Day 3 of the NBA playoff bubble tipped off Wednesday afternoon with a slate of Game 2s at the league’s Disney World campus in Florida. Action from the bubble will be updated here throughout the day.
Mavericks take control early to even series
After a rollercoaster of a Game 1, the Dallas Mavericks bounced back hard.
Dallas led throughout the entire contest on Wednesday night and evened their opening-round playoff series with the Clippers with a 127-114 win at Walt Disney World.
While Kawhi Leonard put up an impressive 35-point, 10-rebound double double, Dallas quickly snagged a 17-point lead in the second quarter and never looked back. They survived a Clippers run late in the first half and then retook the double-digit lead in the fourth quarter en route to their 13-point win.
The Mavericks’ bench was critical in their win, putting up a combined 47-points. Luka Doncic led the way with 28 points while shooting 4-of-7 from the field — which brought him to a combined 70 points in his first two playoff games, the fastest to hit that mark in NBA history. Kristaps Porzingis, who was ejected from Game 1, added 23 points and seven rebounds.
Celtics run away from Sixers despite Embiid’s 34 points
After a back-and-forth Game 1, the Boston Celtics had little trouble dispatching the Philadelphia 76ers to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Despite a stronger effort from Joel Embiid (34 points on 11-of-21 shooting, 10 rebounds), the Celtics had little trouble controlling the Sixers offense while Jayson Tatum (33 points), Kemba Walker (22) and Jaylen Brown (20) all went to work.
Al Horford in particular was a no-show for the Sixers with just four points and two rebounds in 23 minutes against his old team.
Jazz bounce back with big win over Nuggets
Donovan Mitchell did not score 57 points on Wednesday. He didn’t need to.
The Utah Jazz cruised to a 124-105 win over the Denver Nuggets behind a relatively pedestrian 30-point, eight-assist effort from Mitchell. The win tied up the series at 1-1 following Monday’s overtime loss to the Nuggets that saw Mitchell post the third-highest scoring line in NBA playoff history.
The Jazz cruised on Wednesday, opening up a double-digit second-quarter lead thanks to a 20-6 run. They never looked back. Nuggets coach Mike Malone waived the white flag with more than five minutes left in the fourth, benching starters Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.
Utah was hot from the field and from distance, shooting 51.7% from the floor and 45.5% from behind the 3-point arc. Mitchell set the pace on 10-of-14 shooting, including a 6-of-7 effort from 3-point distance. Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson each connected on 4-of-9 3-point attempts while Royce O’Neal hit 3 of 4.
Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. each scored 28 for Denver, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace. The series resumes with Game 3 on Friday.
Fred VanVleet leads Raptors again in win over Nets
After Tuesday saw both No. 1 seeds fall in the NBA playoff bubble, Wednesday threatened to tip off with another big upset. But the Toronto Raptors rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to secure a 104-99 win and a 2-0 series lead over the Brooklyn Nets.
Brooklyn led almost the entire first half and extended its lead to 63-53 early in the third quarter. But Fred VanVleet responded with a personal 10-2 run to cut the deficit to 65-63 and lead the defending champions for a second straight game.
A game after leading Toronto with 30 points and 11 assists, VanVleet poured in 24 points and 10 assists on Wednesday.
Kyle Lowry added 21 points and nine rebounds, including this and-one spin move halfway through the fourth quarter to extend Toronto’s lead to 91-85.
The win spoiled a 21-point game for Brooklyn’s Garrett Temple and a 14-point, 15-rebound effort from Jarrett Allen.
As has been the case for most of the season, the Raptors leaned on their second-ranked defense in holding the Nets to 38.8 percent shooting from the floor. Fittingly, they secured the victory when Lowry poked the ball away from Nets guard Joe Harris in the game’s final seconds for a steal that led to a Norman Powell dunk for the game’s final margin.
With no travel day necessary, the series will resume on Friday with Game 3.
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