NBA Playoffs Update: The Heat and Suns Take Control with a Couple of Blowout Wins

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NBA Playoffs Update: The Heat and Suns Take Control with a Couple of Blowout Wins

Chicago Bulls

On Tuesday night, the Phoenix Suns and Miami Heat regained control in their series with a pair of blowout victories over the Sixers and Mavericks.

Heat 120, 76ers 85

Series: MIA leads 3-2

If you missed last night’s Heat-76ers game, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers’ post-game comments told you all you needed to know. Rivers said, “I want to watch the tape or burn the tape; I’m not sure which one,” Rivers said. “I’ll probably watch it because I have to, and then I’ll burn it.”

I’d probably just skip the watch and proceed right to the burning of the tape. Nothing went right for Philly. You don’t need the video to tell you that. But, they’d better hit the reset button quickly, or their season might be over on Thursday night. The Sixers shot 36 percent from the floor and 28 percent from beyond the arc, while Miami shot a crisp 54 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three-point range.

Jimmy Butler dominated the first half and finished with 23 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists for the Heat. Miami out-rebounded Philadelphia 46-36 and out-assisted them 26-14. Max Strus logged a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 7-13 from the floor, including four three-pointers.

No one on the 76ers cracked the 20-point threshold as the offense mustered up only 85 points in the 35-point loss to the Heat. Joel Embiid led all Sixers scorers with 17 points. James Harden could not replicate his dominance from Game 4 last night, finishing with just 14 points while shooting 2-of-6 from deep.

The series now heads back to Philly with the Sixers facing elimination after getting punched in the mouth by the Heat last night. Despite the blowout loss last night, Joel Embiid feels like the Sixers have a shot to come back from the 3-2 deficit they now find themselves in:

“For myself, I have to dig deeper than I have, try to forget about what’s going on, and play freely,” Embiid said. “I just have to have that mentality for four quarters. I like our chances to come back here.”

Suns 110, Mavericks 80

Series: PHX 3-2

On Sunday, the Dallas Mavericks hit 20 three-pointers en route to a big Game 4 victory in Dallas. Suns head coach Monty Williams was presented his Coach of the Year award on Monday during practice. That practice also featured a message from Williams: the defensive effort simply wasn’t good enough, and it had better improve if the Suns wanted to win Game 5 and regain control of the series.

The Mavs started hot on Tuesday night. They hit six of their first eight shots to open the game and hit a pair of threes. It was Game 4 all over again for the Suns until Monty Williams called a timeout to remind his team of the focus.

“The energy just wasn’t where it needed to be for this type of game,” Williams said. “It wasn’t, like, poor, but it wasn’t great.”

The Suns got the message and the next three quarters looked more reminiscent of their 61-win regular season effort on the defensive end. Phoenix locked down shooters and forced the Mavs to finish the game 18-for-54 (33.3 percent) from the floor and over the final three quarters. After hitting 20 triples in Game 4, the Suns held the Mavericks to just 8 in Game 5. Phoenix would pull away and eventually regain control of the series through a 30-point blowout victory.

Devin Booker led the Suns offensively with 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists on 11-20 (3-7) shooting, while Deandre Ayton added 20 points and Mikal Bridges scored 14 points while logging 7 rebounds and 4 steals.

Luka Dončić scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds for Dallas in the losing effort on Tuesday night. Jalen Brunson was the only other Dallas player to crack 20 points, finishing up with 21 points and 7 rebounds in 35 minutes of action.

Game 6 is Thursday night, and the Mavericks will need to summon up some more of that home cooking magic they found in Game’s 3&4 in Dallas if they want to save their season.


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Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.