Raptors vs. Nets
After a close game two, the Nets were trying to keep any playoff hope they had with continuing a playoff run. The Raptors completely dominated from the tip, and set the stage for a sweep.
The Raptors started out the game with a 7 point lead that they never gave up. Growing their lead and keeping the Nets in check, the Raptors leaned on their stars Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. The Nets continue to struggle with their offense production and stop the Raptors defensively. This series was not expected to be a struggle for the Raptors, and the Nets should be proud of their performance without KD and Kyrie. They also got a nice night from Tyler Johnson, 23 points, and continue to give playoff experience to their young players like Jarret Allen and Caris Levert. The Raptors continued to fight and got a great game from Serge Ibaka. Scoring 20 points on 3 for 3 from three, as well as adding 13 rebounds is the kind of the production the Raptors need without a number one star.
The Raptors are expected to complete their sweep of the Nets in their next game, but the Nets will be expected to put up a fight in the next game.
Final Score: TOR 117 BKN 92
Nuggets vs. Jazz
After a huge blowout loss to the Jazz in game 2, the Nuggets were expected to bounce back and make this a much closer series. Due to the great Jazz offense and poor Denver shooting, the Nuggets got blown out again.
The Utah Jazz just got another prolific scorer back in Mike Conley, and it seemed like he did not even miss a beat. As the Jazz jumped out to an early lead, Conley boosted the team with 27 points and 7 threes. In the first half, the Nuggets were trying to limit the three balls that had killed them in the second game and in turn let Rudy Gobert run wild. He ended the game with 24 points and 14 rebounds. The Nuggets were not able to make anything and their horrible defense got put on display. The Jazz were able to get buckets at will, and the Nuggets were not able to answer back. Nikola Jokic led the team with 15 points, and the Nuggets only had three players who scored in double digits. Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz only scored 20 points compared to his 57 points he had in game 1. The Jazz are now spreading the ball around, and getting wide open threes or easy baskets at the hole.
This was the second blowout in a row for the Nuggets, and without much time to look at their problems this could be the narrative for the rest of the series.
Final Score: UTH 124 DEN 87
Celtics vs. 76ers
After a big win for the Celtics in game 2, both teams were going to come into game 3 fighting. The 76ers showed heart and fight, and yet the talent and shooting of the Celtics trumped everything that they had.
In a first quarter that had the Celtics and 76ers both battling for position and the lead, this seemed like a new Sixers team. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both got into foul trouble in the first half, and Kemba Walker needed to step up for this team. The 76ers continued to use their height advantage and dominate the boards and the paint, but could not get any shots to go down. The 76ers shot 23% from three, and you have to shoot better than that if you want to beat a team like the Celtics. Joel Embiid continued to dominate with 30 points, but this Sixers team only got 9 points from their bench. Compared to the 20 points that the Celtics got from their bench, the Sixers bench needs to step up. The Celtics did not get a particularly great game from Jayson Tatum, 15 points, but both Kemba Walker, 24 points, and Jaylen Brown, 21 points, stepped up. The Celtics have proven that they have a team that can still win without a 40 point game from Tatum, and this makes them very scary.
As the 76ers fight to not be swept, Joel Embiid will continue to ball but the Sixers need a good performance from their bench if they want to beat the Celtics.
Final Score: BOS 102 PHI 94
Clippers vs. Mavericks
With a tied series, game 3 provided a chance for both teams to snatch the lead. The Clippers seemed to want it more and rode Kawhi Leonard to a win.
The first quarter of the game was tightly contested, and the Mavs kept the game tied. In the second quarter, the Clippers started pulling away with wide open threes and great defense. The Mavs were not able to get stops on the Clips,and kept losing ground. Kawhi controlled the whole game with 36 points and whenever the Mavs seemed to be closing in, Leonard would hit a crazy turnaround or find an open shooter. This was the story for the Mavs, and it got even worse when Luke Doncic left the game in the second half. With a left ankle sprain, Luka tried to come back into the game but the pain from his injury was evident and he could not play anymore. The Mavs just hope that they will get a 100% Doncic when game 4 comes around. After losing one of their top offensive players, the Mavs relied on Kristaps Porzingus, 34 points, and Seth Curry, 22 points, and yet the lack of defense from the Mavs prevented them from closing the gap. The Clippers had a great shooting night, 41% from three, and this was in part due to the wide open looks that Reggie Jackson and Landry Shamet were getting from Lou Williams or Kawhi’s drives into the paint. One of the biggest concerns for the Clippers is Paul George’s shooting. In this game, he went 1 for 8 from three, and against opponents in the second round the Clips will need the production that George brings to the table.
This series will continue to be close, and if the Mavs are able to get a healthy Luke back then they could push this series to 6 or 7 games. The Clippers need to figure out what is wrong with Paul George and get him back on track.
Final Score: LAC 13o DAL 122
Top Image: DraftKingsNation.com/Benjamin Zweiman