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2018 NBA playoffs: Pelicans reason on; 76ers continue to roll; Warriors intent and energized

The initial turn of a NBA playoffs starts currently with four Game 1s. Following along here for a latest research and explanation from The Post’s NBA contributor Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions in a comments section.

Schedule and results | Odds | Pregame reading | Comments territory QA

  • The 76ers bake adult a three-point line to club a Heat in Philadelphia.
  • The Raptors used their abyss to win their initial Game 1 of a playoff array given 2001.
  • The Warriors are intent and energized again, and that’s bad new for a Spurs. But a Warriors do have a weakness.
  • Predicting a East and West first-round series; design a Rockets to sweep

Holiday’s invulnerability in final mins rises New Orleans in Game 1

It looked like it competence be “Dame Time” once again in Portland on Saturday night.

A mad Trail Blazers quip late in a fourth entertain of Game 1 of their playoff array opposite a New Orleans Pelicans had Portland within a indicate – with a turn – inside a final notation of a game.

But afterwards Jrue Holiday stole a turn in transition. Then he poked a turn divided from Meyers Leonard to forestall a layup with New Orleans adult 3 with 9 seconds left. Then he blocked a Pat Connaughton layup with 5 seconds remaining.

All of that led New Orleans to a 97-95 victory, and showed all a universe because Holiday has been an all-defensive team-worthy actor this deteriorate – not to discuss a estimable sidekick to Anthony Davis in a Big Easy.

Portland’s Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum – a comprehensive backcourt that fuels Portland – were a sum 13-for-41 (though they did start a diversion 1-for-15, so going 12-for-26 in a second half was peppery by comparison). Holiday, meanwhile, was 10-for-20, and sum with Davis (35 points, 14 rebounds, dual steals, 4 blocks) to measure 56 points.

But it was a Pelicans’ invulnerability – and privately Holiday’s – that helped Davis win a initial playoff diversion of his career, and authorised New Orleans to take home justice in this series.

Pelicans’ stars dwarf Portland’s stars in initial half

The story of a initial half in Portland? The Pelicans’ star tandem, Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday, have sum for 32 points on 15-for-28 shooting. Portland’s star combo Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, on a other hand? They have usually 3 points on 1-for-15 shooting.

On one level, a Trail Blazers should feel advantageous they are usually down 9 with their heading scorers personification that badly. But Portland positively doesn’t have many of a possibility of winning this diversion if Lillard and McCollum don’t get going – and fast. And doing so opposite a defender as good as Holiday is easier pronounced than done.

Holiday, a pivotal for Pelicans, off to a glorious start

I had dual poignant dissapoint picks — Bucks in 6 over a Celtics, and Pelicans in 6 over a Trail Blazers. And while one of a league’s best players, Anthony Davis, is because we eventually picked New Orleans, a play of Jrue Holiday this deteriorate was roughly as large of a factor.

Holiday has had to understanding with injuries and family health issues a past 4 seasons, a multiple that’s caused him to skip 122 games over that stretch.

This year, though, Holiday played 81 games, and has been terrific. He averaged a career high 19 points per diversion to go with 6 assists, and was a outrageous disproportion builder defensively (I voted him onto my initial group for all-defense).

So distant in Game 1 opposite Portland? Holiday has 11 points and 4 rebounds in 12 minutes. If New Orleans is to lift off a upset, it’s going to need Holiday to keep producing like that, and like he has been all deteriorate long.

Sixers open strong, club Heat

Thanks to a outrageous second half and a swell of three-pointers, a Philadelphia 76ers cruised to a 130-103 feat over a Miami Heat in Game 1 of their best-of-7 series.

The Sixers finished an absurd 18-for-28 from prolonged range, led by a sum 53 points on 30 shots from J.J. Redick (28 points) and Marco Belinelli (25). Ben Simmons, meanwhile, had 17 points, 9 rebounds and 14 assists in his initial playoff game.

It’s tough to see Philadelphia staying that prohibited from a perimeter. But with Joel Embiid potentially entrance behind for Game 2, it competence not matter.

Fultz puts defender in a blender

And, along with a Dunk of a Day from Simmons, we now have a Move of a Day from teammate Markelle Fultz: a absurd spin to get into a line before he eventually scores. I know his shot is still an issue, nonetheless it was things like this that done Fultz a transparent No. 1 collect in final year’s draft.

Caution: Ben Simmons blast zone

We have a Dunk of a Day: Ben Simmons ends Kelly Olynyk with a absurd crossover, followed by a infamous impact asperse over Justise Winslow before he could even react. Yikes.

76ers lineup change also altered a game

Sixers Coach Brett Brown done a initial poignant tactical composition of his series, and it paid off in a large way.

Removing Amir Johnson from a lineup to start a third entertain and replacing him with Ersan Ilyasova incited Hassan Whiteside into a trade cone, and, by extension, kicked off what became a 23-3 run that’s flipped a seven-point Miami advantage into a double-digit lead for Philadelphia.

Whiteside will be indispensable when Joel Embiid earnings from injury. But until then? It’s tough to disagree that Miami is improved off with him on a justice given Philadelphia can take advantage of him defensively on each posession.

The approach Philadelphia got going opposite him in Game 1 competence infer to be a disproportion in this one.

Sixers, Heat wearing out a three-point line

The Heat and Sixers have incited Game 1 of their playoff array into a sharpened gallery.

In the initial half, Miami went 7-for-14 from behind a three-point arc, while Philadelphia shot 7-for-13. Given how both of these teams are trending toward playing, quite while Joel Embiid is out, design a threes to continue pouring in.

Another thing to watch: a Sixers usually had 4 quick mangle points during halftime, a large reason because Miami enjoyed a four-point lead. There have been so many tainted calls in this diversion that it has bogged things down and kept Philadelphia from removing out and running, which, nonetheless Embiid, is a outrageous partial of what a Sixers do.

As such, one other thing to watch in a second half is tainted trouble. Robert Covington is a usually actor with 3 fouls, nonetheless 8 players — Ben Simmons, Amir Johnson, Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova for Philadelphia, Kylly Olynyk, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic — all have two.

Whiteside a non-factor for Miami in initial half

With Joel Embiid sidelined, there was some suspicion Hassan Whiteside could make an outsized impact on a Sixers-Heat array until he came back. So distant in Game 1, though, Whiteside has mostly been invisible. He has dual points in 8 minutes, along with 4 rebounds, dual blocks (and dual turnovers). More importantly, a Heat are -6 with him on a court.

After his latest ineffectual stint, Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra pulled Whiteside in preference of going smaller, with Kelly Olynyk during core instead. Miami competence be improved going that way, as it allows a Heat to space a building with during slightest 4 shooters on a justice during all times.

Heat’s offense shows out early

As a Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat start what should be a unequivocally intriguing series, dual questions could establish how this goes: Can Miami measure in a halfcourt, and can it control Ben Simmons?

So far, Miami’s offense is winning.

Simmons already has 7 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists, and while he’s missed 3 of his 4 shots, he’s been means to get wherever he wants on a court.

But a Heat went on a 23-10 run to tighten a initial quarter, and did so for a same reason it reached a postseason in a initial place: abyss opposite a roster. Seven players have already scored, and a Heat has 18 points off a dais in a initial entertain alone.

If Miami is going to win this series, that’s what it’s going to need, generally given Philadelphia’s distance and length on a fringe is going to give problems to Goran Dragic, Miami’s all-star guard, who non-stop a diversion with misses on 3 of his initial 4 shots.

Raptors go deep

When a playoffs arrive, pronounce starts about teams cutting their depth, and how abyss doesn’t even unequivocally matter. Toronto valid that wrong in a 114-106 Game 1 feat over Washington.

Not usually did a Raptors play 11 guys, not including their tip reserve, Fred VanVleet, nonetheless they got plenty of prolongation from their second unit. The outcome was Toronto finally gnawing a 10-game losing aria in Game 1s, and display this year competence finally be opposite in Toronto.

The Raptors doubled adult a Wizards in dais scoring (42-21), including 18 points in 25 mins for Delon Wright, who stepped into VanVleet’s purpose behind Kyle Lowry. C.J. Miles chipped in with 4 three-pointers.

Washington, meanwhile, got 17 points from Mike Scott off a bench, nonetheless probably zero from a other reserves, many particularly Kelly Oubre, Jr., who had usually 3 points on 1-for-4 sharpened in 16 minutes.

Careless Wizards costing themselves in final quarter

When a reduce seeded group is perplexing to lift off an dissapoint win on a road, it can’t be creation reticent plays. Unfortunately for a Wizards, they tend to specialize in reticent plays, and dual of them early in a fourth entertain could infer to be costly.

A extreme tainted by Mike Scott resulted in dual giveaway throws for Kyle Lowry and a four-point play altogether for a Raptors. Then, usually a few mins later, Kelly Oubre’s infrequent pass to Bradley Beal underneath a Wizards’ basket became a turnover that led to a C.J. Miles three-pointer.

That has authorised a Raptors to go on a 10-0 run that’s put Toronto brazen by nine a small over midway by a fourth.

If a Wizards remove this game, they’ll indicate to this widen as a reason why.

Guards will be a disproportion in Toronto

This Raptors-Wizards array was billed as a conflict of all-star backcourts. With Toronto holding a four-point lead early in a fourth quarter, that’s accurately how Game 1 has played out.

So far, John Wall (18 points and 14 assists), Bradley Beal (17 points and 3 steals) and DeMar DeRozan (17 points and 6 assists) have showed up. Kyle Lowry (nine points, 5 assists, 4 turnovers) has not.

How those 4 guys play in a final 12 mins will establish either a Wizards lift off an dissapoint or a Raptors finally finish their Game 1 losing streak.

Warriors win. No warn here.

OAKLAND, Calif. — The final measure here during Oracle Arena: Golden State 113, San Antonio 92.

The Warriors State did what they had to do: uncover up. The Spurs valid their doubters right about what they couldn’t do: measure adequate to make this competitive.

The outcome was an easy Golden State feat that should start putting some of a doubts about their ability to repeat as champions to rest.

It also didn’t harm that Klay Thompson had 27 points on 11-for-13 shooting, Kevin Durant had 24 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, and Draymond Green sum 12 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists.

The Warriors have a weakness

Golden State is going to win this diversion (barring variable events holding place). But even in a win, there is something to ensure about a Warriors, both currently and relocating forward: a outward sharpened of Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala.

If a Warriors have a debility (excluding health), it is those dual struggling to consistently strike down open three-point shots. If they do, Golden State is probably unbeatable. If they do not? Well, afterwards things could be engaging after opposite improved opponents than San Antonio.

Through 3 durations of Game 1, though, they are attack them. Green is 2 for 5, while Iguodala is 1 for 2.

If they can strike 3 of each 7 threes they try between them over a subsequent dual months, a Warriors will be thrilled.

It’s not a fluke that in a diversion they are sharpened well, Golden State leads by 23 after 3 quarters.

Spurs make a lineup change during half

San Antonio came out in a second half with a new look: Rudy Gay replacing Kyle Anderson in a starting lineup. Then, dual mins into a third quarter, Tony Parker came in for Dejounte Murray.

Clearly, Gregg Popovich motionless that there was no approach his group was going to be means to make a diversion of this with LaMarcus Aldridge on a justice with dual non-shooters. Gay has been glorious so far, scoring 14 points to give a Spurs another unchanging descent threat, while Parker is a distant some-more energetic descent actor — even during this late theatre of his career — than Murray.

If San Antonio has any hopes of creation this competitive, it’s going to have to measure with Golden State. Even nonetheless Stephen Curry, a Warriors still have distant some-more firepower than a Spurs.

The Warriors are sealed in and a Spurs can’t keep up

There were dual poignant questions entering this Warriors-Spurs series: Would Golden State be intent and energized after finally creation a playoffs, and would San Antonio be means to score?

So far, a answers are yes, and no. If they stay that way, this will be a brief series.

It positively looks like it will be during halftime of Game 1, with Golden State holding a 57-41 lead over San Antonio. The Spurs have had no answers for Kevin Durant, who has 16 points on 6-for-10 sharpened and has been means to get whatever he has wanted. At a other end, LaMarcus Aldridge has struggled mightily with Golden State’s length all opposite a court, scoring 8 points on 8 shots (while picking adult 3 fouls to boot).

If it wasn’t for a Spurs going 6 for 11 from 3 and 7 for 8 from a tainted line, this diversion would be an even bigger blowout than it already appears headed towards being. The Warriors also means a Spurs 5 points sum during a ends of a initial and second buliding to concede San Antonio to be a bit closer than it should be.

The bottom line, though, is that by one half, during least, San Antonio doesn’t demeanour like it can keep up.

Predicting a East

Raptors in 7: I wish to collect Washington to win this series. The Wizards compare adult good with Toronto and have shown no fear for them this deteriorate (splitting 4 games nonetheless John Wall personification in any of them). But it’s usually unfit to put that many faith in this Wizards group after a approach they’ve played this season. So while Toronto will once again have a tough time, they will find a approach to advance.

Bucks in 6: Upset! we feel equally uncertain about this series, as we can’t trust Milwaukee and Boston has a million injuries. But a Bucks do have Giannis Antetokounmpo — and I’m picking The Greek Freak to have his initial playoff impulse and lead a Bucks to a second round.

Sixers in 7: Another tough array to call. Philadelphia has a lot some-more talent than Miami — nonetheless a lot reduction experience. Teams generally have to take light stairs in a playoffs — and frequency make it to a discussion finals on their initial try, as a Sixers are expected to do. But with Joel Embiid expected to come behind early in a series, we’ll tip a odds, ever so slightly, in Philadelphia’s direction.

Cavs in 5: LeBron James has done it to a NBA Finals for 7 true seasons. He isn’t losing in a initial round. It’s been a extensive deteriorate for a Indiana Pacers and former DeMatha star Victor Oladipo, nonetheless it ends here.

Predicting a West

Rockets in 4: Minnesota simply can’t ensure Houston. This should be a high scoring — nonetheless brief — series.

Warriors in 5: With Stephen Curry hurt, Golden State limping into a playoffs and San Antonio’s pedigree, a Spurs will get a game. But if this array is any some-more rival than that, a questions about Golden State’s ability to repeat as champions will benefit distant some-more credit in my eyes.

Pelicans in 6: This should be a unequivocally fun series, and Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has a gusto for entrance adult large in large moments. But Anthony Davis has taken a step brazen this deteriorate and determined himself as a tip 5 actor in a NBA, and he has nonetheless to win a playoff game. This is his time to make a statement, and we consider he will by removing a Pelicans to a second round.

Thunder in 7: This is, nonetheless question, a best and many constrained array of a initial round. But a Thunder have a integrate things going for them. The initial is home justice — which, in a tighten series, is a outrageous edge. The second is that Paul George, one of a NBA’s best players and wing defenders, is going to be guarding Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. It’s been an implausible entrance from a Louisville product, nonetheless seeking him to be a heading scorer on a playoff group opposite an all-world defender like George feels like too many for Utah to overcome. But this is simply a array I’m many looking brazen to watching.

A Game 1 win would meant some-more in Toronto

Before each playoff series, teams pronounce about a significance of winning Game 1. But for a Toronto Raptors, Saturday’s opening diversion of a playoffs opposite a Washington Wizards has an sum turn of urgency.

The top-seeded Raptors, who usually finished a best unchanging deteriorate in authorization history, enter a postseason with a towering aria of 10 true waste in Game 1s. Toronto’s final feat in a opening diversion of a playoff array was on May 6, 2001 — when Vince Carter (35 points) outdueled Allen Iverson (36) to give Toronto a 96-93 feat in a opening diversion of a Eastern Conference semifinals.

That also stays a usually Game 1 feat a Raptors have opposite a 13 playoff array in that they have played.

So, yes, it is needed for a Raptors to kick a eighth-seeded Wizards on Saturday night — not usually to stop a legions of fans north of a limit from concurrently freaking out and bringing behind all of a bad memories of before playoff meltdowns, nonetheless also to keep a Wizards from removing any movement in this series.

Washington is one of a league’s many treacherous teams. One night, a Wizards demeanour like they can play with anyone. The next, they demeanour like they can remove to anyone. But presumption Otto Porter is recovered from a recent calf strain, a Wizards have a talent to go toe-to-toe with Toronto, and a certainty warranted from a four-game brush in 2015 to know they can kick a Raptors on this stage.

This has been a smashing deteriorate so distant in Toronto. But all that’s happened — a record win total, a stylistic changes, a alleviation of a dais — has all been geared toward finally carrying a franchise’s now-consistent unchanging deteriorate play over to a playoffs. Nothing would weigh that has happened some-more than a feat Saturday night — and zero would make observers some-more skeptical that it has than a loss.

Elsewhere, Anthony Davis has never won a playoff series. In fact, he’s never won a playoff game.

So all eyes will be on Davis and a New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night, when they face a Trail Blazers in Portland. Despite being a lower-seeded group — and being nonetheless DeMarcus Cousins, who tore his Achilles’ tendon behind in Jan — this is a array New Orleans is some-more than able of winning. For as good as Portland’s backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is, they aren’t on a turn of Davis, who is good adequate to pitch a array by himself.

He has nonetheless to have his playoff moment. This array could yield it — and breathe some wish into a long-term destiny of this authorization that could desperately use it.

Saturday’s report and formula (all times Eastern)

  • Golden State Warriors 113, San Antonio Spurs 92,
  • Toronto Raptors 114, Washington Wizards 106
  • Philadelphia 76ers 130, Miami Heat 103
  • New Orleans Pelicans 97, Portland Trail Blazers 95


The Warriors and Cavaliers have met in 3 true NBA Finals, nonetheless The Post’s Neil Greenberg writes that conjunction group should be deliberate a favorite entering a playoffs. That shouldn’t be too surprisingly, deliberation a Houston Rockets went wire-to-wire this deteriorate as a league’s best team; they have a 39 percent possibility of winning a title, that would be their initial given going back-to-back in a 1994 and ’95 Finals. But what competence warn we is that teams Greenberg has following a Rockets with a best contingency to win it all. (Hint: It’s not Golden State or Cleveland.) In fact, Greenberg also writes that a Warriors should be on dissapoint warning in a initial round, carrying to horde a always dangerous Spurs.

Pregame reading

A new NBA story line: The Warriors competence not be favorites to win another title

Their dual biggest stars mislaid to injury, a Celtics still have one hulk advantage: Their coach

Dirk Nowitzki isn’t partial of these NBA playoffs, nonetheless Dirk clones are everywhere

‘My crony was shot’: How an assassin’s bullets in Israel altered an NBA team’s name in D.C.

The Golden State Warriors should be on dissapoint warning as NBA Playoffs begin. Seriously.

Russell Westbrook posted a season-long triple-double — again. Why don’t we caring this time?

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell can’t determine on who is rookie of a year and it’s flattering funny

Comment QA

Hop into a comments territory next starting during 2:30 p.m. to discuss with The Post’s Tim Bontemps about all of your NBA questions.

Article source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/sports/wp/2018/04/14/2018-nba-playoffs-first-round-game-1s-saturday/