***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
Thursday, April 24th
(All times Eastern)
(1) INDIANA PACERS (1-1) AT (8) ATLANTA HAWKS (1-1), 7 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Indiana Pacers clawed back into their Eastern
Conference playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks, but the matchup shifts to
Philips Arena for Game 3 Thursday night.
After a disastrous Game 1 loss in Indiana, the top-seeded Pacers came back
with a 101-85 drubbing of the Hawks on Tuesday night. The two teams are
knotted, but history doesn't serve the Pacers well. They are 2-14 in their
last 16 at Philips Arena.
"We got (to) string (wins) together. We can't get complacent, I know that,"
Pacers coach Frank Vogel stated. "This team is playing at a really high level
and is a serious threat to us. We can't let our guard down at all. We got to
have the same desperation that we played (with on Tuesday) going into Game 3."
Game 1 was a letdown from a defensive standpoint for Indiana. Atlanta's Jeff
Teague torched the Pacers, who finished second in opponents' scoring and first
in opponents' field-goal percentage, for 28 points.
On Tuesday, Teague scored half that amount and the main reason was a key
switch made by Vogel. Paul George switched to cover the Hawks' point guard and
the difference was obvious.
"I got more of a feeling of what he's going to do and his tendencies as the
game went on," said George. "I could almost predict the times he was gonna go
and the times where he was gonna just initiate offense. Throughout the game, I
could gauge what action I was going to be dealing with."
George had 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead the
"That's why he was in the MVP conversation early," Vogel said of George. "It
makes him one of the most complete players in the game when he plays like he
The Pacers trailed 52-48 at the half, but outscored Atlanta 31-13 in the third
and never looked back. They shot 75 percent (12-of-16) in the frame while
limiting the Hawks to just a 25 percent clip (5-of-20) for the stanza.
Atlanta outscored Indiana 30-16 in the third period in Game 1 en route to a
101-93 triumph on Saturday night to become the first road team to defeat the
Pacers twice this season. Indiana went 35-6 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse during
the regular season.
Indiana took a healthy 79-65 cushion into the fourth, where it led by as many
as 27 before cruising to the easy triumph.
Luis Scola posted 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while George
Hill netted 10 of his 15 points in the third for Indiana.
Paul Millsap put in 19 points and Teague added 14 points, five boards and four
assists for the Hawks.
"They were aggressive, they made a lot of plays and our execution,
particularly in the third quarter has to be better. That's what we'll work
on," Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Pacers have won two of their last three in Atlanta, including the first
round of the playoffs last season. Prior to Indiana's clinching win in Game 6
one year ago, the Hawks had won 13 in a row as the host in this series.
The Pacers will definitely have to show some fight on Thursday and not the
kind that made headlines this week. According to Yahoo Sports, Indiana's Evan
Turner and Lance Stephenson engaged in a fistfight at practice on Friday prior
to Game 1 of this series.
Indiana players and coaches acknowledged an incident, but didn't go as far as
to call it a fight.
"It was just a tangle up and that was it," Turner said.
Game 4 will be in Atlanta on Saturday afternoon.
(2) OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (1-1) AT (7) MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (1-1), 8 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Oklahoma City Thunder and Memphis Grizzlies head to
FedExForum Thursday night for Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal
The Grizzlies knotted the series with a 111-105 overtime victory Monday night
at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Memphis played well and had the lead late until the Grizzlies basically tried
to give the Thunder the game.
The Grizzlies held a five-point cushion and presumptive MVP Kevin Durant hit
one of the most amazing shots in recent history. Memphis' Marc Gasol was
draped all over Durant and bumped him out of bounds. Durant blindly sent a
high-arching rainbow that somehow went in.
"If you're a half-empty guy, you expect that to go in," Memphis coach Dave
Joerger said on Tuesday. "Crazy shots happen, especially by great players.
Then the foul, too. Probably the craziest shot I've seen and one of the best
shots I've seen."
The free throw cut Oklahoma City's deficit to one, and Mike Conley only made
1-of-2 at the stripe to make it a two-point game at 99-97 with 12 seconds to
With no timeouts to use, Russell Westbrook sped down the court and forced up a
deep, contested 3-point try that drew iron. Kendrick Perkins, though, boxed
out Courtney Lee and narrowly got his putback to fall just before the horn.
The score was tied 105-105 in overtime, then good ball movement by the
Grizzlies, who assisted on 30 of their 43 made baskets, provided the
difference, as Tony Allen cut into the lane, drew another defender and fed
Randolph for an easy layup.
After Serge Ibaka was whistled for traveling, Lee sank two free throws and
Randolph added two more to put the game away.
"They deserve the success they had the last 40 games of the year. This is no
different," said Joerger. "I don't think we're going to have any assumption
that we'll come home and the crowd will push us through."
Randolph scored 25 points, Conley donated 19 points with 12 assists and Gasol
and Lee each chipped in 16 points for the victors.
Durant finished with 36 points and 11 rebounds while Westbrook added 29
points, eight assists and seven boards. The duo combined to shoot just 23-
of-56 from the field. Ibaka finished with 15 points, 11 boards and five
The Grizzlies are 9-4 in their last 13 at home against the Thunder, including
two previous playoff matchups.
But the Thunder went 25-16 on the road during the 2013-14 campaign, which was
the second-best mark in the NBA.
"In order to win games in the playoffs, you have to win on the road,"
Westbrook said. "Regardless of whether we had won Game 2, we would have had to
win on the road if we want to win. We have to go in there and take care of
The Thunder will have to clean up a few areas for Thursday night. In Game 2,
Memphis outscored OKC, 56-36, in the paint. The Grizz have a clear advantage
with their big-man combo of Randolph and Gasol, but the Memphis bench
dominated Oklahoma City's 33-14.
Game 4 will be on Beale Street Saturday night.
(3) LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (1-1) AT (6) GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (1-1), 10:30 P.M.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State Warriors will
take their highly-entertaining series to Oracle Arena Thursday night for Game
3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals.
Knotted at 1-1, Golden State returns home to its raucous fans and with great
history against the Clippers as host. The Warriors have won five straight over
LA at Oracle Arena, eight of nine and 15 of the last 17 meetings.
"It's going to be loud. It's going to be exciting," said LA's Blake Griffin.
"I think every basketball player loves playing in an environment like that.
I've heard good things about this crowd, so we're looking forward to it."
Griffin has been the key to this series, as expected by most.
After an ineffective, foul-plagued Game 1 loss where Griffin played less than
20 minutes before eventually fouling out, he put up one of the most
efficiently brilliant performances in playoff history.
Griffin scored 35 points in under 30 minutes to lead the Clippers to an
inspiring 138-98 humiliation of the Warriors on Monday night.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became the fourth player in the shot-
clock era to score 35 points in under 30 minutes.
"I was able to play more aggressive tonight," Griffin said.
Six other Clippers also scored in double figures, with Chris Paul logging 12
points, 10 assists and five steals in the rout. Paul is nursing a hamstring
injury and was a limited participant in practice Tuesday.
"I'm good. As long as I'm out on the court I'm OK," he said.
Los Angeles forced 26 turnovers and held the usually high-scoring Warriors to
4-of-19 shooting from behind the arc in the widest margin of victory in the
franchise's limited postseason history.
Stephen Curry led Golden State with 24 points, while Draymond Green, Jordan
Crawford and David Lee checked in with 11 apiece.
"I was disappointed in our effort, that was a desperate basketball team and we
didn't match it. They made plays, we played bad, we were awful," Warriors head
coach Mark Jackson admitted.
But the Warriors did what they set out to do and that was steal a game in Los
Angeles. With the decidedly lopsided home record against the Clippers, Golden
State can put Monday's debacle out of mind.
"We played bad. We own it. We've got to be better," admitted Jackson. "We'll
get in the lab. We'll make the adjustments, and we look forward to Thursday."
The Warriors need to tighten things up on the defensive side. The Clippers
shot 56.6 percent from the field, 48 percent from 3-point range and their 138
points was a postseason team record. It was also the most the Warriors allowed
in the playoffs since surrendering 140 to the Phoenix Suns on May 4, 1994.
Game 4 will be Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena.
04/24 10:36:20 ET