Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and five steals in the LA Clippers’ closeout win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. What’s wild is he may not have had the best individual performance of the day in the NBA playoffs.
The postseason returned Saturday after three days off as players worked with the league to ensure more concrete commitments to social justice, including the use of NBA facilities as polling places. After showing their might off the court, the players proved that they still had so much to offer on it. Here’s a look at what happened in the playoffs over the weekend.
The top seeds took care of business.
Both the Lakers and the Bucks got off to slow starts in their respective series, dropping the first game after uninspiring runs in the seeding games. But both no. 1 seeds figured things out soon afterwards, rebounding to win the next four games in convincing fashion. Milwaukee dispatched with the Magic Saturday behind 28 points and 17 rebounds from DPOY and presumptive MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, while the Lakers sent home the Trail Blazers as LeBron James remains undefeated in the first round of the playoffs in 14 series. There has been chaos in the bubble, but not enough to take out either title favorite.
The rest of the West is still heating up.
The Clippers get two extra days of rest before the start of their second-round series because Jamal Murray, known for his bow-and-arrow celebration after made threes, has become a literal flamethrower. Murray scored 50 points on 17-of-24 shooting to keep the Nuggets alive against the Jazz and force a Game 7. He hit 9-of-12 3-pointers, the second time this series he has hit at least nine threes. Murray has now scored 50, 42, and 50 points over his last three games. To think he’s only 23 years old. His postgame interview was similarly inspiring.
“Even though these people are gone they give me life, they help me find strength to keep fight in this world."— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 31, 2020
Jamal Murray on his shoes honoring George Floyd and Breonna Taylor pic.twitter.com/4HoTRcDDwu
Meanwhile, the Houston Rockets regained control of their first-round matchup against Oklahoma City as James Harden had his first efficient shooting performance in three games. Even Thunder rookie sensation Luguentz Dort had no chance against The Beard in all his glory. Former Clippers Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari had games to forget, and they’ll have to bounce back quickly as they fight for their bubble lives Monday.
Boston asserts itself as the team to beat in the second round.
The Celtics and the Raptors tipped off the second round Sunday, and Boston looked to be a tier above the defending champs, if not more. Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum led the way with 21 points apiece, four other Celtics scored in double figures — including a surprise 10 from the Time Lord Robert Williams — and Boston maintained a double-digit lead through the entire second half. Toronto will presumably bounce back and Kyle Lowry will get healthier, but the Celtics looked fearsome, specifically with their halfcourt defense. This team is good, and probably should be regarded on the same footing as the L.A. teams and Milwaukee.
More news for Monday:
- Now that the series is over, ESPN has the post-mortem on Marcus Morris Sr. vs. Luka Doncic.
- Mark Medina on how Kawhi Leonard was a calming presence for the Clippers.
- Andrew Greif gives the story on how ESPN produces its television broadcasts in Orlando.
- Paul George and other players spoke with Marc Spears about finally being allowed to have family members with them during the second round.
- Henry Abbott questions if the NBA owners can be trusted to ally with the players in their social justice fight.
- Meanwhile, Dan Le Batard writes about how the NBA has found strength by getting involved in politics.
- Doc Rivers and Steve Ballmer were on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.