Posted on April 16, 2018, by Travis Pulver
Day One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs didn’t produce any surprises or upsets. Everyone that was expected to win did win. The games that were supposed to be easy were, and the ones meant to be closer were indeed closer. In the end, fans were satisfied but left wondering what Day Two would have in store for them. How would the action match up?
Could the injury-depleted Celtics overcome the young guns in Milwaukee? Was Cleveland just going to turn it on like they do every year in the playoffs? Would Utah have a shot against the Thunder? Did Minnesota have a prayer against Houston?
Game One: Milwaukee Bucks 107 Boston Celtics 113 OT
While the No. 2 seeded Boston Celtics were technically favored to win the game, many believed the No. 7 seed Milwaukee Bucks would take this one home. Yes, Boston has been playing well without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward. But now they are playing a very talented team in the Bucks led by one of the fastest rising stars in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
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The game started out as a close contest but a 15-0 run over the last few minutes of the first gave Boston a 29-17 lead heading into the second quarter. But then it was Milwaukee’s turn to have the hot hand as Boston’s offense went cold.
A 15-2 run by the Bucks to start the quarter put Milwaukee in front. They stretched the lead out to as much as ten before Boston made a late run to shrink it down to three, 47-44, heading into halftime.
The seesaw battle continued in the second half and saw the Celtics in the lead, 70-66, heading into the final quarter. That was when things really got interesting.
Boston’s defense held the Bucks off for most of the quarter. But a three-pointer by Malcolm Brogdon tied the score up at 96-96 with 11.1 seconds to play. That ended up being just enough time for Boston to get the ball downcourt and for Terry Rozier to hit what appeared to be the go-ahead three-pointer with 1.5 seconds on the clock.
The game’s over, right? Wrong! Somehow, Khris Middleton got off a buzzer beater from 35-feet away and made it! But Milwaukee couldn’t keep it up in overtime as Boston outscored them 14-8 to secure the win.
Al Horford came up big for the Celtics with a double-double (24 points and 12 rebounds). Terry Rozier chipped in 23, and Marcus Morris scored 20 off the bench. Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists followed by Middleton’s 31-point effort.
The Celtics will likely need another total team effort to take down the Bucks in Game Two Tuesday night in Boston. If Milwaukee is going to steal a win, Antetokounmpo and Middleton need more help from the rest of the roster.
Game One: Indiana Pacers 98 Cleveland Cavaliers 80
Nothing was expected of the Indiana Pacers as they opened the playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers. They gave the Cavaliers a good run last year, but both rosters are incredibly different this time around—and it showed.
Cleveland has been carried by LeBron James since the Cavs revamped their roster. But no matter how good a game he had, he still needed the rest of the team to do something. He ended up recording a triple-double Sunday (24 points, ten rebounds, and 12 assists).
But since the rest of the team could only manage 56 points, James suffered the first opening-round Game One loss of his career.
But is he worried?
“I’m down 0-1 in the first round,” he told the media after the game. “I was down 3-1 in the Finals. So, I’m the last guy to ask about how you’re going to feel the next couple days.”
The outcome was never really in doubt. Indiana got out to a 21-point lead in the first before setting for a 19-point one heading into the second. The second quarter was more competitive but still saw the Pacers ahead at the half, 55-38.
Cleveland cut the deficit to eight points heading into the final quarter only to see the Pacers dominate the fourth.
Victor Oladipo had the kind of game the Pacers needed him to have with 32 points followed by Myles Turner with 16 points. Bojan Bogdanovic chipped in 15 points.
Game Two will be in Cleveland Wednesday night. The Cavaliers are likely going to wake up on offense, so the Pacers will need more offense from their role players to counter it. As bad as Cleveland’s defense is, that shouldn’t be too hard.
Game One: Utah Jazz 108 Oklahoma City Thunder 116
Paul George is going to have a big decision to make in the offseason. Sunday, against the Jazz, he gave the Thunder a pretty good reason to do whatever they can to influence his decision. The soon-to-be free agent led the Thunder with 36 points and set a new playoff record for the Thunder with eight three-pointers (he went 8-11 from three-point range; 13-20 overall).
Russell Westbrook had a solid outing with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists. Carmelo Anthony chipped in 15 points and seven rebounds.
Donovan Mitchell did his best to lead the Jazz to victory with 27 points and ten rebounds. He was one of seven Jazz players to score in double figures. But the next highest to Mitchell was Rudy Gobert with 14 points.
Overall, it was a well-played and relatively close game. The game was tied after the first, 25-25. Heading into the half, the Thunder managed to take a six-point lead, 54-48. Utah got within three early in the third but fell behind by nine heading into the fourth. Both offenses exploded in the fourth, but the Jazz was not able to close the gap.
The outlook on Game Two could change dramatically depending on how a pair of injuries turn out. George ended up suffering a right hip contusion, and Mitchell stubbed his toe. It would be shocking if Mitchell were to sit. But the Thunder could sit George for a game or two.
That just means they’ll have to put the ball into Westbrook’s hands.
Game One: Minnesota Timberwolves 101 Houston Rockets 104
The Houston Rockets knew that the Minnesota Timberwolves would be more dangerous than their record would indicate with Jimmy Butler back in the rotation. But the Rockets, the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, were still not too concerned.
But after how things went in Sunday night’s playoff opener, maybe they should.
Houston wasn’t playing their best, but the Rockets were still able to take a 27-21 lead after the first quarter. The second was a bit more competitive, but Houston was still able to extend the lead to seven, 54-47, at the half.
Rockets fans hoped that the burst that would put the game away would come early in the second half, but it never did. Instead, the T-wolves chipped away at Houston’s small lead. With 6:49 to play, a pair of free throws by Jamal Crawford put Minnesota on top, 86-85.
Eric Gordon put Houston back on top with the next possession. James Harden followed with a 7-0 run to give Houston an eight-point cushion with 4:27 left to play. The Rockets played enough defense to keep the T-wolves at arm’s length for the rest of the game.
James Harden led the way for Houston with 44 points and eight assists. He went 7-12 from behind the arc; no one else made more than one.
“We were struggling to make shots, struggling to really have any kind of rhythm and James put us on his back,” coach Mike D’Antoni told the media after the game. “He’s been doing it for a while now.”
Game Two will be in Houston Wednesday night. Minnesota will need Houston to have another poor night from three-point range if they are going to have a shot at the upset.