Philadelphia, PA/ CLEVELAND, OH
Both Eastern Conference semi-finals games took place last night. Both were possible close out games. Possible four-game sweeps. One of the teams looking to close out their series handled their business, the other team got handled.
In Philly, with their backs against the wall, the big question was, are the 76ers going to roll over and die? Or are they going to show some heart and dignity? The 76ers chose the latter. It was anything but a pretty win for the home team, but the 76ers clearly knew what they were facing, and refused to allow themselves to go out like suckers. Now, I’m not going to go overboard and say that the 76ers will win this series now, but not getting swept in the playoffs by a very good Boston Celtics team will be a big boost of energy and confidence for this young 76ers team moving forward…….Unlike the Toronto Raptors, who pretty much rolled over and died last night. No one on that team looked like they really wanted to be there, let alone compete. The Raptors walked into the game against Cleveland last night looking like they were already thinking about vacation. Well, they don’t need to think about it any longer. Today they can actually go do it. Why not? The Raptors ain’t doing sh*t else right about now.
76ERS 103 –
The desperation from the 76ers last night showed immediately. They made a change to their starting lineup that I honestly think came a few games too late. Defensive liability, Robert Covington was benched in favor of off the bench spark-plug, TJ McConnell. The move paid off. Not only did McConnell’s presence on the floor seem to mess up Boston’s game plan to give the ball to whoever Covington was guarding, McConnell’s scrappy play on offense and defense turned out to be contagious. McConnell ended the game with 19 pts. 5 ast. and 7 rebs. Forward Dario Saric, who’s been pretty much invisible all series, finally showed up last night and pitched in 25 pts and 8 rebs. Joel Embiid had 15 pts and 13 rebs and Ben Simmons continued to bounce back from that horrible 1- pt game as he added 19 pts and 13 reb. Jason Tatum led the way for the Celtics with 20 pts. Al Horford added 10 pts to go along with 10 rebs. And Marcus Morris is still hot coming off the bench, he added 17 points and 5 reb. “Scary” Terry Rozier was pretty much held in check last night for the first time in this series. He had a humbling 11 pts. to go along with 8 reb.
The Cavs came into last night’s game against the Raptors wanting to show the #1 seeded Raptors that they were still the beast of the East. Led by Lebron James, the Cavs did just that. Bron led the charge for Cleveland on his way to 29 pts. 11 ast. and 8 reb. Kevin Love added 23, and J.R. Smith decided to show up last night on his way to a 15 pt effort. Sharp-shooter Kyle Korver also did long range damage again as he dropped in 16 pts. Big man Jonas Valanciunas led the way for the Raptors and he came off the bench last night. The big man had 18 pts. and 5 reb. Kyle Lowry came up small in a big game once again as he only managed 5 pts. He did have 10 ast though. All-Star Demar Derozan who was ejected from the game in the 3rd quarter and obviously wanted no parts of this game, finished with 13 pts and 5 reb