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‘James’ Tagged Posts

LeBron James scores 46 as Cavaliers maintain off Pacers to even sequence

Video by CBS Sports activitiesCLEVELAND (AP) -- The scenario was dire, requiring domina...

 

Video by CBS Sports activities

CLEVELAND (AP) — The scenario was dire, requiring dominance. LeBron James delivered.

No shock there.

BOX SCORE:  CAVALIERS 100, PACERS 97

Taking issues into his personal fingers, James scored 46 factors and added 12 rebounds because the Cleveland Cavaliers bounced again from a poor efficiency within the sequence opener by holding off the Indiana Pacers 100-97 on Wednesday evening to even their Japanese Convention playoff matchup at one recreation apiece.

Dazzling from the beginning, James scored the sport’s first 16 factors and had 29 at halftime, ruling the ground as he has completed in so many earlier postseasons.

“I performed my recreation,” he stated.

However in a season through which nothing has been simple for the Cavs, Cleveland was fortunate that Indiana’s Victor Oladipo missed a wide-open Three-pointer that may have tied it with 27 seconds left.

“I bought a clear look, I shot and I simply missed,” Oladipo stated, shrugging his shoulders. “If I had that look once more, I might take it each time.”

Kevin Love scored 15, however Cleveland’s All-Star middle jammed his left thumb — the identical hand he broke earlier this season– whereas deflecting a go and sat out the ultimate Three:43 left with the Cavs clinging to a slim lead. Lue stated Love may have returned and “he is effective” for Recreation Three on Friday.

So long as James is OK, the Cavs will at all times have an opportunity.

Lue shook up his beginning lineup for Recreation 2 and Kyle Korver contributed 12 factors, all on 3s, made a number of hustling performs and took two costs.

Oladipo scored 22 — he was in early foul bother — and Myles Turner 18 for the Pacers, who shocked the Cavs with an overwhelming win in Recreation 1 and head residence filled with confidence.

Indiana clawed again from an 18-point deficit and was inside 95-92 when Oladipo, who scored 32 within the opener, one way or the other got here free off a display however missed perhaps his best shot in two video games.

James grabbed the rebound and made three free throws over the ultimate 22 seconds because the Cavs prevented falling behind 2-Zero on the sequence.

The 33-year-old James was anticipated to be extra aggressive than in Recreation 1, when he was unusually passive, deferred to teammates and suffered the primary playoff-opening lack of his profession.

James was his unstoppable self once more, and there wasn’t a complete lot the Pacers may do about him within the first half.

“We simply needed him to set the tone and he did that by attending to the basket early, making a pair bounce pictures,” Lue stated. “However we ran the identical first play till they stopped it. He stored getting what he needed. We simply type of adopted his lead from there.”

Lue had been considering adjustments to his beginning lineup and he made two strikes, going with Korver and J.R. Smith over Jeff Inexperienced and Rodney Hood. Inexperienced did not rating within the opener and Hood solely began as a result of Korver was coping with a sore proper foot.

Whereas the adjustments weren’t that stunning, Oladipo leaving after 62 seconds was gorgeous.

Indiana’s lightning-quick guard picked up an offensive foul after which bought his second when he knocked over James, who was setting a display. With Oladipo off the ground, the Pacers did not have an offensive reply to James.

No one does.

James made his first 5 makes an attempt and scored Cleveland’s first 16 factors, making a pair of Three-pointers after which selecting up assists on 3s by Love and Korver. James outscored the Pacers 20-18 within the first 12 minutes.

HELPING HAND

Korver was restricted to only 4 minutes within the opener as a result of he was sick and had lingering soreness in his foot.

However he got here by in Recreation 2, taking part in 31 minutes and arising massive at each ends.

“Kyle was nice for us,” Lue stated. “He does all of the little issues it takes to win, and while you wish to win a championship you recognize you gotta do all of the little issues.”

POSITIVE PACERS

Regardless of the loss, Indiana’s locker room was stuffed with confidence. The Pacers took a giant shot from James, however did not buckle.

“Take nothing away from what he is completed, however he had 46 factors and we misplaced by three,” Thaddeus Younger stated. “He made robust pictures. We really feel very snug going again residence 1-1 as a result of everyone thought we had been going to be swept. We punched them, they punched us.

“We’re very, very assured. We really feel nice.”

TIP-INS

Pacers: Shot 6 of 22 on Three-pointers. … Oladipo grew to become the fourth participant in Pacers historical past with at the very least 30 factors and 6 Three-pointers in a postseason recreation within the opener, becoming a member of Reggie Miller, Chuck Individual and Paul George. … Dropped to 22-22 in Recreation 2s, together with 6-18 on the street.

Cavaliers: Improved to 40-Zero when main after three quarters. … It was the 20th time James has scored at the very least 40 within the playoffs. … Lue refused to disclose his lineup adjustments two hours earlier than tip, saying by doing so he would give the Pacers — or any workforce within the postseason — and benefit. “Being strategic within the playoffs, for those who inform your lineup, they will see what matchups they wish to do and who’s going to protect who, what matchups they wish to guard,” Lue defined.

UP NEXT

Recreation Three is Friday evening.

Associated slideshow: 2018 NBA playoffs (Offered by photograph providers)

Apr 18, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) attempts to strip the ball from Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) during the first quarter in game two of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. 2018 NBA playoffs

2018 NBA playoffs: James Harden appears like an MVP in win over T-Wolves; Thunder, Pacers, Celtics all win

 

Can Chris Paul and James Harden overcome the pressures of being favorites in these playoffs? (Troy Taormina/USA Right now Sports activities)

The primary spherical of the NBA playoffs continues at the moment with 4 extra Sport 1s. Comply with alongside right here for the most recent evaluation and commentary from The Publish’s NBA reporter Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions within the feedback part.

Schedule and outcomes | Odds | Pregame studying | Feedback part Q&A

James Harden appears like an MVP in win over Timberwolves

There was an enormous debate within the closing days of the NBA’s common season over whether or not LeBron James might surpass James Harden for the NBA’s MVP award.

Harden’s play Sunday, nonetheless, confirmed why he ought to win the award.

In a recreation that was there for the Minnesota Timberwolves to steal (extra on that in a second) Harden’s ridiculous efficiency — 44 factors on 15-for-26 capturing with eight assists — ensured that the Houston Rockets wouldn’t allow them to accomplish that, and claimed a 104-101 victory in Sport 1 consequently.

That stated, Chris Paul did his greatest to attempt to give the sport again to Minnesota anyway.

Capping a really depressing recreation (14 factors on 14 pictures, 4 assists and 6 turnovers), Paul threw an insane go that went out of bounds with 9 seconds left when all he needed to do was maintain the ball, get fouled and make a free throw to seal the win for Houston. As a substitute, he gave the ball again to the Timberwolves down three, with an opportunity to tie the sport.

In a recreation of horrible one-upmanship within the remaining seconds, Jimmy Butler then introduced the ball up and — with Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni telling his workforce to foul, and them ignoring him — Butler flung up a turnaround jumper along with his foot over the three-point line (which means it will have been a two) that didn’t come near getting into.

It was a becoming finish to a chaotic remaining 15 seconds of what was an in any other case very entertaining recreation — one which Harden made certain his Rockets got here away from victorious.

Rockets have the burden of being favorites

The stress is on the Houston Rockets.

Getting into the playoffs, no workforce had extra expectations heaped on it than Houston, which has been put in as the primary credible challenger to Golden State since Kevin Durant left Oklahoma Metropolis for the Bay Space.

With these expectations come a necessity for the Rockets to again them up — and that’s with a star backcourt of James Harden and Chris Paul, who’ve their very own historical past of playoff struggles.

Harden (31 factors, seven assists) has confirmed up thus far. Paul? Not a lot (12 factors on 14 pictures, plus three assists and 4 turnovers). Lose this recreation, and all of the questions on how this workforce will maintain up when the stress mounts will come flooding again.

Why isn’t Karl-Anthony Cities extra concerned within the T-wolves offense?

Anybody watching the TNT broadcast of Rockets-Timberwolves can hear Chris Webber dropping his thoughts each time Karl-Anthony Cities fails to reap the benefits of a change with a smaller defender on him. The “Inside The NBA” crew stated the identical factor at halftime.

They’ve a degree.

A relentless criticism of the Timberwolves all season has been the workforce’s incapacity to get Cities extra concerned within the offense. Cities is kind of probably probably the most gifted offensive large man within the historical past of the game, with the power to attain from the rim to properly past the three-point arc.

So how is it that he solely has six factors on eight pictures — the identical or lower than Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose?

Minnesota, which finds itself trailing 76-72 after three quarters, wants that to alter if it needs to tug off the Sport 1 upset.

Clint Capela is Houston’s X issue

In relation to the Houston Rockets, there’s — understandably — plenty of discuss James Harden and Chris Paul and quantity three-point capturing.

However what sums up why the Rockets are main midway via Sport 1 towards the Minnesota Timberwolves — and why I picked them to win in 4 video games — is the play of Clint Capela.

Houston’s middle — who’s going to receives a commission handsomely as a restricted free agent this summer time — has 20 factors, 10 rebounds and two blocked pictures at halftime, partnering with Harden to relentlessly batter the Timberwolves into submission within the pick-and-roll.

Anybody who watched Minnesota’s remaining common season recreation towards the Denver Nuggets might see how a lot hassle Minnesota had stopping Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic within the pick-and-roll. And, for nearly as good as these guys are, Houston is on one other degree totally.

The Rockets have confirmed that thus far tonight – and that’s why they lead 54-47 at halftime.

Westbrook, George shine in Thunder’s win over Jazz

Paul George is offering the increase the Thunder wanted. (Mark D. Smith/USA Right now Sports activities)

Donovan Mitchell performed properly in his playoff debut — however not properly sufficient to get a win.

That’s as a result of Paul George (36 factors) and Russell Westbrook (29 factors, 13 rebounds and eight assists) had been far an excessive amount of for Mitchell’s Utah Jazz to deal with, as his 27 factors got here in a dropping effort in what turned a 116-108 victory for the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder.

Whether or not the mixture of Westbrook and George can be sufficient for the Thunder shifting ahead stays to be seen. There are also accidents to George, who was sitting out the ultimate couple of minutes getting his again labored on, Mitchell (left foot) and Thunder Middle Steven Adams’s proper hand/arm to observe shifting ahead.

However the playoffs are the time for stars to shine — and Westbrook and George shone brightest Sunday, permitting Oklahoma Metropolis to strike first on this sequence.

Paul George is a bona fide second famous person 

The Thunder had been a wonderful workforce final 12 months, powered to a playoff berth due to clutch heroics all season lengthy by Russell Westbrook. However what Oklahoma Metropolis lacked was a real second famous person that made them a contender — the type it had when Kevin Durant was nonetheless on the town.

Paul George is that type of participant — and he’s taking part in prefer it Sunday evening.

With 36 factors — together with a buzzer-beating jumper to finish the third quarter — George has the Jazz on the ropes in Sport 1 and is delivering in each method the Thunder might’ve hoped for once they traded for him final summer time.

This offers you a glimpse of what the Thunder might be over the subsequent few years if George decides to remain in Oklahoma Metropolis alongside Russell Westbrook. There are different issues that should be executed with the roster, however that’s not a foul basis to construct from.

Rudy Gobert has 4 fouls. That’s dangerous information for the Jazz.

The Utah Jazz has entered into harmful territory. Not solely is Utah trailing by 9 late within the third, however star middle Rudy Gobert simply went to the bench with 4 fouls.

Whereas Carmelo Anthony has cooled off since his scorching begin, Paul George has been wonderful, scoring 26 factors and pulling down six three-pointers. And whereas the Thunder solely have 16 factors from gamers not named Anthony, George or Russell Westbrook, towards a workforce like Utah that isn’t going to fly up and down and put up enormous numbers, that’s a components the Thunder can get away with.

That’s significantly true if Gobert can stay principally neutralized. Steven Adams has the power to trigger issues for almost any large within the league due to his immense energy, and he’s doing so at the moment.

Thunder’s Large Three reply to early Jazz run

After a tough begin, issues have stabilized for the Thunder — and their Large Three are the explanation why.

Early within the second quarter, Russell Westbrook (12 factors), Carmelo Anthony (9) and Paul George (12) have scored 33 of Oklahoma Metropolis’s 40 factors, powering what’s a 36-18 run for Oklahoma Metropolis that’s allowed the Thunder to erase an early 12-point deficit and regain the lead.

That is precisely the type of efficiency that was envisioned by Oklahoma Metropolis when it united the three all-stars final offseason. If it could proceed like this through the postseason, the Thunder can be feeling good about their probabilities.

Donovan Mitchell displaying no rookie jitters early

The expectation heading into Sport 1 of Thunder-Jazz was that Paul George could be spending his time hounding Utah’s star rookie, Donovan Mitchell.

As a substitute, George began on Joe Ingles, and Corey Brewer obtained the project of guarding Mitchell. Up to now, it’s not figuring out too properly for Oklahoma Metropolis.

Not solely are the Thunder down 16-Four early at house, however Mitchell is a Four for Four for 9 factors early on. A lot for him trying like a rookie taking part in on an enormous stage as his workforce’s go-to scorer.

Mix that with some beautiful inside passing that’s arrange Jazz Middle Rudy Gobert for a number of dunks, and the Thunder rapidly discover themselves having a variety of work to just do to get again into this recreation.

Pacers win; LeBron James’s supporting solid struggles

The primary actually stunning results of the playoffs has occurred, because the Indiana Pacers went into Cleveland and stomped the Cavaliers, 98-80.

Victor Oladipo continued his excellent season for the Pacers, scoring 32 factors, whereas Indiana — which was 25th in three-pointers made this season — made 11 threes as a workforce, whereas the Cavaliers went Eight for 34. Any recreation on this sequence that the Pacers are going to outscore the Cavaliers from three goes to be a recreation that Indiana ought to emerge from with a win.

The key speaking level after this recreation, regardless of the missed pictures, can be concerning the supporting solid round LeBron James struggling. Jeff Inexperienced, named the beginning energy ahead for the playoffs, went scoreless and missed seven pictures in 26 minutes. Kevin Love solely obtained eight pictures and completed with 9 factors. The beginning backcourt of George Hill and Rodney Hood each had been ineffectual.

Apart from J.R. Smith (15 factors) off the bench, Cleveland didn’t get a lot of something from anybody. That might want to change in a rush.

Sabonis poster? Sabonis poster!

Right here is our Dunk of the Day: Domantas Sabonis cracking one throughout Kevin Like to culminate what has been an amazing Sport 1 efficiency by Indiana in what needs to be a series-opening win over Cleveland.

LeBron James preserving Cavs afloat

Principally nothing has gone proper in Sport 1 for Cleveland. The Cavaliers are 10 for 18 from the foul line. They’ve gone 7 for 26 from three-point vary. None of their starters moreover LeBron James are in double-figures.

But, regardless of all of that, the Cavaliers are solely down by eight after three quarters. James (20 factors, seven rebounds, 10 assists) will doubtless get a triple-double, however Cleveland will want extra from its supporting solid if it’s going to full this comeback and win.

One good adjustment from Cavaliers Coach Tyronn Lue: going away from Jeff Inexperienced, who has been terrible (Zero for Four and a minus-Eight in 21 minutes) in favor of Larry Nance as Cleveland obtained again into the sport within the third. I’d anticipate extra of that within the fourth, and because the sequence strikes ahead.

Jeff Inexperienced and Kevin Love have three complete factors at half

Cleveland’s resolution to begin the playoffs taking part in Jeff Inexperienced at energy ahead and Kevin Love at middle was supposed to assist the Cavaliers proceed with the type of offensive manufacturing they’ve had all season.

That’s why Cleveland’s greatest downside within the first half – which sees them trailing the Indiana Pacers 55-38 – is that Inexperienced and Kevin Love have gone 1 for six from the sphere for 3 factors. That merely isn’t going to be adequate — not towards the Pacers, and positively not towards the higher groups Cleveland is predicted to face later within the playoffs.

The actual fact the Cavaliers have gone 2 for 14 from three-point vary and 6 for 11 from the foul line hasn’t helped, both.

Few groups can get scorching sooner than Cleveland, so it will be silly for anybody to assume this recreation is over. But when the Cavaliers can’t get their offense in gear — and, particularly, begin getting extra from Love and Inexperienced — this might get ugly.

Cavs struggling on offense to begin

The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled on protection all season. That wasn’t anticipated to alter through the playoffs. What has been a continuing, although, is Cleveland’s offense with the ability to rating on anybody.

That’s what made the opening quarter of the Cavs’ sequence towards the Indiana Pacers so stunning. Whereas Indiana getting scorching and scoring 33 factors isn’t all that stunning, it was jarring to see the Cavaliers put up simply 14 within the first quarter, whereas committing seven turnovers and going 5 for 20 from the sphere, together with Zero for Eight from three-point vary.

“We did a great job of preserving them out of transition,” Pacers Coach Nate McMillan stated throughout his between-quarters interview on ABC.

Cleveland has the power to get scorching in a rush, and certain will within the second quarter. However this was a jarring begin — and a much-needed early confidence increase for an underdog Pacers workforce on the highway.

Celtics down the Bucks, 113-107, in additional time

It wasn’t simple, however Boston managed to outlive Sunday, profitable 113-107 in additional time over Milwaukee to take Sport 1 of their best-of-7 sequence.

Boston compelled 20 turnovers (that became 27 Celtics factors) and grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, permitting the injury-ravaged Celtics to create simply sufficient offense to outlive an upset bid by the seventh-seeded Bucks.

Milwaukee did get enormous performances from Giannis Antetokounmpo (35 factors, 13 rebounds and 7 assists earlier than fouling out) and Khris Middleton (31 factors, eight rebounds and 6 assists) however Eric Bledsoe was terrible (9 factors, 4 assists and 5 turnovers earlier than fouling out) and the Bucks outdoors of Middleton mixed to shoot Three-for-14 from three.

A wild ending to regulation

Bucks-Celtics was billed as an evenly matched sequence due to Boston’s myriad accidents. So it’s becoming that this sequence will function the primary additional time recreation of the 2018 NBA playoffs.

After Terry Rozier fully embarrassed Eric Bledsoe to hit what seemed to be the game-winning three-pointer with Zero.5 seconds left, Khris Middleton answered with a 3 of his personal from about 40 toes away to tie the sport on the buzzer – and solely after a replay evaluation confirmed the shot had left his hand simply within the nick of time to rely.

Middleton and Giannis Antetokounpo have carried the day with 62 factors thus far – permitting the Bucks to remain within the recreation regardless of an terrible efficiency from Bledsoe. Three gamers are in double-figures for Boston, led by 22 factors for Al Horford.

Who will emerge because the Robin to their star’s Batman?

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the most effective participant on this sequence. Al Horford is the second-best. Neither of these info are in dispute.

The place this sequence will doubtless be determined, although, is in who’re the third- and fourth-best gamers. There are candidates on either side: Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe for Milwaukee, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for Boston.

Up to now on this recreation, it’s a combined bag – which is why it’s a 70-66 lead via three quarters. Middleton has been glorious for Milwaukee, scoring 21 factors on Eight-for-13 capturing. Bledsoe, alternatively, has been terrible (4 factors on 2-for-9, plus three assists and three turnovers). For Boston, Brown has 16 factors, and Tatum has 13 – together with an enormous three-pointer on the finish of the third.

The higher of these duos within the fourth quarter will doubtless resolve this one.

A Kyrie Irving-shaped gap for the Celtics

There have been loads of fears concerning the Celtics with the ability to rating with out Kyrie Irving within the playoffs.

These fears are being realized within the second quarter.

Boston is now 2 for 16 with 4 turnovers within the second quarter — permitting Milwaukee to outscore the Celtics 26-7 and flip the sport again round within the Bucks’ favor.

If the Bucks don’t give the Celtics simple scoring alternatives in transition, it’s going to be extraordinarily tough for Boston to attain. That has been confirmed out by the best way the primary half has unfolded.

Jabari Parker remains to be struggling

It was a tough first quarter stint for Jabari Parker, who was minus-13 in 4 minutes because the Bucks fell into an enormous gap.

Milwaukee’s protection predictably struggled with Parker — who has by no means been a powerful defender, and that was earlier than he tore his ACL twice – on the ground. It is going to be attention-grabbing to see if Bucks Coach Joe Prunty has to restrict Parker’s minutes shifting ahead within the sequence, as there’s little doubt Celtics Coach Brad Stevens can be making an attempt to take benefit every time Parker is within the recreation.

That is a part of the problems that include Milwaukee’s resolution with what to do with Parker this summer time, when he can be a restricted free agent – and the previous No. 2 general choose will definitely be in search of an enormous pay day.

Bucks-Celtics is underway, and Boston appears just like the extra put-together workforce

This Bucks-Celtics sequence was simply outlined in a few methods. The Bucks have expertise, however are sometimes disorganized, whereas the Celtics have myriad accidents however can be well-drilled and gained’t make errors.

Via one quarter, that’s the way it’s taking part in out – and Boston is best for it.

Milwaukee dedicated an absurd eight turnovers within the first quarter – resulting in 15 Boston factors – because the Celtics closed the primary quarter with a 15-Zero run and shut the Bucks out over the ultimate Four:17 to take a 29-17 lead after one.

This quarter is strictly how Boston must play to win this sequence: play suffocating protection, and use that protection to create turnovers that result in simple scoring alternatives for a workforce that’s going to battle to get simple baskets now that it doesn’t have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward for the complete playoffs.

The final time we noticed the Milwaukee Bucks, they had been getting completely obliterated of their season finale – a 130-95 drubbing by the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

So why, then, did I choose them to beat the Boston Celtics of their upcoming playoff sequence? One purpose: Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Sure, the Bucks have a variety of issues. They fired their coach, Jason Kidd, halfway via the season. Jabari Parker has (understandably) regarded rusty getting back from his second torn ACL in three years. Their protection leaves a lot to be desired.

However having a top-five participant on this planet can erase a variety of issues. That’s significantly true within the playoffs, the place with days off between video games and an extended summer time forward, gamers like Antetokounmpo can play 40-plus minutes. Given Milwaukee is 9.1 factors per 100 possessions worse with Antetokounmpo on the bench (together with over 6 factors per 100 worse defensively), per NBA.com, and that further time on the court docket might make the entire distinction.

A wholesome Celtics workforce, although, would nonetheless be greater than sufficient to beat this Bucks squad. However the Celtics are removed from wholesome. They’ve been with out Gordon Hayward all season, however dropping Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis for the playoffs (and Marcus Sensible presumably for the complete first spherical) leaves Boston down 4 rotation gamers, together with two all-stars.

Brad Stevens could also be a magician, however magicians wants instruments to tug off their tips. Will rookie Jayson Tatum, sophomore Jaylen Brown and third-year guard Terry Rozier be adequate to assist Boston advance? Doubtlessly. And Al Horford’s presence will assist guarantee Boston’s protection is sweet sufficient to offer the Celtics an opportunity if their shooters can knock down threes.

Expertise tends to win within the playoffs, although. And never solely do the Bucks have Antetokounmpo, however they arguably have three of the 4 greatest gamers within the sequence (relying on the place one ranks Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton compared with Tatum and Brown). How these 4 gamers carry out might truly wind up being the bellwether for the way this sequence goes.

But when I’ve to hold my hat on one thing in making a prediction, I’ll dwell with using with one of many NBA’s greatest gamers towards an injury-riddled opponent.

Antetokounmpo hasn’t had an enormous second within the playoffs but. He’s adequate to make beating the Celtics his first.

*****

Some quick-hits on at the moment’s different video games:

– The Cleveland Cavaliers have spent all season taking part in zero protection, leaving observers curious as to whether or not they plan on taking part in some within the playoffs. Judging by how Coach Tyronn Lue is aligning his gamers earlier than they start, although, it looks as if the Cavaliers are betting on their offense to hold them as a substitute.

To that finish, getting into the playoffs with a beginning lineup of Jeff Inexperienced at energy ahead and Kevin Love at middle – eschewing higher defensive choices inside in Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. – is sensible. That might wind up being significantly true towards an Indiana Pacers workforce that doesn’t have the type of bruising low-post presence that Cleveland’s subsequent two doubtless opponents – the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers – may have.

However how Cleveland’s protection holds up – and if its offense is sweet sufficient to hold it whether or not the “D” reveals up or not – would be the foremost factor to look at for because the Cavaliers attempt to make a fourth straight NBA Finals.

– There won’t be a person matchup I’m trying ahead to extra in these playoffs than Paul George vs. Donovan Mitchell.

George has been one of many league’s greatest perimeter defenders for a while, and the Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder can unleash him on Mitchell – the main scorer for the Utah Jazz as a rookie – and permit him to make Mitchell’s life depressing each second he’s on the court docket.

It’s been a powerful rookie season for Mitchell, nevertheless it feels prefer it’s an excessive amount of to ask to discover a method to have success towards a veteran like George – to not point out a veteran who, repeatedly, has stepped up his recreation to a different degree within the playoffs.

This is only one of many the reason why Jazz-Thunder is a sequence I’m fired as much as watch each second of – and one I hope goes so long as doable.

– The Minnesota Timberwolves have a basic downside of their quest to make their sequence towards the Houston Rockets attention-grabbing: they should change the mathematics.

Houston is without doubt one of the league’s most prolific three-point capturing groups; Minnesota is certainly one of its worst. It’s that distinction, as a lot as something, that’s going to make Minnesota’s life tough towards the Rockets. To win, Minnesota should stop Houston from scoring at will from past the arc, and should attempt to enhance their very own output on the different finish.

This season, that equation hasn’t labored out too properly, because the Rockets have gained all 4 conferences – three by 18 factors, the opposite by 9. To make issues worse, Houston has scored not less than 116 factors in all 4 conferences, and 120 or extra in three of them.

There’s a purpose, in any case, that this was the one sequence I picked to finish in 4 video games. Till additional discover, three will proceed to be greater than two.

Predicting the East

Raptors in 7: I need to choose Washington to win this sequence. The Wizards match up properly with Toronto and have proven no concern for them this season (splitting 4 video games with out John Wall taking part in in any of them). Nevertheless it’s simply not possible to place that a lot religion on this Wizards workforce after the best way they’ve performed this season. So whereas Toronto will as soon as once more have a tough time, they’ll discover a method to advance.

Bucks in 6: Upset! I really feel equally uncertain about this sequence, as I can’t belief Milwaukee and Boston has 1,000,000 accidents. However the Bucks do have Giannis Antetokounmpo — and I’m choosing The Greek Freak to have his first playoff second and lead the Bucks to the second spherical.

Sixers in 7: One other robust sequence to name. Philadelphia has much more expertise than Miami — however lots much less expertise. Groups typically should take gradual steps within the playoffs — and infrequently make it to the convention finals on their first attempt, because the Sixers are predicted to do. However with Joel Embiid prone to come again early within the sequence, we’ll tip the percentages, ever so barely, in Philadelphia’s path.

Cavs in 5: LeBron James has made it to the NBA Finals for seven straight seasons. He isn’t dropping within the first spherical. It’s been an amazing season for the Indiana Pacers and former DeMatha star Victor Oladipo, nevertheless it ends right here.

Predicting the West

Rockets in Four: Minnesota merely can’t guard Houston. This needs to be a excessive scoring — however brief — sequence.

Warriors in 5: With Stephen Curry harm, Golden State limping into the playoffs and San Antonio’s pedigree, the Spurs will get a recreation. But when this sequence is any extra aggressive than that, the questions on Golden State’s potential to repeat as champions will achieve much more credibility in my eyes.

Pelicans in 6: This needs to be a extremely enjoyable sequence, and Portland Path Blazers star Damian Lillard has a penchant for arising large in large moments. However Anthony Davis has taken a step ahead this season and established himself as a high 5 participant within the NBA, and he has but to win a playoff recreation. That is his time to make a press release, and I believe he’ll by getting the Pelicans to the second spherical.

Thunder in 7: That is, with out query, the most effective and most compelling sequence of the primary spherical. However the Thunder have a pair issues going for them. The primary is house court docket — which, in a detailed sequence, is a large edge. The second is that Paul George, one of many NBA’s greatest gamers and wing defenders, goes to be guarding Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. It’s been an unimaginable debut from the Louisville product, however asking him to be the main scorer on a playoff workforce towards an all-world defender like George seems like an excessive amount of for Utah to beat. However that is simply the sequence I’m most trying ahead to watching.

Sunday’s schedule and outcomes (all instances Japanese)

  • Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics, 1 p.m. (TNT)
  • Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers, Three:30 p.m. (ABC)
  • Utah Jazz at Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Odds

The Warriors and Cavaliers have met in three straight NBA Finals, however The Publish’s Neil Greenberg writes that neither workforce needs to be thought of a favourite getting into the playoffs. That shouldn’t be too surprisingly, contemplating the Houston Rockets went wire-to-wire this season because the league’s greatest workforce; they’ve a 39 p.c likelihood of profitable the title, which might be their first since going back-to-back within the 1994 and ’95 Finals. However what may shock you is which groups Greenberg has following the Rockets with the most effective odds to win all of it. (Trace: It’s not Golden State or Cleveland.) The truth is, Greenberg additionally writes that the Warriors needs to be on upset alert within the first spherical, having to host the all the time harmful Spurs.

Pregame studying

Brewer: Raptors ship Wizards a Sport 1 message: Toronto is best — clearly higher

Wizards drop Sport 1 in Toronto, 114-106, as Raptors snap notorious streak

A brand new NBA story line: The Warriors might not be favorites to win one other title

Their two greatest stars misplaced to harm, the Celtics nonetheless have one big benefit: Their coach

Dirk Nowitzki isn’t a part of these NBA playoffs, however Dirk clones are in every single place

‘My pal was shot’: How an murderer’s bullets in Israel modified an NBA workforce’s title in D.C.

The Golden State Warriors needs to be on upset alert as NBA Playoffs start. Significantly.

Russell Westbrook posted a season-long triple-double — once more. Why don’t we care this time?

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell can’t agree on who’s rookie of the 12 months and it’s fairly humorous

Remark Q&A

Hop into the feedback part under beginning at 12:30 p.m. to talk with The Publish’s Tim Bontemps about all your NBA questions.

James Harden Erupts for 44 Factors as Rockets Beat Jimmy Butler, Timberwolves

 
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 15: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game One of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 15, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

Invoice Baptist/Getty Photos

James Harden apparently is not slowing down within the playoffs after an unimaginable common season. 

The Houston Rockets star scored 44, together with 13 within the fourth quarter, to assist the No. 1 seed within the West survive with a 104-101 Recreation 1 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Andrew Wiggins scored 18 for the Timberwolves of their first playoff recreation in 14 years, but it surely wasn’t sufficient to maintain up with Harden and the Rockets offense.

The Timberwolves refused to go away down the stretch, slicing a seven-point deficit with 90 seconds left down to 3 with the ball. Nevertheless, Jimmy Butler air-balled a deep two (he meant to take a 3 however had his foot on the road), and Houston held on. 

Whereas both sides had key moments, it was Harden who stole the present whereas pulling down pictures from all around the flooring:

He additionally added eight assists and two steals. A private 7-Zero run additionally helped flip a one-point lead within the fourth quarter to an eight-point benefit that ended up deciding the sport.

Maybe most significantly, he was capable of knock down pictures in a recreation the place his teammates could not make something from the surface.

Harden completed 7-of-12 from behind the arc whereas the remainder of the Rockets had been Three-of-25 mixed.

They as an alternative needed to rely on manufacturing inside, and Clint Capela was there to assist from the opening tip. The middle had 20 factors and 10 rebounds within the first half, serving to the favorites get off to a fast begin:

In the meantime, Cities did not discover a lot room to roam with simply three factors by halftime.

The one-sided play within the put up did not imply a lot, nevertheless, because the Wolves remained in hanging distance at 54-47 at intermission. A 9-Zero run after halftime put the Timberwolves in entrance, and Derrick Rose made a big effect off the bench (together with hitting a go-ahead three with three minutes to go within the third quarter) earlier than ending with 16 factors.

Nonetheless, Harden did loads of injury on his personal to assist the house workforce regain the lead going into the fourth quarter:

Minnesota’s protection prevented the Rockets from pulling away, but it surely could not make the most of errors within the last minutes and didn’t get sufficient out of its key gamers.

Jeff Teague virtually earned a triple-double with 15 factors, 9 rebounds and eight assists, however Jimmy Butler (13 factors) and Cities (eight factors) hardly confirmed up within the loss. The defeat additionally represents the 11th straight loss for Minnesota in Houston.

The groups will get a little bit of a break earlier than returning for Recreation 2 on Wednesday on the Toyota Heart. One other loss for the Timberwolves would put them in deep trouble.

Jon Stewart and LeBron James

 

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Derrick Henry and James Deen

 

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