Indiana 95 Atlanta 88: The old school Pacers showed up. The Pacers of November and December and January, the ones who lived and died with their defense, they were the ones in this game. With everything on the line- lose and their season is over-the Pacers contested shots and made offensive possessions a grind. While Atlanta continued their perimeter style of play the Pacers rebounded long misses and took the lead in a faced past second quarter. Paul George looked like a MVP as he attacked the rim with an array of hanging in the air moves. His teammates controlled the pace with tough defense concentrating on Kyle Korver who could never get a clean look. The Hawks had 39 points at halftime and trailed by 5. In the second half George continued his mastery around the rim as no Hawks defender could keep him out the paint. Mike Scott brought the Highlight Factory to pandemonium with a humiliating dunk on Ian Mahinmi reducing the lead to 5. The Hawks went small. Jeff Teague crossed over Roy Hibbert on one possession and on the following possession he blew by him and finished with a floater. The Hawks ending the quarter up by 3. In the 4th David West took control of the offense. Paul George may be the Pacers glamour player but West is their toughness and heart. He made big shot after big shot, scoring 12 points in the 4th, none more crucial then a running hook with 45 seconds left to put the Pacers up by 2. The Hawks didn’t score again. Game 7 in Indiana on Saturday.
Oklahoma City 104 Memphis 84: Two years ago Memphis had an opportunity to advance. They lost game 7 at home. This year Memphis had an opportunity to advance. They lost game 6 at home. The only thing the losses had in common was that the Grizzlies underperformed. On Thursday night it was the Thunder’s offense that overwhelmed the Grizzlies. The Thunder got out to a big lead early. Scott Brooks inserted Caron Butler into the starting lineup which relieved some of the defensive pressure off of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook since Butler is a scorer and Thabo Sefolosha is not. It also cut down on Westbrook’s shots. Butler is a hard nosed, gut check player who is not intimidated by the bully tactics of the Grizzlies. In the first half he had two threes. The rest of the team took ownership of the offense, it wasn’t a two man show. The Thunder were up by 15 at half, shooting 56%. It was an off night for Zach Randolph and most of the Grizzlies. Conley went to the locker room late in the 4th after the game was pretty much over. His availability for game 7 is up in the air. Saturday in Oklahoma City will decide who advances and who is on vacation.
Golden State 100 Los Angeles 99: Not a shooting clinic of a game, perhaps nerves were at play, but the offenses for both teams went on hiatus. Step Curry missed easy shots. Klay Thompson missed perimeter shots. Chris Paul missed mid range shots. Blake Griffin missed shots in the paint. Matt Barnes was the one Clipper who could put the ball in the hole. He got off to an early start. DeAndre Jordan at the rim altered shots so the Warriors were reduced to a perimeter team. Still they clanked shots off the glass. In the second quarter Jermaine O’Neal banged knees with Big Baby and had to limp into the locker room, leaving the Warriors with no competent centers. When Curry rested Jordan Crawford did a good job running the offense and making plays for others. The series got nasty, of course. Maureese Speights slammed his big body into Chris Paul as he was already crashing into the floor and Speights got a technical. Paul already looked gimpy with his bad hamstring and he seemed out of sorts. He did not have his same fire. Then he hurt his hand and trainers worked on it for a good three minutes. It was a three point Clippers lead at half. In the second half both offenses continued to struggle. The Warriors trapped Blake Griffin whenever he got the ball forcing him to pass out of the double. It frustrated him enough that he took a three point shot during one possession. Andre Iguodala was the Warriors offense in the third quarter and they took a three point lead. In the 4th everyone was in foul trouble, David Lee, Draymond Green, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin. Both teams went small. With nine minutes left David Lee fouled out and his replacement Maureese Speights made a couple of big plays to give the Warriors the lead. The Warriors energy picked up as did their shooting. A 4 point play by Iguodala fouled out Blake Griffin with three minutes left. JJ Reddick fouled out with a minute left putting Harrison Barnes on the line. He made both free throws; it was a 4 point lead. But Matt Barnes hit a three to cut the lead to one with four tenths of a second left. Curry was fouled and intentionally missed the second free throw ending the game. Game 7 in Los Angeles.