Day 7 was one of the most entertaining days in the NBA Playoffs so far. A lot on the line, 3 games, 2 of those games had teams with a chance to go up 3-0, the other game was to break a 1-1 tie in the series.
Game 3 – Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks – Rockets Lead Series 2-0
When you look up the word “Shootout” in the dictionary, you see this game as the definition. The Rockets opened up the first quarter scoring 42 points and the Mavericks scored 36 points. The second quarter a mellow period, the Rockets only scored 23 points and the Mavericks stayed consistent, scoring 36 points. The Mavericks had a 72-65 lead at the intermission. The Rockets controlled the second half, outscoring Dallas 36-27 to take a 101-99 lead heading into the 4th quarter. That is normally a final score! Both teams would score 29 points apiece and the Rockets come away with a 130-128 win and take a commanding 3-0 lead in the series. These teams combined for 258 points which is the most in a regulation games since April 25th, 1995 when the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 140-126.
James Harden led the way with a Playoff career-high 42 points on 15-24 shooting, 5-7 from downtown and 7-7 from the free throw line. He also had 9 assists and 5 rebounds. His previous Playoff career-high was 37 in the first round series against Portland last year. Josh Smith added 18 points off the bench. Dwight Howard had a double-double with 13 points on 5-10 shooting and a Playoff career-high 26 rebounds. Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with a Playoff career-high 34 points on 15-25 shooting from the field. Dirk Nowitzki also had 34 points and 8 rebounds on 10-19 shooting from the field, 3-7 from the 3-point line and 11-11 from the charity stripe.
Game 4 is on Sunday at 7pm on TNT as the Rockets will look for the series sweep. Dallas is facing their 4th straight year without a winning a playoff series. The last time they won a series was the season they won their first NBA Title in franchise history. If Dallas wants to avoid the sweep, they will need to control the paint and not let Howard get so many rebounds.
PREDICTION: I think the Mavericks will win game 4 but the Rockets will close out the series in game 5 in Houston and James Harden will win his first ever playoff series.
Game 3 – Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards – Wizards Lead Series 2-0
After dropping both games of the series at home, the Raptors had a tough hill to climb. They have to win on the road to avoid going down 3-0 in which no team in NBA history has came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the series. The Raptors were looking like they didn’t want to face that challenge after outscoring the Wizards 35-33 after 1. The Wizards would lock down defensively holding Toronto to only 13 second half points and the Wizards had a 54-48 lead at the half. The Raptors would show some light as they outscored Washington 22-18 in the third trailing the Wizards by 2, 72-70 after 3 quarters. Paul Pierce would hit two key threes at the crucial moments of the game and would lift the Wizards to a 3-0 in the series with a 106-90 win over the Raptors.
Marcin Gortat led the way for Washington with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks on 11-15 shooting in 42 minutes. John Wall had another terrific outing, scoring 19 points and dishing out 15 assists. Paul Pierce had 18 points on 5-9 shooting from the field and 4-7 from downtown. Bradley Beal had 16 points. 8 players played for Washington and 6 of them were in double figures. Ramon Sessions and Nene were the only two players without scoring in double figures. DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 32 on 11-29 shooting. Kyle Lowry continues to struggle, scoring only 15 points on 5-22 shooting.
Game 4 is Sunday at 4:30pm on TNT. The Raptors will need to shoot the ball better as a team if they want to win Game 4. 37-99 for 37% won’t win a ton of games.
PREDICTION: I think Lowry will still struggle and the Wizards will complete the sweep on Sunday.
Game 3 – Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs – Series Tied 1-1
In the only series to date with both teams with at least 1 win. This was a crucial game for both teams. The Spurs came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as they outscored LA, 25-16. The Spurs would take a 46-38 halftime lead. The 3rd quarter is what took the cake for the Spurs as they outscored the Clippers 24-11 and the Spurs would score 30 in the 4th to take a 100-73 win and a 2-1 series lead.
After winning the NBA Defensive Player of the year on Thursday, Kawhi Leonard played a lot of offense for the Spurs with a career high 32 points on 13-18 shooting in 29 minutes. Boris Diaw added 15 off the bench and Danny Green had 11 points. They were the only Spurs players in double figures. Tim Duncan had 4 points and 7 rebounds on 2-6 shooting in 31 minutes. Tony Parker had only 6 points on 3-11 shooting in 26 minutes. Manu Ginobili played only 17 minutes scoring 1 bucket on 1-2 shooting. That is what makes San Antonio so dangerous is their depth. Parker, Duncan and Ginobili combined for 12 points on 6-19 shooting but with Kawhi Leonard, Boris Diaw and Danny Green scoring 58 points on 22-34 and the team playing great defense, holding the Clippers to only 73 points. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Austin Rivers added 11 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points. They were the only Clippers players in double figures. Chris Paul had a rough night, scoring only 7 points on 3-11 shooting and 4 assists.
Game 4 is Sunday at 1:30pm on ABC. The Clippers will need to shoot better than 34% if they want to avoid going down 3-1 in the series.
PREDICTION: I think the Clippers woke up the beast after a Game 1 win. I think the Spurs will come out just as strong and will take a 3-1 series lead back to Los Angeles.
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