NBA playoffs: One series settled, others still up for grabs in weekend action
NBA playoffs: San Antonio is through to the Western Conference finals, awaiting the Thunder-Lakers winner. In the East, it's going to take a little longer between the Heat and Pacers and Celtics and Sixers.
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San Antonio, for all the talk of their collective age in the face of the Los Angeles Clippers’ young and highly athletic starters, stoically pushed back the clock in taking a pair of games from Los Angeles in successive days, 96-86 on Saturday and 102-99 on Sunday to win their Western semifinal series, 4-0. Aside from the fact that they closed out the series on L.A.’s home court, San Antonio made nothing short of a phenomenal comeback on Saturday – they were down by 24 points at the end of the first half, but patiently and systematically ate away at that lead during the third quarter to stun the Clippers. It was a vintage performance for a savvy and well-coached San Antonio team that’s now won 18 games in a row and eight consecutive playoff contests.Skip to next paragraph
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Tim Duncan, the Spurs’ anchor, emphasized how proud he was of his club’s teamwork: “We did not plan on being down that much in the first quarter, but we understood that they were going to make a run early, and we needed to sustain. We’ve been through enough of them to understand that’s how it goes. It was great poise by our entire team.” This poise and patience was rewarded when the Spurs stepped on the gas in the third quarter – mounting a remarkable 24-0 scoring run in the process – and left the Clippers rudderless in their wake. The Clippers’ phenom Blake Griffin was the only standout for L.A., scoring 28 points – with Mo Williams coming off the bench to score 19.
Sunday night’s game was a lot closer, and it took longer for San Antonio to come back than in Game 3. But the Spurs once again demonstrated the diversity of their lineup to help them prevail over L.A. in the series’ closing game. They now await the winner of the Oklahoma City Thunder/L.A. Lakers series, which the Thunder now lead by three games to one.
Heat uses inspiration to knot series at two with Pacers
The Miami Heat are probably sick and tired of hearing how it’s basically a two-on-five matchup with the Indiana Pacers – with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade carrying the Heat against the entire Pacers roster. And Sunday did little to change that impression. Playing through the continued absence of Chris Bosh, James and Wade scored an extraordinary 70 of the team’s 101 points en route to defeating the Pacers, 101-93.
In fact, from the latter part of the second quarter to nearly the end of the third, Miami’s dynamic duo scored 48 of the team’s 50 points – a pair of free throws by Udonis Haslem being the only others. Haslem, who was wearing a bandage over his right eye, resembled Long John Silver, but his shots had the pinpoint accuracy of Robin Hood: scoring four critical jump shots in the last quarter. His toughness in the clutch was in many ways the difference maker for the Heat. At the end of the game, the first person James approached was Haslem, giving him a bear hug and whispering encouragement into his ear. And his contributions were not limited to scoring. Along with teammate Ronny Turiaf, Haslem was hyper-effective at setting screens and clearing the lane for James and Wade to score inside. Wade cited that after the game.