NBA Playoff results: April 24, 2019
7. Orlando Magic (96) – 2. Toronto Raptors (115)
6. Brooklyn Nets (100) – 3. Philadelphia 76ers (122)
7. San Antonio Spurs (90) – 2. Denver Nuggets (108)
5. OKC Thunder (115) – 4. Portland Trail Blazers (118)
What happened in the Playoffs today:
1. Damian Lillard closes out the Thunder
Damian Lillard’s first shot of the series was a pull-up three-pointer from 30 feet away over Paul George. It’s only fitting that his last shot of the series was another 30-foot bomb over the Thunder’s MVP bet.
With less than 15 seconds left on the clock, Lillard got the ball after a Thunder miss. He brought the ball down and was immediately faced by George on defense. Lillard was way beyond 30 feet from the basket when he dribbled away the clock. With two seconds left, Lillard side-stepped as George jumped to try and block the shot. Dame launched the ball 37 feet into the hoop. The ball hit back iron and fell in as the lights in the back board went out.
Lillard drilled a series-ended three-pointer to send the Thunder packing for the summer.
That incredible shot capped a 50-point performance where Lillard nailed 10 three-pointers, breaking a Portland franchise record.
The Blazers needed every bucket from Lillard as they struggled to stay afloat in Game 5. Portland’s superstar erupted for 34 points in the first half. He was nearly unstoppable missing only six shots in the first half. But even with his scoring explosion, the Blazers only held a one-point lead heading to the half.
Lillard’s walkoff game-winner also capped a 28-10 run in the final 7:45 of the game. Dennis Schroder nailed a three-pointer to give OKC a 105-90 lead in the final period. Just when it seemed like the Thunder were going to extend the series, the Blazers staged an epic comeback, setting up Lillard’s bomb to end the game.
After the game, George who was defending Lillard on the final play called the game-winner a bad shot.
Thunder's Paul George on defending deep game-winner by Blazers' Damian Lillard: "That's a bad shot. I don't care what anybody says. That's a bad shot. But, hey, he made it. That story won't be told, that it's a bad shot. You live with that." pic.twitter.com/21ueYAHHzY
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 24, 2019
But taking a closer look at the numbers, Lillard was 10/18 in shots 30 feet and beyond in the series. In Game 5, he was 3/5 before that last one.
So while for everyone else, that shot may have been a “bad shot”, that wasn’t the case with Lillard in this series. After the Thunder taunted and mocked him in their Game 3 win, Lillard just took over and proceeded to destroy OKC on the court. There was no more back-and-forth between him and the Thunder players. He let his game do the talking.
That shot was the “last word” of the series.
Damian Lillard waves goodbye to OKC pic.twitter.com/h0Dhofe5nP
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 24, 2019
2. Sixers run the Nets out of the Playoffs
Another physical series with an added layer of drama was the Sixers versus the Nets. Jared Dudley had a war of words with both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. He actually had a war with Jimmy Butler as both tussled in Game 4 and were ejected afterwards.
In Game 5, Simmons, Embiid and Butler were the main characters in an opening 14-0 run that set the tone for the game. There were no tentative midrange jumpers or cute shots in that opening run. It was smash mouth basketball at its finest. The Sixers punched the ball through on inside attacks repeatedly.
Embiid scored six points, including a one-handed hammer off a nice drive and dish play from Simmons. Butler took it straight to the heart of the defense with a highlight fast break slam.
It was target practice for the Sixers after that run. They limited the Nets to just three points in the first nine minutes of the game as they jumped out to a 25-3 lead. Simmons closed the quarter with a one-handed throw down.
Philly was rocking and the Nets were just rocked. The game was as good as over at that point. The Sixers show the Nets how a closeout game should be played.
3. Raptors shut down the Magic
Up North, the Raptors issued their own beating to close out the series against the Magic.
After Orlando shocked Toronto with a game-winner by DJ Augustin, the Raptors proceeded to clamp down defensively on the Magic. They limited the Raptors to just 89 points on 38.5% shooting in the final four games.
Today, Raptors limited the Magic to just three points in the first seven minutes of the game. After Augustin hit a technical free throw to give Orlando their first point of the game, the Raptors starters strung up a 20-2 run in six minutes. Just like in the Sixers-Nets, this game was done after that opening salvo.
There was no drama to this game. Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry just simply took care of business after a misstep in Game 1.
Photos from Getty Images