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San Antonio bulldozed their way through to the Western Conference finals as they defeated the LA Clippers to record their 8th straight playoff victory. This is the first time in the 21st century that the franchise has won both their round 1 and 2 games 4 -0 and the last time they did so, the team went on to win its first ever NBA ring. Elsewhere, Miami took back home advantage from the Indiana Pacers thanks to a stellar performance from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, who silenced the Indiana crowd with their individual brilliance.
Miami Heat 101 - 93 Indiana Pacers
One can never doubt the ability of superstars to overcome poblems, no matter how grave they may be. After facing scepticism from all quarters as to whether they can take on the Indiana Pacers on their own without the ubiquitous Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, responded emphatically by scoring a combined 70 points to give their team an 8 point win over their opponents to level the series 2 - 2. James had 40 points, 18 boards and 9 assists, that completely captivated both the audience at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and their opponents the Indiana Pacers. Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after the game, "It comes down to this: yes, you can get the ball out of their hands and make other guys make plays but you get the ball out of one of those guys' hands and it finds its way to the other guy. It's not just like one superhero and a bunch of role players. You've got to worry about the other guy."
James and Wade were so hot in this game they combined to score 48 of 50 points from the last few minutes of the second quarter to the first few minutes of the 4th quarter. Indiana were led by Danny Granger, yet again, but his modest 20 points were no match for the dominance of D-Wade and LeBron. David West and Roy Hibbert, two huge influences in Game 3, had a poor outing for Indiana, combining for just 18 points. The two got into foul trouble in the game which eliminated Indiana's defensive advantage and gave their opponents enough room to turn the tables and dominate the final proceedings.
Miami Heat have tied things up with the Indiana Pacers despite the lingering absence of Chris Bosh. One is doubtful that both Wade and James can come up with dominating performances like the one tonight again and again, and Miami coach Mark Spoelstra will realise that. He will have to rally all his troops and not just pep talk his two General as they enter battle yet again in Game 5, only this time on home turf.
San Antonio Spurs 102 - 99 LA Clippers
The Clippers battled hard in Game 4, knowing that it was the last chance they had of extending their playoff stay, but it all came down to a rare turnover on the night from Chris Paul in the dying seconds that allowed the Spurs to take the victory. Paul, one of the best closers in the NBA, had one of his best playoff nights this term, scoring a game high 23 points along with 11 assists. However, the Spurs, who have won 18 games on the trot now, sat back till they put the pressure on their opponents in the clutch moments. One wonders whether the kind of poise comes as a result of years of playoff experience or with a sense of invincibility.
A major contribution for the Spurs came from Tiago Splitter, who played for Tim Duncan for over a quarter, and contributed with 11 points and 7 rebounds. Splitter has come through leaps and bounds after his rookie season in the league and has been quite an able replacement for Duncan. Gregg Popovich spoke of Splitter, "This year it's like getting another top draft pick." Tony Parker had a lackluster outing for Spurs contributing with just 17 points and 5 assists. His sub-par performances are being overshadowed by consistent team displays from San Antonio. The likes of Manu Ginobli and Daniel Green, have been consistently putting up good numbers to help San Antonio become this invincible opponent in the playoffs.
San Antonio awaits the winner of the Lakers and Oklahoma game in the Conference Finals, and if the experts at TopBet are to be believed, Oklahoma look all set to take that series. Can Spurs make it to the NBA finals, keeping their winning streak alive? It seems highly unlikely, however, one can say with clarity that they are the favourites to not only take the Conference but also the NBA title this season.
Games on Monday night
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics (2-2)
LA Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (1-3)
- 24/05/2012 12:43 - NBA playoffs: Philadelphia down the Celtics to force Game 7
- 23/05/2012 18:33 - NBA Playoffs: Miami blow away Pacers to go 3-2 ahead
- 22/05/2012 12:07 - NBA Playoffs: Lakers bow out of Playoffs, Celtics rally on to take 3-2 lead