Nuggets vs. Jazz
The first game of the NBA playoffs started off with a bang. In a wild overtime game, the Nuggets won a tough game in their first game in a series against the Jazz.
The Utah Jazz were dealt a tough hand, starting the playoffs without their starting point guard Mike Conley. Taking his place was Juwan Morgan, moving Donovan Mitchell to point the guard. The Nuggets were starting with a fully healthy team that looked loaded with talent and were led by two stars in Nikola Jokic and Jammal Murray. The first half of playoff basketball started with the Utah Jazz applying constant pressure to a small lead that the Nuggets had built. In the second half, the Nuggets were able to pull out to a double digit lead. Michael Porter Jr., who has been rewarding the Nuggets ever since they bet on picking him in 2018, started off red hot in the first half with seven of his eleven points coming in the first half. The Jazz got hit with two technical fouls during the closing minutes of the second quarter, which stopped a run that the Jazz were putting together. In the second half, the Jazz closed in on the Nuggets and ultimately took the lead as at the end of the third quarter. This was due to the scoring ability of Donovan Mitchell who took control of the game from the beginning to the end, scoring 57 points. In the fourth quarter the Jazz needed Mitchell more than ever, as the lead went back and forth between both teams. Both teams had young guards step up and take over the game, but it was a missed layup by Nikola Jokic that forced the game into overtime. In overtime, a red hot Murray that could not miss, and a couple of great defensive possessions from the Nuggets put the game out of reach for the Jazz.
This is the first game of a series that is set to be exciting and wild, and if both Murray and Mitchell continue their great play then this series will be a must watch.
Final Score: DEN 135 UTA 125
Raptors vs. Nets
After a very close opening game, the second game on the playoff schedule was not set to be exciting. This game really showcased the gap between the top tier of the East, and the bottom tier that is still good enough to make the playoffs.
The Raptors had one thing to worry about, and that was the ability of a very undermanned Nets team to surprise them in a series that should be a sweep. The Nets were trying to get Caris Levert going, and in turn get the rest of their offense clicking. Things didn’t go as planned for the Nets, as they met a very tough and playoff ready Raptors defense that was not taking anything for granted. This stingy defense helped the Raptors build a twenty point advantage that they kept through the whole game. For the Nets, they were getting ripped apart on defense by the Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. VanVleet ended the game with a team high of 30 points, and was scoring at will against the weak Nets defense. The Nets were not able to get Levert or Jarret Allen going offensively and they both ended with 15 points, which is not enough if they want to keep this series close. The one bright spot on the Nets offense was bubble breakout Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot who led the team in scoring with 26 points.
After the first game many might label this series as a blowout or sweep but the Nets must find ways to score points and slow down the Raptors offense, while the Raptors can’t take their foot off the gas.
Final Score: TOR 134 BKN 11o
Celtics vs. 76ers
In a series that could have been a blowout or go to seven games, the first game suggested that we are in for a ride.
Without Ben Simmons, the 76ers are relying on Joel Embiid for their offensive production. Embiid took advantage of the smaller Danil Theis, and drew constant double teams from the Celtics. The Celtics continue to rely on Jayson Tatum and Jaylon Brown for the majority of their offensive production but now are able to add a healthy Kemba Walker to the mix. Having those three guys on the court creates a massive headache for the 76ers defensively. The one advantage that the 76ers were able to create, was on the backboards. The Celtics were scrounging and fighting for every rebound that they could get, while the 76ers seemed to be able to grab rebounds at will. The 76ers need Embiid to continue to be a dominant force down low, while the Celtics should continue to ride their hot hands on offense and take away any outside options for the 76ers on offense.
The biggest question in this series lies on Joel Embiid. He can make or break this postseason for the 76ers, and will be the deciding factor when it comes to the outlook of this series.
Final Score: BOS 109 PHI 1o1
Clippers vs. Mavericks
The L.A Clippers are title favorites this season, and cannot afford to be upset by the Dallas Mavs. This game really showcased the fact that the Mavs are going to be competitive throughout this series.
The beginning of the game started out horrible for the Mavs. They started out down by twelve, and Luka had just entered the locker room with an apparent ankle injury. But when the game seemed to be getting out of hand, the Mavs second unit started coming alive. The Mavs closed the gap through the first quarter and kept pushing through the second. By this time, the Clippers were losing hold on the game, as the Mavs held a five point advantage against the Clippers. That’s when Kristaps Porzingus got ejected from the game, and the Clips had new life. On two really questionable technical fouls on Porzingis, the Mavs had just lost their second star. The Clippers took advantage of this and took the game. While a very impressive 42 points from Luka Doncic held the Mavs within striking distance, the Clippers just kept feeding off the clutch plays by Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.
In a game that was a true scare for the powerhouse Clippers, this game could just be a preface to a very interesting series. Once the Mavs get Porzingis back, we can count on a very scrappy and close playoff series.
Final Score: LAC 118 DAL 110
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