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Chris Paul goes 14-of-14 for 33 points in closeout win

Chris Paul

Chris Paul

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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Thursday night gave us two great games and a blowout as three playoff series came to an end, all by a score of 4-2. The Suns closed out the Pelicans in New Orleans, the Mavericks won at Utah and the Sixers won in Toronto as the Pelicans, Jazz and Raptors are all Cancun-bound. There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s dive right in.

Suns 115, Pelicans 109 – Suns win 4-2 and will face Dallas starting on Monday in Phoenix

Chris Paul was the story of the night after becoming the first player in NBA history to go 14-of-14 from the floor in a playoff game and he finished with 33 points, five boards, eight assists and a steal, and also hit a 3-pointer and 4-of-4 free throws. The old man just keeps on chugging along and the fact that several of his makes took some fortuitous bounces and barely went in makes what he did even more unbelievable. Most of his shots were mid-range, as usual, and when you add in the fact that Deandre Ayton hit 10-of-12 shots for 22 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block, it’s almost hard to believe the game was as close as it was. CP3 and Ayton combined for 55 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and a block on 24-of-26 shooting. Wow.

The shooting performance by Paul and Ayton overshadowed the fact that Devin Booker was back from his hamstring injury, although he struggled after missing so much time. Booker scored just two points in the first half and hit 5-of-12 shots and 1-of-6 3-pointers for 13 points, five rebounds and three assists in the win. Mikal Bridges came through with 18 points, three boards, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 7-of-12 shooting, Jae Crowder had nine points, a 3-pointer, a steal and an amazing block, and Cameron Johnson came off the bench for 13 points and two 3-pointers on 4-of-7 shooting.

The Pelicans put up an admirable fight, going on a 17-6 run in the first half and taking a 10-point lead into halftime. But the Suns won the third quarter 34-27 and took the fourth quarter 33-24 to complete the comeback win. Brandon Ingram led a balanced attack with 21 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, Herbert Jones hit 5-of-9 shots, a 3-pointer and 5-of-5 free throws for 16 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals, and C.J. McCollum added 16 points with a rather empty stat line that included one triple, three rebounds, one assist and three turnovers. He was a DFS dud if you rolled with him last night. Larry Nance Jr. came off the bench for 15 points and eight rebounds, but the Pelicans are heading to Cancun.

The Pelicans will get a lottery pick from the Lakers while also sending their No. 15 pick to Charlotte, but the elephant in the room is the future of Zion Williamson. The Pels have to decide whether or not to give him $200 million this summer and Charles Barkley said after the game that he wouldn’t do it unless Zion has a chef and an offseason workout plan to be ready to play next season (in so many words). And I agree with him. If the Pelicans get a healthy Zion next season they’re going to be scary.

Mavericks 98, Jazz 96 – Mavs win 4-2 and will face Phoenix starting on Monday in Phoenix

The Mavericks got 24 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals, two blocks, four 3-pointers and three turnovers on 8-of-21 shooting and 4-of-4 free throws from Luka Doncic, while Jalen Brunson hit 9-of-17 shots and two 3-pointers for 24 points, three rebounds, two assists, two steals and zero turnovers. Spencer Dinwiddie appears to have righted his shot-ship and hit 7-of-12 and four 3-pointers for 19 points, and Dorian Finney-Smith came through with 18 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting. The Mavs didn’t get much more from anyone else on the team, but they didn’t need them in the end.

The Jazz went on an 8-0 run to salvage the game late in the third quarter until DFS stopped the bleeding with a 3-pointer with 3:59 left in the quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic hit a big 3-pointer to tie the game at 94 with 2:20 left in the fourth and then Brunson hit a triple to put Dallas up three late. The play of the game, shockingly, was a travel by Mike Conley with just five seconds left on the clock and the Jazz down just one point. Brunson hit a free throw, putting the Mavs up two points, and then Bogdanovic pump faked to get a wide-open look at 3-pointer at the buzzer but missed it pretty badly. Dwight Powell played just 11 minutes last night and Rudy Gobert was guarded by Luka for much of this game.

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The Jazz got 23 points, eight rebounds, nine dimes, a block and two 3-pointers from Donovan Mitchell, who was playing through a quad injury, Bogdanovic had 19 points and three triples, Jordan Clarkson hit 5-of-15 shots for 15 points, six rebounds and two 3-pointers, Conley had 11 points and eight dimes, Gobert had 10 points, 12 boards and nothing else, and Royce O’Neale had eight points, six boards, a steal and a block.

So, Dallas will meet the Suns in Round 2 and the Suns were 3-0 against them this season and have beaten them nine straight times. However, Luka didn’t play in two of their three games this season and the Suns were down entering the fourth quarter in all three of those. And that was before Brunson and Dinwiddie figured out how to be dominant alongside Luka. Dallas had lost three straight ‘win-and-advance’ games and finally broke through to Round 2 for the first time since 2011. CP3 and Ayton aren’t going to shoot it this well every night but it’s going to be very interesting to see how the center-less Mavs handle Ayton and the rest of the Suns. Powell is going to have to give them big defensive minutes and guys like Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic are probably going to be forced into more minutes in order to help maintain Ayton, who’s much more of an offensive threat than Gobert, or at least I expect him to be. This series should be a blast to watch next week.

Sixers 132, Raptors 97 – Sixers win 4-2 and will face Miami starting on Monday in Miami

The Sixers won in a rout, putting the game away in the third quarter by winning it 37-17 and James Harden actually looked more like the James Harden we all remember. Harden had 22 points, six rebounds, 15 assists and two 3-pointers on 7-of-12 shooting and even had a dunk, while Joel Embiid went off for 33 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and three blocks on 12-of-18 shooting. He took a Pascal Siakam elbow to his eye late in the game and never returned, but they were getting ready to take him out anyway. Just make sure he’s good to go on Monday before setting your lineups. I think he’ll be fine. Tyrese Maxey was a monster again, hitting 8-of-16 shots, five triples and 4-of-4 free throws for 25 points, eight assists and just two turnovers. A couple of his 3-pointers were spectacular and it’s pretty entertaining to watch him create shots for himself. Tobias Harris came through with 19 points, 11 boards, a steal and three 3-pointers, and has looked much better in the playoffs than he did in the regular season, and Danny Green was effective with 4-of-7 shooting (all 3-pointers) for 12 points, five boards and a steal. The Sixers bench is an afterthought and was led by Paul Reed’s nine points and four rebounds. Stick to the Sixers starters when setting your DFS lineups. This was Harden’s third playoff game with at least 20 points and 15 dimes.

The Raptors were led by (wait for it) Chris Boucher’s 25 points, 10 rebounds and two 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting. He also hit 9-of-10 free throws and this just makes me further wonder why Nick Nurse waited until the last game of the season to turn to him. Boucher’s rise helped lead to the fall of Precious Achiuwa, who had been playing well but hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points in 22 minutes. Siakam hit 9-of-17 shots for 24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals in 44 minutes. Shaquille O’Neal said after the game that Siakam is not yet a superstar, but I’m not sure I agree with him. Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and two 3-pointers and Scottie Barnes added 18 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers on 8-of-20 shooting. The Raptors were hurt badly by the absence of Fred VanVleet (hip) and I don’t know where they’re going to go from here. Their No. 20 pick is going to the Spurs, so they won’t be adding to their stable from the draft and their team looks like it’s good enough to make the playoffs but not good enough to contend for a title. Nurse is in a tough spot going forward and the Raptors may have to make a big move. Might I suggest trading Boucher to a team that might want to play him?

The Sixers will face the Heat in Round 2 and this should be a war. Harden and Maxey combined for 47 points, nine rebounds, 23 assists and seven 3-pointers last night and will go up against Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro. Lowry’s dealing with a hamstring injury and missed his last game so if he can’t go, Gabe Vincent is clearly in play for fantasy. Embiid vs. Bam Adebayo should be an epic big-man battle and I can’t wait to watch this series.

This Weekend


Memphis @ Minnesota – Memphis leads 3-2 – 9 p.m.

Saturday: No games


Milwaukee @ Boston – Game 1 – 1 p.m.

Minnesota @ Memphis – Game 7 if necessary


Philadelphia @ Miami – Game 1 – 7:30 p.m.

Dallas @ Phoenix – Game 1 – 10 p.m.