BOSTON, USA – A pair of first round series in the East ended today in sweeps while out West, a first round series expected to be competitive is living up to its billing as another team staved off elimination. That and more in today’s wRap of the NBA playoffs.
Cleveland Cavaliers 101 – 93 Boston Celtics
With 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists from LeBron James, the Cavs withstood the early exit of star forward Kevin Love with a dislocated shoulder to complete a 4-0 sweep of the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference first-round series.
Love was hurt in the first quarter battling Celtics big man Kelly Olynyk, who yanked Love’s left arm as they chased a loose ball.
Love grabbed his left shoulder as he ran down the court, past his team’s bench toward the locker room. He said later he had “no doubt” Olynyk’s move was intentional and James agreed.
“I saw the replay and it didn’t look like a basketball play,” James said. “I’ve seen a lot of tie-ups in my day and that was a little different.”
The incident touched off a string of increasingly physical plays that threatened to overwhelm a game that the Cavs had well in hand.
Cleveland’s Kendrick Perkins was whistled for a foul and also picked up a technical foul in the second quarter after shoving Boston’s Jae Crowder to the court while setting a pick.
Crowder, who had been guarding James near the sideline, also received a technical foul after he and Perkins jawed at each other.
Cleveland’s J.R. Smith was ejected in the third quarter for hitting Crowder across the face as he defended the Celtics forward under the basket.
After a small push from Crowder in his back, Smith connected with his right hand as he wheeled around toward the ball.
Crowder left the game with what the Celtics said was a sprained left knee suffered when he fell on the play.
Kyrie Irving added 24 points and 11 rebounds for Cleveland and Iman Shumpert contributed 15 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
It was the first playoff series sweep for Cleveland since 2009, when they needed the minimum to get past Detroit and Atlanta back in James’s first stint with his home-state club.
They will face either Chicago or Milwaukee in the second round. The third-seeded Bulls missed a chance to sweep the Bucks on Saturday, but will try to finish them off when they take a 3-1 series lead into game five in Chicago on Monday.
Washington Wizards 125 – 94 Toronto Raptors
Elsewhere in the East, the Washington Wizards marched into the second round with a 125-94 romp past Toronto.
Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 11 rebounds and John Wall added 14 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, whose victory was never in doubt.
It marked the first time the club have swept an opponent in a 7-game playoff series.
After winning just two first-round sets in 34 prior seasons, Washington have now reached the second round two seasons in a row.
“To get to 4 is the hardest game and I’m really proud of our group,” said Wizards coach Randy Whittman, whose team raced to a big lead and led by as many as 37 in the second half.
“They were locked in… That was a workman-like four wins for us.”
Wizards veteran forward Paul Pierce, who was booed intensely during the entire series, posted a photo on his Facebook page declaring he is “King in the North” following the sweep.
The Wizards next face either top-seeded Atlanta or eighth-seeded Brooklyn. The Hawks lead that series 2-1.
LA Clippers 114 – 105 San Antonio Spurs
Chris Paul and the Clippers bounced back from the worst post-season game in club history on Sunday, April 26 (Monday in Manila) defeating reigning NBA champions Spurs to knot their best-of-7 first-round series at two games apiece.
Paul produced 34 points and 7 assists and the Clippers connected on better than 53% of their shots from the floor.
It was a massive turnaround from their 34.1%, 73-point shooting performance in game three, both franchise lows for the post-season.
Los Angeles snapped a two-game losing streak in the series and will try to edge ahead when they host game five on Tuesday.
The winners of the series will face either Houston or Dallas.
Dallas Mavericks 121 – 109 Houston Rockets
Speaking of the Texas match-up, the Rockets failed to fly straight to the second round as the Mavericks leaned on guards Monta Ellis and JJ Barea to keep their playoff run alive.
Barea, in his first playoff start, finished with 17 points and 13 assists, while Monta Ellis led the Mavs’ offense with 31 big points.
James Harden finished with 24 points and 5 assists. Josh Smith and Corry Brewer added 23 and 22 points respectively but it was not enough to help the Rockets complete a sweep.