In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, between the Bulls and Jazz, Michael Jordan, battling the flu, had a game for the ages.
Jordan scored 38 points and the Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88 to take a 3-2 series lead; Jordan would go on to win the fifth of his six NBA titles.
The game would later be known as “The Flu Game”
Fast forward 25 years to Game 4 of the NBA Finals between the Warriors and Celtics at TD Garden Friday night. The Celtics had an opportunity to take complete control of the series, but Steph Curry, battling a foot injury he suffered in Game 3, had a game for the ages. Curry had 24 of his 43 points in the second half, including seven threes, 10 rebounds, and four assists as the Warriors defeated the Celtics 107-97 in “The Foot Game.”(our name for it)
The series is tied 2-2, and Game 5 is Monday night at Chase Center.
Boston led 94-92 with under five minutes left in the fourth, but the Warriors went on a 15-3 run to close it out, and Curry would score 10 of those 15 points
According to StatMuse, Curry joins Jerry West and Magic Johnson as the only point guards to record a 40-point/10 rebounds Finals game.
In addition, according to ESPN Stats & Info, at age 34, he is the second-oldest player in NBA Finals history to record a 40-10 game behind only LeBron James(35), who did it in 2020.
Furthermore, the 24-second half points were the most for Curry in an NBA Finals game.
“Yeah, I think he was really laboring out there,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said playfully after the win. “He really struggled. No, never even looked like it was a factor, so…
“Just stunning. The physicality out there is, you know, pretty dramatic. I mean, Boston’s got obviously, best defense in the league. Huge and powerful at every position, and for Steph to take that — that kind of pressure all game long and still be able to defend at the other end when they are coming at him shows you, I think this is the strongest physically he’s ever been in his career, and it’s allowing him to do what he’s doing.”
Klay Thompson, who scored 18 points, was impressed by Curry’s heart.
“I think I have seen him show that much emotion, and the heart on that man is incredible,” Thompson said. “You know, the things he does we kind of take for granted from time to time but to go out there and put us on his back, I mean, we got to help him out on Monday. Wow, just showed why he is — shocking he wasn’t a First Team All-NBA guy, but whatever, next year.”
According to Thompson, this was Curry’s best performance in an NBA Finals Game.
“I think probably No. 1. I mean, this was nearly a must-win game, and to go out there and shoot as efficiently as he did, and grab 10 rebounds, and they were attacking him on defense,” he said. “I mean, his conditioning is second-to-none in this league. Steph played incredible.”
Draymond Green, who struggled again in Game 4 as he had two points, nine rebounds, and eight assists, says Curry showed why he’s an all-time great.
“Incredible,” Green said. “Put us on his back. Willed us to win. Much-needed win. Game we had to have. Came out and showed why he’s one of the best players to ever play this game, you know, and why, you know, this organization has been able to ride him to so much success. It’s absolutely incredible.”
Curry gave credit to the medical staff.
Great rehab, medical staff hooking me up the last two days, getting me right, he said. I think, for the most part, I didn’t think about it. Like I don’t know how to explain the pain. It’s more so just when you’re out there, you don’t compensate, or you don’t — it doesn’t take up too much mental space in terms of feeling like I can do whatever I want to out on the court. So hopefully, that continues with these next two days off, and get ready for Game 5.”
More importantly, the Warriors got home-court advantage back.
“It means everything knowing the sense of urgency we had to have tonight to win on the road and keep some life in the series, get home-court advantage back and try to create some momentum our way,” Curry said.
These teams have alternated wins in this series. Plus, Boston has not lost two games in a row in these playoffs, so expect them to come out with a big effort Monday night.
After one half of basketball, the Golden State Warriors led the Boston Celtics 52-50 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night.
Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his team-high 28 points and kept the Celtics in the game. However, in the third quarter, the Warriors went off.
Golden State outscored the Celtics 35-14 in the third quarter. Steph Curry scored 14 of his game-high 29 points in the third as the Warriors routed the Celtics 107-88 at Chase Center to even the series up 1-1.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in Boston.
The Celtics went cold in the third as they shot 24% from the field, including 25% from downtown, and they had no answers for Curry and the rest of the Warriors in the third.
Golden State had five players in double figures, but Curry was the focal point of the offense, which Draymond Green discussed after the win.
“I think our offense is always a lot of Steph,” Green said. “It all starts with Steph, whether — you know, when KD was here, our offense still started with Steph. That’s the way it’s going to be. I think when you’re playing against a team like that, you have to get offense from other places and not just Steph. I think, for the most part, we did a pretty good job of that. You know, Klay, what, 4-for-19, had a tough one, but that happens. We know he’ll make shots as this series continues to go on.”
In Game 1 for Boston, it was about the others, including Derrick White, Al Horford, and Marcus Smart, who combined for 68 points. In Game 2, it was a different story as the trio totaled 16 points.
Curry discussed what they did to shut down White, Horford, and Smart.
“We look back at Game 1, and there were — between Marcus, Al Horford, and Derrick White, there for four or five shots they got in the first half that were just uncontested,” Curry. “So for us to come out in the first quarter with the level of intensity and focus, obviously Jaylen(Brown) and Jayson(Tatum), what they do in the ball in their hand, it’s a tough cover. It’s more obvious what you need to do on those guys. But then certain possessions, we took — kept a body on Al. Tried to force Marcus into a crowd. I think that carried over to the rest of the game. So we have to continue to try to do that because they are liable to get hot at any moment.”
Game 2 got a little physical as Green got into it separate incidents with Grant Williams(first quarter)and Jaylen Brown, which led to a technical foul; however, some believe he should have gotten called for a second tech for his altercation with Brown, where Green had his legs on Brown, which led to some pushing and shoving between the two, but Green avoided the tech and the ejection.
According to Green, he has to be himself.
For me to sit back and say, oh, I’m going to push it to this edge and try to pull back, that don’t work,” he said. “I got to be me. So with the first tech, it is what it is. That’s not going to stop me from being aggressive or doing what I do on the basketball court. Just got to live with the results.”
Brown expects Green to be physical, and he feels Boston has to raise their intensity level in this series.
“He’s going to try to muck the game up, try to raise the level of intensity,” Brown said about Green, “We’ve got to raise ours. I feel like they got away with a lot tonight, but we’ve got to come ready to play, come ready to meet that physicality on both ends.”
It appears we’re going to have a long series. Basketball is a game of runs. In Game 1, Boston exploded in the fourth, and in Game 2, Golden State exploded in the third.
Let’s see what Game 3 has in store for us in Boston.
For three quarters, the Boston Celtics struggled to find their way in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors. The Celtics trailed by as many as 15 points in the second half and trailed 92-80, heading into the fourth.
However, the Celtics exploded in the fourth. Al Horford scored 11 of his 26 points in the quarter; Jaylen Brown poured in 10 of his 24 points, and Derrick White added 13 of 21 points in the second half as Boston outscored Golden State 40-16 in the final stanza to defeat the Warriors 120-108 at Chase Center.
Game 2 is Sunday night in San Francisco.
In the fourth, Boston tightened the screws on defense and got hot at the right time as they shot 68% from the floor, including 9/12(75%) from deep.
Marcus Smart, who had 18 points, said the team stuck to their game plan and started to make shots.
“It hasn’t been our first time being down in that position, nor in this game, let alone all season,” Smart said after the win. “We came in with a game plan. For us, it was just to stick with it, believe in ourselves. Kept doing that. As you see, everybody starts to catch fire, get hot, things start to go our way.
Boston has been involved in two Game 7s, including winning on the road against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, and according to Brown, this team is battle-tested.
“We’re battle-tested,” Brown said. “We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot of experiences, a lot of losses. We know what it takes to win. I give credit to every guy in that locker room from top to bottom. We got a great, resilient group.”
It took Horford 15 years and 141 playoff games to get to the NBA Finals, and in Game 1, with the game tied at 103 late in the fourth, Horford scored eight straight points.
“I felt like the guys kept finding me time after time,” Horford said. “Also, Derrick White hit some tough shots there, too. Yeah, it was just get the looks, knock ’em down, that’s that.”
Steph Curry scored 21 of his game-high 34 points in the first quarter. Curry made six threes(the most ever in a Finals quarter) in the first quarter. Despite the loss, Draymond Green is not concerned.
“We’ll figure out the ways we can stop them from getting those threes and take them away,” Green said. “But no, I don’t think it was a rhythm thing. We pretty much dominated the game for the first 41, 42 minutes. So we’ll be fine.”
Boston stole this game and should be happy that they found a way to get this victory, especially when you consider their best player, Jayson Tatum, had only 12 points on 3/17 from the field, but he did impact the game in other ways, as he had a game and career-high 13 assists and five rebounds.
Great win for the Celtics, and man, they look the part, but there is still a lot of series left.
After falling in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at home, the Boston Celtics knew they would have to come up big if they wanted to defeat the Miami Heat in Game 7 Sunday night.
Boston never trailed in Game 7 as Jayson Tatum had 26 points and 10 rebounds; Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown added 24 points apiece as the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals to face the Golden State Warriors after defeating the Heat 100-96 at FTX Arena.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Thursday night at Chase Center.
With the win, Boston returns to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
“It’s the biggest game of the season, of my career, and I just had faith that we were going to give it all we had, regardless of the outcome,” Tatum, who was named Eastern Conference finals MVP, said after the win. “But it feels great, honestly. Some of those guys been to the Eastern Conference Finals four times; it’s my third time. Obviously, we know we want to win a championship, right, but to get over this hump in the fashion that we did it, obviously, we took the toughest route possible, and then to win a Game 7 to go to a championship on the road is special.”
Boston had its largest lead of 17 points in the second quarter and led 98-85 with 3:35 left in the fourth. However, Miami went on a furious 11-0 run to cut the lead to 98-96 with just under 20 second to go with the ball in the hands of their best player, Jimmy Butler, who scored a game-high 35 points and had Al Horford on his heels.
However, Butler pulled up for three, which was short, and Smart hit two free throws to seal the game. Butler appeared to have had the advantage and probably could have gotten a layup or fouled, but he went for the win, which he was comfortable with after the game.
“My thought process was go for the win, which I did,” he said. “Missed a shot. But I’m taking that shot. My teammates liked the shot that I took. So I’m living with it.”
According Horford, who will be making his first NBA Finals appearance after 141 career playoff games, the most in league history, Butler’s shot was nerve-racking.
“Yeah, I was loaded,” he said. “I didn’t know what he was going to do. It seemed like he was going to go for the shot, but I had to make sure that I stayed solid and when he pulled up for the three, I was like, let me contest the best way that I can. He got a good look at it, and it was nerve-racking. It was nerve-racking. He pulled up, and anything could have happened there. He could have made the shot and fortunately contested it enough, and he missed it, and we were able to get control of the ball.”
Boston’s Brown had this reaction to Butler’s shot: “I didn’t want to give up an offensive rebound, but when he shot that, I was like, man, what the hell. But he missed, we get the rebound, we move on.”
The Celtics made a lot of changes last offseason. Their former head coach Brad Stevens replaced Danny Ainge in the front office, and they hired Ime Udoka as head coach.
It wasn’t all pretty for Boston as they got off to a slow start this season, and at one point were 18-21 on January 6, but through it all, they battled, fought, and now they’re in the NBA Finals.
For Udoka, who became the first rookie head coach to win multiple Game 7s in NBA history, this win epitomized Boston’s season.
“It’s been a long road obviously throughout the season,” Udoka said. “Feels like it was always meant to be this way, difficult, obviously, two Game 7s in the last two series, and shows what I said about our group, that we fought through a lot of adversity this year, a resilient group, and tonight seemed to kind of typify our season.”
The Celtics split the season series with the Warriors, but that means nothing. Both teams are playing well, and both teams have found ways to get the job done. The Warriors have the experience as no player on Boston’s roster has played in an NBA Finals’ game, but Boston has defied the odds all season long, and we’ll see if that continues in the Finals.
Jimmy Butler has been one of the best players in the 2022 NBA playoffs, and on Friday night, with their backs against the wall, the Miami Heat needed him to be at his best.
Well, he delivered.
Butler scored a playoff-career-high 47 points as the Heat avoided elimination and defeated the Celtics 111-1o3 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at TD Garden.
The seventh and deciding game is Sunday night in Miami. The winner will battle the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Butler, who recorded his fourth 40-plus point game in these playoffs, got a special call from Heat legend Dwyane Wade before the game, which according to Butler, was well needed.
“D-Wade never hits me until his voice is really, really needed,” Butler said. “And it was. I texted him and told him I appreciate him for it. Just to let me go out there, continue to build on that legacy, and make sure that we win.”
“It’s (expletive) incredible,” Kyle Lowry, who had 18 points and 10 assists, said about Butler’s performance. “He’s such a humble basketball player. The work he does put in, I witness it. It’s incredible to have a guy like him next to me. I’ve played with some great players, and he’s one of the best players I’ve played with.”
This performance by Butler was very similar to LeBron James’ big Game 6 performance against the Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, where the Heat trailed 3-2. In that game, James had 45 points and 15 rebounds, and Miami defeated the Celtics in Boston. That was a great performance, and what Butler did Friday night was equally special.
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, who had 20 points, six rebounds, and five assists, was impressed by Butler’s performance, but he feels Boston will do a better job against Butler in Game 7.
“He just had it rolling. Made a lot of shots that on film we’ll live with,” Brown said. “Made four threes; I don’t think he’s made four threes in a game all Playoffs, but tonight he came out, and he was aggressive. He played like his back was on the wall, and he had an amazing game, and we just had no answers for him tonight. We’ve got to do a better job — we will do a better job on Sunday.”
Now, it’s onto Game 7, and no one knows what will happen. Boston has won in Miami twice in this series, so they definitely have a shot.
Who wins Game 7 is anyone’s guess.
Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and Mikal Bridges of the Phoenix Suns lead the 2021-22 NBA All-Defensive First Team, the league announced Friday.
Smart and Bridges comprise the two guards on the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Smart, the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, received 198 points (99 First Team votes) to earn his third selection to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Bridges, who finished in second place for the Defensive Player of the Year Award in his third NBA season, received 193 points (95 First Team votes). This is Bridges’ first selection to the NBA All-Defensive Team (First Team and Second Team).
Joining Smart and Bridges on the NBA All-Defensive First Team are Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr.
Gobert, a three-time Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has been voted to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the sixth consecutive season. Antetokounmpo, the 2019-20 Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Kia NBA Most Valuable Player, is an NBA All-Defensive First Team honoree for the fourth straight season. Jackson, a four-year NBA veteran and the 2021-22 season leader in blocks per game (2.27), is making his debut on the NBA All-Defensive Team.
The 2021-22 NBA All-Defensive Second Team consists of Miami Heat forward Bam Adebayo, Bucks guard Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia 76ers guard Matisse Thybulle, Celtics center Robert Williams III, and Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green.
This is the third NBA All-Defensive Team selection for Adebayo, the fourth for Holiday and the second for Thybulle. Williams joins Bridges and Jackson as a first-time member of the NBA All-Defensive Team. Green, the 2016- NBA Defensive Player of the Year, has earned his seventh selection to the NBA All-Defensive Team.
In the Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics jumped out early on the Heat and led by as many as 13 in the first half, and had a 62-54 lead at halftime.
However, Miami would explode in the third quarter and cruised from there to win Game 1.
In Game 2, Boston jumped out early on Miami, and this time, they kept the lead for good.
The Celtics led by as many as 29 points in the first half and had their largest lead of 34 points in the third as they routed the Head 127-102 Thursday night at FTX Arena to tie series at 1.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.
Also, in Game 2, Boston got back two starters who missed Game 1 in Marcus Smart(foot) and Al Horford(health & safety protocols).
Smart had a near triple-double with 24 points(8/22 FG), nine rebounds, and 12 assists, and Al Horford added 10 points.
According to StatMuse, the Celtics are 4-0 when Marcus Smart scores 20-plus points these playoffs, and they are 6-0 when he takes 12-plus shots.
“We just wanted to come in and be the harder-playing team tonight, and we did that,” Smart said after the win.
According to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Smart, who is the Defensive Player of the Year, always sets the tone, and he set the tone Thursday night.
“Yeah, as always, he sets the tone,” Udoka said about Smart. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at Butler, Adebayo, some of those guys and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line, and adding Al back there, as well, is another versatile guy. Wasn’t surprising to see how well we guarded with our guys back.”
Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 27 points, was happy with the team’s response in Game 2.
“I think we just had a better presence about ourselves,” Tatum said. “They kicked our butt last night, and we just wanted to respond and play better on both ends of the floor, and I think we did that.”
The Celtics got the response they needed in Game 2, and more importantly, they stole home-court advantage. Now, as they return to Boston, the Celtics have the momentum on their side, and they’re hoping to take that momentum into Game 3.
Phoenix, you have a winner in town. Backup center JaVale McGee is a winner. He has been a part of three of the last five NBA Finals’ winning teams and got his last title in 2020 with the Lakers.
In addition, he won a Gold Medal last summer in Tokyo. The three-time champion signed with last year’s Western Conference champions, the Phoenix Suns, in the offseason.
On Friday, McGee started for Suns center Deandre Ayton(illness) against the Boston Celtics, and he played well. McGee had his fourth double-double of the season, with a season and team-high 21 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. This was McGee’s 10th career game of 20-plus points and 15-plus rebounds.
Ultimately, the Suns(21-4) would rout the visiting Celtics(13-14) 111-90.
In 25 games, McGee averages 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds off the bench.
Last season, Phoenix had Dario Saric and Frank Kaminsky as Ayton’s backup, but it’s clear after 25 games that McGee is an upgrade, and according to McGee, if he were in Phoenix last season, the Suns would have won a championship.
“I definitely bring championship experience,’ McGee said post-game. “I’ve been there and won it. I’m undefeated in the Finals. It’s just a challenge through the whole season to stay locked in, and I try to bring that energy every game, every practice. Every day they see me, I try to bring that great energy to the guys. Some guys have a bad history of being a cancer to a team, or they didn’t play well this game, or they didn’t play a lot this game, and that’ll change their whole mood. I’m not that guy. I’m the same way. If you ask any of my teammates, any of the coaching staff, of any team I played for too. For example, if you asked guys last year in Denver, I didn’t even play, but I was still being that guy, that energy guy, even though I didn’t play. So, it’s just what I bring to teams when I come. Yeah, I feel like if I was here(Phoenix) last year and I got traded here instead of Denver, we probably would have won.”
What McGee is saying is not far-fetched. In fact, the Suns may have won last year if McGee was on the roster. The guy just does winning things and makes winning plays.
In Game 1 of the Finals, Phoenix lost Saric to an ACL injury, which impacted the depth in the frontcourt. Also, the Suns were up 2-0 in the Finals against the Bucks, and maybe a guy like McGee, who has Finals’ experience, could have helped Phoenix get it done.
Phoenix is tied with the Warriors for the best record in basketball right now, and it appears that they will have a great shot to get back to the NBA Finals, so we’ll put McGee’s beliefs to the test this season.
Will he be the difference? We’ll find out in June.
-The Suns limited the Celtics to just four three-point field goals on 26 attempts(15.4%), the four threes and 15.4% were both season lows by a Suns’ opponent.
Up two (32-30) with 8:16 remaining in the first half, the Suns closed out the second quarter on a 25-9 run to take an 18-point, 57-39 lead into the halftime break. Phoenix’s lead never dwindled below double figures the rest of the game.
Watch below as McGee talks win over Celtics, and more:
Luka Doncic is amazing, and he showed that one more time on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics(4-6). With the game tied at 104, Doncic hit a three over Josh Richardson at the buzzer as the Mavs defeated the Celtics 107-104 at American Airlines Center.
Boston’s Marcus Smart decided to foul Doncic with 11.6 seconds to go and five seconds on shot clock as the Celtics had a foul to give, but it allowed Dallas to get the final shot.
Dallas(6-3) has won two straight and three out of their last four.
Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of Dallas’ win over Boston.
The Great for the Dallas Mavericks:
-Doncic led the Mavs with 33 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, and of course, the game-winning buzzer-beater. Last season, against the Celtics at American Airlines Center, he hit a game-winning three with 0.6 seconds. Doncic is now the only Mavericks player to hit game-winning baskets twice against the same opponent over the last 20 seasons.
“Everybody knows the ball is going to 41 (Dirk Nowitzki), and he delivers,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “I think everyone knew the ball was going to 77 (Luka Dončić), and he delivered. I understand he loves that moment and his teammates know that. I would say that the other team knows the ball was going to Luka, and there’s nothing they could do.”
Doncic added: “It was just a difficult shot. You know, it went in. Like, I just stopped for a second; I didn’t know if it went it. But I was just trying to get to my spot in the last .5 (seconds), and I got it.”
Watch Doncic’s buzzer-beater below:
-Kristaps Porzingis returned on Saturday night after missing five games with a back injury. He scored 15 of his 21 points in second half to go with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. He also had a big tip dunk late in the contest that tied the game at 104.
-Jalen Brunson returned to his bench role and had 13 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Brunson is now averaging a career-high 14.8 points per game, including 23.0 points per game over his past three games.
-Reggie Bullock finished with 13 points and three rebounds off the bench on 5-11 shooting.
-First Half Defense: Dallas held Boston to 15 points in the first quarter and 40 points in the opening half – both of which are the fewest points Dallas has allowed in any quarter and in any half this season.
Not So Great for the Mavericks:
-Second Half Defense: Dallas led by as many as 19 points in the first half and never trailed in that half. However, they allowed the Celtics to score 64 points in the second half on 59% shooting from the field, including 7/14(50%) from downtown.
Second Half Turnovers: The Mavericks committed six turnovers in the first half, but nine turnovers in the second half, including five in the third, which led to 10 Boston points.
Doncic bailed the Mavericks out after a poor second half, but give Dallas credit; they did enough to get the job done against the Celtics, who had won two straight on the road before losing the final game of their three-game road trip on Saturday.
Also, getting Porzingis back and him playing well was huge for Dallas.
Dallas will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.
Best of the Rest:
-Boston had five players in double figures led by Jayson Tatum’s 32 points; he also had a team-high 11 rebounds. Dennis Schroder added 20 points and six assists, and Robert Williams had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Watch below as Kidd reacts to Doncic’s buzzer-beater: