Heat, Spurs both clinch 4-1 series victories
MIAMI (AP) — Miami and San Antonio both advanced to the NBA conference finals in contrasting fashion on Wednesday, with the Heat storming over the top of Brooklyn to pinch a narrow victory while the Spurs cruised past Portland.
Miami trailed almost the entire game and was eight points down with less than five minutes left but found a way to pull out a 96-94 win that clinched a 4-1 series victory and a place in the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth-straight year. The Heat will face either Indiana or Washington.
San Antonio did not require any such dramatics, who again won comfortably against Portland, with the 104-82 victory also clinching a 4-1 win which put the Spurs in the Western Conference decider for a third successive season. Their opponent will be Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles Clippers.
Miami’s Ray Allen scored a 3-pointer with 32 seconds left to cap the memorable comeback, aided by 29 points from LeBron James and 28 from Dwyane Wade.
James made one of two free throws with 9.5 seconds left to put the Heat up by two, and the Nets almost failed to get a potentially game-tying shot off after Paul Pierce lost it out of bounds, but it stayed with Brooklyn after replay.
However the Nets still couldn’t get a shot away: Allen knocked the ball away from Joe Johnson as he made his move, and time expired.
Johnson had 34 points, Pierce scored 19 and Deron Williams had 17 for the Nets.
Miami is bidding for a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals — something only the Lakers and Celtics franchises have accomplished.
James is heading there for the sixth time in eight seasons, the first two of those trips coming with Cleveland in 2007 and 2009.
San Antonio had a more relaxed time of it, with Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard each scoring 22 points in the 104-82 win.
Patty Mills scored 18 points and Tim Duncan had 16 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio, which had four blowout victories in the five-game series.
San Antonio remains on track for another NBA Finals showdown against Miami, which won a hard-fought seven-game series last season.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points for Portland, while Damian Lillard added 17 points and 10 assists.
The Trail Blazers’ bench contributed only seven points compared to 40 by the Spurs’ reserves.
After playing with various injuries throughout last postseason, the Spurs had been healthy in these playoffs until Wednesday.
Tony Parker, who missed 13 games during the regular season, exited in the first half with tightness in his left hamstring.
After returning to the court with 9:46 remaining in the second quarter, Parker left the game exactly a minute later and headed back to the locker room.