Court Vision: Playoff lessons as LeBron puts the boot to Nets' throat
What we learned in the NBA Monday as the Heat took a 3-1 series lead over Brooklyn behind 49 points for Lebron James.
Heat 102 Nets 96 | Heat lead series 3-1
• We learned that you wouldn't like LeBron James when he's angry. The Nets tried to bully LeBron and the Heat, constantly trying to start fights and get in their heads. They ran their mouths and talked about how they weren't afraid of James and the Heat.
• Maybe they should have been.
• James finished with 49 points (missing a free throw with a second left that would have made it 50), a career high for him in the playoffs with Miami, on 24 shots to go with six rebounds, two assists, and three steals. His shot chart:
• That's 11-of-12 at the rim and 3-of-6 from the arc. The Nets let LeBron James shoot 12 times at the rim, and that's not counting foul shots (LeBron took 19 of the Heat's 27 free throws.
• It was a crushing game for the Nets, who worked hard to finally get over the hump in the fourth quarter and take the lead on a Paul Pierce dunk, only to see the Heat grind and pound them down.
• The Nets of course went way too much into ISOJOE mode, letting Joe Johnson try to score on James, arguably the league's best perimeter defender, over and over and over again. They also let Kevin Garnett try to shoot over Chris Bosh, another elite defender. The scheming was not great.
• The Nets' offense did do incredible work and actually shut down the Heat... outside of James. Non-Big-3 Heat members combined for just 26 points, and even after a 7-of-13 game from Dwyane Wade, he and Bosh combined for only 27. If LeBron James hadn't basically demolished their earth, they would have won this game. Something to think about while they drift helplessly through the remains of their planet in the vast emptiness of space.
• Mirza Teletovic, a huge reason the Nets won Game 3, played just 16 minutes. Andrei Kirilenko, who did incredible work defensively in the third to help the Nets surge, played just 15.
• Paul Pierce played over 31 minutes.
• This could have been worse. Ray Allen missed four of five three pointers, many of them coming on open looks.
• That's about all there is to say. LeBron.
Blazers 103 Spurs 92 | Spurs lead series 3-0
• We learned that the Blazers won't go that quietly. Damian Lillard lead the Blazers and Portland finally, finally got an emotional performance out of their guys at home, and Portland got separation to force the series back to Texas for Game 5.
• The Spurs weren't quite themselves in Game 4. They were sloppy; despite turning the ball over just 10 times, their execution just wasn't the same. They shot just 3-for-18 from three, which isn't like them, and their defensive rotations were off all night.
• The Blazers threw a bunch of new players at San Antonio as Terry Stotts emptied the toolbox trying to get a game. Will Barton added 17 off the bench in a huge game for him and Thomas Robinson gave great effort.
• If Damian Lillard was the engine for Portland Monday night, Nicolas Batum was the wheels. 14 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists for the veteran who made plays happen all over the court. Huge effort from him.
• Took him three games, but LaMarcus Aldridge finally got over on Tiago Splitter for a game. 8-of-16 shooting for 19 points for Aldridge, mostly out of the face-up.
• Manu Ginobili, two points, 1-of-6 shooting. There's a trend emerging. When Ginobili plays well, they win. When he struggles, they struggle.
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