Thursday, May 12, 2011

NBA Playoffs Second Round: Night Ten

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics (3) @ Miami Heat (2)
5/1: Game One--HEAT 99, Celtics 90 (1-0, Miami)
5/3: Game Two--HEAT 102, Celtics 91 (2-0, Miami)
5/7: Game Three--CELTICS 97, Heat 81 (2-1, Miami)
5/9: Game Four--Heat 98, CELTICS 90 (3-1, Miami)
5/11: Game Five--HEAT 97, Celtics 87 (4-1, Miami wins)

Unlike in Games Three and Four, the matchup of Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh did not decide the pivotal Game Five. Bosh had 14 points and 11 rebounds compared to 15 and 11 for KG. Like the power forward matchup, this game was close the whole way.  Boston entered the fourth quarter with a two-point lead, and the game was tied until 2:10 remaining in the game. That's when LeBron exploded, running off 10 consecutive points, by shooting 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from behind the arc. Miami scored the final 16 points of the game, in fact, as they turned a six-point Boston lead with 4:15 remaining into a 10-point victory. During that time, Boston did not grab a single offensive rebound, yet they committed three costly turnovers. That short stretch is a microcosm of why the Heat prevailed in Game Five: ball control.  The Heat grabbed four more offensive rebounds than the Celtics did while also turning the ball over eight fewer times.  That's twelve additional possessions for LeBron and D-Wade (see above), who were hot all night long.  They combined for 67 points on 24-39 shooting (61.5%) plus 21 rebounds and seven assists.  They key, actually, was Miami's ability to get to the free throw line.  Boston hit one more field goal than--and the same number of three pointers as--the Heat in Game Five.  Miami's constant slashing to the bucket, though, garnered them 18 additional free throw attempts.  They hit 12 of those 18, including six in an otherwise poor shooting first quarter.  By staying alive early with free throws and ball control, the Heat kept themselves in position to use their explosiveness late in the game to pull out the victory.  Now on to the Eastern Conference Finals

Hit the jump to read about Grizzlies/Thunder!
Western Conference

Memphis Grizzlies (8) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (4)
5/1: Game One--Grizzlies 114, THUNDER 101 (1-0, Memphis)
5/3: Game Two--THUNDER 111, Grizzlies 102 (1-1, Tie)
5/7: Game Three--GRIZZLIES 101, Thunder 93 (2-1, Memphis)
5/9: Game Four--Thunder 133, GRIZZLIES 123 (2-2, Tie)
5/11: Game Five--THUNDER 99, Grizzlies 72 (3-2, Oklahoma City)

The Grizzlies looked a step slow trying

to guard Kevin Durant in Game Five
After a close first quarter, in which the Thunder and Grizzlies both managed to score only 17 points, Game Five in Oklahoma City was never really close. The Thunder outscored the visitors by at least eight points in each of the three ensuing quarters, as Kevin Durant (see right, dunking) & Co. romped to a 17-point win in Game Five. Nobody on the Thunder had an impressive statistical game, though, as defense was the key in this one. Kevin Durant had a game-high 17 rebounds and Thunder reserve Nick Collison had a game-high 10 rebounds. The Grizzlies just didn't get serious production from any of their top players, and the team as a whole shot only 35.9% from the field.  The starting backcourt of Mike Conley and Tony Allen shot 8-29 (27.6%), and the frontcourt duo of Mark Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for only 24 points and 12 rebounds.  Together they grabbed just one offensive rebound, as the Grizzlies were beaten on the offensive glass 15-8.  While in the Grizzlies' first 10 postseason games, Gasol and Z-Bo combined for 39.3 points and 23.6 rebounds, last night their totals were barely half of that.  In an incredibly pedestrian game for the Thunder's two superstars, Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined for only 30 points on the night, the Grizzlies failed to step up and take advantage.  They had a chance to win a pivotal road game and take a 3-2 series lead home to Memphis.  Now, Oklahoma City is in the driver's seat, needing to win one of the next two contests to book its ticket to the Western Conference Finals.

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