Monday’s NBA playoff schedule consisted of two major Game 4s. One of them was the Heat vs. Celtics in Boston, the other the Thunder vs. Grizzles in Memphis. Since the Heat-Celtics series has been the most hyped of the entire postseason, the Thunder and Grizzlies seemed likely to play second fiddle. Yet Oklahoma City and Memphis may just have a longer playoff series than Miami and Boston, to go along with holding the longest game of the playoffs.
The Heat and Celtics had a big opening act for the night anyway, as the two powerhouses went to overtime. But Miami actually found a way to finish Boston off — perhaps for the season — in one overtime to go up by 3-1. Back in Memphis, Oklahoma City needed 15 extra minutes to avoid a 3-1 hole itself.
The Thunder could have finished off the Grizzlies a lot faster, and perhaps should have. After going down by 18 points in the first half, Oklahoma City steamed back to seemingly take control in the fourth quarter. Yet Mike Conley kept the Grizzlies alive with a last-second three, and then Greivis Vasquez’s three at the end of overtime No. 1 capped a seven-point comeback.
Memphis didn’t need a rally to force a third overtime, yet the home team was out of comebacks in the final five minutes. Led by Kevin Durant, the Thunder closed the game with a 10-0 run and finally secured the 133-123 win to even the series and regain home court advantage, according to the Associated Press.
Although it took so long, with so many blown opportunities beforehand, the Thunder was at least able to finally even things up. The same could not be said of the Celtics, who could have blown their last, best chance to challenge the Heat.
Boston’s playoff experience in defeating LeBron James isn’t paying off, as James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh scored all of Miami’s points in the fourth quarter and overtime. The AP reports James’ 35 points set the pace, as the Heat pulled away for a 98-90 backbreaker.
The last few days have been quite noteworthy, as the Thunder and Grizzles have been in two overtime battles, the Lakers were annihilated, the Bulls were pushed dead even with the Hawks, and now the Celtics are on the brink. After all that, and after a three-overtime showdown to go with it, it sets the bar high for the end of the second round.
Tuesday’s slate only has one game on tap, as the Bulls and Hawks set out to break their 2-2 tie in Chicago. But Wednesday, the Heat-Celtics and Thunder-Grizzles will hold another big playoff doubleheader, as Miami tries to advance and Memphis attempts to bounce back in Oklahoma City.
NBA.com- “2011 Playoffs Schedule”
Yahoo Sports- “James, Wade lead Heat past Celtics 98-90 in OT”
SI.com- “Thunder tie series with Memphis with 3 OT thriller”