NBA Playoffs: All the Action From The Conference Finals
A lot is happening in the NBA playoffs with the WCF and ECF underway. Let’s take a look here.
Latest NBA playoff news
- Warriors with commanding road victory over Dallas to lead series 3-0
- Wiggins’ dunk sends NBA world into a frenzy, easily best of the playoffs
- Otto Porter Jr. injures foot and will likely miss Game 4
- Orlando Magic get number one pick in upcoming 2022 Draft
- Miami takes 2-1 series lead in scrappy win against Boston
- Smart, Tatum, and Butler all hurt but should play Game 4
Mavs put up solid fight but Warriors just too much in Game 3
What. A. Dunk. While Andrew Wiggins’ immense jam over Luka Doncic wasn’t game-saving by any means, it did certainly help swing the momentum in favor of the Warriors. This was a ferocious, powerful, and filthy dunk that shocked everyone in attendance.
For a minute, it looked like the refs would call an offensive foul and the dunk would be lost in smoke, but thankfully, the replay center claimed all was well and the dunk lives on as one of the best in playoff history.
“I got hit a little bit, but that was impressive,” said Doncic after the game. “I’m not going to lie. I saw the video again, and [that dunk] was pretty incredible.”
But, back to the game. The Warriors defeated the Mavs in an intense Game 3, 109-100, which means Golden State now has a huge 3-0 lead in the series. We’ll be surprised if the Warriors end up sweeping the Mavs, but it’s nevertheless a big advantage heading into Game 4 in Dallas.
In a total contrast to Game 2, in which the Warriors had to fight tooth and nail for an epic comeback to win, Golden State looked ready and strong right out of the gates. There were turnovers, sure, but far less than previous games (13-9 in favor of Golden State) and not so many stupid blunders that left you shaking your head.
While Steph Curry was the team’s best scorer with 31 points, this night belonged to Wiggins, who is typically the unsung hero of the Warriors team. Wiggins finished with 27 points (career-high in the playoffs) and 11 rebounds, not to mention the dunk to end all dunks.
This win brings the Warriors just one game away from reaching the Finals for the first time since 2019, where they were ultimately beaten by the Toronto Raptors. Nothing is certain yet, especially seeing the way Dallas bounced back against the Suns in Round 2, but it’s a great sign going forward in the NBA playoffs.
Curry was, of course, brilliant throughout the game and hit big shot after big shot (as well as a few well-timed shimmy celebrations), but also contributed 11 assists and five rebounds. Klay Thompson’s shooting was a bit iffy during the win, going 6-18 from the field (3-10 from the three-point line), but he still managed 19 well-earned points.
Now, over to the Dallas side of things. You could say the Mavericks totally blew Game 2, as the team squandered a 19-point lead and looked lost at times on the court in the second half. However, the Mavs also had a great chance on the back of Doncic’s 40 points, but where was his help?
The Mavs kept it close until the end and were within striking distance at many points throughout the game, but it can’t just be Luka all the time. Brunson (20) and Dinwiddie (26) chipped in well enough, but the most glaring stats are from beyond the arc. Dallas shot 13-45 from the three-point line, and it was both Bullock and Kleber who are to blame.
Bullock, normally a lights-out shooter, went 0-10 in the whole game and ended with zero points. Kleber, too, is typically a reliable shooter, but he also went 0-5 and finished with nothing. There must have been a lid on the hoop, as it’s rare to see stats like that.
The news that Otto Porter Jr. left the game with foot soreness did sour the win, as Porter has been a trustworthy veteran for the Warriors and adds around 10 points per game. It’s possible he’ll return for Game 4, but more likely, the Warriors will try to win without Porter and give him rest potentially for the Finals.
There’s also a big question mark hanging over Warriors’ Andre Iguodala, as the talented forward has only played a handful of minutes in the NBA playoffs after hurting his neck. His status is still up in the air, but we hope to see him play, as Iguodala knows the Warriors’ system well after already picking up three titles with the team.
5 takeaways from Game 3 of Golden State vs. Dallas
- Wiggins’ dunk just has to be seen to be believed
- Bullock and Kleber… where did you go?
- Curry is still the master of the three-pointer
- Luka is ridiculously talented… but one more star would be nice on Dallas
- Draymond has moments of good sportsmanship after helping up Luka
What Boston needs to do for a Game 4 victory in the NBA Conference Finals
Boston dropping Game 3 on their home floor was a crushing loss, especially as the Celtics cut a 26-point Heat lead down to one point late in the fourth quarter. However, Boston has been in similar circumstances before, as they were also down 2-3 in the series against Milwaukee but managed to rally and win it all.
What do the Celtics have to do to ensure success in Game 4?
Contain Adebayo in the paint
Bam scored only 16 points across the first two games, but some harsh words must have been said, as he came out firing in Game 3 for 31 points. Adebayo was unstoppable in the paint and it’s likely that the Celtics weren’t thinking of him as a scoring threat. Well, they will now.
Al Horford should be able to contain Adebayo, just like he did with Giannis and Durant from the earlier rounds, but he’ll have to put in more effort to prevent Bam from getting easy buckets in Game 4.
Hope Butler sits out… but prepare for his arrival
Jimmy Butler left Game 3 pretty early after experiencing knee soreness, and while his status for Game 4 is uncertain, Boston would absolutely love it if Butler sat on the sidelines. Butler is averaging 28.1 points in the NBA playoffs so far, and his savviness and dependable shot make him a constant headache for the Celtics’ defense.
Jimmy “Buckets” has been a thorn in the side of the Celtics so far in the series with his mid-range shooting and ability to get to the free-throw line with ease. No Butler would mean more focus on Bam and the Heat’s many three-point shooters, but it still wouldn’t be a walk in the park without Jimmy.
Get everyone healthy
Boston nearly lost Smart and Tatum to injury in Game 3, but the two somehow made it back to the court after it looked like both would sit out. Even though the Celtics lost, it’s a good sign to have them healthy, as Boston has had several problems with missing players so far.
The Celtics really miss the interior defense and lob threats from Robert “Time Lord” Williams III, but the big man has constant knee problems after surgery midway through the playoffs. If Williams comes back, there’s just one more guy to stop Adebayo and help grab rebounds.
No rushed shots and find the open man
Boston is always at its best when moving the ball and looking for open shooters, rather than resorting to “Hero Ball.” Shooting over a defender with one second left on the shot clock sometimes pays off with a made bucket, but 99% of the time it ends with a miss and a made lay-up on the other end.
Be careful when handling the ball
The Celtics were sloppy in Game 3, and the 24 turnovers are a testament to that. Compare this to Miami’s nine turnovers and you can see why the Heat looked so forceful in the win.
Boston has a problem with bad passes that were never, ever going to make it to a teammate, as well as issues handling the ball in transition. Jaylen Brown, in particular, seemed to lose concentration and had the ball stripped by the Heat’s Victor Oladipo what seemed like 500 times in Game 3.
Fix these issues, and we’ll see a resounding Boston win in Game 4.
Author: Joe Garland