April 18, 2018, 1:34 am
The NBA Playoffs are in full gear and as long as your team isn’t facing the Rockets or Warriors, there is a chance. At least, it looked that way entering Tuesday night. The home teams in the East ruled all, giving us some indication about how the series’ will go. The Blazers are in an even worse situation. More on that below.
Let’s take a look at where things stand with each series played on Tuesday night:
RAPTORS TAKE 2-0 LEAD BEHIND DEROZAN’S 37 POINTS
If there was any doubt as to the legitimacy of the Raptors as the 1-seed in the East, it has since been dashed. With the Cavs struggling against the Pacers over the weekend, the Raptors are making quick work out of the Wizards, defeating them 130-119 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday.
DeMar DeRozan led the way, shooting 14-for-23 from the field for 37 points, five boards, four assists and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes. DeRozan scored 13 of his 37 points in the first quarter, where the Raptors scored a franchise-high 44 points. The Wizards couldn’t slow him down all night.
Kyle Lowry shot 3-for-10 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line for 13 points with seven boards, 12 assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. Lowry was just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, so he really struggled to shoot the ball all night. That didn’t matter, as the Raptors got out to an early 17-point lead to end the first quarter, and it was cruise control the rest of the way.
Jonas Valanciunas shot 8-for-11 from the field for 19 points, 14 boards, one assist, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 23 minutes on Tuesday. The big man has turned things around the second half of the season, and it’s certainly carrying into the playoffs. He didn’t need many minutes tonight to put up a nice double-double, sitting in the post and shooting a high percentage. Expect him to destroy Gortat and Mahinmi the rest of the series.
As for the Wizards, John Wall shot 9-for-17 from the floor and a perfect 11-for-11 from the line for 29 points with four boards, nine assists and one block in 32 minutes despite a Game 2 loss on Tuesday. Wall was terrific on both ends of the floor, holding Lowry to just 13 points, but it wasn’t enough to steal a round win in Toronto. The Wizards are running into a hot opponent poised to prove worthy of the top seed, so this series could be over quick unless Wall and co. can fix things fast.
The problem was Bradley Beal, who was flat out useless on Tuesday. Bradley Beal shot 3-for-11 from the floor for nine points, two rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes. This certainly isn’t the postseason Beal we’ve come accustomed to seeing. He was off all night, living in DeRozan’s shadow. The Wizards desperately need the real deal Beal to show up if they want a chance at avoiding a sweep.
The Wizards go home for Game 3 on Friday.
PELS WIN ON ROAD AGAIN FOR 2-0 LEAD ON BLAZERS
For weeks on end, there was much talk about how close the 3-seed out West and the 8-seed were extremely close. That is starting to ring more true by the day, as the 3-seed Blazers are seriously in a deep hole against the 6-seed Pels, in just two games.
That’s right, the Pelicans won another road game 111-102 on Tuesday night, taking a 2-0 series lead and heading back to Bourbon street for the next two games. The Blazers will now have to win four of five with three of those being on the road, which won’t be an easy task against the Brow.
Jrue Holiday continued his insane play, shooting 14-for-24 from the field for 33 points, three boards, nine assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes. He has been a top-20 player since DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) went down before the all-star break.
Anthony Davis was terrific as usual, scoring 22 points with 13 boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 40 minutes. The Brow is poised to lead a deeper playoff run. If he slips through, it’s the wounded Warriors next. Stay tuned.
Damian Lillard was not on his best behavior, shooting 7-for-18 from the field for 17 points, three boards, four assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 40 minutes. Jrue’s defense is an early story for this series.
C.J. McCollum wasn’t much better. He shot abysmal 9-for-21 from the field for 22 points with three boards, six assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. The Blazers shot 45.1% as a team, and McCollum didn’t help the cause.
Game 3 is Thursday in New Orleans.
CELTICS TAKE IT TO THE BUCKS AGAIN FOR 2-0 LEAD
Sure, the Bucks have the better star power and talent. That can only take you so far. If you have caught a glimpse of this series, you will know that the Celtics flat out want it more. They are dominating the boards on both ends of the floor, getting the 50/50 balls and playing with an attitude that has been unmatched by the Bucks since the first tip. Tuesday was no different, as the Celtics dominated the Bucks 120-106 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Jaylen Brown shot 12-for-22 from the field for 30 points with five boards, one assist and five 3-pointers in 33 minutes to lead the Celtics. Brown became the youngest Celtics player to drop 30 or more points in a playoff game, which is elite company to say the least. It felt like him and his teammates couldn’t miss, as he hit several contested shots and played with swagger.
Terry Rozier joined in on the fun too, once again. Rozier shot 8-for-14 from the field for 23 points with three boards, eight assists, one block, one steal and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes. He put up an eerily similar line to what he did in Game 1, proving it wasn’t just a fluke. Rozier is playing with all of the confidence in the world, which can be dangerous when he’s hot. He has played with an attitude on both ends of the floor, which is something that has caught the Bucks off guard.
Al Horford shot 7-for-11 from the field for 16 points, five boards, four assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes. Horford was gritty yet again, playing like a leader of the younger Celtics and setting the tone. He dared to dribble the ball up against Antetokounmpo, in which the Bucks did nothing about. He was efficient all night and hit tough contested shots, something that can’t happen all series.
As for the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton showed up, but that was pretty much it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 13-for-17 from the field and 4-for-9 from the line for 30 points with nine boards, eight assists, one steal and one block in 43 minutes. The team is a liability when he’s off the floor.
Khris Middleton shot 10-for-14 from the field for 25 points with four boards, one assist and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Middleton uncharacteristically couldn’t get it going on defense, allowing Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown to hit shots all night. He has the grit to hang with the Celtics, but the rest of his teammates have yet to show they belong too.
Jabari Parker posted a -15 plus/minus in just 10 minutes on the floor, finishing with just two rebounds and one turnover for the game. He is a detriment to the Bucks when he is on the court, not a team player and probably won’t be in any future plans for the Bucks. This won’t end well.
If the Bucks want a chance to climb back into the series, they have to defend home court. They travel home to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Friday.