After the play-in tournament concluded on Friday, the 2021 NBA Playoffs officially began last night. Several former Wildcats made appearances in last night’s kickoff – let’s see who.
HEAT FALL TO BUCKS IN OT
This one was the official first game of the 2021 playoffs – and it was a thriller. Miami’s Goran Dragic tied the game at 107 with a three-pointer, but the Bucks weren’t done. With a defender in his face, Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton hit a fadeaway jumper to give his team a 109-107 lead with 0.5 seconds remaining. Middleton, a former Texas A&M Aggie, led the Bucks with 27 points. Two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo added a 26-point 18-rebound double-double.
KHRIS MIDDLETON BEATS THE HEAT ? pic.twitter.com/dPR8CeJqHq
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 22, 2021
Dragic came off the bench and led Miami in scoring with 25 points. Veteran Jimmy Butler ended just shy of a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Butler forced overtime after driving past Antetokounmpo in the final seconds for a buzzer-beating layup. Miami’s two former Wildcats were relatively quiet. Bam Adebayo went 4-15 from the field and scored just nine points – though he did rack up 12 rebounds. Tyler Herro struggled offensively as well, going 2-10 from the field (2-5 from three).
For the Bucks, this series is partly a mission to seek vengeance. Milwaukee was the No. 1 overall seed in last year’s playoffs but fell to the Heat in the second round. This year, the Bucks are the No. 3 seed and the Heat are the No. 6 seed. Game 2 will be on Monday at 7:30 p.m. You can watch it live on TNT.
MAVERICKS UPSET CLIPPERS IN L.A.
Once again, Luka Doncic has carried Dallas to victory. Last night, Doncic put up 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Mavs defeated the Clippers 113-103. It was Doncic’s third triple-double in seven playoff games – all against the Clippers. After Los Angeles changed defensive strategies, Doncic was held to only one point in the fourth quarter. The damage was already done, though.
Luka Doncic’s 7 career playoff games, all with Kawhi & PG guarding him, all before his 23rd birthday:
The beginnings of a Top 10 all time player. What a pleasure to watch.
— nick wright (@getnickwright) May 22, 2021
The Clippers struggled offensively throughout the game, making just 11 of 40 three-point attempts. Kawhi Leonard led the team with 26 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Paul George added 23 points, but the duo couldn’t overcome scoring droughts from the rest of the starting lineup. Former Wildcat Rajon Rondo came off the bend to net 11 points. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson did not play.
Game 2 will be Tuesday night back at Staples Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. on NBATV.
BROOKLYN’S BIG THREE COME ALIVE IN SECOND HALF
To any Brooklyn fans out there – you had to be worried at first, right? The Nets’ “Big Three” – James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – struggled severely in the first half, shooting a combined 11-for-32. The second half, though, was a different story. The three stars ended with 82 points between them as the Nets sailed to a 104-93 victory.
Durant led Brooklyn scorers with 32 points and 12 rebounds. Irving and Harden added 29 and 21, respectively. This was just the ninth appearance of the season for the trio thanks to injuries, COVID protocol problems, etc.
KYRIE OH MY pic.twitter.com/f0wmFig3Ao
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) May 23, 2021
The Celtics scored just 40 points in the second half. Their star Jayson Tatum put up a valiant 22-point effort, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Celtics will hope to bounce back for Game 2 on Tuesday. The match is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on TNT.
Here are the full stats from yesterday’s games:
|Rajon Rondo (LAC)||113-103 L to Mavericks||11||3-6 (3-4)||4||4||1||1||1||-8||24|
|Tyler Herro (MIA)||109-107 L to Bucks||10||2-10 (2-5)||2||3||0||1||1||+1||19|
|Bam Adebayo (MIA)||109-107 L to Bucks||9||4-15||12||5||3||0||1||+5||41|
|Enes Kanter (POR)||123-109 W over Nuggets||2||1-2||4||0||0||0||2||+2||15|
|Willie Cauley-Stein (DAL)||113-103 W over Clippers||0||0-0||0||0||0||0||1||-4||4|
TODAY IN THE NBA:
1:00 p.m. – Wizards at 76ers (Maxey)
3:30 p.m. – Lakers (Davis) at Suns (Booker)
7:00 p.m. – Hawks at Knicks (Knox, Noel, Quickley, Randle)
9:30 p.m. – Grizzlies at Jazz