Sweeping to the Finals

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Although theyre about 10,000 miles away from each other, the Boston Celtics and San Miguel Beermen did the same thing in sweeping to the Finals in their leagues. In the NBA, Boston blanked Indiana, 4-0, to make it first to the Last Dance. In the PBA Philippine Cup, San Miguel blitzed Rain or Shine, 4-0, to also finish first to the Finals. Both appear destined to go all the way to the Promised Land.

Curiously, they did it in similar fashion. In the Celticscase, they came back from nine down to finish off the Pacers with a 7-0 closer, 105-102, in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Finals at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse last Monday. Pascal Siakam hit a two-pointer from inside the lane to make it, 102-98, for Indiana, time down to 3:33. The Pacers never scored again. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown scored two-pointers and Derrick White ended the rampage with a triple, 45 seconds remaining. In the last three minutes, Indiana was scoreless, missed thrice from the floor and committed two turnovers. The Pacersmain man Tyrese Halliburton sat on the sidelines in civvies for the second straight game and couldve been useful down the stretch.

Halliburtons replacement in the starting lineup Ben Sheppard was a complete bust, going scoreless in Game Three and chipping in three points in Game Four. Indianas consolation was the series unveiled Andrew Nembhard as a potential star. Nembhard, 24, averaged 9.2 points in the regular season and in the Boston series, hit at a 21 point clip. In Game Four, Indiana had more rebounds, assists, fastbreak points and free throws made and shot a higher percentage from the field but couldnt find a way to win in the homestretch. The Celtics were lethal in the clutch and relied on the three to pull it off. In every game of the semis, Boston outgunned Indiana from beyond the arc, averaging 15 conversions to Indianas 9.8.

In the PBA, San Miguel did to Rain or Shine what Boston did to Indiana. The Elasto Painters were up 19 in Game Four of the semis at the MOA Arena last Friday but couldn’t close it out. Adrian Nocum scored with 3:02 left as Rain or Shine led, 100-97. Like the Pacers, the Painters didn’t score in the last three minutes. During that stretch, Rain or Shine missed six tries from the floor and had one turnover. San Miguel ended it with a 10-0 surge to win, 107-100. The Painters’ version of Nembhard was Gian Mamuyac who was unleashed in the semis, averaging 17.5 points after scoring 9.9 a game in the elims.

The difference between Boston and San Miguel is in the middle. The Celtics won despite 7-2 center Kristaps Porzingis missing in action with a calf injury. San Miguel wouldnt have breezed without 6-10 center JuneMar Fajardo who averaged 18.3 points, 13.8 rebounds and four assists in the semis. Are the Celtics and Beermen headed in the same direction?

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