NBA playoffs

About Last Night: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

About Last Night: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

What we’re talking about: Warriors making quick work of Blazers

Even with a change of venue, a fired-up fan base and another double-digit lead in the first half, the Golden State Warriors wound up doing what they always seem to do this time of year - find a way to win.

The absence of Kevin Durant has been a non-factor. In fact, one could argue not having the former league MVP has brought out the best in the rest of the Warriors who seemed to have found that hunger that champions often struggle with discovering after having won at the highest of levels over and over again. Steph Curry has been a killer shot-maker in this series, but the MVP has been Draymond Green. It was his aggressiveness during the early stages of Game 3 that kept Golden State in the game before finishing with a triple-double of 20 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. He showed tremendous leadership both in his play and his words, frequently offering words of encouragement to his younger teammates when they made mistakes. This is the version of Golden State teams fear: the one that’s hungry and when challenged, plays as close to their best brand of basketball which as the Blazers are finding out now, makes them damn near impossible to beat.

What we’ll be watching: Raptors must-win mode now

This is it. The Toronto Raptors’ amazing season comes down to this game. Facing a 2-0 series deficit, there is no way they can lose tonight and bounce back from a 3-0 series deficit and beat the Bucks. Milwaukee has won with Giannis Antetokounmpo dominating as well as with his teammates carrying the load towards victory. Kawhi Leonard has been the best individual talent in the playoffs from beginning to where things stand now. But his team’s 2-0 series hole is a reminder that being great in the playoffs doesn’t necessarily catapult you to victory unless your success becomes contagious. While Leonard may be the best player, no one has elevated the play of those around them more than Antetokounmpo. His scoring is lethal, obviously. But when he’s finding guys in their sweet spots the way we saw in the Boston series and now against Toronto? He becomes an unstoppable force that has the Raptors on the ropes who will continue to get big-time production from Leonard.

But will anyone else step up?

MORE BLAKELY: Get to know your NBA offseason terminology>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Underdog Warriors regain respect in Game 6 victory

190511-curry-haberstroh-thumb-resized.jpg
USA TODAY Sports photo

Underdog Warriors regain respect in Game 6 victory

Underestimated. Disprepected. The Warriors were without Kevin Durant and Steph Curry was on the bench in the first half after going scoreless. Down the stretch, everything changed. Champions doing what champions do. 

 

About Last Night: Rockets miss their shot against Warriors

About Last Night: Rockets miss their shot against Warriors

What we’re talking about: Rockets sputter when it matters most
If I didn’t watch the game, there’s no way I would believe it. The Houston Rockets were at full strength, at home, needing a win to keep their season alive in Game 6. Golden State had no Kevin Durant (calf injury) and his fellow MVP Stephen Curry was scoreless in the first half. The Rockets got this one going away right? Nope. When the time came to rise up, they shrunk under the pressure and in doing so, found a new low in what will be remembered as one of the biggest blown opportunities any team has had to knock off the Golden State dynasty. Golden State 118, Houston 113. Curry with 33 points, all in the second half. This adds yet another chapter to the narrative that another MVP, James Harden, is all buckets and no banners while the Warriors showed a level of championship mettle we had not seen from them in quite a while. They did what the great teams do; see adversity head-on and find a way.

What we’ll be watching: And then there were two...
Get your popcorn ready because we got two, yes two, winner-moves-on Game 7 tilts on the docket Sunday with the Toronto Raptors hosting the Philadelphia 76ers and the Portland Trail Blazers traveling to the Mile High City to face the Denver Nuggets. 

After so many years of being LeBron’d out of the playoffs, the Raptors have the best player in the series, depth and home-court advantage. But Philly can’t be counted out, especially the way Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons have been balling out. As important as those three will be, the difference-maker in this game will be Joel Embiid. He has battled an assortment of health-related issues this entire series. If he can get past all that and play like the all-star talent he is, the Sixers will advance. But if he’s still struggling to put his imprint on the game, Kawhi Leonard and the rest of his T-Dot crew will have very little trouble sending the Sixers home for the summer. 

As for the Denver-Portland series, guard play will rule the day. For the Blazers, Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Rodney Hood - he has been ballin’ in this series like he’s back in Durham, N.C. running Coach K’s plays at Duke - will be huge while the Nuggets have a potent 1-2-3 punch in Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and Malik Beasley who like Hood, has been a major spark plug for his team coming off the bench. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.