76ers

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors rock Blazers to sweep series

NBA Playoffs: Stephen Curry, Warriors rock Blazers to sweep series

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Stephen Curry had 37 points before sitting out the final quarter and the Golden State Warriors welcomed back teammate Kevin Durant with a 128-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night to sweep their first-round playoff series.

The Warriors advanced to the conference semifinals, where they'll face the winner of the series between the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Clippers, which is tied at 2.

Golden State played for the second straight game without coach Steve Kerr, who has been experiencing a flare-up of symptoms stemming from back surgery a couple of years ago. Assistant Mike Brown has served as head coach in Kerr's absence.

Durant hadn't played since Game 1 because of a strained left calf. He started and the Warriors built a 72-48 lead by the end of the opening half (see full recap).

Powell helps Raptors beat Bucks in Game 5
TORONTO -- Putting Norm Powell in the starting lineup has changed the playoff fortunes of the Toronto Raptors.

Powell scored a career playoff-high 25 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists and the Raptors beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-93 in Game 5 of their first-round series on Monday night.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey said Powell has been "a spark plug."

"In this series, he's been the X-factor," Casey said.

Serge Ibaka scored 19 points and DeMar DeRozan had 18 for the Raptors, who can advance to face defending champion Cleveland in the second round with a victory in Game 6 at Milwaukee on Thursday night (see full recap).

Hawks hold off Wizards, even series at 2-2
ATLANTA -- In a year when the geezers are coming up big in the NBA playoffs, add another one to the list.

Jose Calderon might be the most unlikely of all.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, picked up on waivers late in the season, made a huge contribution to help the Atlanta Hawks pull away from the Washington Wizards 111-101 on Monday night, evening the opening-round series at 2-all.

Answering the call when Denis Schroder got in early foul trouble, Calderon played 20 minutes, scored 10 points and dished out five assists. He joined some old-timers such as Utah's Joe Johnson and Houston's Nene making significant contributions in the postseason (see full recap).

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

ap-ben-simmons-heat.jpg
AP Images/ USA Today Images

Sixers' turnover-filled nightmare comes with silver lining

Brett Brown sat at the podium with a puzzled look on his face as he stared at the box score.

Sure, he’d likely already been told that the Sixers had a season-high 27 turnovers in their 106-102 Game 4 win over the Miami Heat. But it’s one thing to hear it from someone else and another to see it written down in black and white.

“The fact that you can actually win a playoff game with this volume of turnovers is mind-boggling,” Brown said.

The Sixers’ level of carelessness on Saturday was equally astonishing.

For three quarters, the Sixers resembled the regular-season version of the team we have become accustomed to seeing over the years under Brown. They had the ball stolen on dribble moves and their passes intercepted. They had passes sail out of bounds and committed offensive fouls.

Simply put, the Sixers were tripping over themselves to give the ball back to the Heat.

“The first three periods, I was shocked to look up at the scoreboard and not feel like you’re just down 15, 14, 18 given the way the game went,” Brown said.

“I’m shocked that we won this game. We really didn’t have a right to win this game. I thought that, defensively, in the first three periods, we were a C-minus. I thought that our turnovers were an F.”

While a lot of that had to do with the Sixers’ own sloppiness, the Heat’s level of desperation was certainly a factor.

“Coming into this game this afternoon, you know you’re going to get the Miami Heat’s best,” Brown said. “It’s a culture of winning. They’ve won championships. Spo’s (Erik Spoelstra) a hell of a coach. You knew they were going to be all wound up. Like I said before, you didn’t have to be a mystic to guess what this was going to look like. 

“And they jumped us and we didn’t handle it well. We had multiple turnovers. I thought in Game 3 we responded to the physicality with only 12 and we did some things fundamentally more correct. There were several times in tonight’s game that they got the better of us and this environment got the better of us a little bit.”

Not when it mattered most.

The Sixers committed just three of those 27 turnovers in the fourth quarter as they dominated another final period to finish off the comeback.

And while the Sixers know they will never reach their playoff goals if they continue giving the ball away at such a rapid rate, they were pleased the team could stop the bleeding in crunch time with the game on the line.

“I think we did a great job of coming back, staying poised and playing as a team,” Ben Simmons said. “Going through our structured plays, whatever it is, defensively and offensively.” 

“I feel that we have been trending in a way that the fourth-period execution, the fourth-period mentality — defensively driven — has been our identity,” Brown said. “Then you go to the other side and say, well, we did a pretty good job of not turning the ball over. Three turnovers, by our standards, is an A-plus.”

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

Why Dwyane Wade thinks Sixers are 'special'

MIAMI — For the 13 first rounds Dwyane Wade has played in, the current Sixers-Heat matchup has made a strong impression.

“They’re good,” Wade said. “They’re special. They’re a good group. They put the right team together.”

Sitting at the podium, Wade spent a good amount of time during his press conference praising the team that has put the Heat on the brink of elimination. He’s been on the winning side often, including three championships, so he recognizes a unique team when he sees it. 

“This definitely is one of the best first-round series I’ve ever played in, first-round opponent,” Wade said.

The Sixers have gone up 3-1 on the Heat with a roster that is balanced both positionally and in experience. Seven players finished in double digits Saturday and only veteran JJ Redick had more than 20 points. Ben Simmons, with whom Wade already has a relationship (see story), recorded his first career playoff triple-double (17 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists). He became the youngest player to do so since Wade’s former teammate LeBron James back in 2006. 

"I give a lot of credit to their point guard, their leader, Ben,” Wade said. “He does a great job of getting them settled, getting the ball to his guys, and keep feeding confidence to them.”

Wade described the Sixers as having “an edge.” They will use it to test the Heat Tuesday when the series returns to Philadelphia. Wade encourages his teammates to play with maturity and withstand the Sixers’ runs. The Heat split the first two games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

“They’re going to play with pace, play with speed, play physical,” Wade said. “Obviously they’re going to play with their crowd. It’s going to be a high energy type of game from them … All we’ve got to do is just worry about this one game and giving everything we have for that game. You walk out of that game, you gave everything you had, you can live with whatever result is there at the end.”

Wade, 36, has had vintage moments against the Sixers in this series. He led all players with 28 points off the bench in the Heat’s Game 2 win. On Sunday, he scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter alone. 

Asked about the possibility of this game against the Sixers being his last game in Miami playing for the Heat, Wade said, “I won’t answer that right now. I’ve got another game to play. I’m focused on the next game and trying to win that one.”

What he will answer is questions about his competition. 

"They’re a very good team," Wade said. "I can’t say nothing negative about them at all. So far they’ve been great opponents.”