NBA Previews from The Sports Network|
Sunday, April 26
(All times Eastern)
(2) CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (3-0) AT (7) BOSTON CELTICS (0-3), 1 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Cleveland Cavaliers will go a for a sweep against
the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon when the two teams tangle at TD Bank
Garden in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Cavs are up 3-0, but all three games have been competitive, including
Thursday's 103-95 victory in Game 3, also in Boston.
"This was not an easy game and honestly, none of the three games have been
easy," Cleveland coach David Blatt said. "They have been playing us tough, as
it should be in the playoffs."
LeBron James had 31 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 2-seeded Cleveland.
James was awesome, but the third member of the Big Three, Kevin Love, played a
gigantic role in the victory.
Love, playing in the postseason for the first time, added 23 points and nine
rebounds. He made six 3-pointers, including two in the final 2 1/2 minutes as
the Celtics tried to scrape their way back into it.
He had 12 points in the first half after scoring 13 in all of Game 2, which
the Cavs won 99-91 on Tuesday.
"Kevin has been great overall," said Blatt. "He didn't score as much in the
second game as he did tonight, but he's been engaged. I haven't seen any
nervousness and discomfort since the series began."
J.R. Smith chipped in 15 points, Kyrie Irving scored 13 and Tristan Thompson
had 12 for the Cavs.
The Cavs led most of the game -- including the entire second half -- but spent
nearly all of it trying to shake the Celtics for good.
After James' fastbreak dunk gave them a seven-point lead in the third quarter,
Boston cut it to one. Cleveland extended it to 11 and the Celtics scored eight
of the next 10 points.
It was an eight-point margin going into the fourth and grew to 11 again, but
still the Celtics wouldn't go away. Evan Turner's open straightaway 3-pointer
got them within three, but Love was even more wide open at the other end,
taking his time to line up a 3 he made from the left wing. Later, his sixth 3
of the game stretched the lead to eight with just 26.7 seconds remaining.
"We have to play better basketball," said Brad Stevens, the 38-year-old Boston
coach who picked up a couple of first-place votes on ballots for NBA Coach of
the Year. "I don't mean to sound that general and I'm sorry I do, but we have
to play better basketball at both ends."
Turner led the Celtics with 19 points, Avery Bradley scored 18 and Jae Crowder
added 16 off the bench.
No team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
Game 5, if necessary, will be Tuesday night in Cleveland.
(3) LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (1-2) AT (6) SAN ANTONIO SPURS (2-1), 3:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The defending champion San Antonio Spurs will shoot for
a commanding lead Sunday afternoon when they welcome the Los Angeles Clippers
to the AT&T Center for Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
The Spurs lead 2-1 after an overtime road win in Game 2 in LA, then an
impressive home showing Friday night in San Antonio. The Spurs demolished the
Kawhi Leonard picked up his Defensive Player of the Year award before the
game, then showed everyone why he's going to be a wealthy young man this
summer. The free agent-to-be showed his incredible all-around game with a
career-high 32 points in less than 29 minutes and he anchored an incredible
Leonard showcased his two-way dominance from the opening tip. He finished 13-
of-18 shooting with three steals and two blocks, playing less than two minutes
in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand.
"He puts the effort in, he puts the work in," said Tim Duncan. "I think he
came out here tonight to say he's more than just a defender."
Boris Diaw chipped in 15 points and six rebounds off the bench to make up for
the relative lack of production from Duncan, who scored 28 points to carry the
Spurs to their overtime win in Game 2. The two-time MVP was quiet in this one,
netting just four points on 2-of-6 shooting.
The Clippers, who shot 34.1 percent as a team, finished with a playoff
franchise low in points and field goal percentage.
Blake Griffin was the lone bright spot with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five
Chris Paul was limited to seven points and committed six turnovers, but
perhaps the bigger issue for LA was the lack of production from its reserves.
Jamal Crawford's 1-for-11 highlighted an abysmal night for the Clippers
reserves, who contributed just 30 points on 41 shots.
Leonard finished the first half with 16 points, none bigger than his one-
handed alley-oop on a feed from Danny Green. That flush highlighted a 9-0 run,
which Leonard capped with his coast-to-coast layup.
The Spurs led 46-38 at halftime and looked to put the game away early in the
third. Leonard took it upon himself to make sure that was the case. He scored
11 on 5-of-5 shooting in less than five minutes out of the break. His triple
at 7:23 capped a 13-5 push that made it 59-43.
"Kawhi jumped on us," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. "I thought he, at the
start of the third quarter, changed the game."
The Spurs have won 10 in a row at home, but are a championship team which
"They couldn't throw it in the ocean tonight, and we were hotter than heck,"
said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. "But it doesn't mean anything."
Game 5 will be Tuesday night back in Los Angeles.
(4) TORONTO RAPTORS (0-3) AT (5) WASHINGTON WIZARDS (3-0), 6:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards will try to sweep the Atlantic
Division champion Toronto Raptors out of the playoffs Sunday when the two
teams clash in Game 4 at the Verizon Center.
No team in NBA history has squandered a 3-0 series lead. The Wizards haven't
swept a postseason series since the first round back in 1982 when they
defeated the Nets, 2-0. Back then, it was a best-of-three opening round.
After taking the first two in Toronto, the Wizards responded with a 106-99 win
in D.C. Friday night.
Paul Pierce showed exactly why the young Wizards brought in the future Hall of
Pierce scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter -- including a couple
of clutch 3-pointers -- to help the Wizards to the victory.
Terrence Ross' 3-pointer tied the game for Toronto at 88-88 prior to Otto
Porter answering at the other end with a trey. Washington led by two with just
over 2 1/2 minutes left and Porter buried another triple before Pierce canned
one from beyond the arc for a 98-90 lead.
"You're not playing against chopped liver. Paul Pierce has won an NBA
championship," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
The margin was six when Ross picked off an errant pass by Porter and Kyle
Lowry finished at the other end with a runner. Following two free throws from
Pierce, Lowry quickly knocked down a contested 3-pointer that cut the Raptors'
deficit to three.
Toronto chose not to foul and let the Wizards play out their possession. But
Pierce delivered the dagger with a hesitated 3 with 16.9 seconds left.
"Otto hit two big ones and Paul's two (3-pointers) at the end were huge.
That's why we brought him here. He's not scared of the moment," Wizards coach
Randy Wittman said.
Marcin Gortat had 24 points with 13 rebounds, John Wall contributed 19 points
and 15 assists and Bradley Beal added 16 points for Washington.
DeMar DeRozan scored 22 of his playoff career-high 32 in the first half to
lead the Raptors, who had won three straight in Washington. Amir Johnson
finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.
Lowry, who fouled out in Game 1 and left Game 2 with an ankle injury, scored
15 points on 5-of-22 shooting and dished out seven assists.
"From the start of the game to the end of the game I thought our guys
competed. Of course, at the end of the game (the Wizards) made some big
plays," Casey said.
The Raptors haven't advanced in the playoffs since 2001. Unless they can buck
years of history, they are headed for a second consecutive playoff
elimination, despite being a higher seed. In 2014, the Raptors lost a Game 7
in Toronto to the Nets.
Washington could be headed to the second round as a five seed for the second
straight year. Last season, they knocked off the Chicago Bulls in five games.
If necessary, though, Game 5 would be Wednesday night in Toronto.
(2) HOUSTON ROCKETS (3-0) AT (7) DALLAS MAVERICKS (0-3), 9 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Houston Rockets will try for a sweep of their Texas
rivals, the Dallas Mavericks, when the two meet Sunday night at American
Airlines Center in the Western Conference quarterfinals.
The Rockets have built a 3-0 series lead with a pair of home wins and an
entertaining victory in Big D Friday night. Houston prevailed in Game 3,
130-128, in a game dominated by offense and superstars.
James Harden and Dwight Howard set playoff career highs on Friday night and
the Rockets needed every bit of their production.
Harden netted 42 points, Howard snatched 26 rebounds and the Rockets can go
for their first sweep in the postseason since 1997 when they eliminated the
Minnesota Timberwolves in three games. First-round series were five games back
then. Houston hasn't advanced in the playoffs since a six-game victory over
the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening round in 2009.
No team has squandered a 3-0 lead in NBA history.
After Harden found a huge crease along the left wing, he slashed through it
and layed the ball in for a three-point play and a 127-123 Houston lead with
56.8 seconds left.
Dirk Nowitzki exhibited a nice use of the pump fake and was fouled on a right
wing 3-pointer at the other end before sinking all three free throws.
Harden then knocked down a step-back left elbow jumper over Tyson Chandler
which bounced in and out, ricocheted off the glass and rattled in to put
Houston up 129-126 with 12.9 ticks to play.
"I was reading his feet and he was looking for the drive," Harden said. "I
gave him a step-back."
Monta Ellis answered by lofting a high-arching floater high off the glass and
over the outstretched arms of Josh Smith and Corey Brewer split a pair of foul
shots at the other end with seven ticks on the clock.
Ellis, though, couldn't come through as his jumper from the top of the key
over Smith was nowhere close to the rim and bounced off the right side of the
"We didn't get a great shot on it so that's on me," Mavericks coach Rick
The MVP candidate Harden was 15-of-24 from the floor, knocked down 5-of-7 from
beyond the arc and sunk all seven of his free throws. He had connected on just
9-of-28 shots from the field over the first two games of this set.
"They were giving me lanes and letting me be aggressive," Harden said.
Smith scored 18 points and Howard added 13 for the Rockets. Eleven of Howard's
rebounds came on the offensive glass and helped Houston rack up a 28-15 edge
in second-chance points.
"I just tried getting all the rebounds," Howard said. "The one thing I can
always control is the paint."
Nowitzki and Ellis each poured in 34 points for Dallas, which played without
Rajon Rondo after he sustained a back injury in Game 2.
Carlisle announced Wednesday that he didn't think Rondo would play for Dallas
again. This came after Rondo didn't play nearly the entire second half of Game
Game 5, if needed, will be in Houston on Tuesday night.
04/26 10:37:09 ET