April 25, 2018, 1:21 am
It’s never fun to see teams get sent home, but Tuesday night was our final flavor of the Heat and Spurs, two teams who could have a very different look next fall. Time will tell. More on that below.
It was a great night for Sixers and Warriors fans, who get to rest until at least the weekend and heal up their veterans for the Conference Semis.
Let’s check out how it all went down on a big night for eliminations.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER: REDICK BLOWS HEAT AWAY
The Sixers led 3-1 in the best-of-seven series going into Tuesday night and pledged to get it done on the road. They did that and more, eliminating the Heat in a 104-91 win to move on to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since 2012.
J.J. Redick led the way, shooting 6-for-13 from the field (5-for-10 from 3-point land) for a game-high 27 points with two assists in 32 minutes. He was terrific in Game 4 and 5, averaging 25.5 points between the two wins.
Of course, they couldn’t have done it without the masked man. Joel Embiid shot 8-for-14 from the field for 19 points with 12 boards, one assist, two steals and one block in 29 minutes. He was a huge difference maker in Round 1 and the NBA took notice. As long as he is healthy, he will be a force for a long time.
Ben Simmons shot 4-for-10 from the field for 14 points with 10 boards, six assists, two steals and one block in 35 minutes. He is growing up before our very eyes. Simmons has stepped up in a huge way this season, becoming a key contributor on what looks to be a sure-fire contender in the East. This team seems to get better every game, and Tuesday was a great learning experience. The Sixers await the winner of the Bucks and Celtics and should be favorites to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
On the losing end, the Heat face an offseason filled with questions surrounding Hassan Whiteside. He spoke with reporters after the game in the locker room. “At least give me a chance to fight,” said Whiteside. “I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance.”
In Game 5, Whiteside shot 0-for-4 from the field for just two points with five boards and one block in 10 minutes. Whiteside has clearly been in the doghouse for months now and has spoken out to the media on multiple occasions. With the season now over for the Heat, it will be interesting to see his feelings and personality continue to spew out. There is no doubt that he wants out in Miami, but with a contract the size of Texas, that will be easier said than done.
Josh Richardson (shoulder) was active and started the game, but he only played seven minutes (0-for-1 FGs, one block). Plagued by injuries in the 2016-17 season, he was an underrated commodity in fantasy drafts this season. He blew past his mid-round ADP for a top-33 finish, playing like a second-rounder after the all-star break. Richardson gets it done all over the boxscore and should be a fine top-35 pick in redraft leagues next season.
On a brighter note, Kelly Olynyk stuffed the stat sheet for 18 points, eight boards, seven assists, three steals one block and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes on Tuesday. He would have had a bigger night if he didn’t go 1-for-7 from 3-point land. The big man was money once Whiteside fell to the curb, constantly producing well-rounded lines for a late-round fantasy pick. He could be a forgotten man in drafts again next season, but with opportunity, he is always worth a dice roll.
KLAY AND DRAY SEND SPURS PACKING
In what has been an emotional series for the Spurs organization, they simply couldn’t overcome the defending champs, losing 99-91 in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The big three showed up for the Warriors, something that will be increasingly necessary in the next round if they want to survive as long as Steph Curry (ankle) is out.
Kevin Durant was rusty for most of the game but finished strong for a nice line. KD finished shooting 8-for-19 from the field, 8-for-8 from the line, for 25 points with six boards, five assists, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 41 minutes.
Klay Thompson shot 11-for-22 from the field for 24 points with five boards, four assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 41 minutes on Tuesday. He played much better on the road this series, averaging nearly 10 points per game better than he did in San Antonio. Draymond Green also stepped up with a big double-double, scoring 17 points with 19 boards, seven assists and two 3-pointers in 40 minutes.
As for the Spurs, their elimination comes on the heels of a very strange season. Kawhi Leonard (quad) continued to sit, as his camp was not ready for him to use his body for the Spurs’ cause this season. Rumors will most certainly swirl about his future with the team, which will make for an interesting offseason.
Meanwhile, the team got all they could out of LaMarcus Aldridge this season, who had a fantastic season. Aldridge finished strong in Game 5, shooting 8-for-18 from the field and a perfect 14-for-14 from the line for 30 points, 12 boards, four assists and one steal in 40 minutes. The big man still has an MVP switch left in the tank.
Patty Mills was the only other Spurs player to score in double figures, hitting four 3-pointers for 18 points. It was a dreary night for the bunch, but they fought hard until the final buzzer.
With the victory, the Warriors move on to play Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Curry still has no timetable to return, but he has showed signs of returning to the court sooner than later. That series should be a treat.
CELTICS WIN AT HOME, LEAD SERIES 3-2
Home-court clearly has been a huge difference maker for two young teams, as the winner of all five games has been the home team so far. That was good news for the Celtics, as they put away the Bucks in Game 5 with a 92-87 win on Tuesday.
Al Horford shot 7-for-15 from the field for 22 points with 14 boards, three assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. The Celtics needed this game to keep home court and Horford provided the veteran leadership needed to finish the job. If you haven’t realized by now, big men have destroyed the Bucks all season, whether or not John Henson (back) is in the lineup. Proceed in DFS accordingly.
Terry Rozier shot 4-for-10 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line for 16 points with three boards, five assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He hit four free throws in the final 16 seconds of the game, sealing the five-point win. Rozier has definitely made big noise for his clutch shots in this series and, while he wasn’t hot tonight, he still found ways to get it done down the stretch and help his team. He is making big strides as a starter and will continue to give opposing point guards fits with his confident style of play.
As for the Bucks, the Greek Freak was quieter than usual on the offensive end despite nearly achieving a double-double. Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 5-for-10 from the field and 6-for-9 from the line for 16 points, 10 boards, nine assists, two steals and two blocks in 41 minutes during Game 5’s 92-87 loss to the Celtics on Tuesday. He only took 10 out of the Bucks’ 87 shots on Tuesday, which is a rarity for such a high-volume, efficient player. The Celtics certainly worked hard to keep the ball out of his hands, a task that falls a little too easy at times for the Bucks. The team goes through lulls where Giannis doesn’t get touches on offense, something you don’t want to see as a fan and from an efficiency standpoint.
Khris Middleton shot 9-for-21 from the field for 23 points with three boards, two assists and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes. He hit two big 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but it was too little too late as the Bucks couldn’t get late stops to capture a lead. Middleton was surprisingly off for most of the game and took more than double the shots than Giannis. He didn’t register any defensive stats either, putting a damper on his fantasy line.
Jabari Parker shot 7-for-15 from the field for 17 points with eight boards, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He hit a low-point in Game 2, when he played just 10 minutes and went 0-for-2 for zero points. Since then, he has averaged 16.3 points in Games 3-5 and has made notable defensive plays to help his team. Still, Milwaukee inner circles do not see him as a great fit for the future of the team.
The Bucks will fight for their lives trailing the series 2-3 for Game 6 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
DWYANE WADE’S FINAL GAME?
Dwyane Wade wasn’t ready to discuss retirement after his team was eliminated on Tuesday night.
“There will be no breaking news here in Philly,” Wade told reporters after the game. “Fresh off the NBA season, my 15th year, I’ll sit back and think about that. Then, I’ll dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list of making sure I’m there for them.”
Wade turned 36 in January and just completed his 15th NBA season. He becomes a free agent on July 1