The first weekend of NBA Playoff action is officially in the books, and with Game 1 now decided in all eight, first round series, we now know which teams hold the advantage, as we approach the second week of the Playoffs. We saw a mix of upsets and expected wins, but there is still a lot of basketball left to be played, with each team still very much in with a chance of advancing to the second round. Read on to find out what happened on Saturday night, where we saw the first 4 games of this seasons playoffs.
Khris Middleton hits game winning shot, as the Bucks defeat the Heat in overtime – Heat 107-109 Bucks (Bucks lead series 1-0)
The Milwaukee Bucks got out to the perfect start in this years NBA Playoffs, after they defeated the Miami Heat in an overtime thriller. The Bucks were eliminated from last years Playoffs by the Heat, so there is no doubt that are out for revenge this time round. The game was very tight from start to finish, with both teams eager to claim the 1-0 series lead. However, it was both teams “secondary” players that stepped up on the day. Jimmy Butler, who is widely regarded as the leading player on the Heat, had a very tough game, shooting only 18.2% from the field and 22.2% from three point range. It was mainly Duncan Robinson and Goran Dragic that kept things rolling for the Heat. Robinson scored 24 points, shooting 53.8% from three point range and Dragic scored 25 points on 58.8% shooting, including 50% from three. Despite great bench production from the Heat, it was the Bucks that went onto win the game. Superstar forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo started the game slow but ended up dropping a double-double with 26 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Jrue Holiday showed up big on the defensive end, with 3 steals and 11 rebounds, whilst also slowing down some of the best offensive players for the Heat, in Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler. The game was won by Khris Middleton, who hit a two point jumper over Duncan Robinson, in the dying seconds of overtime. Middleton had 27 points on the night. Game 2 is on Monday night in Milwaukee, where the Heat will be desperate to tie the series 1-1.
Luka Doncic drops triple-double as the Mavs steal Game 1 in LA – Mavericks 113-103 Clippers (Mavericks lead series 1-0)
The Dallas Mavericks have the advantage in their series, after defeating the LA Clippers in a double digit road win. Like the Bucks, Dallas is also out for revenge after they were knocked out of last seasons Playoffs, by the LA Clippers in six games. On Saturday night, they got out to a winning start curtesy of their superstar point guard, Luka Doncic. The 2018, 3rd overall draft pick dropped 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and was the main man on the court in a huge win over LAC. Role players, Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr also showed up big in the win, giving the Mavs a great scoring boost. Finney-Smith scored 18 points on 77.8% shooting, including a crazy 80% from three point range. Hardaway on the other hand was just as effective, scoring 21 points on 61.5% shooting and 55.6% from three. It was a game to forget however for the LA Clippers, who just could not shoot the ball at all. The Clippers were the best three point shooting team during the regular season, but on Saturday night, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr combined for only 3/20 beyond the arc. It’s very hard to win any game when 3 of your best 5 players go ice-cold from three point range. Leonard led the Clippers in scoring on the night, with 26 points whilst also adding 10 rebounds. Nicolas Batum and Rajon Rondo both had good games off the bench for LA, but in the end it wasn’t enough. Game 2 is on Tuesday night, so can the Mavericks extend their series lead or will the Clippers bounce back?
Brooklyn’s “Big Three” combine for 82 points in win over Celtics – Celtics 93-104 Nets (Nets lead series 1-0)
As expected, the Brooklyn Nets have got off a great start in the 2021 Playoffs, defeating the Boston Celtics in an 11 point home win. It was their three superstars that stole the show, as they combined for a whopping 82 points. Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and James Harden scored 21 points. Although none of those three were deadly from three point range, they did more than enough for the win. Brooklyn also played very well of the defensive end, stifling the Celtics offence for the majority of the game. Even though the Celtics were playing without a key player in Jaylen Brown, they still had the Likes of Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart on the floor. Tatum led the scoring for the Celtics with 22 points, but he only managed to shoot 30% from the field and 25% from three point range. Kemba Walker also struggled, as he scored a mere 15 points on 31.2% shooting and only managed to supply 2 assists. Boston is going to have to play much better in the next game if they want to tie the series. But with how stacked this Brooklyn team is, it’s going to be very hard to slow them down. Game 2 will take place on Tuesday night in what is already looking like a must win for the Celtics.
Lillard and The Blazers secure road win over Jokic and the Nuggets – Trail Blazers 123-109 Nuggets (Trail Blazers lead series 1-0)
It was officially “Dame Time”, in Denver on Saturday night, as the Portland Trail Blazers picked up a big road win over the Nuggets. The last time these two teams met in a Playoff series was in 2019 and it ended up going all 7 games. If this years series is anything like that one, then we are in for a treat once again. However, focusing on this game on Saturday night, it was all about the Blazers. Damian Lillard once again proved that he is clutch when the lights shine brightest. Lillard scored 34 points on 40% shooting, whilst also adding 13 assists and 2 rebounds. Portland’s other star guard, CJ McCollum, also showed up with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists whilst shooting 42.9% from three point range. Jusuf Nurkic chipped in with a 16 point, 12 rebound double-double and Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points off the bench, including four successful three point shots. It was a great team performance and statement game from Portland who are looking to advance to the second round for the first time since 2019. For the Nuggets on the other hand, they just didn’t get enough production from their team as a whole. MVP candidate, Nikola Jokic did not disappoint as he dropped 34 points and 16 rebounds. Whilst rising star, Michael Porter Jr also had a decent game with 25 points and 9 rebounds despite only hitting 1 three point shot. The main issue for the Nuggets was that outside of these two players, no one else really stepped up and gave the team a scoring boost. Losing Jamal Murray to a torn ACL late in the season was a massive blow, and there is no way the Nuggets will be able to replace him. However, if players such as Aaron Gordon, Paul Millsap and Monte Morris can step up, then maybe the Nuggets can rebound in game 2, which will take place on Monday night.