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NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Round 1, Game 3



NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Round 1, Game 3


NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs, Game 3

With 3 games now completed in all of the Eastern Conference match ups, 4 teams have emerged as clear favourites to have a place in the next round. The Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat all hold 3-0 series leads, with the Milwaukee Bucks leading 2-1, having recovered from a poor game 1 performance. No team in NBA history has ever won a series after being 3-0 down.

At this point, it look like the Bucks will be playing the Heat and the Celtics will face the Raptors as we progress into the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Obviously, none of this is certain, but given the game 3 performances there is very little being offered by any of the teams in losing positions.

Toronto Raptors 117 – 92 Brooklyn Nets (3-0)

In the third game of the series, the Brooklyn Nets suffered their biggest defeat so far. It would be surprising if the series lasts more than 4 games with the Nets looking unable to contain the Raptors. The Raptors shot over 50% of their field goals and limited the Nets to just 33.3% in a 25 point victory.

The Raptors ability all over the court has been demonstrated in this series, with a different top scorer in each game. Game 3 was Pascal Siakam’s turn to impress, scoring 26 with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. With 3 of the Raptors team scoring 20+ points, it is clear that the Raptors are a threat from anywhere and they have a good chance in any Eastern Conference match up.

The Nets did not offer much to stop the Raptors, with only one of their players, Tyler Johnson, scoring over 15 points. Jarrett Allen collected 17 rebounds but there isn’t much else to say about a poor Nets performance. Looking towards game 4 the Nets now have an almost impossible challenge of overturning a 3-0 deficit. After the game, head coach Jacque Vaughn remained hopeful citing the unprecedented times we are currently living through. ‘You never know what happens if you win one game’.

The Raptors will be looking to end this series as quickly as possible on Sunday night so they can rest and prepare for the next round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. A second round match up against the Boston Celtics looks highly likely but the Raptors will be fully focused on finishing the series with the Nets in 4 games.

Notable performance: Serge Ibaka. Scoring 20 points with 13 rebounds off the bench. Ibaka scored 8/12 field goals including 3/3 3 pointers in an influential performance for the Raptors.

Boston Celtics 102 – 94 Philadelphia 76ers (3-0)

There have been 15 playoff series between the Celtics and the 76ers and there has never been a 4-0 sweep. It is certainly possible this year as the 76ers look unable to handle the intensity of the Celtics. Game 2 saw a 27 point victory for the Celtics but this time it was a defensive masterclass that secured a 3-0 lead. Trailing 94-92 with 1:37 left on the clock, the Celtics went on a 10-0 run to clinch the victory.

The Celtics held the 76ers to a field goal percentage under 30 as they struggled to deal with the impressive defence in front of them. Already without Ben Simmons, the 76ers need Tobias Harris and Al Horford to put up more support for Joel Embiid. Their contracts guarantee Harris $180 million, and Horford $97 million, but so far in the series Harris has averaged under 15 points per game and Horford is only averaging 5.3 points per game. Whilst the Celtics defence has been impressive, this really isn’t good enough for two players taking up such a large chunk of the 76ers cap space.

However poor the 76ers have been, we must not neglect the impressive Celtics. Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown both had 20+ points again and were effective all over the court for the Celtics. Similar to the Raptors, it is hard to see the Celtics not progressing to the second round in the Eastern Conference. Post-game interviews with the Celtics team showed a team brimming with confidence who will be hopeful of completing a 4-0 sweep on Sunday night.

Notable performance: Marcus Smart. 14 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Whilst not the highest scorer on the Celtics team, Smart was praised after the game for his defensive intensity that was essential to a game 3 victory.

Milwaukee Bucks 121 – 107 Orlando Magic (2-1)

An Orlando Magic team which is often praised for its defensive ability (5th in the league in points per game against) was torn apart in the first half by a rampant Bucks side on Saturday. The Bucks shot 56.1% of field goals and held a huge 27 point lead at half time. The Magic fought back after the break but they left too much to do and fell to a 14 point loss to go 2-1 down in the series.

The first half featured an impressive level of intensity from the Bucks, scoring more points in the paint, more 2nd chance points and scoring over 2 times more points than the Magic off turnovers. Khris Middleton put up decent numbers after being in poor form but will still be looking to improve his performances before the next round of the playoffs.

In the second quarter there was an altercation between Marvin Williams (Bucks) and James Ennis III (Magic) which led to both players being ejected from the game. This certainly created more of an issue for the Magic than it did for the Bucks but the lead was already around 20 at that point, so it is unlikely the Magic would have recovered anyway.

Nikola Vucevic who has led the way for the Magic so far in the series had a poor game, shooting 8/19 field goals including 2/8 3 pointers. He was certainly marked much more effectively by the Bucks after Ennis’ ejection due to the Magic having less threats elsewhere on the court.

Game 4 will be huge for the Magic, knowing that if they go 3-1 down, their playoff run will almost certainly be over.

Notable performance: Giannis Antetokounmpo. His best performance in the playoffs so far. Shooting 35 points, 11 rebounds with 7 assists and 2 steals. What was most impressive was his conversion rates, scoring 12/14 field goals including 2/3 3 pointers.

Indiana Pacers 115 – 124 Miami Heat (0-3)

The last game of the round saw the Heat take a 3-0 series lead. It was a much closer game than the 9 point win suggests but the Pacers were unable to recover from a 18 point half time deficit.

The major issue for the Pacers was that they allowed 52 free throws for the Heat who converted 43 of them. In contrast the Pacers only converted 21 out of 28 free throws.

Malcolm Brogdon had a great game for the Pacers, scoring 34 points and making 14 assists but the Pacers fouling lost them the game. Victor Oladipo fouled out of the game, Brogdon had 5 fouls and 4 other Pacers players made 4 fouls. If they want any chance of recovering from 3-0 down they need to sort out the fouling problems which they faced in game 3.

It certainly wasn’t a pretty performance from the Heat, but they showed the grit and determination which is often required to succeed in the playoffs. Most notably, Jimmy Butler, scoring 27 points which included 17 free throws.

Going forward it looks like the Heat will face the Bucks in the next round of the playoffs. The Bucks have impressed in their last 2 games, sorting out their own fouling issues which could create issues for the Heat if they cannot rely so heavily on free throws.

Notable performance: Bam Adebayo. With 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists he was not the highest scorer for the Heat but converting 7/11 field goals could have been the difference.


We hope you enjoyed the article, ‘NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Round 1, Game 3’. Do you think any team will come from behind in the series? Let us know!


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A recent graduate from Cardiff University, Matthew is an avid football fan and rugby player. He is hugely passionate about sport in any form and is in the process of applying for a master's degree in International Sport Management with the eventual aim of working in the sport industry.


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