2018 NBA Playoffs: The Process continues to progress

Ben Simmons

Playoff results, April 25, 2018

2. Boston Celtics 92 – 7. Milwaukee Bucks 87 (Celtics lead 3-2)

3. Philadelphia 76ers 104 – 6. Miami Heat 91 (Sixers win 4-1)

2. Golden State Warriors 99 – 7. San Antonio Spurs 91 (Warriors win 4-1)

Playoffs April 25

What happened in the Playoffs Today

1. Meek Mill free at last!

Before the series-ending Game 5 between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, Philly-born rapper Meek Mill was released from prison. Meek was sentenced to prison for gun and drug charges. He’s been arrested subsequently after that for violating his parole. The latest one was for an altercation at an airport where he got into a scuffle with airport employees.

Meek’s imprisonment sparked an outrage against the justice system that had several celebrities advocating for his release. Included in the list of the celebrities are players from his hometown team, the Sixers. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz sported “I Stand with Meek Mill” shirts. Simmons and Fultz even went as far as to visit Meek in prison.

Earlier today, Meek was released from prison on bail as his trial is under petition. He was choppered straight from prison to Game 5 where he was warmly welcomed by the Philly crowd.

Meek’s presence in the game inspired an all-out effort from the Sixers. Philly put the clamps on Miami, limiting them to only 91 points on 38% shooting from the field and 28% shooting from beyond the arc. That’s been the Sixers calling card in this year’s Playoffs. They’re a stout defensive team that’s ranked 4th among all Playoff teams in Defensive Rating and 3rd in Net Rating.

On the offensive end, the Sixers continue to brandish the balanced offense they uncovered when Joel Embiid got injured. Leading the charge in Game 5 was JJ Redick who dropped 27 points on five treys.

Joel Embiid had a 19-12 double-double while Ben Simmons managed the game well with 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. As a team, they shot a respectable 42% and assisted on 27 of their 34 made field goals.

It wasn’t the best Philadelphia game offensively but they got the job done defensively. Now, they’re moving on to the next round. When The Process started, the initial goal was to make it back to the Playoffs. But these Sixers are showing that they may be built for more than just a Playoff appearance.

They have a crazy passionate crowd with big name celebrities like Meek and Kevin Hart. They have superstars surrounded by talented role players. They have a coach putting it all together. It can now be truly said that the Sixers have arrived.

2. Spurs fought until the very end

Coming into Game 5, everyone was thinking it but no one wanted to say it out loud. This could be the last game of the San Antonio Spurs for the season. This could be the last game of Manu Ginobili, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker ever.

After their last home stand to prevent the sweep, the series shifted back to Oakland where the Warriors were looking to close out the Spurs. That’s how it looked for most of the game as Golden State entered the fourth quarter with a 14-point lead. They even held an eight-point lead with a little over two minutes left in the game.

The Spurs though, were made of something tougher. Led by the inside dominance of LaMarcus Aldridge, they cut that lead down to just two points with a little less than a minute left in the game. Improbably, San Antonio was in position to extend the series for just a bit more.

But Kevin Durant drove a dagger into their hopes of winning the game. Durant hit a tough fadeaway jumper over Rudy Gay with 36 seconds left in the game to extend the lead back to four. The Spurs didn’t have an answer after that. Durant nailed two more free throws for good measure.

The Warriors, as expected, are moving on to the next round.

After the game, the bigger story was whether that was the last game of Ginobili. Steve Kerr egged on Ginobili to “keep going.”

But it looks like everyone will have to wait a bit longer to know of Ginobili will be back next season.

As for Parker and Gasol, they said they want to be back next season.

3. Celtics-Bucks have another controversial non-call

In their last game, Jaylen Brown was upset that he didn’t get a foul called on a crucial drive to the basket. The Milwaukee Bucks ended up winning that close game to tie the series.

This time around it was the Boston Celtics who benefitted from a non-call during a crucial part of the game. Al Horford missed a three-pointer with 1:18 left in the game and the Celtics up by five. There was a scramble for the rebounds and Terry Rozier was fouled as he picked up the loose ball.

The Bucks were upset at what happened because Horford’s trey seemingly came after the shot-clock buzzer went off.

The Celtics were able to kill some time off the clock leaving less time for the Bucks to catch up. That allowed Boston to escape with the win and the series lead.

This series is getting heated between both teams as players have been at odds with each other. The Celtics are looking to close out the series in Game 6.

Photo from USA Today

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