2019 NBA Playoffs: Warriors avert a crisis on multiple fronts

NBA Playoff results: May 9, 2019

4. Boston Celtics (91) – 1. Milwaukee Bucks (116)

4. Houston Rockets (99) – 1. Golden State Warriors (104)

What happened in the Playoffs today:

1. Warriors survive second half rally and Durant injury

With 2:13 left in the third period, Kevin Durant rose up for a jumper that splashed in. Durant landed and started to run to the other end of the court when he suddenly stopped and grabbed the back of his ankle. He started to hop on one leg and then limped back to the locker room during a play stoppage.

This injury to Durant came in the middle of a Rockets run that wiped out a 14-point halftime lead. Houston came as close as one point right before Durant hit his jumper. The Rockets ended up taking the lead on the next two possessions. There was an anxious energy throughout the arena as the Warriors looked to be in danger of losing another home game and falling to 2-3 in the series.

Thankfully, the other Warriors stepped up in Durant’s absence.

Steph Curry shrugged off a tough shooting night and put the team on his back after Durant left the game. Curry nailed a floater and a layup to keep Golden State ahead heading into the final period. In the fourth period he nailed a couple of big triples and hit clutch baskets to keep the Rockets at bay.

Curry got some help from a familiar back court partner. Klay Thompson also came through in the clutch. He nailed a tough fade away jumper to give the Warriors the lead back after the Rockets tied the game. He added a three-pointer a few minutes later to increase the Golden State lead up to eight points. His biggest basket came in the final seconds of the game when he recovered a loose ball and scored over James Harden and Clint Capela to give the Warriors a five-point lead.

Curry finished with 25 points but had a tough night from the field shooting only 39%. Thompson led the Warriors in scoring with 27 points and five three-pointers.

The fourth quarter was a pre-Durant era show by the Warriors. Draymond Green nailed crucial baskets in the fourth quarter as well. Even if he only scored eight points, he got to that total by scoring five in the final period. Andre Iguodala came up big for Golden State defensively. He limited Harden to only one shot after Durant left the game in the third period, playing awesome denial defense.

The Warriors got the win and they also got some good news.

Everyone feared the worst when Durant left the game. The TV broadcast could not help but talk about his injury being a possible achilles injury given Durant’s reaction and visible signs of pain. But in the middle of the game, the Warriors PR announced that Durant’s injury was initially ruled a calf strain.

This season more than ever, the Warriors have looked fragile. They were supposed to sweep through the Playoffs with Durant, Curry, Thompson, Green and back then, DeMarcus Cousins. That hasn’t been the case. Cousins was injured in the first round and the Splash Brothers have been inconsistent. Losing Durant would have been a tough blow to an already tough season.

That’s a sigh of relief for the Warriors. The injury could have been a season-ending type of injury but instead it’s a minor injury that caused no damage to Durant. Yes, he’s injured and that is something the Warriors will have to figure out heading into Game 6. But he’s not out for the season.

2. Bucks return to Conference Finals for the first time since 2001

Maybe this is how the Bucks and Celtics should have separated their ways.

The Bucks got a big games from their Big Three but they also got key contributions from almost everyone on the roster.

Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t have to do so much. He already did a lot of the heavy lifting in the earlier games. He played only 31 minutes and but still flirted with a triple-double line of 20-8-8.

The Greek Freak got a lot of help from Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. Middleton scored 19 points and grabbed wight boards while Bledsoe had 18 points and six rebounds. The Bucks had four other players score in double figures as they ran the Celtics out of Milwaukee.

As for the Celtics, they came in with much more talent on paper but that group never lived up to their potential. After a statement Game 1 win, they Celtics fell back to Earth and lost four straight games to put an end to an inconsistent season.

Kyrie Irving’s shooting woes continued. He shot 6/21 for 15 points. Incredibly, he was already their leading scorer. Super sophomore Jayson Tatum could only muster 14 points on 30% shooting. Gordon Hayward and Al Horford were limited to just 16 points combined.

A lot has been said and will be said about Boston’s sad exit. But right now, the focus should be on Milwaukee. The Bucks return to the Conference Finals for the fist time since 2001. The last time they were in the same position in the Playoffs, they were being led by a solid point guard in Sam Cassell and All-Stars Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson.

This time around, Milwaukee might be in better position to make it past that stage. Bledsoe is more than solid, Middleton is not only an All-Star but the perfect second fiddle and Antetokounmpo is more than an All-Star. He’s an All-NBA talent, arguably the best in the league right now.

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