3-2 series all the way around: Atlanta got a stickback from Al Horford with 1.9 seconds left to top Washington, 82-81, and Golden State dominated Memphis in a 98-78 laugher Wednesday night, pushing the Hawks and Warriors, the top seeds in the Eastern and Western playoffs, to 3-2 series leads.
Tonight Cleveland and the Los Angeles Clippers look to close out their series in Game 6 matchups with Chicago and Houston.
Cleveland is on the road, the Clips are at home, so there’s more pressure on LA, which faces the prospect of a Game 7 on the road if the Rockets steal one tonight.
Both Atlanta and Golden State can close out their series Friday night on the road.
Curious coaching move of the night: Once-embattled (as of two weeks ago) Wizards coach Randy Wittman is on terra firma after Washington’s first-round series sweep of favored Toronto, and the team’s solid showing against the top-seeded Hawks in the Eastern semis, but the tendency toward coaching gaffes that landed him in hot water with his critics showed itself again late in Game 5.
Paul Pierce drained a three from the left corner with 8.3 seconds left to give the Wiz a one-point lead. With the ability to advance the ball into the frontcourt with a timeout, 8.3 seconds is an eternity in endgame situations in the NBA, and the Hawks got two shots at the winner, the first a driving layup by Dennis Schroder that bounced off the rim.
Al Horford gathered the carom and layed it in with 1.9 seconds to go to give the Hawks the lead.
Not the worst news in the world – with 1.9 seconds left and the ball in the frontcourt after the timeout, you can draw up any number of plays to get a guy free for the game-winner.
If you have that timeout. Wittman had used up his allotment. The Wizards had to throw it in from the backcourt, and were reduced to a half-court prayer at the buzzer that of course was off the mark.
Not saving a timeout for the endgame is inexplicable.
Caps lose heartbreaker: Up 3-1 in their best-of-seven second-round Eastern Conference series, it was hard to get past the feeling that the Washington Capitals weren’t yet out of the woods with the New York Rangers only needing to steal one to get back into it.
The Rangers won Game 5 in OT, 2-1, then held on for a 4-3 win at Washington in Game 6 after building a 4-1 lead early in the third.
Game 7 was classic Stanley Cup playoff hockey, going into OT tied at 1 before Derek Stepan sent the Rangers into the Eastern Conference finals with a goal 11:24 into the extra period.
The Caps have now blown five 3-1 playoff series leads in franchise history.
Jeff Jarrett shopping Global Force Wrestling to TV networks? This was the headline on wrestling news sites Thursday morning. The answer to the question is that he’d better be, with three TV tapings scheduled for later this year.
Reported possible broadcast partners include Spike, WGN, Fox Sports 2 and CMT. Spike doesn’t seem likely, given that it passed up the chance to stay with TNA, an established product that was delivering more than a million viewers a week. Fox Sports 2 seems most intriguing. There would seem to be a growth potential for both working together, as we saw back in ESPN’s early days with its relationships with AWA and World Class.
How Jarrett is a year and a half into putting GFW together without having already found a TV partner is another question for another day.
– Column by Chris Graham