Toronto 98 – Orlando 93 (Raptors lead series 2-1)
Pascal Siakam could not be stopped during the Raptors’ Game 3 win in Orlando, popping off for 30 points, 11 rebounds, three 3-pointers, four assists and zero turnovers through 42 minutes of floor time. Siakam was phenomenal from start to finish, helping the Raptors open the game with a 10-0 run, and after not hitting a single 3-pointer through the first two games of the series – he went 3-of-4 from 3-point range. He got his points with absurd efficiency, constantly killing the Magic with his jump hook, and he finished 13-of-20 from the field and 1-of-1 from the stripe to give him a sterling 73.4 true shooting percentage. He was easily the best player on the floor for Toronto in this one, and he became the first Raptor since Chris Bosh to came through with a 30-point, 10-rebound, zero-turnover effort during a playoff game. Siakam’s meteoric rise this season has been one of my favorite stories, and I think it's absolutely ridiculous people aren't talking about him as the unanimous pick for the Most Improved Player award this season.
Kyle Lowry was a bit too passive, going just 1-of-4 from the field through the first half of action (with zero FGAs through the second quarter), but he did do a nice job of running the offense and ended his evening with 12 points, 10 assists, five rebounds, two 3-pointers, one steal, one block and three turnovers in 40 minutes.
Kawhi Leonard didn’t have a great game, going just 5-of-19 from the field and 6-of-7 from the stripe on his way to 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and an unfortunate six turnovers in 37 minutes. Nick Nurse revealed after the game that Leonard had been too ill to practice in the two days leading up to Game 3, and he was clearly less than 100% during Friday’s game. He’ll have another day to rest up ahead of Game 4, but an illness shouldn’t be anything that forces him to miss any postseason games.
Nikola Vucevic finally had a solid outing, posting a 22-point, 14-rebound double-double to go with six assists, two triples, one steal and three swats over 39 minutes, but he also committed five turnovers while he was out there. Vucevic got off to another rough start, finishing the first half with just four points on 2-of-5 shooting, but did a much better job of getting deep position in the post and being aggressive with his shot through the second half of action. He was particularly dominant during the third quarter, scoring 14 of his 22 points on 4-of-7 shooting (4-of-4 from the line), and some of that had to do with the fact that he got Marc Gasol in foul trouble and forced the Spanish big man to the bench. Unfortunately, the Magic didn’t get much outside of Vucevic and Terrence Ross (24 points, five triples, three rebounds, one assist, two steals, one turnover), and I’m not confident they’ll be able to pull out another win during this first-round series.
Evan Fournier was particularly awful, bricking his first nine shots in a 1-of-12 shooting performance, and he finished with just seven points, two rebounds, one 3-pointer, one assist, two steals and two turnovers across 37 minutes. If Don’t Google is a focal point of your offense, you’re simply not going to win many postseason games.
Boston 104 – Indiana 96 (Celtics lead series 3-0)
Jaylen Brown hit 8-of-9 shots on his way to a game-high 23 points during a gritty Game 3 win over the Pacers, adding four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, one assist, one block and two turnovers in 35 minutes. Brown’s only miss came on a desperation heave with the shot clock winding down late in the fourth, so he was basically perfect for most of the game, and he also did an excellent job of locking up Bojan Bogdanovic on the other end of the floor.
Kyrie Irving didn’t have his most efficient performance, going 7-of-19 from the field, but he hit some clutch shots down the stretch and finished with 19 points, three 3-pointers, five rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers across 37 minutes. Al Horford ended his evening with 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three triples, one steal, one block and two turnovers; and Jayson Tatum came through with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one 3-pointer, two assists, one steal and two turnovers. The Celtics are simply too talented for this Pacers’ team, and they shouldn’t have much trouble finishing off the sweep on Sunday.
Tyreke Evans led all Pacers scorers with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-4 from the stripe) to go with four 3-pointers, two rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 22 minutes off the bench. It was a solid effort from Evans, and he’s played well in two out of the three games thus far, but when 19 points account for a team-high and it comes from a guy off your bench; that’s usually not a great sign.
Bojan Bogdanovic continued to struggle, hitting 6-of-17 shots on his way to 15 points, two 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and one turnover in 40 minutes. He shot a career-high 49.7% from the field this season, but he’s seriously struggled through the first three games of this series with Jaylen Brown draped all over him, connecting on just 38.8% of his shot attempts. Domantas Sabonis replaced Bogdanovic in the starting unit after halftime, so it’ll be interesting to see if he remains a starter for a win-or-go-home Game 4 on Sunday.
While this Pacers team is a solid defensive squad, they lack a guy who can go and create when a play breaks down, which results in them going through these lengthy, scoreless stretches. The third quarter was particularly bad for them on Friday, as they were held to just 12 points on 22% shooting (1-of-9 from 3-point range), and they can’t have those sorts of lapses if they hope to have any chance of pulling out a win for the home crowd on Sunday.
Oklahoma City 120 – Portland 108 (Trail Blazers lead series 2-1)
Russell Westbrook powered the Thunder to a crucial Game 3 win over the Trail Blazers on Friday, tallying 33 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, four 3-pointers, one block, and five turnovers through 38 minutes of floor time. After hitting just 5-of-20 of his shots attempts during what Westbrook described as an “unacceptable” Game 2 performance, Russ finished 11-of-22 from the field (4-of-6 from 3-point range) and 7-of-8 from the charity stripe for an impressive 64.7 true shooting percentage. He was all over the place on both ends of the floor, hit numerous clutch shots down the stretch, and had a fun back-and-forth going with Damian Lillard that involved assertions of Dame potentially being “too small.”
Paul George had another rough shooting performance, going just 3-of-16 from the field, but he did a nice job of getting to the line (14-of-17) and finished with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, two triples, one steal and two turnovers in 42 minutes. It’s undeniable that PG-13 has struggled on the offensive end through this first-round series, some of that has to do with Moe Harkless, but he’s also been missing quite a few layups and open shots. It’s tough to tell if his shoulder is still bothering him, but it’s clear he won’t be taking any time off, and his work on the defensive side of the ball has remained phenomenal.
Jerami Grant only missed once on his way to 18 points (6-of-7 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), four 3-pointers, two rebounds, one assist, two blocks and zero turnovers in 33 minutes. He hadn’t done much through the first two games of the series, but he scored the first three points of the game for OKC in this one and did a nice job of picking his spots in the offense. Dennis Schroder was also solid, contributing 17 points, two 3-pointers, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and one turnover in 32 minutes off the bench. The Thunder had hit a total of 10 3-pointers through the first two games of this series, but they knocked down a playoff-franchise-high tying 15 triples during the Game 3 win.
Damian Lillard started slow, finishing the first half of action with just four points on 2-of-6 shooting, but after receiving the rocking the baby taunt via Russell Westbrook he exploded for 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting through the third quarter of action while holding Russ to eight points on 2-of-6 shooting. Lillard ended his evening with 32 points, three 3-pointers, four rebounds, six assists, two steals and four turnovers, but aside from C.J. McCollum (21 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, five triples, one steal, three turnovers) and Enes Kanter (19 points, five rebounds, one assist and one turnover), he didn’t get much help from his teammates. For what it’s worth, Lillard did appear to get cracked in the mid-section (potentially the ribs) early in the game and he was in a decent amount of pain, but after a quick check up on the bench (without a trip to the locker room) he got right back out there and wound up logging 37 minutes; which would suggest he’s fine.
Unfortunately for Portland, their bench was a complete non-factor with Seth Curry, Evan Turner and Rodney Hood combining for six points on 1-of-6 shooting. The second unit will need to be better for Portland to have a chance during Game 4 on Sunday.
Joel Embiid (knee) is being listed as doubtful for Saturday’s Game 4 in Brooklyn. If he’s forced to miss another game, Greg Monroe would be in line for another start with Boban Marjanovic seeing extended minutes with the second unit.
Blake Griffin (knee) is being listed as questionable for Saturday’s Game 3 vs. Milwaukee. If he’s out again, Thon Maker will be looking at another start with Andre Drummond getting all the run he can handle.
Tony Snell (ankle) is not being listed on the injury report for Game 3 on Saturday.