Today we had two blow-outs and a crazy Jamal Murray fourth quarter to let all the better seeded teams win on a three-game playoff slate.
Even with a big blowout day, there was a lot of great NBA action.
Orlando Magic (1-1) v Toronto Raptors (1-1): 82 to 111
Photo by Toronto Raptors
If you were worried about Toronto after a game one loss to the Magic, well then shame on you.
If you thought the Magic were going to win this series, well you were delusional but still shame on you.
If you thought Kyle Lowry was back to his invisible playoff mode ways, well then shame on you.
Toronto in Game two looked like the Eastern Championship contender that we know and love. The finest of defence, incredible offensive performances from their starting five (Minus Danny Green and replace with Serge Ibaka) and Kyle Lowry’s resurgence.
Let’s start off with the man of the hour: Kyle Lowry. After scoring literally 0 points in Game one, he came back with the ferocity that we used to see when he was an All-Star and Superstar.
He had 22 points from 8-13, 7 assists, 2 steals and even a goddamn block! To quote Raptors Coach Nick Nurse: “He was doing it all”. He abused mismatches and consistently drove hard to the basket. More importantly he finally got open looks and took around 7 uncontested shots!
Did I mention that their other superstar: Kawhi Leonard was also on fire the entire game? He 37 points from 15-22 shooting. With all cylinders firing, the Raptors are one of the deepest and strongest teams in the NBA and if they keep playing like this, they could really make a very very deep run in these playoffs.
A quick note on the Magic, this wasn’t their fault. They have no superstar, Steve Clifford can only coach so much and despite a great night from Aaron Gordon (8-12 for 20 points), the Magic do not have the fire power to take on this team, especially when Vucevic has disappeared and been shut down by the Raptors in the first two games of this series.
It will be exciting to see the Magic in front of a wild home crowd, who knows…. They may even steal another game…
Next game @ Magic: Saturday (20/4) at 9am AEST
San Antonio Spurs (1-1) v Denver Nuggets (1-1): 105 to 114
All I can say is… All hail Jamal Murray.
After scoring three points the entire game, Jamal Murray went crazy in the fourth scoring 21 of his 24 points in the final period, helping the Nuggets to finish a 55-27 run to bury the Spurs.
But how did this happen? How did the Spurs after having a great game drop a 19-point margin?
Michael Malone, coach of the Denver Nuggets, said that halfway through the third, he did his best Bugs Bunny impression and rallied the troops. He said: Look at those Clippers and what they did, we are as tough as them.
And guess what, he was right.
Nikola Jokic shot more: 7-15 with 21 points, with another near triple double, all the other starters bar Will Barton had 20 points or more and the Nuggets only had 5 turnovers the whole game. This was a game they needed to win and really helped to keep their season alive.
Turning to the Spurs, whilst coach Pop may have been fuming after this game (and rightly so), the Spurs didn’t actually have such a terrible night. DeMar DeRozan had a great night with 31 points (11-19 shooting), 7 rebounds and two steals, Derrick White had another phenomenal game with 7-11 shooting and 17 points. LaMarcus even played decently putting up 24 points. The Spurs bench wasn’t great, but credit has to go the Nuggets, they couldn’t stop Murray in the fourth and had no answer to the Nuggets insane comeback.
This series is definitely wide open and will be interesting to see how the Spurs fair at home next game.
Next Game @ Spurs: Friday (4/19) at 11am AEST
Oklahoma City Thunder (0-2) v Portland Trailblazers (2-0): 94 to 114
Photo by Portland Trailblazers
Two important things about this game:
Russell Westbrook really can’t shoot, and the Trailblazers are really good
I have to say I did not believe Portland had any real chance of winning this series, but after watching this game yesterday I would say that not only do they have a chance but really, they should win this series.
This game was tied at half time 54-54, but in the second half CJ caught fire and Portland’s defence just took over.
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were fantastic offensively with 29 and 33 respectively. They also each had buzzer beaters to beat the halftime and third quarter buzzer. The issue with OKC’s defence is they kept switching on the pick and roll, so you ended up with Steven “Aquaman” Adams trying to guard CJ or Dame, and this never ended well.
What I really liked about Portland was their hustle in the second half especially, every play Portland swarmed the OKC defence, with blocks, steals and tips galore.
Looking at OKC, Paul George had a pretty decent game with 27 points from 11-20 shooting but OKC still faces the same problem as in Game 1: they cannot shoot from three-point land. They were a combined 5-28 (after 5-33 in Game 1).
Most importantly they just don’t have any offensive depth, after their primary scorer in George you have Westbrick who was 5-20 for 14 points and then Adams as the only other player on the OKC roster with a double-digit scoring night. This is just not acceptable in the playoffs.
OKC need George’s shoulder to get back to 100%, Schroder to start hitting threes, Westbrook to stop shooting and offensive support from somewhere (I’ll even take some from Raymond Felton, I don’t care, anyone will do), if they want any chance of coming back and winning this series.
Next Game @ OKC: Saturday (20/4) at 11:30am AEST