Sunglasses & Advil:
The Toronto Raptors almost didn't get swept . . . until they didn't. Following the pattern of Game 3, the Raptors were competitive until the end. Cory Joseph, providing a spot start for the injured Kyle Lowry, did an admirable job. After spending the entire year chasing the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto simply came up short . . . very short. Mid-season acquisitions Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker played well, but it wasn't enough to ultimately make a difference. Toronto made it interesting mid-way through the 4th quarter, even taking a lead after an Ibaka 3-pointer. Kyrie Irving wasn't having it.
LeBron James was excellent with another 30-point outing along with a sprinkling of assists and rebounds. Outside of Irving, the starters didn't contribute much on offense; it was the bench this time that pulled through for them. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 75% (!) shooting, and Channing Frye added 10 points in 12 minutes. In the end, the Cavs never felt like they were going to let this one get out of hand, but they did keep it entertaining until the end. Cleveland will advance to play the winner of the Celtics-Wizards matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals.
CLE won the series 4-0 | Kyle Lowry (ankle sprain) did not play.
This John Wall highlight tells you all you need to know about what happened in Game 4 between Boston and Washington. The Celtics finally came out strong in the 1st quarter, finishing it with a lead. In the 2nd, though, they gave up that lead and headed to halftime tied up. This had the makings of another down-to-the-wire game, perhaps ending in overtime like Game 2. Exciting, right? Everything was going to be fine, and we were going to get a fun back-and-forth affair all the way to the end.
Narrator voice: "Everything was not fine."
After a brief Amir Johnson 5-0 run to begin the 3rd, the Wizards went ballistic. They went on a ridiculous 26-0 run, and they looked like the Showtime Lakers out there. Boston committed mistake after mistake, and Washington capitalized on all of them. It looked like a Varsity team scrimmaging against a Middle School team out there. Otto Porter Jr. was getting layup after layup, and John Wall racked up assists in transition over and over and over again. It was a bloodbath in a quarter that saw the Wizards outscore the Celtics 42-20. In that quarter alone, Boston had 7 turnovers. Not a winning formula.
Dating back to the regular season, the home team has won every game between these two. Heading back to Boston on Wednesday, we'll see if that trend continues. If Washington can play like they did in the 3rd quarter on the road, it could swing the momentum greatly in their favor.
The series is tied 2-2.
The beginning of Game 4 between these two teams reminded us all why sports are special. Unfortunately, Patrick Beverely learned of his grandfather's passing before the game. To begin the game, Beverley kicked it off with a 3-pointer, and it was a big shot for him.
Fortunately for Beverley, the Rockets had his back with a huge effort to tie the series up. Playing without Nene who was at the hospital getting an MRI for a groin injury, the Rockets came out strong in the 1st, outscoring the San Antonio Spurs 34-22 in that frame. Although the Spurs made it a game in the 2nd, Houston kicked the door down in the second half, and they ran away with the victory. Normally, shooting 60% on free-throws would spell doom for a team, but somehow, the Spurs managed to do even worse, shooting 50% on their freebies. San Antonio also couldn't get anything to go from deep, shooting 30% on 3-pointers as opposed to Houston's 44%.
Also, James Harden. Harden dropped a cool 28 points and 12 assists to lead Houston to victory. The Rockets had some nice contributions off the bench, including 22 from Eric Gordon and 13 from Lou Williams. The Spurs didn't get much from anyone, including a sub-par (for him) 16 points from Kawhi Leonard. The Spurs got the same 16 points from LaMarcus Aldridge after his resurrection game in Game 3.
San Antonio can take comfort in the fact that the margin of victory doesn't carry over into the next game. In what has been a back-and-forth series so far, it'll be interesting to see who takes momentum in a pivotal Game 5.
The series is tied 2-2. Nene did not play (groin).
When the Sun falls, then the Moonlight:
Game 3 finally seemed like the game where Utah would catch a break and avoid the sweep. They were reminded that Kevin Durant is Kevin Durant, and the Warriors pulled away down the stretch. Now they have one last chance to avoid the sweep, and they're really playing for pride at this point. So far, the Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors are coasting, and there's a solid chance both teams might sweep their way to the Finals.
For the first time this series, it didn't look like Golden State was just toying with Utah. Gordon Hayward had a strong 29-point outing, Rudy Gobert dropped 21-15, and all starters scored in double figures. It just doesn't seem like there's much else they can do to steal a game. When Klay Thompson shoots 1-9 from the field and you don't win, that's . . . not ideal. The Jazz will be praying for a repeat performance tonight as they look to force a Game 5.
George Hill (toe) is questionable for Game 4.
GSW @ UTAH | 9:00 PM ET on TNT | GSW leads series 3-0
Lines of the Night:
LeBron James: 35 points (11-for-22) | 9 rebounds | 6 assists | W
Cory Joseph: 20 points (8-for-11) | 6 rebounds | 12 assists | L
John Wall: 27 points (8-for-25) | 3 rebounds | 12 assists | W
Bradley Beal: 29 points (11-for-16) | 4 rebounds | W
James Harden: 28 points (10-for-18) | 5 rebounds | 12 assists | W