Shoutout: 37 points for Paul George, which is excellent. But even better, 31 of those points came in the second half, when he was straight-up making it rain from outside. Squiggles also added six rebounds, two assists and six steals in the Pacers’ season-saving Game 5 win. He also didn’t utter a single complaint about “home cooking,” as the Pacers, playing at home, won both the foul battle AND the free throws attempted battle. It’s crazy how being aggressive gets your team foul calls.
Not so much: For literally the first time in his career, LeBron James picked up five fouls before the end of the third quarter. And that’s precisely why he played just 24 minutes and scored only seven points, and again, not a single peep from Paul George about how wack some of those fouls are, believe it or not.
Who’s blowing tonight?: Lance Stephenson, you guys.
Honestly, I can’t remember a guy playing such a strange, strange game in quite some time, probably back to when Rajon Rondo was weirding out on LeBron James a few years back, but even that might not have been as weird as Lance was last night. I guess LeBron brings it out of people, especially if they are predisposed to being a lunatic.
Shoutout: Russell Westbrook. It’s Russell Westbrook, OK? He had 40 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, five steals, a block and just three turnovers in the Thunder’s easy Game 4 victory. He joined Michael Jordan, whose shoes Westbrook wears, as the only dude to have 40-10-5 in a playoff game in the past lot of years. Seems to be a lot of people equalling some MJ playoff records these days, which tells you the league is in a pretty great place.
Not so much: Somehow, the Spurs only turned the ball over 13 times last night, when it really felt like 43 times. Part of that is because so many of those turnovers were live ballers, which immediately turned in to Thunder points, but another part of that is because I feel like Russell Westbrook was just taking the ball whenever he wanted. Ugly stuff from the Spurs.
Caveat: Literally the only Spur who wasn’t afraid to attack the rim with Serge Ibaka in was Cory Joseph, who certainly did some attacking.
Perhaps the strangest thing about this Ibaka return from nowhere has been the fact that he has totally shut down the paint in his two games, while also getting crammed on in each of them. I guess that’s the price you pay for always being at the rim.
Shoutout: LeBron James went for a modest 32 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals in an easy Game 4 win for the Heat just a couple days after Lance Stephenson thought he got in LeBron’s head. Spoiler alert: no, he didn’t.
Not so much: Speaking of the noted head-getter-inner, Lance Stephenson, he didn’t score until there was 4:34 left in the third quarter and didn’t make a field goal until there was 5:31 remaining in the game, all on his way to nine points, five rebounds and four assists in the loss. He’s now chirped at both LeBron and Dwyane Wade and has been soundly outplayed by both of them over the series’ last nine quarters. But keep talking though.
Monster: LeBron James, you guys.
But also, LeBron James, you guys.
Oh, and also, LeBron James, you guys.
Just get out of here with these plays. Not real plays.
Shoutout: The Spurs won by 35 last night, in an honest-to-goodness Western Conference finals game. So rather than pointing out how they destroyed the Thunder yet again, major shoutout to Tony for winning “Survivor: Cagayan” pretty easily. That was the most drama-filled televised competition of the night, as far as I’m concerned, though I will admit he kind of Spursed Woo (who kind of threw away a million dollars).
Not so much: Well, the Thunder lost by 35 and their starters — a group that includes Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, as you might remember — scored a total of 34 points. And while remembering that the Spurs had a 2-0 lead before dropping the next four games the last time these two teams met in the WCF is smart, so is remembering that that Thunder team had James Harden and a healthy Serge Ibaka to rely on. These Thunder, not so much.
Savvy: Manu Ginobili is a human wizard.
He also turned a random Spurs offensive rebound in to a magnificent two-for-one three-pointer at the end of the half (and drew a charge on Russell Westbrook that next possession, though the Spurs failed to score on their free look) like it was no big deal. He’s fun.
Shoutout: LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, two guys I am sure you have heard about, keyed Miami’s fourth quarter comeback last night. And by “keyed,” I mean “were,” in that these two bros scored or assisted on all 25 of the Heat’s points in the deciding quarter. They are good.
Seriously: The Cavs won the draft lottery again.
That’s two straight lottery wins for the Cavaliers — the very same team, you might remember, who said they wouldn’t be at the lottery this year — three in the past four years, and four in the past 11 years. They’re going to have to work pretty hard to mess this up, but I’m confident they’ll figure it out.
Shoutout: It’s hard to really single out one Spur from last night’s decimation of the Thunder, so I guess we’ll make up a best player for them: No’Serge Ibaka. Because with No’Serge Ibaka out there, San Antonio was able to score a cool 66 points in the paint last night, while also posting a playoffs-best 67 in the first half. Sometimes it’s nice when the narrative plays out as expected.
Not so much: 53 points on 20-40 shooting for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, which means the rest of the Thunder team went for 52 on 17-40 shooting. If OKC is going to be playing 2-on-5 all series — which wouldn’t be terribly surprising — then those two are going to have to go for at least 60 a game betwixt the duo. That’s quite the burden.
Step in the name of love: I’m just going to come out here and say it — Kawhi Leonard is the best one-man fastbreak the league has going right now.
Look, I know that wasn’t technically a one-man fastbreak, but it’s pretty close. Plus, when you consider Leonard’s strength, speed, length and surprising ability to slice through a pair of defenders, he’s really unstoppable once he gets in to the great wide open. The hands help too.
Shoutout: There’s not really any point in giving this fake internet award to a specific Pacer, so let’s just mention that every Indiana starter scored at least 15 points, while Paul George led them with 24. Basically, they won everywhere, which is a good way to start a conference finals after you’ve been up and down throughout the playoffs.
Not so much: My man Chris “Crispy” Bosh was not very crisp yesterday, going 0-5 from three and making just four of his 12 attempts from the field on the way to a measly nine points. Defensively, when he wasn’t out of place, he was getting bullied down low for buckets — not a good combination when you’re not getting them points back on the offensive end.
Crush mode: Perhaps the greatest drama in yesterday’s game was this flagrant foul on C.J. Watson, via Mario Chalmdog.
Personally, I don’t think this was a flagrant foul. But I was raised on wrestling pay-per-views where Doink came from under the ring or someone always went flying through the Spanish announcers’ table, so a little extracurricular action off the court doesn’t bother me at all. Your mileage may vary.
Shoutout: Kevin Durant is becoming our generation’s LeBron James with regards to answering critics. Because after going 6-22 and being bailed out by Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and dubious refereeing in Game 5, he hanged a 39 and 16 on the Clippers, while adding five assists and two blocks. Destroying opponents in closeout games is kind of his thing, which is a nice thing to have as your thing.
Not so much: Since the Clippers and Wizards both lost last night, there’s no playoff basketball tonight. Hug and kiss your significant other, I guess, since it’s not like you have anything better to do.
Rain drops: Do you like midrange jumpers? David West does.
Someone should have told the Wizards that this guy’s kind-of nickname was “The 17-Foot Assassin” for a while, which is why he went 13-26 on the way to 29 points in the series clincher. Jumpers on top of jumpers.
Shoutout: Remember when it was a travesty that Joe Johnson made the All-Star team over Lance Stephenson? And then remember how that was basically the turning point for both of their seasons and now it doesn’t look bad at all? Well, JoeJohn added to the legend of the ill-begotten All-Star appearance with 34 points on 15-23 shooting while straight-up carrying the Nets in the fourth quarter of their series-ending loss to the Heat. Gonna miss you kind of, Armadillo Cowboy.
Not so much: Joe Johnson was killing, Deron Williams was having a nice game and one of the biggest possessions of the Nets’ super-expensive season ended with a Shaun Livingston postup. I like Shaun Livingston, you like Shaun Livingston, everyone likes Shaun Livingston, but that’s maybe not the wisest resource allocation.
Classic: Ray Allen did it again. From the corner again.
I know Mario Chalmers was totally wide-open at the top of the key and that he loves taking big shots, but I’d still rather him shoot that one than ever help off of Ray Allen in a corner, especially when you consider that Chalmers was 0-5 on the night.
Shoutout: Marcin Gortat should be immediately inducted in to the Wizards’ Hall of Fame after throwing up a huge, nose-sized 31 points and 16 rebounds in a road playoff victory in an elimination game. Yes, it was that impressive. Not to mention, it’s the Wizards we’re talking about here, so it’s not like there is a ton of postseason history that would push him out of the way. I mean, Randy Wittman is already fifth all-time in playoff coaching victories throughout Washington franchise history, so yeah, this is a legendary performance.
Not so much: Are you kidding me, referees in Oklahoma City? I don’t know that I’m as mad as Doc Rivers, since I wasn’t playing in the game on either side, but there’s no reason refs should be this big of a story in the playoffs. And it wasn’t just the botch job at the end either, because the Clippers were in foul trouble ALL NIGHT SON, plus they got hosed on two earlier out of bounds calls that the refs blew and couldn’t review. Simply put, when Bill Simmons is totally nailing his random predictions, you know something is wrong.
Angry: Curious about how mad Doc Rivers is about the way last night’s Game 5 ended? This mad.
See that? He’s very mad. “Incensed,” some would say. “Furious,” others would chime in, while still more might say “totally ticked off.” Though I guess you could also say he was “fuming.” Basically, there are a lot of synonyms for being mad and Doc Rivers was all of them.