Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio
SAN ANTONIO – In the unlikely event that the prolific Golden State offense needs a pick-me-up, it can turn to forward Kevin Durant, who is capable of jump-starting the Warriors in clutch situations.
Durant provided the spark the Warriors craved when he scored 17 consecutive points in a three-minute stretch of the decisive third quarter on Saturday as the Warriors easily dispatched the San Antonio Spurs 120-108 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at the AT&T Center.
The Warriors lead 3-0 in the best-of-seven series with Game 4, a potential clincher for Golden State, set for Monday in San Antonio. No NBA team has ever come back to win a series after losing the first three games.
Durant had 33 points in all, 19 of them in the third period, and pulled down 10 rebounds.
“Yeah, KD got in a groove,” Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said. “He was huge for us. Literally, we didn’t do anything tricky. He got hot, and we just wanted to keep him in the middle of the floor attacking downhill and in pick-and-roll situations. He was terrific. He made the right play every time down the floor, and obviously he made shots. He is who he is.”
San Antonio trailed by nine points at the half and got as close as 69-65 two minutes into the third quarter before Golden State took charge with its superior firepower and unselfish play. By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Spurs were just worn out, settling for shots early in possessions and missing most of them while the Warriors rebuilt an 18-point lead.
“It feels like (San Antonio) can always stay in the game and always put up a fight and win,” Durant said. “So we knew especially (with the Spurs) at home, Game 3, a lot of energy in the building, they were going to come out and hit us in the mouth, and we did a good job of taking that punch and just keep playing.”
The Spurs’ hopes of getting back in this series were severely damaged earlier on Saturday when the team announced that star forward Kawhi Leonard would not play in Game 3 because of a sprained left ankle. Leonard was originally injured in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets and re-injured the ankle in Game 1 at Golden State.
Stephen Curry added 21 points for the Warriors, who are a perfect 11-0 in the postseason and have won 26 of their past 27 games.
Klay Thompson had 17 points, JaVale McGee hit for 16 (all in the first half) and Draymond Green tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as all five of Golden State’s starters scored in double figures. The Warriors outshot San Antonio 54.8 percent to 47.3 percent from the floor.
The Spurs got 21 points from the ageless Manu Ginobili, who hit 7 of 9 shots from the field, and 18 points from LaMarcus Aldridge. Jonathon Simmons added 14 points, and Pau Gasol contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio.
“We knew we were going to be able to bounce back at least emotionally today and play a better game,” Ginobili said. “The fact is that it’s just too tough. We are missing Kawhi’s offense and defense in this series. They were just too much for us today offensively. KD got hot in the moment when we had a chance. They got a lead, and they just played their rhythm and they were better than us.”
The Spurs took a 26-25 lead on a 3-pointer by Patty Mills late in the first quarter and expanded it to 33-27 with 1.1 seconds to play on two free throws by Ginobili. The Warriors stole the final points of the quarter and a little of the momentum when David West threw an end-to-end pass to Ian Clark, who caught the ball underneath the Spurs’ basket and laid it in as the horn sounded, bringing Golden State within 33-29 at the quarter break.
Golden State surged back into the lead in the middle of the second quarter, building a 61-49 advantage with 1:28 remaining while holding the Spurs scoreless for more than three minutes. San Antonio cut the deficit to 61-55 on a free throw and a basket by Ginobili and a put-back by Aldridge, but West canned a 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds left in the half to grant the Warriors a 64-55 lead at intermission.
McGee led the Warriors with 16 points in the half while Ginobili paced the Spurs with 13 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the floor.
Durant caught fire in the third quarter, hitting on 5 of 6 shots as the Warriors built as much as an 18-point lead before settling for a 100-88 advantage through three quarters. Golden State shot 60 percent in the period (12 of 20) but allowed San Antonio some hope when it committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
Spurs reserve forward David Lee was forced from the game with a hyperextended left knee late in the first quarter while hitting a layup and being fouled. Lee went straight to the San Antonio locker room and was not able to return to shoot the free throw he earned, meaning he could not return to the game.
“Our competitiveness was great,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “Every time you look up, you’re playing against four All-Stars, so you better be pretty perfect, and competitiveness-wise I couldn’t ask for anything more. We turned it over too much, and we’ve got to make some more shots. But Golden State is a hell of a team.”
NOTES: San Antonio won 33 consecutive home games against the Warriors from the start of the 1997-98 season up until April 10, 2016, when it dropped a 92-86 decision to Golden State for its only home loss on the 2015-16 season. During that stretch, the Spurs posted a 57-13 record against the Warriors. … In Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, the Warriors dished out a franchise-record 23 assists in the first half on the way to a 2017 playoff-high 39, one shy of the team playoff record. … San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich served as an assistant for the Warriors under Don Nelson’s staff from 1992-93 through the 1994-95 season. … Warriors coach Steve Kerr had two playing stints with San Antonio, appearing in 131 games while averaging 3.5 points from 1998-2001 and in 75 games during the 2002-03 season while helping lead the Spurs to their second NBA championship.
Where: TD Garden, Boston
BOSTON – (SPECIAL TO DIGITAL SPORTS DESK BY THE SPORTS XCHANGE) – Brad Stevens thought there was a simple explanation for what happened at TD Garden Monday night.
“If Kelly doesn’t go nuts and they throw in a couple more threes, we’re not talking about the next step,” the Celtics coach said after Kelly Olynyk’s huge game off the bench led Boston into the Eastern Conference finals with a 115-105 Game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night.
Olynyk, appearing on TNT after the game, said he got a call from his coach in the morning, telling him he had to be his “best when your best is needed.”
It was needed and Olynyk delivered.
Averaging 8.3 points per game in the playoffs, Olynyk exploded for 14 of his career-playoff-high 26 points in the first 8:34 of the fourth quarter, making five consecutive shots and playing solid defense to help the Celtics put away the Wizards.
The top-seeded Celtics host the defending champion Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday and Game 2 on Friday. Second-seeded Cleveland, 8-0 in the playoffs, took the season series 3-1.
“They’re tremendous. The defending champs,” said Stevens. “I think they’re playing better this year than they did last year.
“I’ve seen them play before. We played them four times. I think they’re better than any of the four times they played us.”
Asked what it would take to beat the Cavs, Boston’s Marcus Smart said, “Perfection.”
Boston, keeping the home-court dominance of the season series intact, trailed by five with 5:39 left in the third quarter but outscored the Wizards 21-9 over the remainder of the period. With the Celtics down by three, Isaiah Thomas, who had 29 points and 12 rebounds — making him the first player to put up those numbers in a Game 7 since 2007 — hit two 3-pointers and Smart one in a 1:13 span to put the home team ahead to stay.
“Kelly was MVP tonight,” Thomas said. “He did it all.”
The Celtics then opened the fourth quarter on a 9-2 spurt, but Bradley Beal kept the Wizards alive until Olynyk buried them. Olynyk shot 10 of 14 from the floor and also had five rebounds and four assists, leaving the game to a huge ovation with 1:37 left (he returned briefly in the final seconds).
There were even chants of “Kel-ly” from the boisterous crowd.
“I did hear that, in between the MVP chants for Isaiah,” Olynyk said.
Olynyk’s heroics helped the Boston bench outscore the Washington reserves 48-5.
“We needed to help the starters, help with Isaiah,” he said. “He’s been putting us in really good positions, and the type of attention that they were drawing to him, he was getting rid of it (and) putting us in great positions and we had to make plays, and that’s what we tried to do.”
Olynyk was the victim of a Kelly Oubre Jr. shove in Game 3 that got the Wizards forward suspended for Game 4. Oubre played just six seconds in Game 7, the crowd chanting his name in the final seconds.
Al Horford had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, Jae Crowder 14 points and five boards, and Smart 13 points, six rebounds and four assists in the win.
Beal led the Wizards, who have not reached the conference finals since 1979, with 38 points, 18 in the final 16:06. Otto Porter scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Markieff Morris contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.
“I hate losing, especially (because) we felt like we were the better team,” Beal said. “You credit them because they played their tails off.”
Washington guard John Wall had 18 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds, but he shot just 8 of 23 from the floor, 1 of 8 from 3-point range. He missed his last 11 shots, seven of them from behind the arc, after flexing his muscle following a basket with 7:03 left in the third quarter.
“I love him. I love how he plays,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “That guy is a true winner. … He’s exactly what you need to lead your team. He’s exactly what I need for being my point guard.
“The future is bright because he’s leading us.”
Said Wall: “We (were) one game short tonight, so it’s not a satisfying season to me.”
All 11 games between these teams in the regular season and postseason — all physical affairs — were won by the home team. The Celtics have beaten the Wizards nine straight times at TD Garden dating back to 2014.
The Celtics hit 11 3-pointers for the eighth straight game, leaving them one game shy of matching the all-time streak.
NOTES: Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who borrowed a Bill Belichick line pregame by telling his players to “do your job,” on his team’s mindset coming in. “Our guys’ vibe doesn’t ever change. … That’s one of the things I’ve really appreciated about this team.” … The Celtics played in their NBA-record 30th Game 7, improving to 21-9, 19-4 at home. … The Wizards were 7-0 in the playoffs when allowing under 110 points, but they fell to 0-6 when giving up more than 110. … The Celtics are assured of no worse than the fourth pick in Tuesday night’s draft lottery as they still reap the benefits of the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade to Brooklyn. … The Wizards are 6-4 in Game 7s, 2-4 on the road. … The Celtics played a Garnett video urging the fans during the first timeout. … Belichick was spotted in one of the boxes. … Washington coach Scott Brooks fell to 2-1 coaching in seventh games. He was 2-0 with Oklahoma City, both wins over Memphis
Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili was brutally honest afterward, fearing his team had just lost Game 2 as well.
Iguodala sat out the second half on Sunday, although Brown insisted afterward it was more of a coach’s decision than a necessity
Where: TD Garden, Boston