Roundup: Believe it! 76ers roll with Meek Mill past Heat in Game 5
PHILADELPHIA — Joel Embiid hoisted diminutive comedian Kevin Hart not unlike the way a parent would toss up a toddler. Embiid then pulled him in for a hug as confetti rained on the court, team flags waved around them and the promise of a rowdy late-night celebration was on deck.
Hart grabbed the mic and yelled, "Let's give it up for Joel Embiid!"
Believe it, Philly.
The 76ers are rolling in the postseason — and rappers, politicians, actors and athletes are dancing along in the ride.
Embiid and Ben Simmons shined again in front of rapper Meek Mill, and the dominant duo ushered the nightmares-into-dreams Process of the Philadelphia 76ers into the second round with a 104-91 win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night.
The 76ers, winners of 10 games just two seasons ago, are in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2012.
"I kind of promised the city this," Embiid said.
The Sixers won the series 4-1 and turned the Wells Fargo Center into the wildest house party in the city. Embiid had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Simmons had 14 points and 10 boards, and the entire team was energized by Mill's surprise appearance. Mill made a dramatic return hours after Pennsylvania's highest court ordered him freed while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions.
He was taken from prison by helicopter to Philadelphia, where he rang the ceremonial bell at the start of Game 5.
"Welcome home Meek Mill," was about all that was heard from the public address announcer as wild cheers drowned out the rest. Mill sat courtside next to Hart and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin.
CELTICS 92, BUCKS 87
BOSTON — Al Horford has been the Celtics' quiet leader this postseason, and Marcus Smart might be the kindling Boston was missing in back-to-back losses in Milwaukee.
The duo was reunited for Game 5, and together, they helped put the Celtics on the verge of closing out their first-round series.
Horford had 22 points and 14 rebounds, Smart made an impact in his first game since mid-March and Boston beat the Bucks 92-87 on Tuesday night for a 3-2 lead.
Smart came off the bench and had nine points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks in his first action since right thumb surgery. He played 25 minutes wearing a protective splint and had a key assist to Horford late from the bottom of a scrum beneath three Milwaukee players.
"I just tried to make sure I got him the ball and it was going to take everything I had," Smart said. "They weren't taking it from me."
Terry Rozier added 16 points and five assists for Boston. The home team has won all five games in the first-round series, and Game 6 is Thursday in Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points, Jabari Parker added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a series-low 16 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
The Celtics led by 16 before Milwaukee rallied to make it 74-70 with 7:33 left. Middleton scored later and was fouled to get Milwaukee within 84-79, but he failed to complete the three-point play.
A few possessions later, Smart managed to squeeze out the pass to Horford with three Bucks draped over him, and Horford easily dropped in a layup to make it 86-79 with 28.1 seconds left.
Milwaukee got within 87-84 after a layup by Eric Bledsoe, but the Celtics hit enough free throws the rest of the way to secure the win.
The Bucks entered the game shooting an NBA playoff-best 54 percent from the field, but they hit just 37 percent for the game (32 of 87) — a series low.
WARRIORS 99, SPURS 91
OAKLAND, Calif. — Kevin Durant scored 25 points, Draymond Green led a smothering Golden State defense and the Warriors held off the late-charging San Antonio Spurs 99-91 Tuesday night to win Game 5 and advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Klay Thompson had another stellar shooting performance with 24 points, and Green contributed all over with 17 points, a career-playoff high 19 rebounds and seven assists. Golden State looked dominant until the fourth quarter even without injured two-time MVP Stephen Curry — and he could be back soon from a left knee injury.
LaMarcus Aldridge converted a three-point play with 1:31 left that pulled the Spurs within 93-89, and then a pair of free throws at 57.2 to make it a two-point game. Green responded with a long jumper at the top of the key then two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining.
The Warriors will face New Orleans in the West semifinals beginning this weekend at Oracle Arena, having smoothly eliminated the Spurs aside from a brief Game 4 blip Sunday at San Antonio. New Orleans, coached by former Golden State top assistant Alvin Gentry, swept Portland in the first round.
Durant didn't have his usual efficient shooting night, going 8 for 19 and missing his initial six 3-point tries. That hardly mattered. After a rebound late in the first half, the reigning Finals MVP drove coast-to-coast for a huge two-handed slam that helped Golden State grab momentum.
Aldridge had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Patty Mills added 18 points with four 3-pointers for cold-shooting San Antonio. Manu Ginobili had 10 points and seven assists in what might have been the 16th-year pro's final game at age 40.