By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and in the most exciting game of the postseason so far, the Dallas Mavericks erased a 21-point deficit against the Los Angeles Clippers, capping the comeback with a game-winning three-pointer from Luka Doncic as time expired in overtime. Doncic, who was questionable for the game due to a severe ankle injury suffered on Friday, knocked down the game-winner, in addition to putting up 43 points, 17 boards, and 13 dimes. It was a comically excellent performance from Doncic, and Dallas has now evened the series against the Clippers. It is also worth noting that the Mavericks were without Kristaps Porzingis, who was a late scratch due to knee soreness.
In an overtime thriller, the Oklahoma City Thunder outlasted the Houston Rockets. Much of the credit for OKC’s win goes to Luguentz Dort, who handled the defensive duties against Houston’s James Harden. When guarded by Dort, Harden shot 3-of-14 from the field. When guarded by anyone else, Harden was 9-of-13 from the field. Still trailing 2-1 in the series, the Thunder seem to have uncovered a recipe for relative success against Harden and the Rockets. It will be interesting to see how it carries over to today’s Game 4, and whether or not Harden and the Rockets make necessary adjustments.
Sunday night’s tilt saw Utah’s Donovan Mitchell and Denver’s Jamal Murray exchange 50-point outbursts. Still, it was the Jazz that emerged with the win. Utah’s victory gives the Jazz a commanding 3-1 series advantage. Mitchell’s 51 points make him only the fourth player in NBA history with multiple 50-point games in a single playoff series. Denver will look to extend its season and avoid a second consecutive disappointing playoff showing on Tuesday.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis did the heavy lifting to carry the Lakers to a Game 3 win on Saturday night. It was precisely the kind of showing the Lakers need from its superstar duo, and L.A. now boasts a solid 2-1 advantage over the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland continues to get solid run out of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic, and—shockingly enough—Carmelo Anthony. However, the rest of the roster has struggled for consistent production. Portland started the series with a massive Game 1 upset win over the Lakers. Now heading into Game 4, the Blazers need an encore to save its season.
Milwaukee took a 2-1 lead over the Orlando Magic with a comfortable win on Saturday afternoon. Giannis Antetokounmpo was in MVP form, exploding for 35 points on 12-of-14 shooting from the field. Orlando sorely lacks Aaron Gordon (hamstring), who would bolster Orlando’s frontcourt while allowing Gary Clark to shift back to the second unit. Most encouraging for Milwaukee was the play of Khris Middleton, who was awful in Games 1 and 2. He was hardly star-level in Game 3, but Middleton putting up 17 points on 17 shots to go with eight boards and six dimes was a much better showing. The Bucks will look to push the Magic to the brink of elimination this afternoon.
Miami will look to send the Pacers home from the NBA campus in Orlando today as the Heat look to finish off a four-game sweep. Much like Orlando, Indiana is missing a key contributor to its frontcourt, big man Domantas Sabonis. Without Sabonis, the Pacers simply lack the pieces to keep pace with the white-hot shooting Heat. Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon played like a superstar in Game 3’s loss, going for 34 points, 14 dimes, and seven boards. However, he was the lone Pacers player to shine. For the Heat, Jimmy Butler did Jimmy Butler things, veteran point guard Goran Dragic’s strong playoffs continued, and youngsters Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro continue to be excellent supporting pieces.
Behind a 32-point effort from Kemba Walker, Boston ended the season of the Philadelphia 76ers with a four-game sweep. Joel Embiid played incredible for Philadelphia, but otherwise, things were pretty much a worst-case scenario for the Ben Simmons-less 76ers. Entering the season, Philadelphia had championship aspirations. Instead, the team is heading home from the Orlando bubble following an ugly first-round exit from the playoffs. A coaching change is an obvious—and inevitable—move. It likely won’t be the only significant change the franchise undertakes this off-season. Meanwhile, Boston is heading to the second round of the postseason.