Day 3 of the NBA Playoffs was fairly eventful. Let’s talk about it…
Toronto Raptors 104, Brooklyn Nets 99
Raptors leads series 2-0
The Nets managed to make this much more of a game than their previous outing. Brooklyn was in control for most of Game 2, even holding an 80-74 lead after three quarters. Unfortunately for them, they ran out of gas in the final frame, with the Raptors winning the fourth 30-19 and ultimately edging out the win.
Brooklyn’s inside-out game was deadly early on. The guards working with the ball up top, passing it to Jarrett Allen for the paint touch, allowing him to draw multiple bodies, then kicking it out to an open outside shooter was proving to be an effective formula. Meanwhile, Toronto found themselves both struggling from outside (25.7 percent from 3-point range on the afternoon) and forcing shots inside.
However, the Raptors figured something out heading into the fourth quarter, managing to blitz the paint and take the lead for good with 8:00 remaining. Toronto shot 47.4 percent on 2-pointers and 57.9 percent from the free throw line through the first three quarter. In the fourth, however, they shot 78.6 percent on 2’s and 88.9 percent from the line.
It’s going to take a lot to go right for Brooklyn to get a win in this series, but one facet that will definitely need to go right is paint protection for a full 48 minutes.
Utah Jazz 124, Denver Nuggets 105
Series tied 1-1
Well, that got out of hand quickly. Donovan Mitchell needed to put up an All-NBA performance to keep the Jazz competitive in Game 1. However, he got plenty of help in Game 2.
Utah sank 20 3-pointers on the afternoon, with 19 of them coming in the first three quarters. Mitchell went 6-of-7 from beyond the arc, Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson were both 4-of-9, Royce O’Neale hit three, and Juwan Morgan, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Georges Niang each hit one.
After Game 1, I was definitely wondering if Donovan had the help he needed to compete with the Nuggets. In this game he certainly did!
The funny thing is that Denver didn’t even play that bad, either! They did have turnover trouble in the first half, outfumbling Utah 8-3. But that was patched up by game’s end as the margin closed to 10-6. The Nuggets also shot well by normal standards, finishing with a .457/.481/.783 shooting split. The Jazz just had the hotter hand! Not much more Denver can do but fight again on Friday and hope Utah has cooled down by that point.
Boston Celtics 128, Philadelphia 76ers 101
Celtics lead series 2-0
It was good until it wasn’t. The 76ers led the Celtics 33-27 at the end of the first quarter. Joel Embiid led the charge with 15 points on 6-of-9 field goal shooting, and Shake Milton followed him up with seven points on 3-of-3 shooting.
Then the bottom fell out. Boston outscored Philadelphia 101-68 over the latter three quarters. Embiid had 19 points in that span, but went 5-of-12 from the field. The Sixers shot a putrid 38.1 percent inside the arc and 20.0 percent from beyond it. It was ugly.
Tobias Harris went 4-of-15 on the evening, Al Horford had just four points. With Ben Simmons out, this is supposed to be their times to shine. Unfortunately for Philly, one man fell short and the other barely showed up at all. The 76ers offense is in trouble. They have to figure out something fast or else they’ll be heading home on Sunday after getting swept.
Dallas Mavericks 127, Los Angeles Clippers 114
Series tied 1-1
Kristaps Porzingis avoided getting ejected in this game and Luka Doncic had just one turnover instead of 11, so Game 2 was already a marked improvement for Dallas over Game 1. But on top of that, the Mavericks also shot 52.0 percent from 3-point range through the first three quarters (44.8 percent on the night after going 0-of-4 in the fourth) and scored 19 points off of 15 Clippers turnovers.
I’m honestly not surprised by the Mavs’ performance tonight. This is the greatest offense in NBA history, so they were due for nights like these in this series. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if they had at least one more of these up their sleeve within the next few games. It’s only a matter of if the opponent can keep up.
On this night, the Clippers certainly could not. LA never held a lead in this game, though they were threatening at points in the third quarter. They finished the night with a .440/.294/.769 shooting split, and had the aforementioned 15 turnovers while only forcing Dallas to commit nine.
Paul George had a very rough night in particular, going 4-of-17 from the field. I contend that the Clippers have the pieces to tame the Mavericks’ offense. But if the second star isn’t hitting his shots, and the opponent is hitting everything, there’s not much the Clippers can do on that night.