Here’s the thing. Yes, the Pacers are in the midst of one of the most iconic collapses in league history. But it’s not just that. The Atlanta Hawks are one bad half away from being up 3-0 in the series.
Friend of the family Larry Luk (photo on the homepage courtesy of Master Williams) was in attendance tonight in The A as his Hawks captured a 98-85 Game 3 victory over the Pacers. As usual, ATL’s ability to space the floor (and get to the line) was a deciding factor in the victory. Atlanta made seven more threes and 14 more free throws. Leading the way for the #HawksBros was Jeff Teague’s 22 points and 10 dimes – the first Hawk to post such a line since Spud Webb in 1986 – and Paul Millsap’s 14 points and 14 boards.
Needless to say, Game 4 is officially the most important game of Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Frank Vogel’s city.
Game 4: Sat. April 26, Indiana at Atlanta, 2 p.m., TNT
Much like Game 2, fast forward to the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies are up 81-64 with more than seven minutes left in what looks to be a gigantic series lead. Then, for whatever reason, the Grizzlies abandoned going to Marc Gasol, Oklahoma City’s defense tightened up and Russell Westbrook morphed into a mutant.
Despite a poor shooting display from Kevin Durant – 30 points, but on 10-27 shooting including 0-8 from three – the Thunder ended the quarter scoring 21 of the last 25 points from both teams. The most important being – wait for it – a four-point play from Russell Westbrook (only seconds after Russell Westbrook turned the ball over leading to a Tony Allen layup).
In overtime, Memphis avoided complete disaster (although a pointless Tony Allen foul in the final seconds provided unneccesary drama) improving to a 2-1 series lead via a 98-95 victory.*
Game 4: Sat. April 26, Oklahoma City at Memphis, 9:30 p.m., ESPN/R
For a good stretch of the second half, Golden State’s desire to avenge a Game 2 decapitation was seriously in question. Blake Griffin and Clippers were getting whatever they wanted. The lead ballooned to double-digits and Oracle was as quiet as its been in the Steph Curry era. Then the shots started falling with the Dubs erasing an eight-point lead with just over 90 seconds remaining. Crucial Curry threes set Twitter ablaze and the arena, and a missed Chris Paul free throw left the door wide open on the final possession.
Steph’s final shot fell short, but not without its fair share of controversy thanks to debated no-call from the refs. Was it a foul by Paul at the end? Of course, but it’s not like the Dubs did themselves any favors going 6-31 from three either. The Clippers’ 98-96 win improves the series to 2-1 in their favor thanks to a combined 46 points, 30 rebounds and six blocks from Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
Game 4: Sun. April 27, L.A. Clippers at Golden State, 3:30 p.m., ABC/R
* – Seriously, when is Scott Brooks going to stop relying on Durant and Westbrook iso’s to make everything right in the world?