Tuesday, May 25th in the NBA Playoffs


Tuesday night hosted more NBA Playoff action, giving us two thrilling games and a team asserting its dominance over the field. As the rest of the postseason unfolds and each series shifts from one city to another, a recap of each Game 2 that played out on Tuesday night.

 

Nets Dominate, Take 2-0 Lead Over Reeling Celtics

Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

There are some nights for NBA teams where everything goes right. When the Brooklyn Nets, led by the explosive offensive superstar trio of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden have one of these nights, it results in a brand of basketball that leaves its opponents overwhelmed and over-matched on the floor. The Nets had one of those nights against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 on Tuesday, putting on a show for 48 minutes in a 130-108 victory to go up 2-0 against 7-seeded Boston. Brooklyn shot 52.3% from the field and knocked down 17 threes, led by sharpshooting wing Joe Harris who had 7 of his own, 6 coming in the first half. Harris finished with 25 points, and Durant led all scorers with 26 to go along with 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks in 29 minutes of play. James Harden had 20 points, along with Kyrie Irving’s 15 in a game that even featured some flashbacks to the high-flying prime of Blake Griffin.


Brooklyn showed how scary things can get in just the 10th game together for its Big 3, blitzing Boston early and often in a game that was never contested. The Nets featured an explosive, balanced offensive attack that resulted in 31 assists on 46 made field goals as a team. Kyrie, KD, and Harden played with chemistry and connectedness that can take months, or even years to develop in only their 10th game together. They all play together in tandem with only 10 games and counting under their belt sends a powerful message to the rest of the league about how hard it will be to beat Brooklyn 4 times in a 7 game series. With the league’s most accurate three-point shooter as well in Joe Harris (47.5% 3P), Brooklyn’s offense becomes the efficient, well-oiled machine we saw last night. Of course, as the playoffs advance, the competition will step up from a battered Boston team without Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who exited the game in the 3rd quarter because of an eye injury. However, if Brooklyn’s offense can keep up this output and play great defense (holding Boston to 100.5 PPG on 39.8% FG), it is hard to see anyone who can stand in their way of making a championship run.

Game 3: Friday in Boston at 8:30 PM EST on ABC

 

Lakers Hold on Late to Tie Things Up with Suns

Credit: Barry Gossage/Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images/Rohan Ali

“There’s no way we’re winning a game, let alone the series, with me playing the way I played. This is on me. I take whatever responsibility, for sure. I’ll be ready for Game 2.” - Anthony Davis after Game 1

After a Game 1 loss that was marred by Anthony Davis’ 13-point 5-16 shooting performance, Davis came out with aggression and made his impact all over the court in Game 2, turning in 34 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks in 40 minutes, leading the Lakers to a huge 109-102 victory over the Suns that evens the series up heading into Game 3 in LA. LeBron James chipped in with 23 points and 9 assists of his, while LA received great contributions from guard Dennis Schroder (24 points on 8-16 shooting) and center Andre Drummond (15 points, 12 rebounds). While it was AD and LeBron delivering on offense, the Lakers defense tightened up down the stretch allowing just 1 made field goal over the final 5:02 in the game; a stretch where the Lakers ran a lineup that placed Davis at the 5, surrounded by James, Schroder, Alex Caruso, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Lineups featuring Davis at the 5 have blitzed opponents since his arrival in LA, to the tune of outsourcing opponents by 15.8 points per 100 possessions in last year’s playoffs (Cleaning The Glass). Last night it led to multiple key defensive stops that held off a late rally from Phoenix.

It was also during this stretch that it became glaring how big of an absence a healthy Chris Paul is for Phoenix; a shoulder contusion suffered in Game 1 is severely hampering Paul’s abilities right now, and he could not finish out the game as backup Cam Payne stepped up in his absence. However, Paul’s leadership, poise, and feel for the game have been invaluable to a Suns team with its young players playing big roles in the playoffs (Devin Booker, DeAndre Ayton, Cam Johnson, and Mikal Bridges) for the first time in their careers. Paul only played 23 minutes, most notably only playing 6 minutes and 51 seconds in a closely contested second half. The health of Paul’s shoulder will be a big story to follow as the rest of this series plays out. As for the rest of the Suns, DeAndre Ayton is putting the world on notice with 2 outstanding games to kick off this series. Ayton is averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds while shooting a ridiculous 87.5% percent from the field. Devin Booker had 31 points of his own, but Phoenix needs more from its role players to help offset the loss of a hampered CP3. Payne stepped up with 19 points (13 in the 2nd half) and 7 assists in 32 minutes, but Dario Saric, Jae Crowder, Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges combined to shoot 6-19 in the loss. They will all need to have better games down the line, another interesting storyline in a series that has been one of the best of the playoffs to this point.

Game 3: Thursday in Los Angeles at 10 PM EST on TNT

 

With No Answer for Luka, Clippers Fall in 0-2 Hole

(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)

In his playoff series debut last season, Luka Doncic averaged 31 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists with 50% field goal and 36.4% 3-point shooting over 6 games against the Clippers, which included a sensational game-winning three in Game 4. The Clippers did not have an answer for him then, and they are still searching for answers 9 months later after falling down 2-0 with Doncic once again leading the way in a 127-121 defeat. Doncic’s confidence has been sky high through the first two games of this series; not only is he getting buckets and breaking any defense Los Angeles has thrown his way, he is making sure the Clippers hear all about it.


Doncic is averaging 35 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 9.0 assists while shooting 50.9 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three on 12 attempts a game to kick off this series. Dallas’ supporting cast has also come up big, especially Tim Hardaway Jr. who has averaged 24.5 points on 64.7 field goal shooting with 60 percent shooting from three-point range. Kristaps Porzingis has also given LA troubles on defense with his floor-spacing ability; he’s averaging 17 points while connecting on 44 percent of his threes. As a team, Dallas is converting on 50 percent of its three-point attempts in the series, torching a Clippers defense that ranked 9th in defensive efficiency in the regular season.

Down 0-2 heading into Dallas, Los Angeles faces another nightmare scenario after last year’s well-documented collapse in the Bubble. The league’s best three-point shooting team in the regular season (41.1 percent), the Clippers have gone cold in the playoffs, shooting only 32.9 percent on three-pointers as a team. Their defense has gotten shredded by Dallas’ perimeter shooting, and Luka Doncic’s abilities hunting out smaller defenders on switches, maneuvering his way through traps and doubles to kick out to an open shooter or get into the paint and finish through contact.

Los Angeles will need to find an answer to slowing down Luka and not allowing Dallas’ shooters to get open looks from outside, or else it could lead from searching for answers for Luka Doncic, to searching for answers to validate their status as title contenders all offseason long.

Game 3: Friday in Dallas at 9:30 PM EST on ESPN



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