Home cooking was in order on Wednesday, but we were still left with some wild finishes.
Portland Trail Blazers Recap
98 - 108 3-2 POR
5 things to know
Rules of endearment
Now that the NBA Constitution is public, we finally have an answer as to why every playoff game has been bonkers. It’s right there in Section 8, "Miscellaneous Provisions."
8.05. Playoff Games shall be bonkers
(a) A team with a large lead in a postseason game shall be compelled to spit the bit in the fourth quarter by failing to run an effective offense, blowing defensive assignments and fouling three-point shooters.
(b) In accordance, the trailing team shall go on a large run and may designate a "shooter," who does not miss. Preferably one the Basketball Internet feels is past their prime. (e.g. Joe Johnson.)
(c) There must be, at minimum, three curious rotation decisions that may include sitting the two guys with the most playoff experience on your roster whom your general manager traded half a decade’s worth of draft picks to acquire.
(d) When in doubt, BALTCHE. -Paul Flannery
A return to form
Things were supposed to be much easier for the Spurs. They entered their first-round matchup with 15 straight wins against the Mavericks, including four decisive ones during the 2013-14 season. And yet, through four games, the Spurs' offense was rarely its usual potent self against the worst defensive team in the playoffs. It was strange.
That's what makes the Game 5 victory so pivotal. It wasn't just that San Antonio controlled the game throughout, it was that it controlled the game throughout while scoring at will. They finally discovered that Dallas' pick and roll defense is quite awful when Dirk Nowitzki has to be involved, picking him apart using Tony Parker and the unlikely Tiago Splitter. Manu Ginobili continued his brilliant series, and role players finally started knocking down shots.
Dallas' offense is great and kept things close, but this was the first Spurs win that looked Spursian. There's little Dallas can do to compensate for Nowitzki's lack of defensive foot speed, so perhaps San Antonio has finally cracked Rick Carlisle's code. -Mike Prada
Houston does it with ... defense?
With the way this first round has unfolded, the only outcome that feels like a true upset is any time a game ends in regulation. We're conditioned for overtime at this point, particularly in a Rockets-Trail Blazers series where three of the first four games needed an extra five minutes to decide the winner. It seemed like it was destined to happen again in Game 5 as Portland and Houston headed down the stretch, or at least it did until the Rockets hunkered down and played some of their best defense of the season to secure a 108-98 win.
You might have had to see it with your own eyes to believe it, but we swear it happened: James Harden blocked a three-pointer by Damian Lillard with just over a minute left that would have made it a two possession game. Harden might be the worst perimeter defender in the league by reputation (if not performance), but he made a play when he had to. You know, that Lillard guy is usually pretty good in the clutch.
The Rockets finished the regular season top five in offensive efficiency and pace, but it was the defense that kept their season alive to force Game 6. LaMarcus Aldridge went scoreless in the last 19 minutes, Lillard only had eight points in the second half and Portland didn't score for the final 3:39 of the game. It was the first time this series a team was held to under 100 points. It's good thing, too, because this series is way too much fun to have ended in five games. -Ricky O'Donnell
Troll on, Raps fans
Maybe the best story of this postseason has been the return of playoff basketball to Toronto. The fans in the arena have been as raucous as the best nights in Portland or Oakland, but Wednesday night it was the fans outside the arena that stole the spotlight.
The game was played in Toronto, but some Raptors fans decided they would tag Brooklyn's most famous landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge, with the Raptors' playoff slogan, #WeTheNorth. If there's been a more impressive form of trolling, I haven't seen it.
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri set the tone for these types of wonderful shenanigans before the series started with his "F*** BROOKLYN" rallying cry. It was really only a matter of time before memorabilia was created, but the fact that it came in the form of political-style button was pretty perfect. After all, with the latest revelations of Mayor Rob Ford's relationship to crack cocaine, the next mayoral race could be a showdown between Ujiri, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan.
The Raptors can close out this series in Brooklyn on Friday night, and who knows what Raptors fans will do if they play the Heat in the second round. I know I can't wait to find out. -Ethan Rothstein
Lin goes in
Many, many years ago (two, to be precise) Jeremy Lin reminded me to love things. I wasn't sure what to do with my life and I'd just been dumped. From nowhere, the most improbable player -- from a sports-averse school, undrafted, and, yes, of an ethnicity not common among NBA players -- saved my team's season. And he was great in improbable ways. Winding, ill-advised drives, no-no-no-no-no-YES threes, alley-oop dishes. It was as wild as we made it seem.
In Houston, he's been good. Sure, better than anybody could've hoped after college. And sure, better than guy my favorite team replaced Lin with. But he's rarely been THAT.
Wednesday, Lin had 21 with Patrick Beverley weakened by fever. His threes were unseemly, but the off-kilter ones and buzzer-beaters fell, while the open one was an airball. His forays to the hole were worrisome, but worked. It wasn't full-blown Linsanity, but certainly a mild case. -Rodger Sherman
Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks ATL leads 3-2 | 7 p.m., NBATV Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies MEM leads 3-2 | 8 p.m., TNT FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors Los Angeles leads 3-2 | 10:30 p.m., TNT ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA