Closing out a series can be tough
The Sonics have shown in their Western Conference playoff series with Sacramento that they are not adept at handling big leads at home. In Games 1 and 2...
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Sonics have shown in their Western Conference playoff series with Sacramento that they are not adept at handling big leads at home.
In Games 1 and 2, Seattle led by 21 and 26 points, respectively, only to watch the Kings claw their way back into both games and force the Sonics to rely on a little fourth-quarter magic.
So with a 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven series going into tonight's Game 5 at KeyArena, Sonics guard Ray Allen wasn't making predictions.
"This series is scheduled for seven, and I'm not going to get too ahead of myself and say we're going to close them out," Allen said of tonight's game. "We'd like to win, but we'll have to play well.
"They've proven that they can come back from a 20-point lead. So we need to be good for four quarters tomorrow, then all of the rest of the stuff will take care of itself. But if we start thinking ahead, then that's when we'll be in trouble."
Today's other game
Philadelphia at Detroit,
5 p.m., TNT
Washington 106, Chicago 99
Dallas 103, Houston 100
San Antonio 126, Denver 115 (OT)
Including the 3-2 collapse against Denver in the first round of the 1994 playoffs, Seattle is 5-8 in games when it can win the series.
"That last game is always a tough game," Sonics coach Nate McMillan said. "You know each other. They'll come in here pretty loose, and it's an opportunity for us. It will be a tough game, and we'll have to play with that same energy. Limit our mistakes and we've got to establish that we can defend and stop those guys."
In the past three games, both teams have found shooting touches that were missing in Game 1. The Sonics claimed the opener 87-82 despite shooting just 36.5 percent from the field.
Since then, the Sonics have averaged 108 points and Sacramento 104. Because both teams possess prolific offenses, it makes the games difficult to handicap.
7:30 tonight at KeyArena
TV/Radio: FSN/TNT/KJR (950 AM)
Records: Seattle leads best-of-seven Western Conference first-round playoff series 3-1.
Bottom line: Since moving to Sacramento in 1986, the Kings are 4-8 in playoff-elimination games. Only seven teams in NBA history have won a playoff series after trailing 3-1. Detroit was the last team to do it, in 2003.
Tickets: Approximately 2,000 remain for tonight's game. Fans can purchase tickets by logging on to Supersonics.com, calling 800-4NBA-TIX or visiting any Ticketmaster outlet.
|F||Kenny Thomas||6-7||13.3||9.5 R|
|F||Peja Stojakovic||6-10||18.0||5.5 R|
|C||Brad Miller||7-0||10.5||3.3 R|
|G||Cuttino Mobley||6-4||17.0||3.5 R|
|G||Mike Bibby||6-1||15.8||5.8 A|
|F||Reggie Evans||6-8||3.3||8.0 R|
|F||Rashard Lewis||6-10||14.5||3.8 R|
|C||Jerome James||7-1||18.8||10.3 R|
|G||Ray Allen||6-5||33.0||5.3 R|
|G||Luke Ridnour||6-1||8.0||4.8 A|
|* playoff averages|
"For us, it makes for great drama, and that's probably why we were on TNT," Allen said of Sunday's game. "I think with the two teams that we are talking about, it's hard to really say that any team is down at any point because they've got probably the best three-point shooter in the league [Peja Stojakovic] and we've got so many three-point shooters.
"So you throw Bobby Jackson and Mike Bibby in the mix. You throw Cuttino Mobley in the mix. You can't really rule them out of the game when they are down 10 or 15 points because they can go on a run."
Last week, Allen compared Sacramento being on the brink of elimination to a pink elephant that nobody acknowledges walking on the court.
"I agree with that," reserve guard Antonio Daniels said. "You don't want to talk about it. You just want to do it. That's why I'm not big into the whole war-of-words thing. It's not about talking and insulting and so on.
"It's about just going out and playing and letting loose. Let the chips fall where they may. If we do what we're supposed to do and play hard, we don't need to say anything."
Daniels said every Sonics player knows history is on their side. Few teams in their position have folded, yet he refuses to give the statistics any credence.
"That's not us and that's not this series," Daniels said. "That's other teams and other years. All I'm concerned about is this series and Game 5.
"Closing a team out is tough to do. They're professionals over there. It's tough to win these kind of games because of all of the emotion and the consequences surrounding it. Just like we don't want to go back to Sacramento, they don't want to go home. At least, not without us."
It has been seven years since the Sonics won a playoff series. McMillan was a reserve on that 1998 team, which defeated Minnesota 3-2 in the first round and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the conference semifinals.
So far, this series has seen seesaw games that revolve around two high-scoring offenses.
"It's not like they are just throwing it in the post every time and we can double-team him and make somebody who really can't shoot shoot the ball," Allen said. "Everybody on their team can score. At no point are they out of it, just as we feel the same way."
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.