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NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Start of Round 2

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NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Start of Round 2

 

The start of round 2 in the Eastern Conference playoffs

All four teams progressing in the Eastern Conference playoffs will be high on confidence at the end of round 1 after convincing series wins. The match ups were heavily one sided, with only the Milwaukee Bucks failing to sweep their series.

The end of round 1 was certainly more eventful than straight forward wins for the progressing teams. The Raptors set an NBA record, scoring 100 points off the bench as they won by 28 points. Another impressive performance from Jayson Tatum gave the Celtics a narrow victory to progress without losing a game. Elsewhere, the Miami Heat also completed a 4-0 series win with a 12 point win against the Pacers.

Before the Milwaukee Bucks faced Orlando Magic there was a short, 3 day break in the playoffs. The Bucks went onto the court to warm up before their game but then did not return for tip-off. The Bucks issued a statement following the refusal to play where they spoke about the ‘multiple injustices regarding the African American community’. They returned on Saturday to finish off the series with a 14 point victory.

We are now 2 games into the 2nd round and both match ups currently stand at 2-0. Both series are far from over, even without the changing environments and home advantages, the losing teams are certainly capable of turning their series around.

 

Game 1: Boston Celtic 112 – 94 Toronto Raptors (1-0)

The Boston Celtics secured a convincing game 1 win early on after winning the 1st quarter by 16 points. They shot 47% of field goals and an impressive 43.6% of 3 point shots.

Overall, it was the shooting percentages and assists that won the Boston Celtics game 1. They made 8 more turnovers than the Raptors which would usually result in defeat-or at least a much closer contest. However, the defensive hustle from the Celtics limited the Raptors to 36.9% of field goals which enabled them to secure an 18 point win.

Elsewhere, the Raptors did not have a single player score more than 20 points. The issue of not having a superstar figure in the playoffs could be what loses them this series. Fred VanVleet made some great performances in the first round but in game 1 he was very poor-only scoring 2 out of 16 field goals. He made 6 steals but then was not able to follow it up offensively.

Notable performance: Kemba Walker. Whilst only being the 3rd highest scorer on the team, Walker made 10 assists and shot 4/7 3 point shots. A career first double-double for Walker, it certainly won’t be the last.

Game 2: Boston Celtics 102 – 99 Toronto Raptors (2-0)

The second game in the series was a much tighter affair. After the 3rd quarter the Raptors held an 8 point lead, but Marcus Smart hit 5 shots from 3 point range in the 4th, giving the Celtics their second win in the series.

The Celtics shooting percentages dropped by 5% overall and the Raptors increased to 40%. Again, the Celtics made more turnovers than the Raptors but ended up winning due to the successes of their 3 point shooting. The Celtics shot 39.5% of their attempted 3 pointers and without such success, they simply wouldn’t have won the game.

Jayson Tatum recorded a career high, 34 playoff points as he carried his recent form into the game. On the other side, Ogugua Anunoby stood out for the Raptors, scoring 20 points including 4 3’s. Looking forward in the series, the Raptors will be desperate for Fred VanVleet to start hitting his shots after another poor offensive night-only scoring 8/22 field goals.

Notable performance: Marcus Smart. His numbers don’t tell the full story. He scored 19 points and made 2 blocks, scoring 6 out of 11 attempted 3’s. His 3 point shooting in the 4th quarter is what won the Celtics the game, if he hadn’t hit 5 3’s it is more than likely that the series would have been tied at 1-1.

Game 1: Miami Heat 115 – 104 Milwaukee Bucks (1-0)

Going into the playoffs, the Miami Heat were the only team in the Eastern Conference who had beaten the Milwaukee Bucks more than once this season. Therefore, at the start of round 2 they would be a lot more confident than many others would be at the prospect of playing the number 1 seed. This confidence and belief was shown when they secured an 11 point win in game 1.

The Bucks had an 11 point lead after the 1st quarter but then didn’t manage to score more than 23 points in the next 3. They will be happy with the 49.3% of field goals which they secured, and especially their 45.7% success from 3 point range. What let the Bucks down was their miserable free throw shooting, scoring only 53.8% from the line. Most notably, the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo only converted 4 out of 12 free throws.

On the other hand, Miami shot 92.6% of free throws-11 more than the Bucks. Goran Dragic showed strong support for Butler, putting up 27 of his own points and elsewhere, Bam Adebayo recorded and impressive double-double which included 17 rebounds.

Notable performance: Jimmy Butler. A career-high 40 point playoff performance. Butler was pivotal to the Heat’s game 1 success, making 2 steals and 1 block to support his offensive performance. Most importantly, he scored 12/13 free throws in a game where the difference was made at the line.

Game 2: Miami Heat 116 – 114 Milwaukee Bucks (2-0)

Much like in the other semifinal match up, game 2 was very close between the Heat and the Bucks. The game ended with Jimmy Butler shooting 2 free throws with the clock on 0.0. With the game tied, Butler was fouled whilst attempting a buzzer beater to win the game. He missed the shot but got a trip to the line to secure a 2-0 lead early at the start of round 2.

In game 2 we saw the Bucks shoot a much better 84.6% of their free throws. Whilst they improved from the line, their 3 point shooting dropped to 28%. Going forward the Bucks are going to have to start putting in more complete performances, otherwise they won’t be able to get past an in-form Miami team.

The Heat set a franchise record with 7 players scoring in double figures. Goran Dragic had another 20+ point night which is becoming a reoccurring factor to the Miami success. Another impressive factor for Miami was their rebounding, 50 rebounds in total which included 17 offensive boards. The Bucks, who have been very good at protecting the paint this season, will need to limit this number if they want to succeed in the series.

Notable performance: Kelly Olynyk. An unexpected mention for Olynyk. Whilst his numbers are not the highest on the Heat’s team, his shooting percentage (66%) on his way to 11 points along with 5 rebounds and a block certainly had a big impact. In such a close game, high shooting percentages along with defensive impact is what made the difference.


We hope you enjoyed the article, ‘NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Start of Round 2’. Do you think the Raptors or the Bucks can win their series from here? 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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