September 2, 2020, 12:42 am
Eric Bledsoe (right hamstring strain) is questionable for Game 2 on Wednesday against the Heat.
Russell Westbrook (right quad strain) will be on a 25-30 minutes limit again in Wednesday’s Game 7 against the Thunder.
BOS 102 @ TOR 99
It’s easy to look back in hindsight and say that the Celtics should have been favored in this series, but they really should have been. The Raptors were the cool dark horse pick to win the title this season, but Boston should have gotten a lot more love. They have everything you need in a championship team. Elite coaching, multiple two-way wings and a player that can take over the game in crunch time situations. Jayson Tatum (24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, a steal and four triples) scored a playoff career-high tonight and has been by far the best player on the court in the two games between these teams. Robert Williams posted 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting with four boards and a block and provided a solid 18-minute boost off the bench. Yes, they’re missing Gordon Hayward (ankle sprain) but it doesn’t matter because they have enough versatility in Jaylen Brown (16 points, eight boards, two assists, three steals, two blocks and three triples) and Marcus Smart (19 points, six treys, three boards, an assist and two blocks) to make up for it. They cover all of the grounds you need to and their game plan has been phenomenal in stopping the Raptors. Although he was awful in the first half, Kemba Walker (17 points, 6-for-18 FG, 1-for-8 3PTM with three six boards and four assists) came up big in the clutch again, sealing the game away with his patented stepback jumper.
Meanwhile, Coach Nurse doesn’t have many counter punches available except for his team to just play better. They got a big game from O.G. Anunoby (20 points, seven boards, a steal and four triples) and Serge Ibaka (17 points, nine boards, two assists, two blocks and three triples) but they still couldn’t get the job done. Kyle Lowry (16 points, five rebounds, seven assists, four steals and a block, 5-for-15 FG, 0-for-7 3PTM) and Fred VanVleet (19 points, 8-for-22 FG, 3-for-12 3PTM, with five boards, seven dimes, a steal and a block) had trouble getting clean looks off all night. Pascal Siakam (17 points, 6-for-16 shooting with eight boards, six assists, three steals, a block and a triple) filled the stat sheet, but he had to work extremely hard for everything near the basket. Between all of the Celtics’ wing defenders, it’s almost impossible for the Raptors to get anything easy on the offensive side of the floor, especially when you consider the size advantage Boston has at the guard position.
UTA 78 @ DEN 80
A classic Game 7 slugfest ended the night as the Jazz coughed up a 3-1 series lead and got eliminated in seven to the Nuggets. Joe Ingles (seven points, eight boards, five dimes and a triple) and Mike Conley (eight points, four boards, seven assists, three steals and a triple) shot poorly from the field, but so did everyone else. The Jazz have had trouble scoring the ball since last season outside of Donovan Mitchell (22 points, 9-for-22 FG with nine boards, one dime, one block and two triples) but this series definitely proved that Mitchell is on the upwards trajectory of becoming a superstar. He gave us many memorable performances and it won’t be long until he finally breaks out of the first round. Much has been made about Rudy Gobert’s (19 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks) inability to score, but he was on fire late in the game and helped keep the Jazz within striking distance. There’s no question that he is an All-NBA caliber player, but the glaring flaws are still there and teams that get bounced early will always face extra scrutiny.
Nikola Jokic (30 points, 14 boards, four assists and two triples) came up big time in Game 7 when the Nuggets needed him most, as Jamal Murray (17 points, 7-for-21 shooting with two boards, four dimes, a steal and a triple) came up short tonight. Murray didn’t have his offense going, but he took up the challenge of guarding Donovan Mitchell a couple times and came up with some big defensive plays to help put the series away. Michael Porter Jr. (10 points, nine boards, two assists, two steals and a triple) was decent off the bench in 17 minutes of action and his defensive woes will continue to limit the rookie as the postseason goes on. Gary Harris (four points, two rebounds, an assist, a steal, two blocks and a triple) was awful on offense, going 1-for-9 from the floor, but the defensive numbers are there and his presence was felt on that end of the floor. The Nuggets are going to need him to continue to be a defensive force as they face off against a much tougher Clippers squad in Round 2.