Raptors vs. Celtics
The Boston Celtics have won the past 2 games of this series, and the Raptors needed a win here to keep themselves in this series. Going down 3-0 against a team like the Celtics is not something the Raptors could afford to do, and they needed to get a win from this game.
The Toronto Raptors came out of the gates very strong, yet the Boston Celtics continue to be at the same level if not one step ahead of the Raptors. The Celtics grabbed a 5 point lead by the end of the first, and it would be seen if the Raptors get blown out or if they can stick with the Celtics. The Celtics continued building on their lead, and had built a 10 point advantage by the end of the second. The Toronto Raptors continued their shooting woes, and this contributed to their lack of offense. Compared to a team like the Celtics who have great talents in Kemba Walker, 29 points to lead the team, and Jayson Tatum, the Raptors need to step up their shooting to compete with the Celtics. The Raptors needed to find some kind of offense in the second quarter, and they were able to cut the Celtics lead significantly. They leaned on their two point guards Kyle Lowry, 31 points, and Fred VanVleet, 25 points, to give them a significant boost on the offensive side of the floor. With the play of their two guards, the Raptors were able to cut the lead down to 4 and make it a much more interesting game. The Raptors closed the gap in the fourth quarter and both teams were trading buckets, as well as the lead. The game was tied with 20 seconds left, and the Celtics seemed to need one more score to put the Raptors away. After a multitude of screens, it seemed like Kemba Walker was stuck until he found Danil Theis wide open under the basket for a dunk with .5 seconds left on the clock. The Raptors seemed shocked, and there seemed to be no way that they could salvage a win. With .5 seconds left, Kyle Lowry threw the ball to the opposite side of the court and hit a wide open OG Anunoby. This moment is what clutch shooters dream for, and OG drained the shot to keep the Raptors playoff hopes alive.
The Toronto Raptors needed a win in game 3 and now that the series is 2-1, they will be looking to even it up. The Celtics would like to take a commanding lead with a win in game 4 and cut any momentum the Raptors might have gained. With much riding on this game 4, we can expect another close game and thrilling ending.
Final Score: TOR 104 BOS 103
Clippers vs. Nuggets
After a very tight series with the Jazz, the Nuggets are looking to their first game against the Clippers. This series will test both teams, and find which one is ready to make it to the conference finals.
The Denver Nuggets were able to keep up with a Clippers team that seemed to be firing on all cylinders. Both teams started the game with extreme intensity, and the score was tied at 31 by the end of the first quarter. The Clippers began to start growing a lead in the second quarter, with superb defense and offense that ran through Kawhi Leonard, 29 points, and Paul George, 19 points. The Nuggets were down by 18 by the end of the second quarter, and by the way that the Clippers were playing it seemed like Denver would have a tough road ahead. A team that relies on Jamal Murray, 12 points, and Nikola Jokic, 15 points, can not afford games where they are not clicking offensively, especially against a team that is as good as the Clippers. The Clippers were not giving the Nuggets any sliver of hope, and kept their foot on the pedal in order to complete the blowout.
This is game 1 of a 7 game series, and we can expect much to change from both teams. The Nuggets will need to figure out some way to get their offensive going as well as slowing down the Clippers. L.A will need to keep their foot on the pedal and keep up with the changes made by Denver.
Final Score: LAC 120 DEN 97
Top Image: AP Images/ Mark J. Terrill