Atlanta still breathing after 130-122 win over Boston
For the first 11 or so minutes, this seemed in danger of ending up like the first two games after Boston built up a 37-28 lead with 52 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Hawks responded with a 15-3 run, including five unanswered to end the quarter. Celtics never led by more than a possession after the first while the Hawks led by as much as 14 and 12 at different junctures.
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray were the offensive engines they were designed to be, combining for 57 points on 23-43 shooting, 12 rebounds, 14 assists (six turnovers), and two steals while Saddiq Bey and Bogdan Bogdanovic each added 15 points (including three threes) off the bench.
This series still reeks of “gentleman’s sweep” (easy series win in five games) to me and Boston could take the next step to that on Sunday at 7 p.m.
Knicks hold defensive clinic in 99-79 win over Cavs
RJ Barrett came alive for 19 points, which is the most he’s had this series. The eight field goals he made ties a playoff career high and his 8-12 (66.7%) shooting is a playoff career best. Barrett capitalized on fast break opportunities and didn’t hesitate on catch-and-shoot chances, teaming with an aggressive Jalen Brunson for a combined 40-piece.
Tom Thibodeau was impressed, but not satisfied with his Knicks holding the Cavs to 79, the lowest total by any team all year, postseason or not: “I thought we had good overall activity [and] good intensity. Guys were connected, did a good job challenging shots and finishing… It’s one game is what it is, and so now the challenge is get ready for game 4.”
This was legitimately the best defensive performance of the NBA season:
After shooting below 40% overall and just barely over 20% from three, Cleveland is likely anxious to get to game 4 and get it in the rear view. Darius Garland and Caris LeVert were two of the biggest culprits on that front, combining to shoot 11-38 (28.9%) overall and 4-18 (22.2%) from deep. They’ll have their shot to tie the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. for game 4.
Jokic builds legacy as Denver takes 3-0 lead over Minnesota with 120-111 win
The back-to-back MVP finished with his 30th triple-double this season and first this postseason. Nikola Jokic now has seven playoff triple-doubles in his career, behind only Wilt Chamberlain’s nine, among centers.
The Wolves started off pretty strong given how most of the series has gone, but that only lasted about eight or nine minutes because the Nuggets responded with a 25-12 run and maintained a roughly 10-point lead the rest of the way. Anthony Edwards, who had 36 points on 10-22 shooting, was the biggest reason it was anywhere near a game, contributing 23 of his 36 in the second half.
Denver has a chance on Sunday at 9:30 p.m. to become the only Western Conference team to sweep their first-round opponent. Philadelphia is the only other squad across the playoffs with a 3-0 lead going into their Saturday game 4.