The 2021 NBA Playoffs are underway and if yesterday actions was any indicator then we are in for a great postseason in these Playoffs. Four games tipped off their series on yesterday. One game went in overtime, another game saw a favorite had misfortunes down the stretch in a lost. A favorite struggle at the begin but finished strong and another game where the underdog used the 3-pointer to their advantage.
Let's recap Day 1 of the NBA Playoffs:
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks Game 1
The NBA Playoffs got underway in Milwaukee, where it was an Eastern Conference Semifinals rematch from nine months ago. The 3rd seed, Milwaukee Bucks hosting the 6th seed, Miami Heat in Game 1. The game started off hot for the Heat, Duncan Robinson, as he scored the first nine points for the Heat all on 3-pointers. Robinson continued to be a present in Game 1 finishing with 24 points on 7-13 from three. Goran Dragic came off the bench to lead the Heat in scoring with 25 points, doing what he does best.
The thing is however, the Bucks will not take losing as an option where Giannis had 26 points, 18 rebounds, and 5 assists. Khris Middleton leading the way with 27 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists including the game-winning jumper with 0.5 seconds left in overtime to propel the Bucks to the 1-0 series lead after Jimmy Butler for the Heat send the game into overtime off a layup at the buzzer blowing pass Giannis.
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo struggle despite Butler's game-tying bucket at the end of regulations. They combined for 26 points on 8-37 from the field, Bam had 9 points on 4-15 and Butler had 17 points on 4-22. On the bright side, the Heat lost on a game-winning by Khris Middleton while Bam and Butler struggled the way they did. The Heat know they can ball with the Bucks and this series is far from over.
For Milwaukee, it is always good to defend homecourt in Game1 of a series, but there should some concerns in the Bucks locker room. One being the health status of Giannis with his left arm after colliding with Bam in the 2nd half. Another concerns with Giannis is free-throw shooting. Giannis went 6-13 at the foul line that kept the Heat in the game in the 4th Quarter and Overtime. The Bucks as a team shot poorly from the line going 20-33 which is 60.6% from the charity strike, the Heat 15-19 (79%). Despite winning Game 1, the Bucks also must addressed their 3-point shooting as well. The Bucks were 5-31 (16%) from three while the Heat were 20-50 (40%).
The Miami Heat should feel good despite losing Game 1 and the Bucks must address their shooting because Bam and Butler will not go 8-37 again especially in Game 2.
Game 2: Monday, May 24 7:30PM on TNT
Milwaukee Lead Series1-0
Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers Game 1
Game 2 of Day 1 of the NBA Playoffs was in the City of Angels. Staple Center in Los Angeles, as the Los Angeles Clippers faced off against the Dallas Mavericks. A rematch of last season's first round matchup where the Clippers took it in six games.
The Clippers are looking at this game and are mad at themselves because their misfortunes and miscues costed them this game. Paul George had a rough start but was still able to finish with 23 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists. Shooting wasn't there for PG13 going 8-18 from the field, 2-8 from three, but George remained active in the 2nd half in which the Clips had the opportunity to win Game 1. Kawhi Leonard led the Clipper with 26 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists but he had some misfortunes in fourth that contributed.
Well, if you haven't it out by then the Dallas Mavericks took Game 1 from the Clippers. Luka Doncic picking where he left off last season against the Clips with 30-point triple-double to the Mavs to the 1-0 series lead and taking homecourt advantage from the Los Angeles Clippers. Luka had 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 11 assists. His running mate, Kristaps Porzingis had an okay game with 14 points with only 4 rebounds.
The supporting cast of the Mavs proved to be the difference in Game 1. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points with five 3-pointers shooting 8-13 from the field, Dorian Finney-Smith had 18 pointer with four 3-pointers on 7-9 shooting, and Jalen Brunson off the bench gave 15 points on 4-7 shooting. That's a combined 54 points on 19-29 shooting from the field from these three players.
The Clippers on the other hand didn't get that kind help from their supporting cast. Marcus Morris Sr. only 4 points in 33 minutes of play, Reggie Jackson only TWO points in 21 minutes, now Rondo did step up with 11 points hitting three 3-pointers. Missed free-throws dug in the Clippers even more. Now you will see the box score and think the Clippers did pretty good from the free-throw line, shooting 18-24 (75%), but here's the thing...Four of the six misses came in the 4th Quarter. Morris Sr. missed both of his 4th quarter free-throws, Kawhi missed the front-end of his two free-throws, and Rondo did the same thing, missing the front-end of his.
We see this every year in the Playoffs, missed free-throws down stretch costing teams games and it happened again to the Clippers on yesterday.
Game 2: Tuesday, May 25 10:30PM on NBATV
Dallas Lead Series 1-0
Boston Celtics vs. Brooklyn Nets
Game 3 of Day 1 was a matchup that most wanted to see because of a Big 3 on one side and another team who had to fight to get in. It was the Brooklyn Nets at home with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden all healthy to play. This was only the 9th time that all three were able to play together against a Boston club who underachieved all season, but still made their way into the Playoffs even with star player Jaylen Brown for the season.
Boston came out strong defensively and offensively. The Celtics hit five 3-pointers and held the Nets to only 16 points in the 1st Quarter to take a 21-16 lead. The Celtics kept pace with the Nets in 2nd Quarter and took a 6-point lead in halftime and people are shocked at this moment. Boston came ready to play knowing they are huge underdogs in this series. BUT there is always a 2nd half to be played.
The Brooklyn Nets started to take over in the 3rd Quarter. The Nets took a 6-point deficit and turned it into a 5-point lead going into the 4th Quarter. Durant and Irving had started to find their groove and it was over for the Celtics. Brooklyn finished off the Celtics, 104-93. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Kyrie Irving scored 29 and had 6 rebound, and James Harden finished with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.
Tatum got his numbers as expected, 22 points with 5 assists. The problem was Kemba Walker , who only played 27 minutes due to foul trouble. Walker only scored 15 points on 5-16 shooting. He couldn't find a rhythm what so even, but the Celtics were competitive for most the game. Robert Williams set a new record for blocks in a game with nine as he defended the rim against this high prolific offense of the Nets. Marcus Smart gave Boston 17 points so there are some good signs Boston going in Game 2.
However, the Big 3 of the Nets combined 82 points, 27 rebounds, and 10 assists and they didn't shoot the 3-ball well last night. Durant, Irving, and Harden was 5-24 from 3-point land. That will not happen again. So Nets look to be in good shape for this series. The Nets outscored the Celtics 57-40 in the 2nd half.
Game 2: Tuesday, May 25 7:30PM on TNT
Brooklyn Lead Series 1-0
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets
The final game of Day 1 of the NBA Playoffs was Denver, Colorado. As the 3rd seed, Denver Nuggets hosted the 6th seed, Portland Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard leading the Blazers against MVP candidate, Niokla Jokic and the Nuggets. A couple of question will be answered in this series. One being, "Can Portland knock off a top tier team in the Playoffs to get the respect that they want?" The another question, "Can Denver play good basketball now in the postseason without Jamal Murray?" After Game 1 last night Portland feels good and Denver has some work to do.
The 3-ball from the Blazers was a huge difference in Game 1. Starting with Carmelo Anthony, who was returning to the place where his NBA career started. Anthony hit four 3-pointers in the 1st Quarter and the Denver fans couldn't stand it. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of what Portland was going to do. Behind Damian Lillard's 34 points and 13 assists night, the Blazers took homecourt from the Nuggets in a 123-109 win.
Outside of Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, the Denver Nuggets supporting cast let them down. Jokic had 34 points, 16 rebounds, and one assist. ONE ASSIST for The Jokic who averaged 8 assists during the regular season. That mean the others wasn't hitting their shots. Porter Jr. had 25 points and 9 rebounds, while Gordon added 16 points and 8 rebounds.
The Blazers made 19 3-pointers as a unit while the Nuggets made only 11. That is a 24 points difference in the 3-ball department and that bolds well for the Trail Blazers as they will need the 3-ball to pull off the upset. Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Anthony combined for 77 of the 123 points for the Blazers while Jokic, Porter Jr., and Gordon combined for 75 of the 109 Nuggets points.
The supporting cast of the Nuggets only scored 34 points. The Trail Blazers a total of six of their nine players score in double-figure. Their supporting outside of Lillard, CJ, and Melo scored 46 points. A 12-point difference in supporting cast that led to a 14-point road win for Portland.