Good afternoon, folks. The Blazers and Thunder are both in full-on petty mode. Let’s talk NBA Playoffs.
(2) Raptors – 98 @ (7) Magic – 93 (TOR leads 2-1)
- The Orlando Magic gave themselves a few different opportunities to snag a win in Game 3, but Pascal Siakam had other plans. The Most Improved Player of the Year favorite posted a playoff career-high of 30 points to go along with 11 boards.
- The Magic were able to take a brief lead halfway through the third quarter (its first lead since the first quarter) before Toronto rattled off a 16-0 run to break the game wide open. The Magic were able to widdle that lead back to three with under 45 seconds left thanks to some insane shot making from Terrence Ross, but Siakam and the Raps held off the Magic down the stretch.
- Orlando’s lack of playoff experience really exposed itself in the final minute of this game. They had several chances to tie the game up but some unforced errors and lack of attention on a Kyle Lowry offensive rebound with 12 seconds left doomed them in the end.
- Jodie Meeks played only two minutes for Toronto and did not get up a shot.
(4) Celtics – 104 @ (5) Pacers – 96 (BOS leads 3-0)
- The Boston Celtics defense has become an impenetrable wall through these first three games and the Indiana Pacers have still yet to find a way to break it down. After scoring 61 points in the first half and actually leading by two, the Pacers offense melted into the hardwood int he second half. Remember the infamous eight-point third quarter the Pacers put up in Game 1? Well, they apparently weren’t satisfied with their own ineptitude and rivaled that with a 12-point third period in Game 3. A mere 23-point fourth quarter followed and the Pacers stood no chance.
- The Pacers also registered a 12-point quarter in the final period of Game 2, quickly ending any chances of stealing that game. A trend is forming…
- This is where missing Victor Oldaipo is killing them. When the offense stalls, they don’t have that “go-to” player that can get them a bucket no matter what. Teams can skate by in the regular season with incredible depth and excellent team play, but in the postseason, you need a superstar to take over games and bring you out of the mud. Myles Turner is too young. Tyreke Evans is too erratic. Thaddeus Young isn’t that kind of scorer. Darren Collison… Well, if Darren Collision is your team’s closer, then that’s a problem within itself.
- But props to Boston. Kyrie Irving is toying with his defenders on half of the possessions he controls the ball and Jaylen Brown finally woke up for 23 points on 8-9 shooting.
(3) Trail Blazers – 108 @ (6) Thunder – 120 (POR leads 2-1)
- Oh boy, this series just keeps getting better and better. We’ve got Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder (wait, Dennis Schroder? Yes, Dennis Schroder) mocking Damian Lillard. It started with Westbrook doing his signature “rock-the-baby” move after scoring on Lillard, which Lillard responded with by exploding for 25 points in the third quarter alone. Schroder waited until the game was already decided to start mocking Lillard because I think that even he knows he doesn’t have the juice to do such with the game still in balance (seriously though, Dennis Schroder?). Paul George disrespected the living hell out of all of Portland with an emphatic dunk right as the buzzer sounded. This is the level of petty I am here for.
- But the type of petty I’m not here for? Westbrook and George blatantly ignoring questions in the postgame press conference.
After Game 3 win over Blazers, Thunder’s Russell Westbrook with another round of “next questions” pic.twitter.com/iLa12KEfEG
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 20, 2019
- Now I don’t care one bit about the history between Russ and the reporter. It shouldn’t matter. These are softballs. Just answer the damn question, man. And why does George feel the reason to comply with Westbrook? But these are the types of things that make Westbrook so polarizing. If you didn’t like him barking at Lillard at the end of the game then you sure as hell aren’t going to like what he did in the postgame. But some will love it. Personally, I believe it’s part of the job for NBA players to answer these questions. And yes, I understand that I say that as someone who asks questions in post-game press conferences. But that’s why there are press conferences. This isn’t about Westbrook’s personal vendettas, it’s about him being able to fully project his words to a fanbase that wants to hear what he has to say and he’s cheating them out of that experience. Although, I suppose, in reality, it ultimately doesn’t matter. The pettiness is what makes Russ the person that he is. It blends into his game and how he talks and acts. And when you can back it up by posting 33 points and 11 assists, then why not embrace your own persona?
- Now back to the game… Enes Kanter’s bruised right hand didn’t seem to bother him too much in Game 3 as he posted 19 points and five rebounds on 9-14 shooting from the field. If it wasn’t for Kanter’s fourth quarter, this game wouldn’t have even been as close as the final score indicated. Lillard and McCollum were cold in the last quarter – the Thunder wouldn’t even let McCollum breath whenever he touched the ball. Which meant the offense had to come from somewhere and Kanter was willing to supply it. The only bad part? The Thunder were attacking Kanter every possession on defense. There was a stretch in the middle of the fourth where Kanter scored six straight points for Portland to keep the game within striking distance. But on those three trips up and down the court, Kanter was burned on defense in the pick-and-roll every time. Kanter giveth the points. And then Kanter taketh the points away. My reaction was the basketball equivalent of this gif.
- Nerlens Noel contributed another fantastic 13 minutes for the Thunder. He turned the ball over three times but made some timely plays on defense while adding four points and three rebounds. Noel has done a terrific job of soaking up backup center minutes whenever Steven Adams is on the bench.
- Check out the full stat sheet below.
|Enes Kanter (POR)||108-120 L @ OKC||19||9-14 (0-1)||5||1||0||0||1||-13||29|
|Nerlens Noel (OKC)||120-108 W vs. POR||4||2-2 (0-0)||3||0||0||1||3||-6||13|
|Jodie Meeks (TOR)||98-93 W @ ORL||0||0-0||0||0||1||0||0||-3||2|
|Skal Labissiere (POR)||108-120 L @ OKC||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Patrick Patterson (OKC)||120-108 W vs. POR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Hamidou Diallo (OKC)||120-108 W vs. POR||DNP-Elbow||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TODAY IN THE NBA
3:00 (TNT): Sixers @ Nets (PHI leads 2-1)
5:30 (TNT): Nuggets (Lyles, Murray, Vanderbilt) @ Spurs (SAS leads 2-1)
8:00 (ESPN): Bucks (Bledsoe) @ Pistons (MIL leads 2-0)
10:30 (ESPN): Rockets @ Jazz (Hou leads 2-0)