NBA Hoosiers (Sept. 15): Langford, Vonleh Have Great Seats for Epic Night in NBA Playoffs

Tom Brew

NBA history and histrionics were on full display on Tuesday night in the playoff bubble in Orlando, Fla. The last of the former Indiana basketball payers still alive saw it all, but neither saw action.

Boston rookie Romeo Langford dressed but didn't play in the Celtics' 117-114 overtime loss to the Miami Heat in the first game of the Eastern Conference finals. And Denver veteran Noah Vonleh didn't dress for the Nuggets, but he saw history being made in the Nuggets' 104-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Here's what happened on a wild night in the NBA.

Miami Heat 117, Boston Celtics 114 (OT)

Jimmy Butler made a huge three-point play with 12 seconds left and Bam Adebayo made a huge block on Jayson Tatum to give the Heat a victory in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs on Tuesday night.

In a great back-and-forth game all night, it was decided by Butler on one end, and Adebayo closing it out on the other.

"That's a winning play, putting your body on the line and rotating the way that he did. Heat guard Jimmy Butler: "We talk about it. We go through it over and over. Bam's been our savior on the end so many different times throughout the year."

The Heat are now 9-1 in the playoffs this season, sweeping the Indiana Pacers in the first round and then upsetting the No. 1-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. Now they seem ready to knock off the Celtics, too.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra always preaches defense, and he saw how it made a difference in Game 1, with Adebayo leading the way.

"Those are habits and instincts that he's willing to put himself out there,'' Spoelstra said. "That could be a poster dunk and a lot of people aren't willing to make that play and put themselves out there. Jayson Tatum is getting to the launching pad and he just made a big-time save for us. 

"Tatum did have an angle. It looked like he did have an open lane to the rim. Sometimes, when you have great competition like this, you just have to make plays. You can't even really explain it."

Indiana's Langford did not play. He only played seven minutes in the previous round and is out of the rotation for now as benches shrink with so much at stake.

Game 2 is Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET.

  • RELATED: Video breaking down who will win the Eastern Conference finals

Denver Nuggets 104, Los Angeles Clippers 89

The Denver Nuggets made NBA history Tuesday in eliminating the Los Angeles Clippers 104-89 in Game 7 of their fantastic second-round Western Conference playoff series.

The Nuggets, who had trailed the series 3-1 exactly as they had in the first round too against Utah, won their sixth straight elimination game, which tied and NBA record. The Clippers, who were considered by many to be the favorites to win the NBA title, are now going home after blowing double-digit leads in three straight games.

And the Nuggets, who were led by Jamal Murray's 40 points and Nikola Jokic's triple double, are moving along, bouncing back from an early 12-point deficit. Murray made six three-pointers and Jokic had a 16-point, 22-rebound, 13-assist night.

“A lot of times it’s about trust,'' said Murray, who became the first player to score 40 points or more in an elimination game during the same playoffs season. "Coach (Michael Malone) has given us a lot more trust to run the offense. As long as we play defense, we can do whatever we want on offense. 

"It’s all about trust. It’s fun to silence everyone talking negative about us.”

With the win, the Nuggets booked a date with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Fnals. Game 1 is Friday night. They've done it t he hard way, but they are getting used to it, making another great comeback.

And dating back to last year,  they've now played in four consecutive seven-games series.

“Our goal was never to get to a Game 7,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Our goal when we started this whole season was to win a championship, and as outrageous as that may sound for people outside of our group, we never lost sight of that.”

The Clippers fell apart in these final three games of the series, and they have no on to blame beyond their stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Both were awful in Game 7, Leonard, a two-time NBA finals MVP, was just 6-for-22 shooting and scored only 14 points and George was 4-for-16 shooting with only 10 points. 

“We start missing shots and you can see us trusting less and less and less,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.

Former Indiana star Noah Vonleh, who joined Denver earlier this year, did not dress for this game. He played three minutes in a first-round blowout by Utah, but that's been it. He is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year.

Video: Nuggets stun Clippers in Game 7.

Recent Indiana basketball stories

  • McSWAIN TO AUSTRIA: Former Hoosier Freddie McSwain Jr. has signed a deal to continue his professional career in Austria. CLICK HERE
  • ROBERT JOHNSON TALKS PRO CAREER: Former Indiana guard Robert Johnson caught up with Sports Illustrated to talk about his time at Indiana, his professional career and his passion for music. CLICK HERE
  • HOOSIERS IN NBA (Sept. 12): Eric Gordon and the Houston Rockets were eliminated in five games by the Los Angeles Lakers. Gordon was the top scorer in the playoffs among former Indiana players. CLICK HERE
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