July 24, 2021

NBA Playoff Notebook: August 17, 2020

The NBA Playoffs have officially begun inside the Bubble! Here are my thoughts on Day 1 of postseason action!

It has been a long time coming, but the NBA Playoffs are finally here! The conditions these 16 teams will be competing under are unlike anything we’ve seen in NBA history, but the players will still be putting it all out on the floor as if it were any other year.

There were a lot of highs and lows during Day 1. Here are my thoughts on each game. What was your top or worst moment from the four-game slate? Let me know in the comments!

Denver Nuggets 135, Utah Jazz 125 (OT)

Nuggets lead series 1-0


Wow, what an epic battle! In the end, however, the Nuggets had just a little more juice than the Jazz and the overtime victory gives them the 1-0 series lead.

It really came down to Donovan Mitchell vs. Jamal Murray and whose two-man game would flinch first. Utah needed every bit of Spida’s 57 points to stay afloat, and Murray & Nikola Jokic were just clicking (combined 67 points). But the Nuggets, specifically Murray, found an extra gear in overtime and were able to pull away.

Mitchell’s performance was amazing to watch. It got to a point where it seemed he knew exactly what he wanted to do every time he came up the floor, and on this afternoon, he did whatever he wanted. Nothing could stop him from accomplishing his plans. Life goals.

Donovan Mitchell’s 57 is the third-highest scoring total in a playoff game. It’s the second-highest in a loss, behind Michael Jordan’s 63 in 1986.

Toronto Raptors 134, Brooklyn Nets 110

Raptors lead series 1-0


I’m not gonna lie, I took a nap during this game. It just got out of hand much too early. Toronto led by 33 points (68-35!) with 4:42 left in the second quarter!

Now, of course, just because the Nets were outmatched doesn’t mean they were going to give in. Brooklyn has been the surprise of the Bubble, earning a 5-3 record despite having eight players opt out of the Restart for various reasons. So you know they were going to try to make at least one big charge before the game was out.

A 47-22 surge helped bring Brooklyn within eight points (90-82) with 2:06 in the third quarter. However, the Raptors found a way to put their foot back on the gas pedal, using a 44-28 run to cruise to the finish line.

I honestly expect the rest of the series to go like this. The Raptors just have more firepower, but the Nets aren’t going to go down easy. Still, this thing is over in four.

Boston Celtics 109, Philadelphia 76ers 101

Celtics lead series 1-0


I feel so disappointed every time I watch the 76ers play. It always feels like they could be doing more or better than the actual result. Brett Brown‘s coaching is stagnant, Joel Embiid isn’t always as dominant as you want him to be, and his teammates are too inconsistent to keep the team afloat.

That was apparent in this game. Embiid started the game 5-of-5 from the field, then petered out and went 3-of-10 the rest of the way. Role players such as Josh Richardson, Alec Burks, Tobias Harris, and Matisse Thybulle made some great plays throughout, but the team still committed 13 turnovers in the first half.

I’m always left wanting anytime I watch the Sixers. I don’t what needs to give first to unlock this team’s potential, but it needs to happen soon.

Boston looked pretty good most of the way. The ball was moving around, the defense was swarming, they looked like the better team most of the way. However, there were stretches weren’t the shots went cold. I feel like their inconsistent shooting touch is going to play a major part in their playoff run, however long it goes.

Jayson Tatum was phenomenal, of course: 32 points, 13 rebounds. He was lobbying for calls and talking with the refs a little too much for my liking during the game, but that didn’t seem to hinder him from putting up some strong numbers.

Gordon Hayward hurt his right ankle late in the game. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe indicated he left the arena in crutches. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and he’ll be back to playing soon.

Los Angeles Clippers 118, Dallas Mavericks 110

Clippers lead series 1-0


Oh, what a roller coaster this was! The Clippers jumped out to an 18-2 lead, only for the Mavs to answer back with a 20-4 run of their own. Then, Dallas went on a 23-9 run to go up 14 points, completing a 48-18 turnaround! But then LA turned the tables again and went on a 21-7 run to tie things back up at 57!

Things stabilized in the Runs Department, but the game was still pretty chaotic. In the third quarter, Kristaps Porzingis was ejected for his second technical foul after stepping into an altercation between Luka Doncic and Marcus Morris. He received his first one in the second quarter simply for flailing his right arm in frustration at the call.

Both technical fouls were soft and should not have been called. Of course, with how authority works in this country, the arbiters always see themselves as right above all else. So expect to see the type of over-officiating we saw in this game continue throughout the playoffs. Or, if the NBA actually cared about their product (it’s hard to tell from week-to-week), they need to take Kane Fitzgerald out of the playoff rotation immediately. But they won’t, so whatever.

Anyways, this game also marked the postseason debuts for Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and their uneven play made that clear. Luka had 11 turnovers, including seven in the first half and five in the first quarter. Kristaps, who averaged 30.5 points per game in the reseeding round, finished with 14 points on 3-of-9 shooting and got ejected.

Doncic, however, still managed to have a good night. He finished the night with 42 points, nine assists, and three steals. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite enough to keep up with the Clips.

Speaking of, the Clippers had their moments of dissonance. This marked the first time this team has been at full strength in quite awhile, so there was some uneven play for portions of this game. However, LA is such a veteran-saavy team, that they ultimately found a way to grind through and eventually get enough breathing room to coast to victory.

Here’s hoping that Game 2 is just as crazy and competitive, but far less controlled by officiating, than Game 1!