Adebayo, Tucker carry Heat to win in Game 3

In the second half of Game 3 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Boston Celtics., the Miami Heat were without their best player in the playoffs and their best player in this series, Jimmy Butler(knee inflammation), and they were missing Tyler Herro(groin), who sat out the final eight minutes of the fourth.

However, Bam Adebayo scored 14 of his 25 points in the second half, and P.J. Tucker had nine of his 17 points in the second half as the Heat held on to beat the Celtics 109-103 at TD Garden Saturday night.

Miami leads the series 2-1. Game 4 is Monday night in Boston.

Miami led from start to finish and led by as many as 26 points in the first half, but Jaylen Brown came alive in the second half as he had 25 of his 40 points in the second half, including 14 points in the fourth. Boston cut the lead to 93-92 with under three minutes left, but Max Strus would connect on a three; Adebayo hit a jump hook as the Heat went on a 16-8 run to close the game.

Miami came out with renewed purpose on Saturday night after getting routed by Boston in Game 2. 

“Well, as everybody knows, in the previous game, they beat us like we stole something,” Adebayo said after the win.”That should wake anybody up, getting beat like that at home. From my point of view, that says it all.”

The Heat got it done, but concern has to shift to Butler and Herro. They were able to weather the storm without both players in Game 3, but if these two are out for an extended period, Miami will have to figure some things out going forward. 

“That’s the part that sucks about the game, the injuries, and you know, this is tough,” Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points after missing the first two games of this series, said. “Jimmy is a warrior. Tyler is a warrior. But we have to continue to stay focused on what we did as a group tonight, and hopefully, those guys will be back and ready to go next game.”

Everybody is battling something at this point of an NBA season, and it could come down to which team is the healthiest. Boston was without Marcus Smart and Al Horford in Game 1, and Jayson Tatum left but returned in the fourth after injuring his shoulder.  

It appears we will have a long series; we’ll see who is the last team standing. 

Harden: ‘Nothing really changed, man, just made some shots’

On Sunday night, James Harden had his most significant moment as a 76er, and it came at the right time.

Harden scored 16 of his team-high 31 points in the fourth quarter, with seven rebounds, and nine assists as the 76ers defeated the Heat 116-108 to tie their Eastern Conference second-round series at 2-2.

The pivotal Game 5 is Tuesday night in Miami.

Harden, who was acquired from Brooklyn before the trade deadline, was 5/9 from the field, including 4/6 from deep in the fourth quarter. 

“That’s why he’s here,” Joel Embiid said about Harden.

“Just took what the defense gave me,” Harden said. “Same shots just made some. Nothing really changed, man, just made some shots. Obviously, that’s a game-changer, but just being aggressive… and that group that started the fourth quarter did a really good job of pushing the lead up and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Tyrese Maxey, who scored 18 points, was excited to see Harden go off.

“It was great,” Maxey said. “It was amazing. It was great to see. You know, they were switching everything and didn’t let me have a lot of movement or a lot of continuity, so he just hit some big, long one shots, and in the playoffs, sometimes everyone knows what you are trying to do. Everybody knows what each team is trying to do to you, and they take things away, and it’s nice to have a lot of three-level scorers on your team, and we have a few of those collectively, maybe four or five of them, and it’s just night-to-night to prepare and hook up.”

The 76ers have knotted the series at two after winning Games 3 & 4, but according to Embiid, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds Sunday night, Philly has not played their best game yet in this series.

“I mean, the way we played is the reason why we were able to tie the series, but I don’t think we have played our best basketball,” Embiid said. “Tonight , we had way too many turnovers, 16, and we missed a bunch of wide-open shots.”

It’s the best of three, and the 76ers have the momentum, but they still have to win in Miami, which won’t be easy. However, if Harden can play as he did in Game 4, and Embiid can continue to build on his performance on Sunday, Philly has a shot. 

Notes:

-Jimmy Butler led all scorers with 40 points to go along with six assists. This is the fourth 40-point playoff game of Butler’s career.

-Danny Green continued his strong shooting with a 4-6 performance including three makes from deep as he totaled 11 points to go along with two steals.

-Philadelphia had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

 

 

 

 

 

76ers’ Rivers: ‘He [Tyrese Maxey] was awesome’

After losing to the Raptors at home Sunday night, the 76ers(44-27) returned to their home floor Monday to battle the team with the best record in the East, the Miami Heat(47-25), but in this game, the 76ers were without their two best players in Joel Embiid(Back soreness) and James Harden(Left Hamstring; Injury Recovery).

However, they did have Tyrese Maxey, who got the job done for Philadelphia.

Maxey scored 13 of his game-high 28 points(9/15 FG, 3/7 3-PT FG, 7/7 FT) in the fourth quarter to go along with five rebounds and four assists as the 76ers defeated the Heat 113-106.

The second-year guard was a perfect 5/5 from the field, including 2/2 from deep in the fourth quarter, and he also did it on the defensive end as Maxey had a fantastic block on Caleb Martin.

“He [Tyrese Maxey] was awesome,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said. “And again, he sat when we were making the run. He was watching Shake [Milton] and Furk [Furkan Korkmaz] and Georges [Niang] and that group. When he came in, we explained to him very clearly what we were trying to do. And we got that, a lot. We got the right place on the floor. He attacked. The threes were great. More importantly, he made a defensive play to win the game. That was one hell of a block.”

The 21-year-old Maxey was also getting love from the fans as they chanted his name in the fourth, but he gave credit to Shake Milton(20 points, five rebounds, six assists), Furkan Kormaz(16 points, 4/7 3pt FG, and six rebounds), and Paul Millsap(five points and four rebounds).

“Hearing it is different. It’s different,” Maxey said about the fans’ chants. “But, I can’t take any of this credit. I’m just looking at the stats right here and guys like Shake [Milton] and Furk [Furkan Korkmaz] and Paul Millsap. Paul Millsap starts tonight. I don’t think he played in the last ten games. Furk hasn’t played much. But for those guys to stay ready and come in and play 31, 27 minutes, it’s just testimony to our group.”

Maxey also discussed his sensational block on Martin.

“We turned the ball over, first of all,” he said. “It was hard to get in. It was a hard spot. In my mind, I was thinking, ‘either he’s [Caleb Martin] gonna have to dunk on me today, or I will get this block.’ It was one or the other. And just one of those plays where you have to put your body on the line. And coach Doc [Doc Rivers] always messes with me, saying I’m six-foot and I need to stop trying to block shots. I got in there today, and he said, ‘that was a great block, but I don’t want to see you ever block another shot again.’ It was great, though.”

This might have been the best win of the season for Philadelphia when you consider they had their two best players in street clothes. Strange things happen in sports sometimes, and to Philly’s credit, they battled, guys stepped up, and again, the 76ers got the job done.

Back to Maxey, it’s clear; he’s going to be a star for sure!

Cavs stumble, fall in Miami

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their three-game road trip Friday night in Miami against the Heat. 

Miami had their biggest lead of 17 points in the third as they defeated the Cavs 117-105 at FTX Arena.

With the loss, the Cavs’ (38-28) two-game winning streak is over, while the Heat (45-23) have won four out of five.

The Great for the Cavs:

-For the fourth straight game, Darius Garland recorded a double-double. He had 24 points, and 10 assists, including a career-high 15 free throws made(15/16 FT). The All-Star struggled from the floor(4/17 FG), but he made up at the line. Garland has 20 double-doubles this season, which is also a career-high.

-For the third consecutive game, Evan Mobley had a double-double. The rookie had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Mobley got his second straight start at center and played well, and he now has the most double-doubles(18) among rookies.

Second Quarter: Cleveland trailed 28-18 after the first quarter and trailed by as many as 14 points(46-32) in the second, but the Cavs picked things up. They went on a 22-7 run to take their first lead of the game and trailed 58-57 at the break. Cleveland shot 68% from the floor, including 60%(3/5) from deep, and outscored the Heat 39-30 in the quarter.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: After a Garland free throw, the Cavs had a five-point lead, which was their largest of the game, but from there, Miami went on a 27-9 run to take complete control of the game.

Miami raised the Heat on the defensive end. Cleveland shot 4/16(25%) from the floor, including 1/7(14%) from three-point range. The Heat outscored the Cavs 27-15 in the third.

Turnovers:  Cleveland had 18 turnovers, which led to 30 points for Miami. If you’re trying to beat the best team in the East, you can’t turn the ball over that many times. The Cavs are a young team, and young teams can be sloppy at times. Currently, the Cavs are 28th in the NBA in turnovers per game.

Bottom Line: 

Look, the Heat have the best record in the East for a reason, and they showed that Friday night. 

Cleveland has back-to-back games on the road against two of the top teams in the East, so hopefully, for them, they can try to get the split against the Bulls Saturday night.

The Cavs have to be better on the defensive end, especially with 30 points in street clothes(Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert). In two out of their last three wins, Cleveland held their opponents below 100 points, so they have to defend at a high level if they want to win. 

As for the standings, the sixth-seeded Cavs are two games behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(41-27) and two games ahead of the seventh-seed, the Raptors.

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game homestand in Chicago against the Bulls.

Best of the Rest:

Bam Adebayo had game-highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds; Jimmy Butler added 24 points, and Tyler Herro chipped in with 22 points off the bench.

-LeVert(foot) missed his eighth straight game. 

 

 

Cavs Allen on win over Heat: ‘We went out there and threw the first punch, and we took it home’

This is a week of milestones for the Cavs. They beat the Mavericks in Dallas for the first time since 2017, and on Wednesday, Cleveland defeated the Heat in Miami for the first time since 2010 as the Cavs routed Miami 111-85.

Before Wednesday’s win, Cleveland had a 20-game losing streak in Miami.

Cleveland had six players in double-figures, and just like they did against Dallas, led Miami(13-9) by as much as 31 points. 

Miami was without Jimmy Butler(tail bone contusion) and Bam Adebayo(thumb).

After losing five consecutive games, the Cavs(12-10) have won three straight. 

The Great for the Cavaliers:

First Quarter:  Cleveland got out early on Miami. The Cavaliers shot 65% from the field, including five threes. The Cavs forced seven turnovers, and they also had five blocks. Allen had three, and Mobley two. In addition, they held the Heat to 28% shooting from the floor and 1/9 from downtown. Ultimately, the Cavs had a 31-16 lead after one.

Second Quarter Kevin Love: Love was 3/3 from the field, all threes, and scored 11 of his 17 first- half points in the second quarter off Cleveland’s bench. He finished with a season and game-high 22 points, including six threes, six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Third Quarter Evan Mobley: After a scoreless first half, the rookie scored 15 (two threes) of his 17 points and grabbed four of his 11 rebounds in the third. He also added four blocks. Cleveland took a 24-point lead into the fourth.

This was Mobley’s fifth double-double of the season.

Block Party: A block party broke out in South Beach. The Cavs had a season-high 14 blocks against Miami. Allen led the way with five blocks, and Mobley had four. According to Cavs Notes, Allen and Mobley are the first Cavs’ duo to each have four-plus blocks in a game. Cleveland held Miami to 38% shooting from the field Wednesday night. 

-Darius Garland had 16 points, including four threes and seven assists. This was his fifth straight game with 7-plus assists(tied for the longest streak in his career).

-Jarrett Allen has done it again. He had his fifth straight double-double with 19 points(7/8 FG) and 11 rebounds. Allen has been a beast this season and continues to play at a high level.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

The Cavs have to clean up the turnovers. Cleveland had 21 turnovers against Miami. They also committed 20 turnovers against the Mavericks Monday night.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland got another big road win and broke another streak along the way. It’s no coincidence that since Mobley’s return, the Cavs have gone 3-0. He’s just a winning player. Yes, Miami did not have Butler and Adebayo, but again, Cleveland had been battling injuries, too, so that’s the way it sometimes goes in the NBA.

“We all know they’re down a couple of star players, but that’s no excuse for us to go out there and be lackadaisical,” Allen said after the game. “We went out there and threw the first punch, and we took it home.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game road trip Friday night against the Wizards. The Cavs hope to finish the road trip 3-0.

Best of the Rest: 

-Miami had five players in double figures led by Tyler Herro’s 21 points.

-Cleveland shot it well from all over the floor. The Cavs shot 54% from the field, including 52% from downtown. (16-31), and 91% from the line(21/23). According to Cavs Notes, it was just the fifth time since 2000-01 the Cavs had a game with .500+ FG%, .500+ 3FG%, and .900+ FT%.

-Lamar Stevens added 12 points off the Cavs’ bench. He also chipped in with two blocks.

-Cleveland’s last three wins have been by at least 13 points or more.

-Cavs were again without Cedi Osman(back) and Dean Wade(Calf).

Listen below as Love, Allen, and Mobley react to big win over Miami:

Cavs’ Nance Jr.: ‘You’re not going to break us apart’

After winning four of five games before the All-Star break, it appeared that the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-25) had found their groove following their 10-game losing streak. However, since they have come back from the All-Star break, it has been a struggle for the Cavaliers.

On Tuesday night, Cleveland lost their third straight game after the break and their fourth overall as they fell to the Heat(22-18) on the road 113-98.

Miami had six players in double figures, including Jimmy Butler, who had a game-high 28 points. Collin Sexton led the Cavs with 21 points. Also, JaVale McGee chipped in 16 points off the bench for the Cavaliers.

Cleveland has been down by 20-plus in each of their last three games following the All-star break, so this team is really floundering. Larry Nance Jr., who scored 14 points on Monday night, is frustrated, but he believes the team must continue to fight through this rough patch.

“We just got a little adversity that we have to fight through,” Nance Jr. said after the game. “J.B.’s(Bickerstadd) frustrated, I’m frustrated; we all are, but one thing we just can’t do is quit on one another. We still believe it’s a very talented bunch.”

Despite the struggles, Nance Jr. thinks the team is staying together. 

“You’re not going to break us apart,” he said. “We got really good leadership on this team.”

Cleveland will begin a four-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Celtics, so maybe a little home cooking will help this team get back on track. However, with the lack of practice time due to the current NBA schedule, young teams like the Cavs will have to figure things out on the court, which makes turning things around very difficult.

Notes:

Cleveland was again without Kevin Love, who is still battling a calf injury. 

Wizards’ Beal on loss to Heat: ‘We just got stagnant’

Early in the fourth quarter, the Washington Wizards(23-40) took an eight-point lead(83-75) against the Miami Heat(41-23) on Sunday. At that time, with Jimmy Butler sidelined with a foot injury(left the game in the third quarter), it appeared that Washington had a decent shot of winning the game.

However, behind the shooting of Duncan Robinson(23 points, 7-11 from three-point land), Kendrick Nunn(18 points), and the all-around play of Bam Adebayo(27 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists), the Heat were able to overcome the loss of Butler and defeat the Wizards 100-89 at Capital One Arena.

With the victory, Miami captures its first road victory since February 1(defeated Magic in Orlando), and the Wizards continue to fall in the standings. 

Washington struggled shooting the ball in the fourth quarter, including the second-leading scorer in the NBA, Bradley Beal(23 points), who was 0-9 from the field in the fourth quarter. According to Beal, the offense got stagnant, and Miami’s defense got the job done.

“We just got stagnant. We’ve got to keep moving. I feel like, a lot of times, we were just kind of just watching me. We can’t get caught up in doing that,” Beal said. “They took away all my drives, everything pretty much toward the paint. They wanted to kind of force me to shoot jumpers all night.”

Washington’s playoffs hopes continue to fade. The Wizards are now 5.5 games behind the Magic for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference with only 19 games to play, 

On a positive note, Scott Brooks has this team competing on a nightly basis, which is a credit to him and the players, and while they are not winning consistently, this team is fighting. Hopefully, that continues the rest of the way.

 

 

 

76ers’ Brand on Josh Richardson: He’s one of the best two-way players in NBA

The Philadelphia 76ers have made it official today as the team has acquired Josh Richardson as part of a four-team trade involving Miami, Portland, and the L.A. Clippers.

As part of the deal, Miami acquired Jimmy Butler and Meyers Leonard, Portland received Hassan Whiteside, and the L.A. Clippers obtained Maurice Harkless, the draft rights to Mathias Lessort and a protected first-round pick from Miami.

“We are thrilled to welcome Josh to the 76ers family,” Brand said. “He has worked diligently and improved each season. As one of the NBA’s best young two-way talents, Josh’s ability to space the floor while also effectively guarding multiple positions at an elite level will bolster our lineup immediately. We look forward to seeing Josh’s continued development as we strive to win a championship for the city of Philadelphia.”

The 76ers are getting a very talented player in Richardson. He appeared in 73 games (all starts) for Miami last season, averaging career highs of 16.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 34.8 minutes per game. For the fourth straight year to begin his career, Richardson increased his scoring, rebounding and assist averages. A career .368 shooter from three-point range, Richardson has connected on 120-plus threes in each of the past two seasons, including a career-high 164 in 2018-19.

Obviously, the 25-year-old Richardson will not be the shooter that JJ Redick was for Philadelphia (signed with Pelicans), but he can shoot the three at a decent clip, and he is a much superior defender. He’s young and should only get better, which is good news for the 76ers.

Clippers claim Rodney McGruder off waivers

The L.A. Clippers have claimed guard Rodney McGruder off waivers, the team announced today. McGruder, who was recently waived by the Heat, is not eligible to participate in the 2019 NBA Playoffs.

McGruder, 27, has appeared in 66 games for the Miami Heat this season, averaging 7.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 23.5 minutes. The 6’4”, 200-pound guard holds career averages of 6.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 23.5 minutes in 162 appearances across three NBA seasons with Miami.

Prior to his time with the Heat, McGruder played two seasons in the G League, spending time with the Maine Red Claws and the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

 

Miami’s Johnson on Wade: ‘I don’t think no one wants to make the playoffs more than him’

With 9 games left, the Miami Heat are playing their best basketball of the season. The Heat have won 9 of their last 12 games, including a 113-108 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night in D.C.  With the victory, Miami moved to 36-37, and they are in sole possession of the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Obviously, every team wants to make the playoffs, but for the Heat, making the playoffs would be even sweeter. After 16 seasons, the great Dwyane Wade has decided to retire from the NBA, which means making the playoffs is a big deal for Miami.

“I don’t think nobody wants to make it(playoffs) more than him,”  Heat F James Johnson told goforitradio’s Paul Gant about Wade on Saturday night. “And we’re fighting. I think everybody already has the mentality of we want to make it. I just think with D-Wade, being his last dance, it just makes it more special if we do.”

Based on his performance on Saturday night against Washington, Wade is doing everything in his power to make the playoffs, and while he is no longer a superstar, the 37-year-old is still playing at a reasonably high level. In 63 games this season, Wade is averaging 14.3 ppg off the bench, and late in the game against the Wizards, where Wade scored 11 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter, Miami was running their offense through him, and he delivered, so it’s clear, If he wanted to, Wade could still keep playing.

“I know for sure I see he can still go,” Johnson said about Wade. “But when your heart and your mind is not into it no more, it’s not about the body after that.”

The Heat hold a one-game lead over the Orlando Magic, who Miami plays on Tuesday night at home. Miami is 1-2 against the Magic this season, which means if they lose to Magic on Tuesday, Orlando would win the season series and hold the tie-breaker against the Heat. Therefore, if Miami wants to make the playoffs, in D-Wade’s final season, it’s imperative that they beat Orlando on Tuesday night.