Bucks vs. Heat
Both of these top teams had a relatively easy ride through the first round, and now they are meeting for what is expected to be a very tight second round matchup. While the Bucks have not been playing like the first seed in the east, the Heat are playing outstanding on both sides of the floor.
The Milwaukee Bucks started out very dominant in the first quarter, and were looking to set the tone in this series. They jumped out to an early 11 point lead at the end of the first quarter, and they seemed to be getting any basket that they wanted off very good defensive possessions. The thing was that the Heat were not going to give up on the game after 1 quarter, and they brought it to the Bucks in the second. They were able to cut the lead to 3, and were clogging the lanes for Giannis which resulted in horrible offensive possessions for the Bucks. This very close game got even closer in the third, and the Heat seemed to be sticking with the Bucks and even pulled out to a 6 point lead of their own by the end of the third. One of the key factors for the Heat offense was Jimmy Butler, 40 points, who was knocking down jump shots and getting buckets when the Bucks seemed to be pushing for the lead. Up until 4 minutes left in the 4th the Bucks were still fighting for the lead, but the Heat started pulling away as the time started diminishing. The Bucks got a horrible free throw shooting night from Giannis, 4-12 from the line, and this might have cost the Bucks a win as Giannis was at the line quite a lot at the end of the game. He had a tough time getting points, 18 points, and the Heat were committed to stop him and that is what they did. On the other side of the court, Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic, 27 points, were finding their spots and hitting. The Heat had great clutch time shooting from Butler, as well as a great defensive approach to an MVP candidate.
One of the biggest issues for the Bucks is Antetokounmpo’s free throw shooting, and if they want to be able to close out tight games they will need solid performances at the line from Giannis. While both teams will be making adjustments for the next game, it will be tough to predict who takes game 2.
Final Score: MIA 115 MIL 104
Rockets vs. Thunder
The OKC Thunder were fighting for their playoff lives, and they would need great games from their veteran stars to push this series to a game 7.
This game started out just like the Thunder liked, as both teams were fighting for the lead. Neither team seemed to be hitting their three pointers quite well, and the offensive production was quite slow to begin the game. The Rockets held a one point lead after the first, and this game was looking to go down to the wire. While the Thunder went a 5 point run to widen their lead, the Rockets continued to fight back and were able to take a 3 point lead by the end of the first half. The Rockets were able to jump out to a 6 point lead at the start of the third and if not for the shooting of Danilo Gallinari,25 points, the Thunder might have been blown out in the third quarter again. That was not the case, and the Thunder cut the lead down to 2 heading into the fourth. Both teams were fighting to take a commanding lead, and the Rockets seemed to be really struggling with their turnovers. After averaging 11 turnovers a game through the postseason, the Rockets gave up 22 turnovers and Russell Westbrook had 7 which led the team. This allowed the Thunder to stay in the game and after a couple of huge three pointers from Chris Paul,28 points, to tie up the game, the Rockets seemed to be in a very tight situation. As the game got down to the wire, the Rockets continued to give the ball to a turnover prone Westbrook instead of James Harden, 32 points, who seemed to be able to get buckets at will. In the clutch, Westbrook continued to give up turnovers, and ultimately led to the Rockets demise.
This series is going to a seventh game, and the OKC Thunder have put in a great performance for a team that many thought was going to be rebuilding this year. The Rockets need to get back to securing the basketball and limiting the easy buckets that the Thunder were able to get.
Final Score: OKC 104 HOU 100
Top Image: Associated Press