Terry Rozier, Al Horford and Jayson Tatum powered the Celtics past the Bucks in Game 7, while Draymond Green and his Warriors easily handled the Pelicans in Game 1. After recapping Saturday's action, we'll preview the two games tipping off on Sunday.
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* Boston Celtics 112, Milwaukee Bucks 96 - (Celtics win the series 4-3):
Terry Rozier erupted for 26 points (on 10-of-16 shooting), six rebounds, nine assists, one steal, one block and five 3-pointers in the biggest game of his career Saturday night. Scary Terry lit up Eric Bledsoe all evening, and you know he enjoyed every second of it. Rozier joins Larry Bird as just the second Celtic with more than 25 points, five boards and five dimes in a Game 7 over the last 50 years. (Bird did three times)… Al Horford had a brilliant all-around Game 7, scoring a career playoff-high 26 points (on 13-of-17 shooting) and chipping in eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 33 minutes.
Not to be outdone, rookie Jayson Tatum shined on Saturday as well. Tatum tallied 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. Per Basketball-Reference, he is the only rookie since 1964 to register at least 20/6/5 in a Game 7. Remarkably, Tatum just turned 20 years old last month. He has superstar potential… Semi Ojeleye finished with five points, five rebounds and one 3-pointer in 29 minutes. However, that in no way indicates just how impactful he was in this contest. He defense on Antetokounmpo was crucial… Jaylen Brown limped to the locker room in the second quarter due to a hamstring injury. He was seen riding the exercise bike and being stretched out on the sideline in hopes of returning. In the second half, the team announced that he had been cleared to return but, with the C's nursing a double-digit lead for most of the fourth quarter, he never checked back in. The fact that the Boston medical staff gave him clearance is encouraging, but hamstrings can be tricky. We should have an update on his status by Monday morning.
As expected, Giannis Antetokounmpo did all he could to keep the Bucks close. The Greek Freak finished 22 points, nine rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 42 minutes. Giannis was terrific in this series, even if he might not have been quite as productive as the Milwaukee faithful had hoped. Nonetheless, the future remains insanely bright for this kid. He'll be a top-3 pick, and possibly No. 1 overall, in many fantasy basketball drafts next October… Khris Middleton poured in a game-high 32 points and added two rebounds, three assists, one block and five 3-pointers. Middleton was a rock solid fantasy contributor all season and into the playoffs.
Thon Maker drew another start at center in place of the injured John Henson (back) and finished with five points, six rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes… Jabari Parker logged 29 minutes off the bench and scored nine points with six rebounds, two assists and two steals. Parker will be a restricted free agent this summer, which means it's possible that was his last game as a Buck. It will be fascinating to see what kind of offers he attracts in July… Eric Bledsoe tallied 23 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 34 minutes. However, he was embarrassed by Terry Rozier on Saturday night. After talking junk earlier in the series, he was unable to back it up in the deciding contest. Pretty safe to assume he knows who Rozier is now.
* Golden State Warriors 123, New Orleans Pelicans 101 - (Warriors lead the series 1-0)
The Warriors were bored throughout most of the 2017-18 regular season and didn't face much of a challenge from the shorthanded Spurs in Round One, but were geared up for this contest. Despite playing without Stephen Curry (knee), they came out on fire in the first half, building a 76-48 lead late in the second quarter. Draymond Green did it all for the Dubs, recording his fourth career postseason triple-double (16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists) to go along with three steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer in just 30 minutes… Kevin Durant scored 26 points with 13 rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 32 minutes… Klay Thompson scored a game-high 27 points with six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes.
It appeared Steph Curry would make his postseason debut on Saturday, as had been ramping up his rehab late in the week. However, coach Steve Kerr decided to err on the side of caution and hold him out for one more game. "You've been out five weeks and we're playing in the playoffs, I don't think one scrimmage is enough, even though he feels great, he wanted to play and pleaded his case," said Kerr. He added that it is "very likely" that Curry suits up for Game 2.
The Pelicans came in flying high after sweeping past the Blazers, but were quickly brought down to earth by the Warriors juggernaut. Anthony Davis averaged 33 points per contest in the first round vs. Portland, but was limited to 21 points, ten rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 34 minutes on Saturday… Jrue Holiday was also spectacular against the Blazers, but didn't find the same airspace in Golden State. He made just four of his 14 field goal attempts and finished with 11 points, three rebounds, four assists and one 3-pointer in 31 minutes… Nikola Mirotic was 3-of-9 from the floor for his nine points with eight rebounds, two assists and one steal. The Pels will look to get back on track in Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Preview of Sunday's action:
* Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers - 1:00 pm on ABC
Prior to the start of this series vs. the Pacers, LeBron James had been flat-out dominant in the first round. Not only had he won 21 straight first-round games, but dating back to 2007, LeBron had gone 37-3 over his previous 40 contests. However, this is the worst supporting cast LeBron has played with since 2007. Consider this: LeBron has scored a total of 196 points in this series. No other Cavs player has scored more than 66. LeBron leads the team with 47 assists; Jeff Green is second with 10. Oh, and LeBron leads Cleveland in rebounds and blocks as well. Larry Nance Jr. is the only other rotation regular shooting above 46 percent from the floor. The Cavs are scoring just 100.6 points per 100 possessions in the series, which ranks 15th among all 16 playoffs teams this postseason.
If history is any indication, we can expect an A+ performance from James on Sunday. Over the last six games he's played in which his team was facing elimination, LeBron is averaging a mind-boggling 35.7 points, 12.6 rebounds and 9.5 assists. However, even if we assume LeBron is dominant, the Cavs supporting cast will need to step up. They could certainly use better play at point guard, and there is some optimism that George Hill (back spasms) may be cleared to return. Hill said his back felt better on Saturday and "hopes" to play in Game 7, but his status will be determined by how he feels at game time.
The Pacers forced a Game 7 by bulldozing the Cavs in Indiana on Friday night. Victor Oladipo led the way, posting a jaw-dropping triple-double. 'Dipo finished with 28 points, 13 rebounds, ten assists, four steals and six 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Domantas Sabonis chipped in 19 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes as the Pacers cruised to an easy 121-87 win over Cleveland. (It's worth noting that the player they were traded for - Paul George - scored just five points on 2-of-16 shooting in OKC's season-ending loss on Friday.) The Pacers have far more talent across the board than do the Cavs, and it could also be argued that they are facing less pressure than Cleveland, who have had championship expectations all season. The winner will take on the Raptors in round two.
Could this be the final 48 minutes of LeBron James' career as a Cavalier? So many fascinating subplots in this captivating deciding game.
* Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets - 3:30 pm on ABC
The other matchup on Sunday doesn't have as much at stake, as it's only a Game 1. However, it promises to be an extremely entraining contest as well. Utah was, by far and away, the best defensive team in the league over the second half of the season, allowing fewer than 97 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the record-setting Rockets were neck-and-neck with the Warriors as the top offense in the NBA.
Donovan Mitchell was incredible during the regular season, yet somehow he's stepped up and is playing even better during the playoffs. He poured in 38 points to help push Utah past OKC in Friday's Game 6. For the series, he averaged 28.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.5 steals and just 2.7 turnovers. He's scored a total of 171 points in his first six career playoff games. To put that in context, only two players have scored more points over their first six postseason contests: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain. Not bad company to keep.
Unfortunately, Mitchell will be without his backcourt mate Ricky Rubio on Sunday. Rubio strained his hamstring on Friday night has already been ruled out of Game 1. According to ESPN, Rubio could miss up to 10 days. Thus, it's possible he misses the entire series. Royce O'Neale, who has exceeded expectations all season, will see a significant uptick in minutes.
Despite looking a bit sloppy in their first-round victory over the Timberwolves, Houston has reason to be extremely confident heading into round two. The Rockets won all four meetings between these two teams during the regular season. In fact, Houston handled them easily, winning each game by an average margin of 17.5 points.
The only player on the Rockets injury report is Luc Mbah a Moute, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Coach Mike D'Antoni initially told reporters that he thought Mbah a Moute would play in the series, but was doubtful to be ready to return for Game 1. However, on Saturday, D'Antoni said that LMAM had been upgraded to questionable. We will likely get a final determination of his status when D'Antoni speaks to the pregame media at approximately 2:00 pm EST on Sunday.