Sunday Recap (May 14)
HEAT/NETS (Game 4): Heat 102-Nets 92
- Once again the Nets had a great chance to win the game, but could not get good possessions on the offensive ends during crucial stretchs in the 4th quarter. As it looks now, the Heat will prevail in this series--so much for my prediction of the Nets in 7.
- One thing I did mention in the series preview that was necessary for Miami's success, was the play of their supporting cast. For the 3rd game in a row, they came through: Walker was huge from long-range (5/8 on 3s), especially in the 3rd and Haslem shot the ball great (8/11) for 20 points & 11 rebs. Wade was superb again drawing the intention of the New Jersey defense and opening up the game for the other Heat--Wade ended with 31 pts., 8 assts., & 7 rbs. The entire Heat squad shot 53% overall and most importantly 42% from 3pt. land. The Heat defense has definitely looked better since their poor showing in Game 1--holding the Nets to 43%. They look much more locked in mentally on the defensive end than they did in the Chicago series.
- Nets lost another tough game at home even though they got a solid showing from their Big 3 + 1(Krstic). Vince had a pretty good game with 26 pts. with some pretty nice drives sprinkled in. Although, he was not quite aggressive enough--he only shot 4 foul shots & was loitering on the perimeter too much (0/7 from 3pt). Kidd had his typical sharp floor game with a triple double (17 pts., 13 rbs., 12 assts.), but did not look comfortable shooting from the perimeter. I think this loss is even a little bit harder to swallow because Krstic had a great showing. He was hittng shots inside & out and really looked to be more assertive the whole game--Nenad was 9/16 for 20 pts. and he added 14 rebs (5 off.). The Nets also helped their offensive cause by grabbing 16 offensive boards and piled up 20 fast break points. You would assume with all these numbers going in the Nets' favor they could have pulled out this game at home; they just could not convert when it mattered, like in Game 3.
- One big stretch that derailed the Nets' chance of winning came with about 9 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. They had cut the lead to 78-77 and had momentum on their side, but just could not push thru this barrier. The Nets had about 5 or 6 chances in a row to take the lead but squandered them with costly turnovers and questionable shot selection. The Heat never ended up giving up the lead the rest of the 4th.
SUNS/CLIPS (Game 4): Clippers 114-Suns 107
- Well, this game got back to what you expect from this series after an aberration of Game 3. The Clips got alot of easy looks and controlled the boards, while the Suns went back to jacking up 3s like crazy and their typical porous defense.
- Clippers did a better job of mixing up their offense a little better than in Game 3 by hitting some jumpers early. Cassell was partly to do with this by getting back to his clutch self--28 pts., 11 rbs., & 9 assts. I liked how Dunleavy started Maggette instead of Ross, and the Clips really never suffered defensively for it. Maggette was hot from the perimeter early as well, spreading the Suns' doubles in the interior. Maggette also used his expolsive hops to pound the defensive glass for the second game in a row--Corey ended with 18 pts., & 15 rebs. Elton did not let the double-teams bother him this game--he brought the noise with 30 points, 9 rebs. & 8 assts. The Clippers' defense was alright, not great, but they did do another good job of guarding the high screen/roll with Nash. Although, even though the Suns shot 10/36 from 3pt. land, I still feel that is too many attempts for the Suns--I think you have to discourage shots from 3 as much as possible, make them attempt as many 2-pointers as possible. The Suns got 10 extra points per possession from the 3s and you combine that with 17 fast break points, that is just too many easy, extra points for the Suns.
- The Suns' defense came back to reality on Sunday, especially a terrible 3rd quarter (both teams played zero defense in the 3rd). The Clippers shot 48.8% overall and they crushed the Suns on the glass 55-37--the Suns gave up 16 off. boards. The Suns' scrambling defense that worked well in Game 3 was thwarted by the Clips hitting from the perimeter.
- The Clippers need to keep this same gameplan going, especially getting Maggette's minutes up. But they still need to temper their def. rotations so to not allow so many 3pt. attempts. The Suns need to do a better job on getting the board margin closer and just hitting their open looks.