After a tumultuous day for the favourites yesterday, the NBA Playoff matchups went all chalk today, with all the higher seeds picking up victories in their respective game 1s.
Also unlike yesterday, it feels like we learned a-lot about how all four series are likely going to shake out going forward. While it remains unclear what to make of the day 1 results (other than the fact that Golden State will probably sweep the Clippers), day 2 has provided a little more clarity on what to pay attention to in each series.
Or at least tell us that some teams have no chance to win.
Boston Celtics (1-0) vs Indiana Pacers (0-1): 84 to 78
Boy would this series be fun if Oladipo was playing.
If I didn’t know better, I would think the score from this game was a Hardwood Classics game on NBA TV from the 90s. Alas, it is not, and we were saddled with what could be generously regarded as a ‘defensive war’.
The Celtics shot only 36% against a Pacers team who shot an even more woeful 33%. The Celtics in this case are lucky that their defence was able to dominate the way that they were in the third quarter to build their lead behind a 26-8 run.
Kyire was able to get his though, pouring in 20 points on 6/17 shooting along with 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Marcus Morris was also able to put in 20 on 5/12 shooting with 7 rebounds off the bench.
But again, nothing offensively to write home about, today was about the defence.
As noted the Celtics were able to choke the life out of the Pacers despite their own shooting woes, with the Pacers highest scorer only putting up 14 (Corey Joseph).
This was a performance that would make Marcus Smart smile, but was rough to watch for the rest of us.
Next game @ Celtics: Thursday (18/4) at 9am AEST
Milwaukee Bucks (1-0) vs Detroit Pistons (0-1): 121 to 86
Boy this game would be fun if Griffin was playing…well maybe not but at least we’d get to see playoff Blake while Giannis punishes this Pistons team for daring to show up.
I can’t summarise this game as well as Ginnais highlights do so heres the timeline.
A little bit of this to start the game:
A little bit of that in the second quarter:
The most casual looking free throw line dunk you’ve ever seen in the third quarter:
And then this later in the third to really let it sink in that Detroit are really not supposed to be on the same court as this team:
I hope this is a quick death for the Pistons.
Next game @ Bucks: Thursday (18/4) at 10am AEST
Houston Rockets (1-0) vs Utah Jazz (0-1): 122 to 90
It was a tough day at the office for anyone facing an MVP candidate today.
Harden was his usual self, posting a casual 29-10-8 on 11/26 and 4/10 shooting from three. Stellar performances from Capela (16 and 12 boards), Gordon (17 on 5/10 shooting), CP3 (14 and 7 assists) and Tucker (defensive effort and putting up 11 on 4/8 shooting) made life very difficult for the Jazz.
Houston are a team that is very difficult to stop if they’re humming offensively like they were today, meaning that teams who look to knock them off will need to match or be close to matching that offensive output.
This is the problem for Utah: they can’t match that amount of output.
A 20 and 12 performance from Gobert and Donovan Mitchell 19 points on 7/18 shooting won’t be enough to keep this series terribly competitive. If Utah want to make this a series, they will need to limit Harden further than they did today and get great/efficient offensive performances from their Mitchell/Gobert/Ingles three man combination.
Game 2 is usually the road game underdog teams like to steal in a series and I won’t say the series is over like the Bucks/Pistons series, but it doesn’t look good for Utah if they have another game like this in Houston.
Next game @ Rockets: Thursday (18/4) at 11:30am AEST
Portland Trailblazers (1-0) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (0-1): 104-99
Boy this series is gonna be great.
Today’s action from Portland was by far the game of the day. A battle between two balanced but flawed playoff teams with a tonne of doubters to prove wrong and a lot of superstar legacy implications.
However no one had more to prove than the player of the game: Enes Kanter.
Commonly regarded as ‘Can’t Play Kanter’ after this happened a few years ago, Enes proved to be the diffenece maker in a very close game 1 today. Kanter posted a 20 and 18 on 8/15 shooting with 2 blocks and a +15 plus/minis (the highest of any player in this game).
While Lillard (30-4-4) and McCollum (24-6-3) did what they have been doing for the last couple of seasons for the Trailblazers, Kanter was able to provide a much needed X-Factor performance that has been lacking over the last few seasons for Portland.
It’s also telling that the stars for OKC didn’t have sloppy games either, with George posting a 26 and 10 on 8/24 shooting and Westbrook having a 24-10-10 triple double on 8/17 shooting.
Today really was an impressive performance from the Blazers, however there are questions as to whether or not it is a sustainable one. Adams is one of the best defensive big men in the league, who able to wear down even the best of big man resolves.
So if I’m pressed to prediction, it certainly wouldn’t be that Kanter can sustain the same performance he put forward today, particularly if Oklahoma City find a way to effectively isolate Kanter on defence and attack him or if the Thunder go smaller and faster to run him off the floor.
However if Kanter can be a plus defender and continue to dominate the boards on the offensive end, then Portland have a very good chance to go thorough to the first round.
This series is far from over and is my favourite to go the full seven games, so it will be interesting to see what adjustments are made for game 2.
Next game @ Blazers: Wednesday (17/4) at 12:30pm AEST