Articles NBA Playoffs 2019

Playoffs Day 8: Embiid’s back, Jokic was unleashed, Pistons don’t stand a chance and Harden was 0-15…

The 76ers, Bucks and Rockets are one game away from advancing to their respective semi-finals, while the Nuggets and Spurs are all tied up and looking like a game 7 type of series.

Here are the highlights from a four-game playoff slate:

Brooklyn Nets (1-3) v Philadelphia 76ers (3-1): 108 to 112

This was anyone’s game until the final seconds and I really thought the Nets were going to take it but they lost pretty much at the buzzer and it was none other than Mike Scott for the 76ers who hit the go-ahead three to win the Sixers this game.

This was a fun game. Embiid was back after missing Game 3 and was huge in this game with 31 points, 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 blocks.

Perhaps most exciting about Embiid being back was a flagrant foul he committed against Jarrett Allen, causing a kerfuffle that led to the hot-headed Jimmy Butler and series favourite: Jarred Dudley (who for some reason started the game… I guess to get under the skin of the 76ers) getting ejected.

Brooklyn managed to stay in the game after that ejection without their superstar Dudley (please be aware I am being sarcastic, I am still unsure why Jarred Dudley has a contract in this league). They were up by 6 at the end of the third but just crumbled in the fourth only making 17 points.

Caris LeVert got the start (which was a great idea) and delivered with a team high 25 points, with D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen contributing 21 a piece. Spencer Dinwiddie also had a good game with an efficient 7-12 with 18 points off the bench. But as I have said before: the Nets need Russell to go off and they need it to happen soon. That is the only way they win another game and as the series goes on, this is looking less and less likely.

For the 76ers, Ben Simmons had a quieter night but still had a near triple double and Tobias Harris made 24 points. Reddick was off his game again this night and there was pretty much no production from the bench. But hey, the 76ers still got the road win and are a game away from advancing to the second round.

What worries me for the 76ers is their lack of bench depth, and with a slightly sore Embiid and Reddick’s shooting woes, this could prove problematic in the next round.

Next Game @ 76ers: Wednesday (24/4) at 10am AEST

San Antonio Spurs (2-2) v Denver Nuggets (2-2): 103-117

Denver hasn’t won a game in San Antonio since 2012…

After a terrible Game 3, you knew the Nuggets were going to come out hungry. From the start they were physical and thirsty for Spurs blood.

They also changed up their line-up with Torrey Craig starting over Will Barton (who has not been playing well at all/ may still be slightly injured). Craig’s task was simple: Shut down the superstar that is Derrick White.

It may have taken a while but Craig guarding White worked. White (who exploded for 36 in game 3 and has looked phenomenal all series) was held to only 8 points from 8 shots.

Meanwhile the other Nuggets Young guns finally woke up. Nikola Jokic had 29 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists, Jamal Murray had 24 point from 8-14 shooting and Monte Morris provided 11 helpful points off the bench with 5-8 shooting. Denver shot the three very well at 48% and as per usual barely turned the ball over.

This was their game.

For the Spurs it was a very different story. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both had solid games with 24 and 19 points respectively, but the team couldn’t hit a three and got minimal help from their bench (besides Patty Mills).

This was not their game.

No moment was clearer of this than when DeRozan got called for a charge late in the fourth and threw the ball in the refs direction and quickly got ejected.

The physicality of the Nuggets was too much for the Spurs.

This series is all tied up and is looking like a Game 7 is inevitable.

Next game @ Nuggets: Wednesday (24/4) at 11:30am AEST

Detroit Pistons (0-3) v Milwaukee Bucks (3-0): 103-119

In a shocking turn of events… Blake Griffin played in this series.

He was great, with 27 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, hell he even had two steals but that wasn’t even close enough to let the Pistons win. It wasn’t even close enough to make this game close.

Every time I write about this series, I feel bad for Blake. He deserves better from his team.

As per usual, the rest of Detroit struggled: Andre Drummond was 5-14 (but had 12 rebounds), Reggie Jackson as 6-15 for 15 points and Luke Kennard (who was great in previous games) only had 9 points. The only bright spark was Thon Maker who returning to the Bench was perfect 1-1 from the field with 6 points.

Turning to the Bucks, even with a quiet night from Giannis Antetokunmpo, Khris Middleton had 20 from 13 shots, Brook Lopez had 19 from 13 shots and Eric Bledsoe had 19. Their bench was also great with strong performances form Ersan Illyasova, Nikola Mirotic and George Hill.

I’m sorry but this series isn’t even fair.

I hope the Bucks win Game 4, just to finish this series and let the Pistons die in peace.

Next Game @ Pistons: Tuesday (23/4) at 10:00am AEST

Utah Jazz (0-3) v Houston Rockets (3-0): 101 to 104

Two things:

  1. The Jazz should have won this game (they definitely deserved to win it)
  2. James Harden had the worst shooting night in Playoff history.

Let’s start with the game itself.

This was a close one, even though watching it, you would think Jazz should be up by at least double digits at any given time throughout the game.

The Jazz came out firing. Royce O’Neale was guarding Harden really well, forcing him to go right and at times even defending behind him to stop him going left (which was insane to watch, also he did an awesome block in transition, please watch below). Rudy Gobert was blocking shots left, right and centre (he had 7 overall). Donovan Mitchell was hot to start and ended up 34 points (but went very cold until late in the fourth quarter). Despite this, Mitchell still managed to attack the paint and get to the line. Favors was a great spark off the bench with 13 points. The Jazz played well.

Yet they still lost.

What makes it worse? Harden was 0-15 before he made his first field goal (in the fourth quarter) and finished 3-20. This was his worst shooting night ever and one of the worst in NBA playoff history.

This is when you realise the Rockets are scary good. When Harden pretty much doesn’t even shoot the ball (except from the Free-throw line), they manage to find a way to win. The Rockets Bench led by Austin Rivers kept them in the game in the first half and then Harden finally knocked down some shots (as did PJ Tucker) in the fourth to give the Rockets the lead. They were always in this game but defiantly did not deserve to be.

But wow, what an ugly game.

I think unfortunately, despite deserving to win this game, the Jazz will be swept because they just do not have the offence to compete against the Rockets.

Next game @ Jazz: Tuesday (24/4) at 12:30pm AEST.

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