A Western Conference showdown was the highlight of Wednesday night’s 2020 NBA Game 2 playoffs between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks kept the trend from the day.
The Mavericks shook off the failure from their Game 1, as they bounced back to even the series at 1-1 with a 127-114 win.
Luka Doncic was a dominant figure yet again at the game, helping the Mavericks to a 17-point lead in the first half. And though he finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, he dealt with foul trouble in the second half and had a minimal impact after the break.
The Mavericks’ bench also stepped up this time around with Seth Curry, Trey Burke, Boban Marjanovic, and Delon Wright all combining for 47 huge points.
Kawhi Leonard, the star man for the Los Angeles team led the way as per usual, finishing with 35 points and 10 rebounds. Unfortunately for LA Clippers, Lou Williams was the only teammate who complimented the efforts of Kawhi, earning 23 points and seven assists.
They shot just 29.4 percent from 3-point land and struggled on the defensive end as they fell to a disappointing loss.
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Watch the match highlights below
It seems like Luka Doncic breaking some sort of record every game is the new norm. In Game 1, he went for 42 points, which was the most ever in a playoff debut, and on Wednesday night, after finishing with 28 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists, he became just the second player ever to score 70 in his first two playoff games.
George Mikan, who put up 75 points in his first two playoff games way back in 1949 was the only other player with more than what Doncic just had.
But while Doncic was key in the Mavericks building a big lead in the first half, he needed a lot of help to close this out. He played just nine minutes in the second half because he had issues with a foul, and also sat for almost all of the fourth quarter.
The old saying that offense wins games, but defense wins championships is slowly becoming a myth in this series. Going strictly by offensive rating, the Mavericks put together the best offense in NBA history this season, scoring 115.9 points per 100 possessions with the Clippers who checked in at 113.3 coming in as second. It means neither team has trouble getting buckets.
On the other side of the ball, however, was where things diverged. The Clippers were one of just two teams to finish in the top-five in both offensive and defensive rating, while the Mavericks had the second-worst defense of any team to make the playoffs. Only the Trail Blazers were worse.
That dominant Clippers defense, however, was nowhere to be seen in Game 2 allowing the Mavericks to get to the paint too easily. The Clippers are going to have to tighten up defensively in Game 3, especially on the perimeter.
Philadelphia 76ers 101-128 Boston Celtics
Forward Gordon Hayward of the Boston Celtics had to retire in Game 1 of their series against the 76ers and couldn’t make it to Game 2, but it didn’t seem to matter on Wednesday night.
Bolton Celtics took a commanding 128-101 win over the Sixers and took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series. All-Star forward Jayson Tatum again led the way for the Celtics notching 33 points, five rebounds, and five assists in 31 minutes of action.
The Celtics also got major contributions from Jaylen Brown (20 points, five rebounds) and Kemba Walker (22 points, four rebounds) who usually turn up. Marcus Smart and Enes Kanter also both chipped in with 10 points apiece.
Joel Embiid paced the Sixers with 34 points and 10 rebounds, but his production wasn’t enough to propel Philly to a much-needed win. The fact that the Sixers miss forward Ben Simmons, who is sidelined for the series following knee surgery, has been evident on both ends of the floor so far in this series.
The Sixers also struggled to lock down Boston’s perimeter players defensively again and weren’t sharp offensively too as they struggled to generate open opportunities. It was certainly a tough night for Philadelphia, but the players don’t have time to hang their heads, as they will have to regroup and look to bounce back in Game 3 on Friday night.
Watch the game highlights below
Utah Jazz 124-105 Denver Nuggets
After suffering a tough loss to the Denver Nuggets in overtime in Game 1, the Utah Jazz got back on track on Wednesday afternoon, coasting to a comfortable 124-105 win to even the series at 1-1.
Donovan Mitchell who made a historic 57-point performance in Game 1 kept up his strong play, finishing with 30 points and eight assists on a super-efficient 10 of 14 from the field.
It’s only Mitchell’s third season and yet his third trip to the playoffs, and he’s extremely comfortable under the spotlight.
With Bogdan Bogdanovic out for the season, and Mike Conley away attending to the birth of his child, there’s even more pressure on Mitchell early in this series, and his first two games have been outstanding.
Watch the game highlights below
Denver’s lackluster defense was pounced on by the entire Jazz team to the tune of 51.7 percent from the field. Jordan Clarkson went for 28 points to provide a boost from the bench, Rudy Gobert added 19 and the Jazz and assisted on 32 of their 45 made field goals.
Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr. led the way for the Nuggets who surrendered to defeat, going for 28 points each, but Denver’s problem was on the defensive end.
Given all of the talent they possess, offence almost is never going to be a problem. If they keep playing defense as they have been in the bubble, however, it’s going to be tough for them to win consistently.
They were the worst defensive team in the seeding games, giving up 121.7 points per 100 possessions, and that trend has only continued through the first two games against Utah.