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Miracle Heaves & Dominance

OG Anunoby

OG Anunoby

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto 104 – Boston 103 (BOS leads series 2-1)

The Raptors pulled off a miracle win at the buzzer in Game 3, with OG Anunoby drilling a 3-point shot on an inbounds play with 0.5 seconds left in regulation to help Toronto avoid falling into an 0-3 hole. OG posted a 12-point, 10-board double-double in the win, adding three triples, one assist, three steals, two swats and one turnover across 45 minutes of floor time, and he gave an amazing quote after the game regarding his nonchalant game-winner, saying, “When I shot I expected to make it – I don’t shoot trying to miss. Every shot I’m trying to make it, you know? So I wasn’t surprised.”

Anunoby was fairly quiet in Toronto’s first-round series against the Nets, with those games regularly turning into blowouts, but he’s come alive in this series with Boston, posting averages of 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.7 treys, 1.3 steals, 1.3 swats and 1.0 turnover per game on 57.7% shooting.

Kyle Lowry, who had been struggling through the first two games of this series and was coming off an 0-of-7 performance from deep, busted loose for 31 points (13-of-23 FG, 3-of-4 FT), two triples, six boards, eight dimes, two steals and three turnovers in 46 minutes; and Fred VanVleet produced 25 points (9-of-22 FG, 2-of-2 FT), five triples, three rebounds, six assists and five turnovers in 41 minutes.[[ad:athena]]

While the Raptors got the win, Pascal Siakam’s struggles continued, as he went 6-of-15 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line for 16 points, one 3-pointer, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and two turnovers in 38 minutes. He did do a better job of getting to the rim in Game 3, but he’s still been overly passive in seeking out his shots, and Boston has clearly made him uncomfortable with their physicality. It would probably help if Nick Nurse would start running some more actions for him when the Raptors get in their halfcourt sets, or if they would start going back to the Spicy P-FVV pick-and-rolls, but for whatever reason, that’s not an adjustment Nurse has made thus far.

He just hasn’t looked like the All-NBA version of himself in The Bubble, and the contrast becomes striking when comparing his regular-season shot chart (above) to his playoff shot chart (below).

Spicy P

Spicy P

Playoff P

Playoff P

The Raptors caught a couple of lucky bounces on Thursday, but they’ll need to figure out how to get Siakam going if they hope to advance out of this second-round series.

Jayson Tatum, who set a new playoff career-high in points (34) during Game 2, couldn’t keep the hot streak going and he finished with just 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting to go with nine boards, six dimes, one 3-pointer, one steal and one turnover in 39 minutes. The Raptors did a good job of standing tall and contesting his shots at the rim without fouling, but he also just missed a lot of shots he traditionally makes, so I’d expect a big bounce-back performance in Game 4.

Jaylen Brown shot just 35.5% through the first two games of this series, but he saw a reversion to the mean on Thursday, hitting 9-of-15 shots on his way to 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, four swats and four turnovers in 40 minutes. Kemba Walker scored a team-high 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting (7-of-7 from the stripe) to go with four triples, three rebounds, three assists, three steals and two turnovers in 39 minutes.

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L.A. Clippers 120 – Denver 97

The Clippers made a statement in their Game 1 drubbing of the Nuggets, powered behind Kawhi Leonard’s 29 points, two rebounds, three assists, one 3-pointer, two steals, one block and two turnovers across 32 minutes. The Nuggets didn’t have any answers for him, as he finished 12-of-16 from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 from the stripe, and he did an excellent job of putting the clamps on Jamal Murray, holding him to just 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting. That was the theme in this matchup during the regular season, with Leonard shooting one of his better percentages (50.9%) against this team – and Murray one of his worst (37.5%), and while the Clippers were 2-1 against the Nuggets this season their only loss came sans Paul George.

PG-13 finished with 19 points (6-of-13 FG, 5-of-7 FT), two triples, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and an unfortunate five turnovers across 33 minutes; while Marcus Morris hit 7-of-10 shots on his way to 18 points, four triples, five rebounds, two assists and two steals over 27 minutes.

Patrick Beverley (calf) returned to the floor after spending a little over two weeks on the sidelines, and he contributed eight points, two triples, six boards, two assists and one turnover in just 12 minutes of play. He’s going to be eased back into things, but he looked explosive while he was out there, so the calf issue is clearly behind him.

Nikola Jokic had a tough time with Ivica Zubac, going 6-of-14 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the stripe for 15 points, three rebounds, three assists and one turnover in 30 minutes. The three boards accounted for a playoff-worst for Jokic, and while Zubac did a nice job of sealing him off, that sort of production is simply unacceptable for a player of Jokic’s caliber. He averaged 19.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 triples and 2.0 turnovers per game against the Clippers during the regular season, so I’d anticipate a big, bounce-back performance in Game 2 on Saturday.

Paul Millsap finally had a good game with 13 points (3-of-6 FG, 6-of-8 FT), nine rebounds, one 3-pointer, three steals, two blocks and three turnovers in 24 minutes, so maybe he’ll be able to get things going in this second-round matchup after he was nearly invisible in Denver’s first-round series.

Michael Porter Jr. had his worst performance in The Bubble thus far, not getting his first bucket until late in the third quarter and finishing with just five points (2-of-9 FG, 1-of-1 FT), six rebounds, one steal and two turnovers in 23 minutes. He caught the world by surprise with his superb play during the seeding games, but teams have started scheming for him and the competition keeps getting tougher with each round, so the rookie will be prone to cold streaks. Some folks were talking about taking him as high as the fourth-round next season when he was balling out in The Bubble, but the postseason disappearance should pump the breaks on his hype train a little bit. I like him a lot, but if he’s going to cost me an early-to-mid-round pick next year, I’d rather go with someone with a more proven record.