Good morning, folks. Basketball sure is fun, isn’t it? Let’s talk NBA Bubble.
Adebayo’s game-sealing block puts Miami up 1-0
Through the first three quarters, the Boston Celtics had done more than enough to put themselves in position to establish an early series lead against the Miami Heat. They quickly jetted out to a 13-point lead to open the night and led by eight after the first 12 minutes, holding the Heat to 18 first-quarter points. Miami recovered going into the half, but another poor shooting display in third-quarter ball dug them back into a pit. Miami’s 16-point third quarter was one of its worst of the entire playoffs. But this year’s playoffs–as we all know–has been based on the theme of comebacks. The deficit grew to as many as 14 points in the fourth period for Miami before the sleeping beast that is Jimmy Butler decided to wake up. In all three series now for the Heat, they’ve consistently fallen behind early, only to stage a late-game come back and steal the win.
Butler hit a big-time shot that put Miami up 106-105 with just 22 seconds remaining in regulation and he continued to elevate his game to a different level in the extra period. In the closing moments of overtime, Butler drove to the basket against Celtics wing Jayson Tatum and powered through contact to will home a tough and-one floater. He would make his free-throw to put Miami up by two with 12 seconds left, although it gave the Celtics one more shot at hope.
Then Bam Adebayo happened.
The Block Heard ‘Round the World occurred with roughly three seconds left when Tatum drove the lane against Butler and Adebayo lurking in the shadows. The former Wildcat rose up with the one-time Duke Blue Devil, met him at the apex, and sent his weak dunk attempt back into the hardwood.
Ball game: Miami wins 117-114 and move to 9-1 in the playoffs. Boston came into Tuesday with a franchise record of 156-1 when leading by 12 or more going into the fourth quarter of a playoff game. They are now 156-2.
Game 2: Thurs. – 7pm/et, ESPN pic.twitter.com/Z3K6xhvKFb
— NBA (@NBA) September 16, 2020
I’m still not sure how Adebayo didn’t have his arm completely ripped out of its socket, but this is a hell of a block–probably one of the better defensive plays you will ever see. He even managed to recover the loose ball and hit a free-throw on the other end to ice the game away. Adebayo finished his first-ever Conference Finals game with 18 points, six rebounds, and nine assists while shooting 5-12 from the floor. His mid-range jumper was off on Tuesday night, but he was hitting backdoor cutters with brilliant bounce passes all evening long when operating in the high post. And obviously, his defense was second-to-none.
Adebayo shouldn’t be the only Wildcat to receive some recognition, however. While he didn’t have a game-saving block, Heat rookie Tyler Herro did what he’s done all postseason long: hit clutch 3s when Miami needs them the most. In Game 1, he did the same thing, connecting on two massive triples down the stretch of the fourth period. Herro’s three-pointers with 3:17 and 1:02 left in regulation kept Miami afloat. But just saying it like that doesn’t do Herro justice. The shot he made with 1:02 left put Miami down just two points after it looked like the Celtics could put the game away with a stop and a bucket. These were as clutch as clutch can get. Herro concluded his night with a near-triple-double, posting 12 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists while playing 40 minutes.
I demand six more games of this series.
Jamal Murray’s 40 points lead Nuggets to another Game 7 win
Game 7 between the Nuggets and Clippers left me stunned; that is the only way I can describe it in such plain terms.
The Denver Nuggets famously came into Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers as the team that tied up another series after trailing 3-1. They successfully managed to win three-in-a-row against the Utah Jazz in round one but taking three consecutive games against one of the favorites to make the Finals had an entirely different narrative. That is, until it didn’t. Somehow, someway, the Nuggets did something that has never been accomplished in the 74-year history of the NBA: win two series in the same postseason after trailing 3-1 in both.
I’m still not sure if Game 7 was more reflective of the Nuggets’ success or the Clippers’ collapse. Denver severely outplayed Los Angeles in the second-half before easily walking out of the gym with a 104-89 victory and a date with the L.A. Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Trailing by seven with roughly 11 minutes left in the third quarter, something happened. I still can’t explain it, but something happened; a flip was switched. From the 10:50 mark in the third quarter on, Denver outscored L.A. 53-28 and led by as many as 20 in the closing stages. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George did not score a single point in the fourth quarter. The Nuggets never even allowed the Clippers a chance at a comeback; Denver simply outplayed them in every facet of the game. They can thank Jamal Murray once again for the surge of adrenaline.
The former Wildcat was explosive in the first half, recording 25 of his 40 points through the first 24 minutes. In addition to his scoring, Murray also contributed four rebounds and five assists while shooting 15-26 from the floor and 6-13 from beyond the arc. It was second-quarter, in particular, that saw him pop off for 20 points in typical Murray fashion; cashing in fadeaway jumpers and swinging layups. Denver was down 12 before Murray announced himself to the game and it cut the Clippers advantage down to just two at the intermission. Nikola Jokic was fantastic once again for Denver, recording an insane stat line of 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals, and three blocks. He had a triple-double before the fourth-quarter even started.
“The hard work is paying off,” Murray said after the game. “Everyone counts us out and it’s just fun to silence everyone, we love it. That’s what makes it so special, when you go there with no pressure and just play for each other. It shows in our play, shows in our energy, how we talk and celebrated. How we react and take action and this is another series where we got that done.”
The Clippers are now 0-8 all-time as a franchise in closeout games where they could have advanced to the Conference Finals. That’s more than a curse, that’s pure torture. Leonard and George combined for 24 points on 10-39 shooting.
Other notes from across the NBA
- The NBA All-Rookie Teams were announced on Tuesday afternoon. Both Tyler Herro and P.J. Washington were named to the Second Team.
Series standings from Tuesday
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
(5) Heat lead (3) Celtics 1-0
WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
(3) Nuggets beat (2) Clippers 4-3
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||104-89 W @ LAC||40||15-26 (6-23)||4||5||1||0||5||+15||44|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||117-114 (OT) W @ BOS||18||5-12 (0-0)||6||9||1||2||3||+12||42|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||117-114 (OT) W @ BOS||12||5-10 (2-5)||11||9||0||0||2||+5||40|
|Enes Kanter (BOS)||114-1107 (OT) L vs. MIA||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Patrick Patterson (LAC)||89-104 L vs. LAC||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE BUBBLE
Another night off! The Conference Finals will resume on Thursday night with Game 2 of Heat-Celtics. Game 1 between the Nuggets and Lakers will take place on Friday evening.