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Last Night In The NBA: Beating Stars In A Series Is Hard

Indiana Pacers v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Seven

Happy Monday everybody and welcome back to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we catch you up on everything that happened from the night before in the Association. Unfortunately we have just two games to talk about so you’ll probably have to end up doing that work that you’ve been putting off already, but in the meantime there were still some fun basketball games we can talk about. I don’t know about you, but so far the opening round to me has been a little more entertaining than the second, and yesterday was a perfect example of that. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’ what happened

Indiana Pacers 101 vs Cleveland Cavaliers 105 (CLE wins 4-3)

In terms of Game 7s, this matchup did not disappoint. Just when it looked like the Cavs were going to run away with it in the first half, the Pacers, just as they’ve done all series, came back and made this a pretty exciting game. Obviously we all  knew going in that Lebron was going to be a focal point, and probably end up with something crazy like 50. Well he came pretty damn close finishing with 45/9/7 on 16-25, and his first half performance was truly incredible

But Lebron’s dominance doesn’t tell the whole story. Give TLue (Lebron) credit for adjusting his lineup and giving Tristan Thompson the start and actually playing him. Before Game 7 Thompson had played in just 23 minutes. He had 35 yesterday, and made one of then biggest impact of any non Lebron players

He finished with 15/10 including 5 OREB, and call me crazy but every time I see the Cavs play in a huge game, I see them play Thompson and things work out in their favor. Why doesn’t he play more? Teams always have to put extra focus on him in regards to the glass, which helps open up things for other people, and his defense tends to be underrated. CLEs lineup is clearly at his best when you have Thompson at the 5 and Love at the 4, and it wouldn’t shock me if we see that moving forward against TOR. Plus you gotta think Thompson will be motivated to play his hometown team.

But don’t forget Kevin Love too. He had a huge fourth quarter to provide all the scoring while Lebron got a rest to open the fourth, and as long as he’s not hurt, he’s going to be a factor as well

They now move on to face a Raptors team who have every right to be shitting their pants. Lebron owns TOR in basically every way imaginable, and I’m not sure I see that changing anytime soon.

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For IND, look they had like 10,000 chances to put this series away,  and they dropped the ball. You keep giving Lebron life, don’t be surprised when he makes you pay for it. Despite the ending I’m sure none of them wanted, you have to be proud as a Pacers fan this morning. This team not only had a much better year than anyone expected, but they have been the only team in years to actually challenge the Cavs in the East. They made Lebron actually try in a first round series, which is no small feat. Oladipo had a breakout season and playoffs

and they almost pulled out the huge upset thanks to guys like Collison also chipping in when it mattered most

Unforunately, they didn’t get enough from Sabonis and Bogdanovic to complete the comeback, had to deal with some iffy officiating on Turner late, and when you add all that up the result they got is pretty common. Still a great year all things considered, and from the looks of it things are going to be even better next year

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Utah Jazz 96 vs Houston Rockets 110 (HOU leads 1-0)

Is anyone going to challenge the Rockets? If not for the NBA making sure MIN got their first playoff win in 14 years, HOU would be undefeated this postseason. You could argue that MIN wasn’t all that tough of an opponent, given that they play no defense, but not ONE person said the same thing about UTA. If anything, UTA was supposed to be the team that actually matched up with the Rockets and could potentially slow them down. Well after their first game…..

That seems stupid.

Just like the GS/NO series was supposed to be competitive and wasn’t, my fear is this series will be the same. I just don’t see a weakness in HOU right now offensively, they finished with 45/53% splits, 17 3PM, and 24 FTA. This all while Eric Gordon did not make a shot. What makes this Rockets team different is now they are defending, holding their opponent to 104 or less in 5 of their 6 games. Given they score 110+ with ease, this is rather important. We said all year that we wouldn’t buy into Harden until we saw what he could do in the playoffs, and I don’t know how you could look at him now and not think he’s the MVP. He’s been great.

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But he’s also had help. Capela who has been solid all year outplayed Gobert, and the big reason why is the Rockets guards are more aware of him and do a better job at getting him involved. Both players rely on their teammates to be successful, they won’t kill you one one one, and until UTA figures out how to get Gobert going, Capela is going to kill him in this matchup.

For UTA, look Mitchell played well to the tune of 21/6 on 9-22

and Jae Crowder actually came off the bench and not only showed life, but made shots. He finished with 21 on 8-13 shooting which is a great sign if you’re a Jazz fan given how he started the playoffs

It’s clear this team misses Rubio, and it’s tough to swallow that you can shoot 50% for the game and still get blown out, but that’s what happens when you turn the ball over 18 times. The Jazz already have almost no room for error, and now with no Rubio guys like Mitchell and Ingles are going to have to create more. The fact that they combined for 8 TOs isn’t great.

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If you’re looking for positive spin, know that UTA outscored HOU in the second half 57-46. Maybe part of that was the Rockets letting up because the game was decided, but it’s that sort of momentum you can take into Game 2 and possibly steal it. That’s still the goal here, to win one of the first two, and while it doesn’t seem like HOU will ever miss shots, the Jazz need to trust their defense and get back to what made them successful in the first place.

 



And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that happened last night in the NBA. We’re back at it again tonight with just one game, PHI/BOS which is great. A series of this magnitude deserves the entire stage, and as always if you can’t watch just check back tomorrow (for the Celts blog) and I’ll fill you in.