Post Up: Pelicans Win Thriller In Portland While Celtics And Raptors Roll At Home

by April 18, 2018
1,500
Jrue Holiday

Raptors 130, Wizards 119 (Raptors lead 2-0)

Washington cut the Toronto lead to 108-103, but this was as close as the Wizards would get in a game the Raptors controlled from start to finish. Toronto raced out to a 17-point lead after the first quarter and finished the first half with 76 points, a franchise playoff record. The Wizards hung out around and made a late push but DeMar DeRozan (37 points) and some big plays from the bench kept the home team in control.

After getting the proverbial monkey off their back with a Game 1 win at home, the Raptors took a commanding advantage in a series they were big favorites in. Jonas Valanciunas (19 points, 14 rebounds) and C.J. Miles (18 points off the bench) contributed offensively while Serge Ibaka (10 points, 9 rebounds) essentially secured the win with a massive block on Bradley Beal.

John Wall (29 points, 9 assists) was the only Washington starter to do much scoring, evidenced by both Beal and Markieff Morris sporting +/- ratings of worse than -30. Four Wizards reserves scored in double figures including Ty Lawson (14 points, 8 assists) who made his team debut Tuesday after spending the whole season playing for the Shandong Golden Stars in China.

Celtics 120, Bucks 106 (Celtics lead 2-0)

Like they did in Game 1, the Celtics used a big first quarter to take an early double-digit lead in this one. However, unlike in Sunday’s matinee, Boston was able to cruise in the second half as Milwaukee made a quick run to tie it up at 35 apiece in the second quarter but faded away after the break.

Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists) and Khris Middleton (25 points) combined to score over half of the Bucks’ points, as Jabari Parker (held scoreless in 10 minutes of playing time) was basically a no-show and Eric Bledsoe (12 points on 13 shots) was uneven. Milwaukee was also just 7-of-17 at the free throw line and committed 15 turnovers.

Boston also got big performances from two starters, Jaylen Brown (30 points) and Terry Rozier (23 points, 8 rebounds), but was aided by solid play from up and down the roster. Marcus Morris scored 18 points off the bench while Shane Larkin and Greg Monroe hit some key shots.

If the Bucks are going to be able to make this series a competitive one, they’re going to have to force Boston mistakes and get more from Parker. Forcing turnovers was a staple of Milwaukee’s play this season and helped the Bucks stick with Boston in Game 1, but the Celtics are just too well-coached to lose when they aren’t thrown out of rhythm on offense.

Pelicans 111, Trail Blazers 102 (Pelicans lead 2-0)

Man, where to begin. In what was by far the best game of the night, Portland almost was able to pull off a huge comeback but just didn’t have an answer for the Jrue HolidayAnthony Davis combo down the stretch and couldn’t grab a defensive rebound. Also, New Orleans’ former Bulls — Rajon Rondo (16 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) and Nikola Mirotic (17 points, 8 rebounds) — knocked down some huge threes to put the Blazers away.

Building off their great games in Saturday’s win, Jrue (33 points, 9 assists) and AD (22 points, 13 rebounds) torched Portland in the pick-and-roll all night, taking advantage of Jusuf Nurkic’s limited playing time due to both injury and ineffectiveness. They both crashed to the rim hard when given a lane but were also able to step out and hit jumpers as well. Playoff Rondo made another appearance and did his thing, like make insane passes and beat defenders off the dribble with ease.

As for Portland, it’s just a devastating loss. It’s possible to lose the first two games at home and come back to win a best-of-seven series — the Celtics did it against Rondo and Mirotic’s Bulls last postseason — but it’s not easy. It wasn’t going to be easy for the Blazers to D up Davis with a healthy and fully engaged Nurkic, so anything else makes that task almost impossible.

And if Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum (combined 39 points on 16-of-39 shooting with 9 turnovers) continue to struggle with their shots and keep turning the ball over? Forget it.