NBA Playoffs – Raptors & Thunder Take 2-1 Leads, Rockets Stay Alive

James Harden

Thursday night action in the NBA playoffs put all three series in play at a 2-1 situation: The Oklahoma City Thunder crushed the Dallas Mavericks to take the lead, the Toronto Raptors felt comfortable in Indianapolis against the Pacers to go up as well while the Houston Rockets finally showed some grit and a bit of clutch to win their first game in the series with the Golden State Warriors.

Oklahoma City Thunder 131  Dallas Mavericks 102 (Thunder lead series 2-1): The Mavs know how to beat the Thunder, but it doesn’t mean they can. Not with so many injuries, and not when they can’t make Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook feel uncomfortable. The dynamic duo combined to score 60 points (34 by Durant) while Westbrook dished out 15 assists in a weird game with 0 rebounds for him. Enes Kanter looked great off the bench with 21, and it felt a lot like how it should be between a team pasted together from scraps and a team going at full force, not to mention with younger key players.

Wesley Matthews scored 22 points to lead the Mavericks, but that was about it. J.J. Barea scored 15 on a bad knee, Deron Williams didn’t play and Raymond Felton’s 18 points weren’t enough. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 16, but he’s also far from 100%. Justin Anderson scored 12 points off the bench and perhaps should be a bigger part of the rotation, but that isn’t going to change the fact that these two teams aren’t on the same level.

Toronto Raptors 101  Indiana Pacers 85 (Raptors lead series 2-1): Paul George got 0 help while shooting poorly himself (6-of-19 from the field, 25 points, 10 rebounds), the Raptors dominated in the stands and on the court. Both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan remain mostly inaccurate, but they did combine to score 42 points and DeMarre Carroll looked completely healthy, scoring 17 points and doing a great job defensively. Jonas Valanciunas didn’t have his way offensively, but still finished with 14 rebounds, including 4 on the offensive glass.

The Raptors held the Pacers to 38.2% from the field, as Myles Turner (17 points) and George Hill (13 points) were the only ones remotely close to aiding George in a lost battle. Feeding the ball to their star player is nice, but it makes things predictable and simple for the Raptors. Unless Monta Ellis and others pick up missed opportunities and become an actual threat to the Raptors defense in the remainder of this series, it’s not going to last much longer.

Golden State Warriors 96  Houston Rockets 97: It came down to a couple of plays: James Harden, who was doing a great job of making anyone guarding him miserable, hitting a fall back jumper to give the Rockets a one point lead with 2.7 seconds left in the game, and then Draymond Green unable to execute a simple dribble off the inbound, turning it over as the Warriors lost to Houston for the first time this season and in this series.

Stephen Curry didn’t play, and while in game 2 it looked like the Warriors had no problem with it, in Houston things look different. The Rockets were off to a great start and the Warriors never got in their rhythm. They shot just 6-for-25 from beyond the arc, including 0-for-7 from Klay Thompson. Harden scored 35 points to go with 8 rebounds and 9 assists, while Draymond Green couldn’t get going either. No Curry and bad games from Green and Thompson is just too much.

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