The first round of the NBA playoffs continues today with three Game 5s, including two possible elimination games. 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. Catch up on yesterday’s games here.
• Manu Ginobili just finished his 17th season with the Spurs, but he will take some time to decide whether he wants to retire.
• Gregg Popovich missed another playoff game for the Spurs, while grieving the recent death of his wife, Erin.
• The Sixers again owned the second half against the Heat, and Philadelphia is advancing in the playoffs for the first time in six years.
• Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Bucks after a no-call on a shot-clock violation that couldn’t be reviewed.
• Meek Mill rang the ceremonial bell before Game 5 of Sixers-Heat, hours after being released from prison
Chris Webber was serving as the color analyst during Game 5 of Warriors-Spurs Tuesday night when he made this comment about Draymond Green:
“This is the impact Draymond Green has,” Webber said, as a highlight was shown of Green driving to the basket and passing to a teammate for a score. “Yes, if he was on other teams and expected to score, he may not be in the starting lineup on some teams.”
Webber went on to say he is one of Golden State’s most valuable players because he keeps their system going, he’s unselfish and he locks down defensively. It didn’t sound like he was trying to criticize Green.
But the idea that Green – a two-time all-star and reigning defensive player of the year – potentially wouldn’t start on other teams was a curious idea.
So, naturally, Green was asked about it. Naturally, he had plenty to say.
“I don’t have a scorer’s mentality, especially for the team that I play on,” Green said. “I think if I did have a scorer’s mentality, it would throw all this off and it wouldn’t work out.
“You know, I think there are times in the game where I probably need to score more, but it’s hard to turn a scorer’s mentality on and off. I’ve had that once before in my life. You don’t just click that on or off. Nonetheless, I do know when I need to be more aggressive and that helps my team out.
“But I don’t care. I’ve done some great things in this league. I’ve been to all-star (games) twice averaging like 11 points, ten points or something like that. Look, you know, I don’t need to score.
“However, I don’t think he can find many GMs are coaches that wouldn’t say I wouldn’t start on their team, and you know, my — I’m fine without scoring the ball. I think I’ve created a new lane for guys in this league to where you don’t have to score 20 points to be an all-star or be a starter in this league and it is what it is.
“That’s fine and my jersey fit well. So I’m doing really pretty good. You know, much love to C-Web, though, from Michigan, State of Michigan, you know, we good.”
By this point, Green was standing up, holding the microphone in his hand. And, as he was, he decided to take a second to recognize someone who wasn’t at Tuesday’s game: Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, who remains in San Antonio after his wife, Erin, passed away last Wednesday after a lengthy illness.
“One other thing, man, I think when I look at life — you know, seriously, this is dead serious. When I look at life, when somebody pass away, we tend to think we’re there for one day or two days and then we float away and think like their problem go away.
“So I just want to send my love to Pop and his family, again. It was kind of a thing the first day and happened and then it’s like gone. That probably don’t leave for him so much. Love Pop and I send my prayers and best wishes to him and his family.”
Then – as Green remained standing – he was asked about the decidedly odd incident involving a local television reporter stealing the jacket of Ralph Walker, the Warriors’ longtime security guard, after the team’s shootaround in San Antonio last Thursday.
“Yeah, I ain’t saw the video,” Green said. “I think we got great security staff in Ralph, Tony and Jeff. But did they find out what happened and found where the jacket was at?
“Obviously it’s unfortunate. I think, you know, what it boils down to it, it’s a jacket but I think it’s more so the principle. You’re in your own space and you want to return your jacket, and all of us do and so I think it’s more so the principle than the actual thing.
“Like, you know, if I got a dollar sitting here, it’s a dollar, but it’s my dollar. I wouldn’t expect nobody to take it. That’s an unfortunate situation. We got a great front office and great media PR staff that will figure it all out.”
And, with that, yet another eventful Draymond Green press conference had come to an end.
The Argentine legend, who will turn 41 in July, said after the Spurs suffered a season-ending 99-91 loss to the Warriors in Game 5 of their first round series the same thing he said last week: that he will take time this summer to contemplate his future before making a decision about whether to return for a 17th NBA season.
“I’ve been contemplating retirement forever,” Ginobili said with a smile. “Nothing changed.
“I’ll let a month or two months go by, and then i’ll see how I feel. I’m not the type of guy that makes decisions on the fly, or when you’re upset or hurt or whatever.
“I usually let it sink in and see how it feels.”
The Spurs will have Ginobili as part of their organization for as long as he’s willing to be part of it. They’d love for him to return again next season, as he’s remained an integral part of their bench – even as one of the oldest players in the league.
“Is there anything that surprises you about Manu?” Spurs interim coach Ettore Messina asked after Ginobili had 10 points, five rebounds and seven assists in nearly 25 minutes Tuesday. “So, I mean, it will be another unbelievable proof of who he is as a man and as a professional player. It’s unbelievable. What can I tell you?
“He was not even doing well today. He had a problem in his foot and he started a little bit — he was not doing well but then he decided he wanted to play. It’s unbelievable, really.”
That feeling is shared by people across the NBA, as few players are as beloved around the league as Ginobili. Just look at this interaction between him and Warriors Coach Steve Kerr – his teammate back in 2002-03, Ginobili’s rookie year – on the court after Game 5.
Kerr then expounded on that feeling in his postgame press conference.
“You know, that’s my guy,” Kerr said with a smile. “We were teammates, 2003, a long time ago. It’s amazing to see him out there continuing to play and play with so much joy and passion.
“So I’m hoping that’s not his last game. I just told him I hope he keeps playing because he’s been just amazing for the league and so fun to watch night-in and night-out.”
He’s not alone.
Remember that line about barring a total collapse in the fourth quarter?
Well, about that …
The Golden State Warriors made it far, far more interesting than they would’ve liked. But, in the end, they managed to survive a late comeback by the San Antonio Spurs to emerge with a 99-91 victory –and, with it, the right to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs, where they’ll face the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Warriors saw their lead reduced to two points when LaMarcus Aldridge made a pair of free throws inside the final minute to cap a brilliant night with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Kevin Durant, though, came back and buried a jumper from the top of the key to extend Golden State’s lead to four, and ensured the Warriors would emerge from this game – and series – victorious.
Now the focus will shift to how the Warriors match up with the Pelicans – and to whether Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard will be back in San Antonio next season – although for two very different reasons.
Barring a total collapse in the fourth quarter, the Golden State Warriors will be advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
Finally creating some separation from the San Antonio Spurs, the Warriors now lead 79-65 after three, clamping down on their opponents defensively in the same way they did during the opening three games of this series – and failed to in Game 4, which is why tonight’s game is happening in the first place.
San Antonio is shooting just 33 percent from the floor overall, and 6-for-25 from three-point range. If Golden State was having even an average shooting game from three-point range itself – the Warriors are 5-for-21 from three – this game would be over already.
That said, it essentially is.
The Golden State Warriors are playing better than they did in Game 4 — but not well enough to put away the San Antonio Spurs so far in Game 5.
Early in the second half, the Warriors hold a nine-point lead, as they’ve been able to limit San Antonio to 30.6 percent shooting from the floor.
The reason the Warriors haven’t been able to put the game away, though, is because they aren’t making much themselves — including going 4 for 17 from three-point range.
Remarkably, three of those made three-pointers are by the team’s two most suspect main shooters: Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. So far, both men are a combined 3 for 8 from the field — a percentage Golden State will happily take for the remainder of the playoffs, if it can get it.
With the Miami Heat now officially eliminated from the playoffs, one of the big questions surrounding the Heat heading into the summer is about the status of future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade.
Wade spent the first 13 years of his career in Miami before spending last season in Chicago and the first half of this year in Cleveland — only to be traded back to South Florida at the deadline instead of getting released.
He settled into a nice role coming off the bench in Miami — one that his game is well-suited to filling for the next few seasons. But will he? Or will he choose to retire instead?
Wade wasn’t saying Tuesday night.
“There will be no breaking news here in Philly,” Wade joked after the loss to the Sixers in Game 5 of their first-round series.
“You can lose with effort. You can lose to a better team. And that’s what they are. We had some moments we would like to have back. Ultimately they had more than us.”
If it was up to Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra, though, Wade won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
“I’ve coached him now in this role, which I don’t think either one of us ever would have imagined that Dwyane Wade would be coming off the bench,” Spoelstra said. “But he’s handled all of these roles with incredible class and dignity.
“He could play this role forever. I don’t know if he will choose to do that, but it also, again, speaks to his character and his humility, you know, that he’d be willing to take on a role like this. He knew what the deal was. We were already kind of set with our rotation, that was one of the first things he said, ‘I don’t want to disrupt anything. I’ll come off the bench, I’ll play with the second unit, and we’ll make this work. Don’t worry about me.’ And that’s awesome.
“There probably aren’t a lot of Hall of Fame players at his age … who would be willing to do that.”
Now the Heat will wait and see if Wade chooses to do that again next season. He clearly won’t be playing anywhere else. The question is if he’ll be playing at all.
The Golden State Warriors were upset they allowed themselves to have to come back to Oakland and play Game 5 of this series against the San Antonio Spurs by letting Game 4 slip away from them.
They haven’t looked much better at the start of Game 5.
Despite the Spurs struggling from the field early on (going 9 for 27 to start the game), they are managing to hang around thanks to four of those shots they’ve made being from three-point range.
Golden State, on the other hand, is just 2 for 9 from deep, though it does have a 6-0 edge in fast break points and a 16-10 edge in points in the paint.
Ettore Messina, Popovich’s lead assistant and one of the most decorated coaches in European basketball history, led the team for a third straight game Tuesday night as the Spurs tried to extend their first-round series with the Golden State Warriors to a sixth game.
The last time Popovich made a public appearance with the team was after practice last Wednesday in San Antonio. It was later that day that the team announced his wife, Erin, had passed away after a lengthy battle with an undisclosed illness.
Popovich didn’t coach either Game 3 or Game 4 in San Antonio, and the team announced Monday he would not be with the Spurs in Oakland for Game 5 Tuesday night.
There has been no word yet on whether Popovich would be available if the Spurs can force Game 6 back in San Antonio Thursday night.
When asked before the game about his recent conversations with Popovich, Messina said, “There are more important things than screens and transition defense.”
Then he paused.
“Even if transition defense is very, very important,” he added.
It was a small moment of levity in a week that has been full of anything but for Popovich and the team he’s been with for more than two decades.
Philadelphia emerged with a 104-91 victory over Miami Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center — a game that was noted across the country for rapper Meek Mill’s first public appearance after being released on bail after five months in prison earlier in the day.
But it also wound up following a familiar refrain for Philadelphia in this series: struggle to pull away from Miami in the first half, then demolish the Heat in the second.
The two teams were tied at 46 at halftime Tuesday, only for the Sixers to pull away after halftime. In the five games in the series, Philadelphia outscored Miami by 78 points in the second half.
In the first half? Miami actually outscored Philadelphia by 24 points.
It was a fitting result, though, as Philadelphia is the far superior team from a talent standpoint. The Heat gamely hung in the series thanks to the grit and experience it had across the roster — not to mention the coaching acumen of Erik Spoelstra, one of the league’s best tacticians.
But the young Sixers responded brilliantly to every challenge thrown their way and look like a potential Finals contender — despite this being the first time the team has made the playoffs since 2012 and the first playoff appearance of the careers of stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, along with valuable role players Dario Saric and Robert Covington.
The Boston Celtics took a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven series with the Milwaukee Bucks thanks to a 93-87 victory Tuesday night, but the main talking points afterward was a missed shot clock violation that went in favor of the Celtics with 1:16 remaining.
With the Celtics leading 84-79, Horford caught the ball on the wing as the shot clock wound down and hoisted up a three-pointer. It clanged off the rim and landed in the hands of Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye, who corralled the offensive rebound and was fouled.
There was just one problem: The play could not be reviewed. Why? Because going back and checking if the shot clock expired when it hadn’t been called in the first place is not one of the things that triggers a replay review.
So while Boston wound up not scoring on the possession, it caused another 27 seconds to run off the clock — 27 seconds that the Bucks could’ve used as they tried to cut into Boston’s lead in the final minute.
Ironically, it would have been better for Milwaukee if Horford’s shot had gone in. Had it, the Bucks would have gotten the ball back, and his shot would have been looked at later, and the points would have been taken off the board.
But because Horford’s shot missed, there wasn’t a way for it to be looked at. It’s similar to how the league handles goaltending calls. If a goaltending is called, the referees can go and review it to determine whether it was or not. If goaltending is not called, it can’t be looked at it.
The same goes for shot clock violations, as the Bucks found out the hard way Tuesday night.
The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t gotten the boost from Meek Mill’s return and courtside perch that they would’ve hoped.
The Sixers and Miami Heat are tied at 46 at halftime of Game 5, as Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons haven’t gotten much help from their teammates. Embiid (11 points) and Simmons (10) are the only players in double-figures for Philadelphia, who has shot 2 for 12 from three.
Miami, meanwhile, has gone 5 for 18 from three, is shooting just 38 percent overall and has committed seven turnovers that have become 14 Sixers points. By that math, the Heat should feel fortunate this is even a tie game.
The Milwaukee Bucks have managed to hang around as Game 5 has wore on. And, as the game has ebbed into the fourth quarter, the Bucks have pulled back to within 72-68.
The latest surge — the second time in the second half Milwaukee has pulled this close to the Boston Celtics — has been led by Jabari Parker, who has an and-one layup and a dunk in the Bucks’ past two trips. On a night when Milwaukee simply can’t buy a basket, it would be huge for the Bucks to get another scoring option going alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Mill, a prominent rapper and Philadelphia native, came to the game with minority owner Michael Rubin and comedian Kevin Hart, and spent time with the team in the locker room prior to the game.
He also exchanged a greeting with star center Joel Embiid before tip from his court-side seat — where Mill is wearing an Embiid jersey.
With the Milwaukee Bucks staring at a 16-point deficit late in the first half, it looked like Game 5 of their series with the Boston Celtics could be over by the halftime break.
That, however, was before a late 7-2 Bucks run over the final 90 seconds of the half to get Milwaukee within 11 at the half.
Predictably, the Celtics have shot better at home, but the bigger issue so far in this game is that Milwaukee can’t make anything. The Bucks are shooting 34.9 percent (15 for 43) at halftime, and 3 for 14 (21.4 percent) from three-point range.
Outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, though, Milwaukee is shooting 6 for 28 overall and 2 for 13 from three-point range. Simply put, that has to change in the second half for the Bucks to have a chance to win this game.
The Boston Celtics hit some shots in the first quarter of Game 5. The Milwaukee Bucks hit even less.
In a series that’s been ugly thus far, these first 12 minutes may have sunk to a new low. The Bucks went a dismal 6 for 22 from the field, including 1 for 7 from three. The Celtics went 9 for 21 and 2 for 8. Both teams committed five turnovers.
The Celtics, though, ended it leading 23-15 and have to feel good about where things stand. Role players always play better at home, and with so many role players on both teams, that has to benefit Boston (as it did in Games 1 and 2).
Marcus Smart is the emotional heartbeat of the Boston Celtics, and is precisely the type of player the blue-collar city is known to love.
Thus, it should come as a surprise to no one that Smart received a standing ovation when he checked in at the 4:08 mark of Game 5 of Boston’s first-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks.
That said: How much of an impact will Smart actually make in this series?
Yes, he has strengths that can help a team in the playoffs — particularly his ability to switch defensively because of his size and strength as a guard, and he can operate the pick-and-roll with some proficiency.
But Smart’s strengths are not in scoring — which is the thing Boston has struggled with so far in this series. If his return means less minutes for the combination of Aron Baynes and Semi Ojeleye, that’s one thing. But if it means less minutes for Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum? That might not work out so well for a Boston team that needs every potential scoring avenue it can find.
Rapper Meek Mill has arrived at Wells Fargo Center and was seen entering the Sixers locker room pregame.
Meek Mill was released from prison earlier Tuesday on bail after serving five months. Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin picked up the rapper in Chester, Pa., and it appears he was flown to Philadelphia in a helicopter.
Trailing 2-0 in a series last season against the Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics Coach Brad Stevens put Gerald Green into the starting lineup for Game 3. That (plus Rajon Rondo’s injured thumb) wound up being the catalyst for Boston winning the next four games of the series, and eventually reaching the Eastern Conference finals.
This year, with Boston tied 2-2 after dropping a pair of games in Milwaukee, Stevens decided to shake things up once again.
Rookie forward Semi Ojeleye came into the starting lineup, replacing Australian center Aron Baynes, with the hope of providing more spacing and improved switching on defensive for the Celtics. And, in the opening minutes, Ojeleye managed to knock down a three-pointer from the corner (though he missed another).
In a series of tweets Tuesday afternoon, rapper Meek Mill confirmed he had been released on bail from a state correction institution in Chester, Pa., five months after he’d been incarcerated for a probation violation.
Mill, whose given name is Robert Williams, has received a visit earlier Tuesday from comedian Kevin Hart and Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin. A short time later, Rubin posted on Instagram a picture of himself, Mill and Hart at a Sixers game, and said he was going back to the prison to pick the rapper up.
Mill’s case has been championed by players across the NBA — including Sixers rookies Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, who reportedly went to visit him in prison, as well.
Before each home game, Philadelphia has someone different serve as the team’s ceremonial bell-ringer, hitting a replica of the Liberty Bell just before tip-off to wind up the crowd inside Wells Fargo Center.
The bell-ringer for Game 1 was Joel Embiid, who was injured at the time. For Game 2, it was Hart.
If he’s able to get there in time, could Mill do it for Game 5? According to the New York Times, yes.
Just the idea of the rapper being court-side for Tuesday night’s game — which, if the Sixers win, will mean they advance to the second round for the first time in six years, where they’ll face either the Milwaukee Bucks or Boston Celtics, swept across the internet.
- Boston Celtics 92, Milwaukee Bucks 87 (Celtics lead, 3-2)
- Philadelphia 76ers 104, Miami Heat 91 (Sixers win series, 4-1)
- Golden State Warriors 99, San Antonio Spurs 91 (Warriors win series, 4-1)
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