The Clippers took control of their opening round series against the Dallas Mavericks with a 118-110 victory. The big news item was the ejection of Kristaps Porzingis in the third quarter, which followed the letter of the law but seemed to violate the spirit of playoff basketball. Regardless, the Clippers are up 1-0, and three other teams also began their playoff series Monday. Here’s what else happened around the league (click on the team name for the recap from their SB Nation site).
This is the series that has the most relevance for the Clippers right now, as they are on track to face the winner in round 2. Donovan Mitchell was out of his mind for most of the game, scoring 57 points, the third-highest individual scoring total in NBA playoffs history. However, the depth of the Nuggets allowed them to overcome Mitchell’s heroic effort, as Jamal Murray came on late to take control in the fourth quarter and in overtime, though even Murray was in awe of Mitchell’s performance.
Even Jamal Murray couldn't believe Donovan Mitchell's final line pic.twitter.com/r1kosFN0Hs— #RingerNBA (@ringernba) August 17, 2020
The ideal result for the Clippers would be for this series to go the distance, and overtime in game one seems to indicate that these two teams are relatively evenly matched, and could take a few games to decide a winner. Denver winning is also ideal because the Clippers have traditionally found a way to deal with Nikola Jokic, but Mitchell has always been a problem. If he’s this hot, the Clippers will want to stay away.
Brooklyn is one of three teams the Clippers went winless against this season, so in a way, this result is also best-case scenario for LA, clearing out some potential competition for the NBA Finals. But in all seriousness, the Raptors continue to look very impressive defensively, even overcoming their long-running Game 1 curse. Fred VanVleet led the way with 30 points and and 11 assists, Kyle Lowry drew three charges, and Toronto copied the best idea in the bubble by having family members introduce their starting lineup.
Things we love to see:— The Players' Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 17, 2020
This ❤️⤵️ pic.twitter.com/VjgMjjnT0Z
The Celtics were really good with Jayson Tatum on the court, and that was enough to withstand a strong effort from Joel Embiid, who scored 26 points despite his perimeter players often forgetting or simply shunning him in the post. Tatum continues to be an A-plus playoff performer, leading all scorers with 32 points in addition to his 13 rebounds. The Sixers showed they could attack Boston in the middle, but they didn’t get the ball in Embiid’s hands often enough. Another good result for the Clippers, who have struggled to defend Embiid and would not want to see him in a potential NBA Finals.
Today’s Playoff Games
More news for Tuesday:
- The FDA is authorizing an NBA-funded saliva-based test for the coronavirus that was developed at Yale University for public use.
- Jonathan Tjarks has one question for each playoff team, and the Clippers question is still relevant after Game 1.
- Marc Stein on the playoff debuts of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, with some insight from Mavericks legend Dirk Nowitzki.
- Ben Cohen on how Kawhi Leonard’s decision set the stage for the entire 2020 playoffs.
- Ethan Strauss on the NBA ratings decline.