Brooklyn 111 – Philly 102
D’Angelo Russell helped the Nets steal away home-court advantage from the No. 3 seeded 76ers during Saturday’s Game 1 win in Philly, scoring a team-high 26 points on 10-of-25 shooting (4-of-5 from the stripe) to go with two 3-pointers, three rebounds, four assists, one steal and four turnovers in 29 minutes. Russell struggled mightily through the first half of action, settling for a lot of tightly contested fade-away jumpers on his way to just seven points on 2-of-11 shooting, but he completely turned it around after halftime and was excellent through the third quarter of action with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.
It was a total team effort by Brooklyn in the win, and their bench mob absolutely destroyed Philly’s second unit with Caris LeVert coming through with 23 points (8-of-18 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), four rebounds, three triples, two assists, one steal, one block and zero turnovers in 23 minutes; and Spencer Dinwiddie finishing with 18 points (6-of-14 FGs, 4-of-5 FTs), two 3-pointers, three rebounds, one assist and one turnover in 32 minutes. Ed Davis was also phenomenal, contributing 12 points, 16 rebounds and two assists in 25 minutes with the second unit.
The only real negative for the Nets was Jarrett Allen, who was limited to just 10 minutes of floor time due to foul trouble, and he ended his evening with just two points, five boards, one assist, one block and one turnover to his credit. Joel Embiid is going to be a problem for the second-year center, but he basically has nowhere to go but up from here.
Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 36 points on 11-of-22 shooting, to go with nine rebounds, two steals and two blocks through 39 minutes of floor time, but he also failed to dish out a single assist while also committing two turnovers. Butler did do a nice job of creating contact and getting to the stripe, finishing 13-of-15 from the line for a sterling 62.9 true shooting percentage to accompany his 33.0 usage rate, but he also didn’t really look to get his teammates involves and the 76ers reverted to playing a lot of iso-ball.
Joel Embiid labored through his left knee issue and finished with 22 points (5-of-15 FGs, 12-of-18 FTs), 15 rebounds, four assists, five swats and three turnovers across 24 minutes. He clearly wasn’t 100%, and will likely be a game-time call on Monday for Game 2, but I’d expect him to continue to fight through the pain. On another note, Embiid was caught looking at Amir Johnson’s cell phone while on the bench, which will result in either a hefty fine or suspension. Embiid said that Johnson’s daughter was very sick, and they were checking up on her, so I wouldn’t expect a suspension here; but he will likely be losing roughly the same amount of money that most people make in an entire year.
Tobias Harris (four points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal) and Ben Simmons (nine points, seven boards, three dimes, one steal, three blocks, three turnovers0 were nearly invisible; and J.J. Redick (five points, one rebound, one 3-pointer) was seriously limited by foul trouble. As a team, the 76ers couldn’t get anything to fall from 3-point range, going 3-of-25 from beyond the arc, and really the only positive takeaway in the blowout loss was they won the battle of the boards with 50 team-rebounds.
While I wouldn’t overreact to one game, I do think the Nets have the potential to upset Philly in this first-round series; particularly if Embiid can’t get himself healthy. If the 76ers drop Game 2, Philly fans would be right to begin forcefully hammering away at the panic button.
Orlando 104 – Toronto 101
D.J. Augustin led the Magic to an upset, Game 1 win over the No. 2 seeded Raptors on Saturday, scoring a team-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting (3-of-4 from the stripe) to go with four triples, six assists, two rebounds, one steal and one turnover across 30 minutes. DJA did an excellent job of shutting down Kyle Lowry on defense, and he came through with some clutch buckets down the stretch, including a game-winning trey-bomb with 3.4 seconds left. Augustin’s average usage rate during the season was 16.7, but he saw that spike to 24.2 on Saturday, so it looks like he’ll be more involved in the offense during the postseason.
While DJA crushed it, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic had a tough time getting going, with Gordon finishing with 10 points (3-of-10 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), 10 rebounds, three assists, two 3-pointers, three steals and two turnovers in 34 minutes; and Vooch ending his evening with 11 points (3-of-14 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), eight rebounds, three assists, one 3-pointer, one block and one turnover in 33 minutes. The Magic can’t expect to win this series if AG and Vucevic continue to struggle, so Steve Clifford is going to need to figure out how to get these guys better looks in Game 2.
Michael Carter-Williams broke his nose, but he’ll be fitted for a mask and should be fine for Tuesday’s Game 2.
Kyle Lowry was essentially thee reason that the Raptors lost on Saturday, as he missed all seven of his shot attempts and both of his freebies over 34 scoreless minutes to go with seven rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two turnovers. If he would have hit his averages, this would have been an easy win for Toronto, but I’d expect him to bounce-back for Tuesday’s Game 2.
As for the rest of the Raptors, they were solid. Marc Gasol (13 points, six boards, two 3-pointers, four assists), Kawhi Leonard (25 points, six boards, three treys, three dimes, four turnovers) and Danny Green (13 points, three triples, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, two turnovers) played some lockdown defense, while Pascal Siakam ran the show on offense, tallying 24 points, nine rebounds, four dimes, one steal, two swats and one turnover through 42 minutes of floor time.
For what it’s worth, the Raptors now own a 2-14 record in Game 1s, which is the second worst record by any team in NBA history.
Golden State 121, L.A. Clippers 104
Stephen Curry passed up Ray Allen (385) to become the all-time leader in postseason 3-pointers (386) during Saturday’s easy Game 1 win over the Clippers, banging in nine trey-bombs on his way to 38 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, one block and four turnovers through 37 minutes of action. As per usual, Curry got his points with remarkable efficiency, going 11-of-16 from the field, 8-of-12 from 3-point range and 8-of-9 from the charity stripe for an absurd 95.2 true shooting percentage and the 15 boards also accounted for a career-high.
Kevin Durant put in an easy 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting (6-of-6 from the line) to go with one 3-pointer, four rebounds, three assists, one steal, three swats and three turnovers in 32 minutes. KD did an excellent job of making life difficult for Danilo Gallinari, but he was frustrated by Patrick Beverley and was eventually ejected (alongside Beverley) during the final frame of action. Durant simply exchanged some words with Beverley, so this isn’t anything that should result in a suspension, but maybe his wallet takes a hit.
Draymond Green was a force to be reckoned with during the 17-point win, racking up 17 points (7-of-12 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), seven rebounds, seven assists, two triples, one steal, one block and six turnovers across 35 minutes. The Clippers were sagging way off Green, but he made them pay dearly and was barking at Doc Rivers after each made 3. In his four games against the Clippers this season, Green posted averages of 9.3 points, 9.0 boards, 6.3 dimes, 3.8 steals and 1.3 swats per contest, so he’s going to be a problem for Los Angeles.
DeMarcus Cousins fouled out in just 21 minutes of floor time during his postseason debut, hitting 4-of-12 shots on his way to nine points, nine rebounds, four assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and six turnovers before fouling out in just 21 minutes of play. Klay Thompson also didn’t have his best game, going 5-of-14 from the field on his way to 12 points, one 3-pointer, one rebound, two assists, one steal and two blocks over 37 minutes. However, it didn’t really matter that these two struggled, because Golden State is simply far too talented and they should easily get out of the first round series in four games.
Lou Williams did his thing, scoring 25 points on 11-of-21 shooting (2-of-2 from the stripe) to go with three rebounds, nine assists, one 3-pointer, one steal and two turnovers in 32 minutes off the bench. He had a nice two-man game going with Montrezl Harrell, who finished with 26 points (11-of-15 FGs, 4-of-8 FTs), five boards, two assists, two steals, two swats and one turnover in 30 minutes, but the Warriors defense (and the lack of offensive options in Los Angeles) was simply too much to overcome for the Clippers.
Danilo Gallinari had a forgettable game, going 4-of-14 from the field and 4-of-4 from the line on his way to 15 points, eight rebounds, three 3-pointers, three steals and three turnovers in 30 minutes. Durant is too quick and too athletic for Gallinari, so he could have a tough time getting going against Golden State. Sure, he averaged 19.8 points per game this season, but in his three appearances vs. the Warriors, he was held to just 13.3 points per game on 42.3% shooting.
San Antonio 101 – Denver 96
DeMar DeRozan powered the Spurs to a Game 1 win over the No. 2 seeded Nuggets on Saturday, tallying 18 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, one block and four turnovers in 39 minutes. It wasn’t his most efficient outing, with DeRozan finishing 6-of-17 from the field, but he did a nice job of constantly attacking the rack and finished 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
LaMarcus Aldridge also struggled from the field, hitting 6-of-19 shots on his way to 15 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one steal over 34 minutes; and Rudy Gay finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two 3-pointers, one assist, one steal and three turnovers in 27 minutes off the bench. The Spurs were locked in defensively, and this is a series that I could see going San Antonio’s way, as they create a lot of matchup issues for Denver.
Jamal Murray couldn’t get his shot to drop, going 8-of-24 from the field (0-of-06 from 3-point range) on his way to 17 points, two rebounds and two turnovers, but he did somewhat salvage his stat line with a career-high six steals.
Nikola Jokic was a little too passive, attempting just three shots through the first half of action, and he only put up six more FGAs after halftime, ending his evening with 10 points (4-of-9 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), 14 rebounds, 14 assists, one steal and three turnovers in 36 minutes. The Joker’s passing skills are superb, but he’ll need to do a better job of seeking out his shot if the Nuggets hope to advance to the second-round.
On the plus side, Gary Harris looked great, netting 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting (5-of-5 from the stripe), to go with one 3-pointer, three rebounds, one assist, one block and zero turnovers in 37 minutes. Harris had a really rough season, but he appears to be finally feeling healthy, and he’ll be a crucial piece to the Nuggets’ postseason run.