook. McDermott shot 75-percent from deep this game, but was only on the floor for 14 minutes. My suggestion for the Thunder is to cut the lineup short so more of the bench can get into a scoring rhythm. This adjustment may be impossible to find now, as the Thunder have become accustomed to being a committee around Westbrook.

Game 3 is a must win for the Thunder. I don’t see them extending this series from being a sweep should they go down 0-3. The Rockets match up too well in the backcourt, and the Thunder have had no answer. The Thunder also cannot allow for Westbrook to feel like he must do it all to close out a game. Westbrook going 4/18 (1-7 3-point field goals) in the fourth is a sign that the Thunder need another answer on the offensive end and they need it fast.

Markus Murden
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@MXMurden

Wizards defend home court against Hawks

It was another backcourt duo that delivered in the NBA Playoffs again. Game one was all about John Wall and his 31 points leading the Wizards to a victory. Game two was his backcourt mate Bradley Beal who scored 31 points on 12-of-27 shooting.

The Hawks entered the fourth quarter up four points as they looked to tie the series up before heading home to Atlanta. With 4:54 remaining and the scored tied at 94-94 it was the last time the Hawks would see a lead in game two. In the final four minutes the Wizards were able to hold on as Beal hit a dagger three-point shot with 38.1 seconds remaining in the game as the Wizards went up by eight points. From there it was down to making free-throws for Washington to lock in the victory.

The containment of the backcourt for the Wizards is the concerning factor for Atlanta and remains a theme through the first two games. With Wall scoring 31 points in game and Beal replicating the same in game two the Hawks will have to find an answer defensively for the duo. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dennis Schroder are on the opposing end but struggling to slow down the Wizards guards.

Paul Millsap remained the best player for the Hawks all night as he scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Dwight Howard struggled again as he only scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting and grabbing seven rebounds. These are not typical Howard number’s as he’s averaged 13 points and 12 rebounds this season. Marcin Gortat seems to get the best of him again in game two scoring 14 points and 10 points. Gortat had a strong defensive showing in the first quarter blocking three shots. He would finish with five block shots overall on the night. The defense of the Wizards forced the Hawks to shoot 40-percent from the field (20-percent from three) and overall as a team they blocked 11 shots in game two.

As the series turns to Atlanta game three is on Saturday. Tip-off is at 5:30 PM EST on TNT.

Chevall Kanhai
Baseline Times Staff Writer
@BaselineChevy