By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and Dallas managed to even the series with the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night despite Luka Doncic battling foul trouble and Kristaps Porzingis battling knee soreness. The Mavericks received notable showings from its supporting cast, specifically guard Trey Burke. In 18 minutes, Burke scored 16 points to lead the second unit while Doncic was sitting. For the Clippers, the loss hurts, but of more significant concern is the health of Paul George. George was awful in Game 2 (4-of-17 shooting). There seems to be a possibility that his surgically-repaired right shoulder is injured.
Houston improved to 2-0 over the Oklahoma City Thunder despite Russell Westbrook being sidelined (quad) and James Harden struggling (5-of-16 shooting). Six members of Harden’s supporting cast scored in double-figures, and Houston’s much-maligned defense was incredible. The Rockets were flawlessly executing its switch scheme. Houston’s ball-hawking defense held OKC to 39 points during the second half, closing off passing lanes and forcing the Thunder into contested shots.
Following a disappointing loss in Game 1 despite an other-worldly showing, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell willed his team to a Game 2 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Following his 57-point outburst in Game1, Mitchell posted 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting in Game 2. He was a focal point of Denver’s defensive attack, yet he managed to post an efficient scoring game while also play-making for his teammates. It was an incredible individual performance. Denver will look to slow Mitchell in Game 3 today.
Miami took a commanding 2-0 lead over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday, thanks to a lights-out shooting from Duncan Robinson. Robinson scored 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Goran Dragic continues to shine, and the impact of Jimmy Butler’s presence on Miami’s stable of youngsters cannot be overstated. The Pacers can still make this a series. However, Indiana has to get better shooting from its backcourt duo of Victor Oladipo and Malcolm Brogdon. Game 3 is tomorrow afternoon.
Boston also moved to 2-0 in its series with Philadelphia with an emphatic win in Game 2. Despite losing Gordon Hayward in Game 1 to a severe ankle injury, Boston’s rotation appeared crisp and battle-tested. Celtics guard Jaysom Tatum is playing like a future MVP candidate, Jaylen Brown continues to be a two-way force, and Kemba Walker looks fully healthy following a slow integration into the fold during bubble play. Philadelphia sorely misses Ben Simmons.
Toronto’s 2-0 series advantage over the Brooklyn Nets is likely insurmountable given the combination of the Raptors’ championship pedigree and Brooklyn’s decimated roster. The Nets fought until the final buzzer in Game 2, but it was not enough to outlast the defending NBA champions. Now, Nets sharp-shooter Joe Harris is out due to leaving the NBA bubble for personal reasons. Most encouraging for Toronto’s long-term prospects was Norman Powell, who rebounded from an ugly Game 1 to post 24 points and a few plays for the highlight reel.
Both the top-seeded Bucks and top-seeded Lakers were able to recover from unexpected series-opening losses. Giannis Antetokounmpo was on a mission for Milwaukee, going for 28 points and 20 boards while leading his team to a comfortable, blowout victory. Center Brook Lopez, who was awful in Game 1 on both ends of the court, also returned to form, scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The Lakers managed to even the series against Portland behind renewed interest on the defensive end and much-improved shooting from deep. In Game 1, the Lakers shot 5-of-32 from three-point territory. In Game 2, 14-of-38. Both the Lakers and Bucks will again be in action on Saturday.