Good afternoon, folks. Jamal Murray and Enes Kanter combined for 49 points in Game 1. Let’s talk NBA Playoffs.
(3) Sixers – 94 @ (2) Raptors – 89 (Tied 1-1)
- Joel Embiid was dealing with “the shits”, as he phrased it, but his teammate Jimmy Butler came through to save the day and tie the series. Embiid finished with only 12 points as he dealt with an apparent bug but it was Butler’s 30 points and 11 rebounds that allowed Philly to steal a game on the road before heading back home.
- Toronto did not have a great shooting night, going into halftime with only 38 points and trailing by 13 points. Pascal Siakam was not nearly as hot as he was in Game 1, shooting only 9-25 from the field while Kawhi Leonard popped off for the second game in a row, recording 35 points, seven rebounds, and six assists.
- Jodie Meeks appeared for only one minute, missing his only shot of the game. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings when I say this, but Meeks has been quite unplayable in the playoffs so far.
(3) Trail Blazers – 113 @ (2) Nuggets – 121 (DEN leads 1-0)
- What a fantastic way to kick off a series. This game was so much fun, I had to watch it again this morning. The Denver Nuggets secured the first victory of this round behind 37 points, nine rebounds, and six assists from Nikola Jokic, who went head-to-head with Portland center Enes Kanter. Kanter posted an impressive stat line of 26 points and seven rebounds on 11-14 shooting, but that hardly tells the entire story of how this battle went down. To phrase it *lightly*, Jokic torched Kanter throughout the entire game. Jamal Murray – who finished with 23 points on 8-15 shooting to go along with eight assists and two steals – and Jokic ran pick-and-rolls on practically every other possession with Kanter as their bait. And man, did he bite hard.
- Kanter had no chance at defending Jokic when he was in a pick-and-roll setting. He dared Jokic to fire from deep a few times (I suggested the best scheme to defend Jokic would be to sag off and let him shoot) which ended with the Nuggets big man converting on three of his five attempts from deep. Kanter sunk deep into the paint on nearly every pick-and-roll, which gave players such as Murray or Gary Harris more than enough time and space to get off uncontested shots. Kanter couldn’t seem to ever read the play correctly and Jokic put up massive numbers because of it. And it sure wasn’t difficult for Murray to score when Kanter was begging him to get to his favorite mid-range pull-up spot. It was the third quarter specifically where Jokic popped off for 15 points and broke this game wide open in favor of Denver. He had Kanter looking like a deer in headlights. Jokic was bodying him as if Kanter were half his size. It could be a long series for the former Kentucky big man on the defensive end.
- But if we want to look on the bright side for Kanter, he missed only three of his 14 shots. Outside of one baseline jump shot he drained over Jokic, his shots came exclusively at the rim as a roll man. Once he got into position on the block, he was near impossible to stop from getting a shot up. Jokic isn’t enough of a rim protector to prevent Kanter from bullying him inside and it showed all game. But Kanter’s 26 points are hallow compared to Jokic’s 37. The Nuggets double-teamed the living hell out of C.J. McCollum and especially Damian Lillard, forcing them to feed a rolling Kanter for easy scores. Jokic initiated everything for Denver and was responsible for the majority of the team’s offense.
- I’ll take six more games of this series on the fly, please.
|Enes Kanter (POR)||113-121 L @ DEN||26||11-14 (0-0)||7||0||0||0||1||-10||33|
|Jamal Murray (DEN)||121-113 W vs. POR||23||8-15 (3-6)||0||8||2||0||1||+18||33|
|Jodie Meeks (TOR)||89-94 L vs. PHI||0||0-1 (0-1)||0||0||0||0||1||-4||1|
|Skal Labissiere (POR)||113-121 L @ DEN||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Trey Lyles (DEN)||121-113 W vs. POR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Jarred Vanderbilt (DEN)||121-113 W vs. POR||DNP-CD||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
TONIGHT IN THE NBA
8:00 (TNT): Celtics @ Bucks (Bledsoe) (BOS leads 1-0)
10:30 (TNT): Rockets @ Warriors (Cousins-out) (GSW 1-0)