The first round of the NBA playoffs continues today with Game 2 in the Miami-Philadelphia and San Antonio-Golden State series. Follow along here for the latest analysis and commentary from The Post’s NBA reporter Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions in the comments section.
• The first half of the Warriors-Spurs game was U-G-L-Y.
• What year is it? Dwyane Wade played 26 minutes and scored 28 points in Monday night’s win. Miami and Philadephia are tied, 1-1.
• Markelle Fultz has struggled as a shooter so far in the playoffs. Will opponents start daring him to shoot more?
Flagrant watch: Green picks up first point
OAKLAND, Calif. — Two years ago, all anyone remembers is Draymond Green punching LeBron James in the privates in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, earning a flagrant foul point that cost him Game 5. That suspension allowed the Cleveland Cavaliers to begin their comeback, culminating in a dramatic, seven-game championship victory.
But the play that caused Green to be suspended wasn’t directly the James play. It was actually a needless body slam of Michael Beasley at the end of Game 3 of Golden State’s first round win over the Houston Rockets.
A similar thing could happen down the road this year thanks to Green elbowing San Antonio’s Davis Bertans late in the fourth quarter of Monday’s 116-101 win.
Sure, Golden State is up 2-0 in the series after Monday’s come-from-behind, 116-101 win. But the game was already in hand when Green got tangled up with Bertans and dropped him with the elbow, picking up a flagrant foul in the process. That’s one point. Four of them earn a suspension.
In other news, Klay Thompson — who has been the best player in this series through two games — had 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting, and is now 23-for-33 through two games. Kevin Durant, meanwhile, had 32 points, six rebounds and six assists.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 34 points and 12 rebounds for San Antonio.
Hobbled West could spell trouble for Warriors
On a team full of star players in their primes, not much is said about David West, the sage, 37-year-old veteran big man. But those who watch the Golden State Warriors on a consistent basis know just how valuable West has been over the past two seasons.
That’s why it could be a significant development that West hobbled off the court with a left foot/ankle injury early in the fourth quarter of Game 2. West looked like he was going to try to stay in the game after limping to the bench, but after attempting to walk his injury off under the watchful eye of trainer Chelsea Lane, she eventually escorted West back to the locker room.
West later returned to the bench in a warmup jacket, and it was unclear whether he’d be available to return. The Warriors needs to hope he won’t be down long-term, as he’s a crucial component in their fluctuating center rotation.
Ginobili putting forth another timeless effort
Let’s just stop for a second and admire the brilliance that is Manu Ginobili.
At 40 years old, Ginobili not only is still playing in the NBA, he’s still effective. As the Golden State Warriors threaten to pull away in Game 2 of their first round series with Ginobili’s San Antonio Spurs, the Argentine legend is keeping his team in the game.
Ginobili sliced through Golden State’s defense as the pick-and-roll ball handler for a layup, got LaMarcus Aldridge a point-blank look that was stopped by excellent Warriors defense and then hit Pau Gasol for an easy move in the post to help San Antonio stop the bleeding and go into the fourth trailing only 80-75, when things easily could’ve been much worse.
The Spurs might not win this game, and almost certainly won’t win this series. But hopefully Ginobili is back next year. The NBA would be a far lesser place without him.
LaMarcus Aldridge keeping Spurs afloat
LaMarcus Aldridge has been awesome tonight.
Just when it looked like the Golden State Warriors had a chance to put some real daylight between themselves and the San Antonio Spurs, Aldridge (26 points and nine rebounds) has made his dud in Game 1 a distant memory, and has San Antonio up by one with 4:40 remaining in the third.
It’s still going to take a lot for San Antonio to get a win here in Oakland — which would be a real feat, considering the Spurs haven’t won a road game since beating Cleveland back in February. But Aldridge is doing everything he can to keep the undermanned Spurs in this one.
The Warriors are giving the Spurs every chance they can to make this series competitive — literally.
Golden State has turned the ball over 11 times in the first half — resulting in 12 Spurs points. San Antonio, meanwhile, has two turnovers that have become two points for the Warriors.
That 10-point difference more than covers the 53-47 halftime advantage for the Spurs. If Golden State can take care of the ball in the second half, it should be fine.
Other than LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay (a combined 11 for 17 for 27 points), the Spurs are 8 for 30 — including 3 for 16 from three-point range — further proof that the Spurs are going to have an awfully tough time scoring against Golden State in this series.
At least, that will be the case if the Warriors take care of the ball. They didn’t in the first half, and because of it we have a ball game.
Golden State keeping game close early — by giving the ball away
A basketball game was scheduled for Monday night at 7:30 p.m. local time here at Oracle Arena.
A rock fight broke out instead.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs are tied at 35 in what has been a truly terrible game to watch. LaMarcus Aldridge has 13 points for San Antonio — having remembered how to score again after a tough Game 1 — while Kevin Durant has 12 after hitting a midrange jumper to tie the game moments ago.
So how is San Antonio tied in a game it is shooting 36.1 percent overall in, and 15.4 percent (2 for 13) from three-point range? Because Golden State has committed eight turnovers that have led to eight Spurs points.
If the Warriors are locked in defensively, the Spurs can’t score. So for this game to remain this close, it’s going to require Golden State to continue to get in its own way on offense, too.
What had been a vintage Dwyane Wade performance through three quarters became one over four as the Miami Heat evened their first-round series at a game apiece.
The Philadelphia 76ers had moved all the way to within two points late in the fourth quarter before Wade, who finished with 28 points in 26 minutes, stole the ball from Dario Saric and raced ahead of the field for a breakaway dunk to double Miami’s lead to four. That was the catalyst for a 10-2 run – including a Wade jumper with 47.9 seconds left that sealed the game – and pushed Miami to a 113-103 victory.
With the series now tied, the question hanging over the series is the availability of Joel Embiid — and whether he can return in time for Game 3 Thursday in Miami.
Embiid, who has been out since suffering a facial fracture on March 28, has cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol but missed the opening two games of the series. With two days off between games, Philadelphia will be hoping it can get its all-star center back in time for the series to shift to the shores of Biscayne Bay.
Sixers go on a run
A 17-5 Sixers run has pulled Philadelphia within four with 5:47 remaining in front of a raucous crowd inside Wells Fargo Center, as the Heat try to hang on and get themselves back into this series — and Philadelphia tries to put a hammer lock on it.
The Heat have gotten some decent looks, but Philadelphia has finally made some threes and gotten out in transition to get itself back in the game and wind things up.
This should be a fun final few minutes.
Vintage Dwyane Wade has Sixers ahead
The Philadelphia 76ers were unsustainably hot from three-point range (18 for 28) in Game 1. Dwyane Wade is unsustainably hot from everywhere in Game 2.
The future Hall of Famer is having a vintage performance through three quarters, scoring 23 points on 9-for-12 shooting in just 16 minutes so far as the Heat head into the fourth quarter with an 11-point lead.
It hasn’t helped the Sixers that they are shooting 4 for 24 from three in this one, either. Regression to the mean, anyone?
How do you beat a full-court press out of a timeout? Throw a touchdown pass.
Dario Saric to Ben Simmons for six! Carson Wentz — or Nick Foles — to Zach Ertz wouldn’t have looked prettier to Philadelphia fans.
Steve Kerr isn’t won’t answer strategy questions. That’s nonsense.
The final question of Steve Kerr’s news conference was a simple one: Will Andre Iguodala remain in the starting lineup for a second straight game?
Here was Kerr’s response:
“I’m no longer going to be magnanimous in our information sharing. … You can ask me, [but] I’m not going to answer.”
The thing about this is, Kerr hardly ever answers strategy questions. This is a thing among coaches; Sixers Coach Brett Brown did it earlier Monday. The thinking goes that, with opponents paying attention to these news conferences, the coaches would rather keep their information close to the vest as long as possible.
Personally, I think this is nonsense. There isn’t an adjustment that these teams haven’t spent hours considering ahead of time. No extra half-hour of thinking is going to fix it. This is one of the few ways that the NBA is like the NFL.
But now, at least from Kerr’s perspective, he’s made it official.
It’s really been remarkable that Markelle Fultz has been able to return after missing most of the season and immediately make an impact for Philadelphia.
But it will be interesting to see — either in this series or as the playoffs progress — whether teams begin to try to dare him into being more involved as a shooter.
Fultz’s latest attempt — a step-back fadeaway in the baseline corner —resulted in an airball, and his shot still looks shaky. Could a team choose to employ the “Hack-A” strategy with him? Could they decide not to be within 10 feet of him when he has the ball?
Fultz isn’t going to play many minutes, but moves like that could make it difficult for Sixers Coach Brett Brown to play him at all.
An uneven start for Goran Dragic in Game 2
One thing that had to happen in Game 2 for Miami: getting Goran Dragic more involved. The Heat’s all-star point guard was all but invisible in Game 1, playing 31 ineffectual minutes that saw him score 15 points on 14 shots.
So it was a great sign for the Heat that Dragic came out aggressive in the opening minutes of Game 2, scoring six quick points. What was not so great of a sign? Him also picking up two fouls within the first five minutes of Monday night’s game and heading straight to the bench.
As one of the few Miami players who can consistently break down a defense, that could prove to be a key moment in the game.
What will the Heat do with Hassan Whiteside?
There are two things to watch in the opening game of tonight’s NBA playoff doubleheader between the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers: how much Hassan Whiteside plays, and how effective he is when he does.
Whiteside was dreadful in Game 1 on Saturday night, scoring two points on 1-for-4 shooting with two turnovers in 12 minutes. Most importantly, Whiteside was minus-16, with much of that coming in Philadelphia’s game-changing run to start the third quarter that put the Sixers ahead for good.
After the game, Whiteside said he had faith in the coaching staff, but there have been trust issues between him and Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra for some time now. The blame for those issues lies with Whiteside, who has proven to be as unreliable as everyone thought he might be when Miami signed him to a four-year max contract two years ago.
Now, the goal for the Heat has to be to limit Whiteside’s minutes until Joel Embiid comes back in this series — because that is when Whiteside can have an impact. Embiid has already been ruled out of Game 2, however, so Whiteside’s role should be limited Monday night. How limited, and what happens if Spoelstra makes it really limited bears watching — not just for this series, but also as a prelude to a potential move away from Whiteside this summer (if Miami can find a taker for him).
- Miami Heat 113, Philadelphia 76ers 103
- Golden State Warriors 116, San Antonio Spurs 101
Hop into the comments section below starting at 7 p.m. to chat with The Post’s Tim Bontemps about all of your NBA questions.