July 24, 2021

NBA Playoff Notebook: August 24, 2020

It’s the final day of quadruple-header hoops. Here are my thoughts on the full slate of NBA action!

It has been fun, friends, but with the Celtics and Raptors advancing yesterday and the Heat advancing today, this was our final day of quadruple-header basketball. Wall-to-wall hoops is always a blessing, but all good things must come to an end.

What was your favorite moment from this action-packed day? Let me know in the comments!

Milwaukee Bucks 121, Orlando Magic 106

Bucks lead series 3-1


The Orlando Magic put up a valiant effort in Game 4 but eventually the Bucks managed to pull away and secure a 3-1 lead in this series. It was only an 84-81 Bucks lead after three quarters, but they managed to put it into another gear by outscoring the Magic 37-25 in the final frame.

Khris Middleton led that charge. He only had three points on 1-of-9 shooting heading into the fourth, but he finally found his shot in the period and played much more aggressively. He racked up 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting in the quarter — including 3-of-3 from 3-point range — and went 3-of-5 from the free throw line. As evidenced by the margin before he got going and after, Middleton is the key between Milwaukee being a good team and a great team.

Overall, Milwaukee was able to maintain some control for most of the game thanks to their dominance in the paint. The Bucks outscored the Magic 42-20 in the key and 17-3 on second chance points.

Giannis Antetokounmpo once again led the Bucks with 31 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists. Both players held their respective team highs in those stat categories.

Oklahoma City Thunder 117, Houston Rockets 114

Series tied 2-2


Live by the three, die by the three. That’s basically how the Houston Rockets have operated since 2012. Their reliance on the 3-point shot has brought them great success, but it can also fail them on occasion. Game 4 was one of those occasions.

Houston has never been more fearless with their 3-point shooting than they have been in the Bubble, and this afternoon was no exception. The 58 3-point attempts they put up in this game are a new NBA playoff record, besting the record they just set in Game 2.

In fact, like a Myspace friends list, all four of their long range shooting performances in this series are in the Top 8 of NBA Playoff lore. Game 1 (52) is tied for third all-time, Game 2 (56) is now the second-most, Game 3 (50) is in a four-way tie for sixth, and Game 4 (58) is your new playoff record! And who’s to say they won’t shatter this personal best before their postseason run is over?

The high volume of shots served the Rockets well for a good chunk of the game. They went 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) in the first half and started the second half 8-of-8. That second half surge boosted them to a 26-11 run that made it 86-71 with 6:19 left in the third quarter.

Then the power went out. Houston would go on to shoot 5-of-26 (19.2 percent) from beyond the arc in the final 18 minutes of the game. This allowed Oklahoma City to close out the game on a 46-28 rally.

Honestly, this was bound to happen for Houston. When you put up as many shots as they do, the streaks come and go. This cold streak just occurred at an inopportune time for them.

For Oklahoma City, the key is to keep capitalizing on those cold streaks and make sure their triumvirate of guards (Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder) are producing. In Game 3, they combined for 78 points. Today, they went for 74 points: Schroder led with 30, Paul had 26, and SGA had 18.

Miami Heat 99, Indiana Pacers 87

Heat win series 4-0


Holding a team to 99 points is commendable in the high-scoring atmosphere of the Bubble. However, if you only score 87 points in return, it doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.

I had been urging the Pacers’ stars to step up in this series, and they did just that in Game 4. Victor Oladipo (25 points), Myles Turner (22 points), and T.J. Warren (21 points) combined for 68 points. The problem for Indiana was that everyone else failed to show up in this elimination game.

Malcolm Brogdon struggled his way to 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting, while Justin Holiday (rounding out the starters) and Doug McDermott had three points each. That’s it, that’s the list. The Pacers’ bench scored just three points (McDermott’s three) on 1-of-7 shooting for the entire game!!

Miami, meanwhile, had a much more even distribution of scoring: 58 points for the starters, 41 from the bench. Goran Dragic led the way with 23 points, 20 of which came in the second half. Tyler Herro led the bench with 16 points. Bam Adebayo also had a monster evening with 14 points, 19 rebounds, and six assists.

The Heat just let us know for four straight games that they are a well-oiled machine. Assuming the Bucks finish off Orlando, Milwaukee-Miami is shaping up to be a good semifinals series. However, if Khris Middleton doesn’t find his consistency, the Heat could be poised to pull off an upset.

Los Angeles Lakers 135, Portland Trail Blazers 115

Lakers lead series 3-1


This is how I wanted the Lakers to play as soon as they arrived in the Bubble: outright obliterating their opponents. But I guess they really did need some time to warm up, because after a 3-5 reseeding round and a Game 1 loss, this team has very much found their groove.

This game was over almost immediately, as LA jumped out to a 15-0 lead. In a serendipitous memorial to the late Kobe Bryant, the Lakers led 24-8 with 4:19 left in the first quarter. They led 43-25 after the opening frame and 80-51 at the half.

The Lakers reached 100 points with 3:11 left in the third quarter, while the Blazers would need another eight minutes to hit the century mark at 7:10 in the fourth. Los Angeles led by as many as 38 points and never trailed in this game. LeBron James led the way with 30 points (on 10-of-12 shooting, 4-of-5 from 3-point range) and 10 assists, needing only 28 minutes to accomplish his statline.

To make matters worse for Portland, Damian Lillard left the game midway through the third quarter with a right knee injury. The first MRI he got was inconclusive, so he will get a second one on Tuesday. If Dame misses Game 5, it is almost certainly a wrap for the Trail Blazers.