ts playoff time so it's time to focus on our potential roadblocks to Banner 18. Every day we'll bring you what's making news in enemy territory. This way we know what they're up to when it comes time to take 'em out.
Pro Basketball Talk: Rare is the NBA playoff series when the opposition opens with a 3-0 lead without playing a game. That, however, essentially, will be the case with the impending Heat-Celtics Eastern Conference semifinal series. Once it is finished dispatching the 76ers (most likely on Wednesday), the Heat will take on the Celtics with a decided deficit at center, point guard and backup power forward. In each case, a potential Heat answer can be found on the Celtics’ roster, an answer the Heat had within its grasp at one stage.
Miami Herald: Here’s something everyone, excluding 76ers fans, can agree on: Heat-Celtics can’t get here soon enough. But first, the Heat must vanquish a pesky Philadelphia team that has been a bigger nuisance than many anticipated. And that means playing a Game 5 on Wednesday, a game the Heat never wanted to be bothered with. “They have everything to gain. We’re the Miami Heat. We have everything to lose,” Dwyane Wade said Tuesday. “They’ve come out looser every game.”
ESPN Chicago: Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel believes his team isn't the only one facing elimination Tuesday, because Vogel said if the Pacers win Game 5, he believes they're going to eventually eliminate the Chicago Bulls. "We feel like if we win tonight, we'll win this series," Vogel told reporters after the Tuesday morning shootaround.
ESPN Chicago: Aside from keeping Derrick Rose upright and on the floor, the Chicago Bulls know that the single biggest key to a Game 5 series-clinching victory is getting Carlos Boozer back on track. "Carlos is going to be fine," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said after Monday's practice. "What we got to do with Carlos is we got to eliminate the fouls that put him on the bench. So when he's out there, he's rebounding at a very high level. And he gives us a post presence.
Sentinel: Magic SG Jason Richardson, who will play tonight after serving a one-game suspension in Game 3 for fighting, said he still will play physical basketball. He said he’ll just play smarter. “I’ll still play physical — that’s who I am,” Richardson said after shootaround Tuesday morning. “I have to be smarter when something happens, yes.”
Orlando Magic Daily: Push the criticism aside of the 1-in/4-out system and whether it can win a title — that is a serious debate for the summer. This is about what the Magic can do to avoid elimination tonight and force a return trip to Atlanta for Game Six. Orlando is not going to be able to change its identity in one night. The Magic will still have to put up 3-pointers to have a chance at advancing [...] Orlando has to attack the basket more and not think of the 3-pointer as the main option offensively. Yes, it is difficult to get a bunch of players programmed to shoot when open or even semi-open since October to change their mindset all of a sudden, but it is what the Magic have to do.
AJC: Now that his sizzling scoring has helped put the Hawks on the verge of advancing past the Magic into the Eastern Conference semifinals, the praise is flowing for Jamal Crawford. But Crawford remembers the tags critics not so long ago used to hang on him. He was a scorer but needed a lot of shots to get his points. He put up big numbers but he did so while playing for bad teams. His one-on-one style was good for highlights, bad for winning. “There have been lots of knocks,” Crawford said before theHawks left Monday for Orlando with a 3-1 series lead.
SLAM: Before the Celtics’ last regular season game against the Hawks, coach Doc Rivers said, “They’re an inverted transition team. You don’t see it very often where the bigs outrun the guards. Their bigs fly. Horford, I don’t know what motor he runs on, but it’s amazing. I love him, I love watching him. I was just telling someone, of all the All-Stars, coaching the All-Star team, he was hands down—it was’t even close—my favorite guy. Just the way he carries himself. He made a comment to me, ‘Coach, don’t worry about playing me, I just want to play one stint. This is about the stars.’ And I said, ‘You know, you’re one of those guys.’ Man he’s so unassuming—and you knew it was for real.”
ESPN LA: The Lakers training staff will evaluate Bryant at Staples Center prior to the game, but when asked again if Bryant was definitely suiting up on Tuesday night, Jackson said, "That's right." Bryant was limited at shootaround and Jackson was unsure of what capacity the back-to-back Finals MVP would be at come tip-off.
OC Register: Six and a half years since the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl, Ron Artest has won the NBA’s longest-running citizenship and community-service award. Artest was announced Tuesday as the 2010-11 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, presented annually by the Pro Basketball Writers Association to one NBA player, coach or trainer for outstanding service away from the game. I will present the trophy to Artest on behalf of the PBWA just before tip-off of Game 5 of the Hornets-Lakers playoff series Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Project Spurs: Who would have thought the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies would hold a 3-1 lead in their first round series with the first seeded San Antonio Spurs after four games. Yet here we are, the Spurs facing elimination, while many in the NBA world are shocked on how thoroughly Memphis is beating San Antonio. You know who isn't shocked? Grizzlies' Mike Conley
Project Spurs: After the San Antonio Spurs lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in game five of their series, everyone, and I mean everyone, is thinking this is the end of the Spurs' run in the 2011 NBA playoffs. However, TNT's basketball analyst Kenny Smith still believes the Spurs can come back and advance in the playoffs: “It’s like watching Muhammad Ali in his last fight. But I hope they have one more rope-a-dope in them because I hate to see the champs lose. I still think they can come back,” he said. “I know I sound crazy.”
SB Nation: When will we put away the stupid meme that the Dallas Mavericks are soft? Hopefully, we can now that the Mavericks did what they did to beat the Blazers in Game 5. All weekend, we had to hear about how the Mavericks are choke artists that would blow this series like they blew Game 4 in Portland. In the end, Dallas got tough and won Game 5 with one of the grittier performances you'll see.
ESPN Dallas: The Trail Blazers have beef with Brian Cardinal, who might be the nicest bad guy in NBA history. He had the gall to set a textbook screen with seconds remaining that flattened Portland backup point guard/unofficial team mascot Patty Mills. The Blazers’ bench went wild. Wesley Matthews mouthed off to Cardinal, leading to a brief postgame confrontation with DeShawn Stevenson, who could be considered the Mavs’ enforcer. The Blazers blogs are worked into a tizzy. Oh, and Mills is mad.
NewsOK: Perhaps [George Karl] is simply playing more mind games with the youngest roster in the NBA playoffs, but Karl frequently has categorized the Thunder as a "jump-shot team" throughout this opening-round series. Saying a team relies on jump shots is viewed as the equivalent of saying that team is soft and shies away from physical play, yet the Thunder has out-rebounded the Nuggets in all four games.
NewsOK: Westbrook had a monster game — 30 points, six rebounds, five assists — but it took him 30 shots. Not all of Westbrook's decision-making was off; twice his hot hand brought the Thunder back from a slump. But the Thunder offense often stagnated when Westbrook dominated the ball.