Just when you thought this NBA playoff couldn't get any better, it slams you in the face with heart-stopping action and extended games. On Monday night, fans of the sport were gifted with two intense match-ups that went into overtime, both of them with crucial playoff positioning in the line.
The Miami Heat/Boston Celtics game, a crucial game 4 affair that the Celtics needed to even the series, started out the night and while the Celtics did almost everything it needed to do to win, it fell just short of closing the deal in regulation and got spanked in overtime to go down 3-1 in the series. With 20 seconds left in regulation, Miami's LeBron James made a crucial turnover, giving the Celtics the chance to pull out the game in regulation. The Celtics called a timeout to regroup and got the ball inbounded fine only to have whatever play they called fizzle in their face under Miami's defense. The result was Paul Pierce throwing up an off-balanced desperation heave as time expired.
It didn't fall but the Celtics did in overtime.
"We just had poor execution down the stretch," Pierce said. "It just carried into overtime, it seemed like. We feel like tonight we beat ourselves."
Down 3-1, the Celtics need to win the final 3 games to take this series, with two of them being in Miami, if they want to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. With a possible closeout game Wednesday for the Heat, they know they need to bring their A game if they want to advance.
"Wednesday night will be our greatest challenge that we've had with this group so far," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We'll get their best games on Wednesday. And we have to be better. If we're real about what we want to do, we have to beat the Boston Celtics at their best."
If you thought one overtime was great, what would you call 3 overtimes? I'd call it amazing and that's what fans were gifted with in the second game of the night between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Down 2-1 entering this game, the Thunder needed to get the W to even the series and regain home court advantage against the upstart Grizzlies and though it took 15 extra minutes, that's what they did.
"The good thing about our team is we felt like we fought so hard we earned that game, so we didn't want to give in," Thunder Forward Nick Collison said. "It would have been easy to give in at that time, but we didn't do it. It's a huge win for us and says a lot about us."
The surprising Grizzlies, an eight seed who upended the Spurs to get to the second round, gave it everything it could through four quarters and two overtimes, before finally running out of gas in the third extra period. Though they lost the game, Memphis was nothing but amazing in their performance in a game that could have easily went the other way for them.
"Both teams kept coming back and fighting and fighting and fighting. It became a matter of just not having enough bullets as the game wore on," Hollins said. "I commend both teams for the effort that they gave and the way they stuck with it and just fought. Nobody wanted to go home. Nobody wanted to lose."
With the Mavericks looming in the wings for whoever advances to join them, this series has all the feel of one that will go the distance. These two teams are both young and hungry and with 3 games left, who can say how much excitement is in the cards for this exciting second round match-up.
Photo Courtesy of: ASSOCIATED PRESS