The playoffs are roaring along, with every series having played at least five games so far. The New Orleans Pelicans were the only team to sweep their opponent in the first round, defeating the Portland Trailblazers 4–0 in resounding fashion. The Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers advanced to the next round of the playoffs with 4–1 wins in each of their series. The remaining teams continue to advance to the next round.
The death of former San Antonio Spur Rasual Butler, two players losing family members and the loss of Erin Popovich last week have made this one of the hardest seasons in Spurs history. The team still managed to make the playoffs for the league-leading 21st time in spite of the tumultuous season.
The Spurs managed to win game four at home, but could not build on their momentum with a loss in Game 5 at Oracle Arena, 99-91. Four Spurs scored in double figures, with former Longhorn LaMarcus Aldridge leading the way with 30 points and 12 rebounds, including a perfect 14-14 from the freethrow line. Aldridge played for a little over 40 minutes in the game, the most he’s had in the playoffs this season.
With the possible retirement of legend Manu Ginobili, the lingering injury of Kawhi Leonard and the chance of Gregg Popovich leaving as head coach after a successful 20-year run, the Spurs will have a busy offseason ahead of them.
The Pacers have gone toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, and have managed to keep it close in almost all their games. Aside from game one, the remaining four games have been decided by fewer than five points.
Similar to the Spurs, the Pacers had five players score in double digits in the 98-95 loss on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for the Pacers, James’ 44 points, including a three at the buzzer to win the game, was simply too much to overcome.
While the Pacers did get contributions from multiple players, Texas alum Myles Turner was not one of them. He scored a measly eight points and grabbed only three rebounds in nearly 21 minutes of play. The Cavaliers ran multiple pick-and-roll plays that ended with Turner guarding either a guard or James. While Turner is relatively mobile for a big, he could not keep up with the Cavaliers’ players. Head coach Nate McMillan had no choice but to bench Turner for much of the game.
The Pacers will need Turner to step up in a big way if they have any hope of coming back in this series. Since the 2011–2012 season, a team led by James has eliminated the Pacers from the playoffs four out of five times. The Pacers will look to end the streak this year. They play in Indiana on Friday night, and it is shaping up to be another close game.