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We had two Game 5’s on Wednesday night and unfortunately one was over by halftime. We’ll get into all of the action in both conferences shortly, but first, there were a few injury updates as well as some intriguing pieces of news that you will want to keep an eye on so let’s dive into that first.
News & Notes
The most pressing news of the day came in the early afternoon on the east coast when Sean Marks and Steve Nash spoke to the media in Brooklyn. There were a few things that were noteworthy, the most important being that Marks seemed very non-committal when asked about a possible extension for Kyrie Irving. “That’s something we’ve been discussing and we’ll continue to debrief on & discuss throughout this offseason,” Marks said. “We need people here that want to be here, they’re selfless that want to be part of something bigger than themselves . And there’s an objective and there’s a goal at stake here. And in order to do that, we’re gonna need availability from everybody.” It is clear given the way that things unfolded that the Nets are not happy with the way that Irving handled his availability this season. Irving has a player option that he can exercise for next year, and if he chooses to do so, the Nets will have to decide whether or not to offer him a contract extension and lock him into their long-term plans. It will be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming weeks and months of the offseason.
The second thing that marks mentioned was that Ben Simmons is “feeling great” after undergoing successful back surgery last week. He said that the ramp-up period over the next five months will be crucial for Simmons, but that he should be ready to go for the start of training camp. Nash added that he sees Simmons as both a point guard and a center and that he will facilitate at times and “spend time in more of a positionless role” as well. All in all, it looks like Simmons is in the Nets’ plans for next season, at least for the time being, so as long as he is healthy, he should be an early-round draft pick next season.
The biggest injury news as we head into Thursday’s slate of games is that Kyle Lowry will miss Game 6 in Philadelphia with a left hamstring strain. Lowry has battled the hamstring injury for much of the postseason, and he has only appeared in two games in this semi-final round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Gabe Vincent will get the start for Miami, as the Heat try to close out the Sixers on the road. If Miami should lose, there is a chance that Lowry could be available for a Game 7, but it will depend on how the hamstring feels over the next few days. There were some injury implications involving players who were in action on Wednesday night, but we will touch on those guys below. So without further ado, let’s dive into Wednesday night’s games.
Milwaukee uses 4th Quarter Surge to Steal Game 5
This one was a thriller as both teams were looking to take control of the series in the always pivotal Game 5 from Boston. The Celtics led for much of the game, and it looked like they were going to walk out of TD Garden with a huge win. Boston took a 93-79 lead on a layup by Grayson Allen with 10:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bucks proceed to outscore the Celtics 31-14 for the remainder of the game, including an 11-2 run over the final 1:41 to end the game and steal a 110-107 win heading back to Milwaukee for Game 6.
Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 40 points on 16-of-27 shooting (2-of-5 3-pointers) and grabbed 11 rebounds to go with three assists, one steal, one block, and seven turnovers in 40 minutes. He took an elbow to the face from his teammate Pat Connaughton late in the fourth quarter and though there was some blood, The Greek Freak is expected to be just fine. Jrue Holiday added 24 points on 9-of-24 shooting (4-of-7 3-pointers) with eight rebounds, eight assists, two blocks, and one steal. He also made the two biggest plays of the game, blocking Marcus Smart’s layup and then throwing it off of him to give the Bucks possession up with 6.6 seconds to play. After Connaughton made two free throws to give the Bucks a 10-107 lead, Holiday stole the ball from Smart at half court, effectively ending the game and pushing the Celtics to the brink of elimination. Milwaukee also got a big night out of Bobby Portis, who tallied a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds in 28 minutes. He shot 4-of-14 from the floor and made all six of his free throws while dishing out two assists with one steal.
For the Celtics, this will be one that they will be kicking themselves about should they lose this series. They were without Robert Williams II (left knee soreness) for the second-straight game, so give them credit for playing as well as they did. Grant Williams got another start but went scoreless in 31 minutes with two rebounds and one assist. After a career playoff-high in Game 4, Al Horford came back down to earth in Game 5, scoring eight points to go with eight rebounds, six assists, three steals, and one block in 41 minutes. He was awesome on the defensive end, but the Bucks were a lot more locked in on Horford on the defensive end, and it showed on the stat sheet.
Jayson Tatum scored 34 points on 12-of-29 shooting (2-of-11 3-pointers) and added six rebounds, four assists, one steal, and one block in 42 minutes. Jaylen Brown chipped in 26 points on 9-of-19 shooting (3-of-7 3-pointers) to go with eight rebounds, six assists, and one block. There is no word yet on The Timelord’s status for Game 6 in Milwaukee, but according to a report during the TNT broadcast, the swelling has gone down in his knee. Williams II was listed as questionable heading into Wednesday’s game, and his absence is being seen as a precautionary move, according to coach Ime Udoka. We will have updates on his status as we get closer to tip-off on Friday so be sure to follow up as we approach Friday night.
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Grizzlies destroy Warriors to force Game 6
The second game of the night on Wednesday was over before it started, as the Warriors may as well not have shown up in Memphis for Game 5. Golden State trailed by as many as 55 on Wednesday night, before falling 134-95 to the Grizzlies who were without Ja Morant (right knee bone bruise) for the second-straight game. The 39-point victory set a new franchise playoff record for Memphis, breaking the 28-point margin they set 22 days ago in their 124-96 victory over the Timberwolves in round one. Tyus Jones got another start at point guard, and he had another stellar game for Memphis. The former Duke star scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting (4-of-7 3-pointers) and dished out nine assists with three rebounds, two steals, and one block with no turnovers in 24 minutes. He became just the second player in NBA playoff history with at least 20 points, nine assists, and zero turnovers in 25 minutes or less, according to Grizzlies Analytics. Jones will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and he has surely made himself some money this season, as he has played well when given the chance to start.
Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane each also chipped in 21 points apiece in this one. Jackson Jr. shot 6-of-10 from the floor (4-of-6 3-pointers) and grabbed eight rebounds to go with three assists, one steal, and two blocks in 25 minutes. Bane shot 6-of-12 from the floor (4-of-6 3-pointers) and added two assists, one rebound, and one steal with no turnovers in 24 minutes. The Grizzlies are now 21-6 this season without Morant, and they will likely be without him again on Friday as they travel to the Bay to attempt to force a Game 7 back in Memphis.
On the flip side, the Warriors can’t get to the Bay fast enough, and if Wednesday was any indication, they have no desire to play basketball in Memphis. This game was never really competitive, and the only positive to draw is that nobody played more than 25 minutes, so the Warriors will be as fresh as they come for Game 6 on Friday. Everyone except Otto Porter Jr. that is, who played just 12 minutes before being ruled out with some right foot soreness. The Grizzlies were up by 27 points at halftime when Porter was ruled out, but according to Mike Brown, the training staff told him that Porter Jr. couldn’t go in the second half. Nemanja Bjelica started the second half in place of Porter, so if he can’t go on Friday, Bjelica could crack the Warriors rotation in Game 6.
Clay Thompson scored 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-of-6 3-pointers) to lead the Warriors in scoring. He added three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two turnovers in 25 minutes while going 2-of-2 at the foul line. Jonathan Kuminga got another start and scored 17 points on 7-of-16 shooting (3-of-4 free throws) with three rebounds, two assists, and one turnover. Stephen Curry shot just 4-of-10 from the floor (3-of-8 3-pointers) for 14 points to go with four assists, three rebounds, and two turnovers. The Warriors will look to close out the Grizzlies at home on Friday, where they are 5-0 this postseason.