WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT
FORSBERG: There’s the Raptors we expected
The scary part for Celtics fans: Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting over 33 minutes. Kyle Lowry shrugged off a scoreless Game 1 and put up 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting. Danny Green didn’t even score and the Raptors led by as much as 34 and never trailed. Boston fans should be praying to the basketball gods that Marcus Smart’s oblique feels better should the Celtics and Raptors cross paths in May.
Leonard’s big night is also troublesome because it’s a reminder that this isn’t the Raptors of the old, the one that wilted on the big stage and couldn’t get past Round 2 in the East. Leonard brings experience and championship composure. Boston’s best hope is that the Raptors and Sixers wear each other out a bit in Round 2.
Game of the night was in Denver where the Nuggets rallied from 19 down to save their season. Gregg Popovich should have thrown Jamal Murray’s game ball in the stands after all the big shots Murray hit in closing time to seal that win. Also, these playoffs need more Isaiah Thomas (DNP).
BLAKELY: The Raptors are alive; Portland's potent potential; Nuggets get rocked, then rally
Kawhi Leonard (37 points) was a matchup nightmare (again) for Orlando, and unlike Game 1 he had some help last night from Kyle Lowry. Scoreless in Game 1, Lowry redeemed himself with a strong stat line (22 points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals) to remind us all as to why he's a five-time All-Star. They haven't wrestled home court away from Orlando yet, but it seems just a matter of time before the Magic will pull a postseason disappearing act.
Damian Lillard isn't under the radar, but you watch him play and think just how big a deal he would be in a bigger market with more exposure. He's not just the best player on that Blazers roster, he's a top-5 point guard in this league, right up there with Steph Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving.
This series with Oklahoma City is far from over, but you have to like what the Lillard-led Blazers were able to do in their two wins.
Denver is a more talented team than San Antonio, and it took the Nuggets a while to start playing like it in a must-win Game 2 matchup. A big-time third quarter for Gary Harris and an even better fourth quarter for Jamal Murray not only gave Denver the win but a much-needed confidence jolt as the series shifts to San Antonio for Games 3 and 4.
SO... THAT HAPPENED
this dude Damian Lillard is ridiculous pic.twitter.com/b3dnGkAiQR— Jurassic Wob (@WorldWideWob) April 17, 2019
NUMBER OF NOTE
The Thunder went 5-for-28 (17.9%) on 3-pointers in Game 2 against the Blazers, and are now shooting 16.4% on 3's in the series (10-for-61).
THEY SAID IT...
"We gave up 38 points in the fourth quarter. End of story."
--Spurs HC Gregg Popovich, loquacious as always, after San Antonio blew a 19-point second-half lead. (Actually, they allowed 39 in the fourth, but we don't want to antagonize Pop.)
- Raptors 111, Magic 82 (Series tied 1-1)
- Nuggets 114, Spurs 105 (Series tied 1-1)
- Trail Blazers 114, Thunder 94 (Series tied 1-1)
WHAT WE’LL BE TALKING ABOUT
FORSBERG: Fiiiiiiinally, Game 2
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday that he isn’t married to the starting 5 that he trotted out in Game 1 but wasn’t about to offer any hints on potential tweaks (all of Boston’s rotation players were wearing starter green when practice opened to reporters on Tuesday).
Said Stevens: "We reevaluate everything every day. I don’t want to overreact. I don’t think we played great at the start of either half, but I didn’t think we were bad. I thought we guarded, we tried to do the right things. I thought that we had some offensive possessions that could have been better, but that was the whole game, and Indiana had a lot to do with that and I don’t want to take that away from them. We’ll reevaluate it every day but that’s what it is right now."
While Jaylen Brown had a quiet offensive night in Game 1, the guess is that the defensive success the Celtics had will encourage Stevens to stick with him in place of injured Smart with the starters. What’s more likely to cause tweaks in these playoffs are the potential chess match and, should Indiana start tinkering how it deploys its bigs, maybe Boston is forced to counter further out in the series.
SHERROD: Carry-all Kyrie
“I miss him,” Irving said. “He makes my job a lot easier; just because I don’t have to dribble the ball as much or create as much. You have a second lead guard that can go out there and just really make decisions; make good decisions for our team.”
The absence of Smart has transformed playoff Kyrie into Carry-All Kyrie because the Celtics have little choice but to lean on the six-time All-Star to elevate his play on all levels with scoring, play-making and defense being the Big Three.
But he'll need some help, too.
Marcus Morris was that guy in Game 1, scoring 20 points which equaled Kyrie Irving's team-high total for Game 1.
Who will it be tonight?
Terry Rozier? Gordon Hayward? Jaylen Brown?
- Pacers at Celtics, Game 2 (BOS leads 1-0) — 7:00 pm, NBC Sports Boston (Celtics Pregame Live at 6:00 pm)
- Pistons at Bucks, Game 2 (MIL leads 1-0) — 8:00 pm, NBATV
- Jazz at Rockets, Game 2 (HOU leads 1-0) — 9:30 pm, TNT