76ers Improve to 3-0, Warriors Defend Home Court, and the Suns Escape from LA

Thursday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the favorites go 3-0 for the third night in a row, but it was not easy for the 76ers in Brooklyn and the Suns in Los Angeles. The Warriors avoided going down 3-0 to Sacramento with the most decisive win of the night.

Tyrese Maxey Leads 76ers to Win After James Harden Gets Ejected

Tyrese Maxey
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Photo by Icon Sport

The Nets just cannot catch a break against the 76ers this year. Even after holding Joel Embiid to 14 points, watching James Harden get ejected in the third quarter for a groin shot, and taking an 82-76 lead into the fourth quarter, the Nets still failed to win the game in a 102-97 loss.

The game was physical, questionably officiated, and extra chippy. Embiid survived kicking a player in the groin early in the game that probably should have led to an ejection. But the likely MVP was held to just 14 points, his second-lowest game this season.

Tyrese Maxey became the star for the 76ers with 25 points, including a huge fourth quarter where he made four straight shots, including a tie-breaking 3-point shot. The 76ers finally got the MVP-caliber play they needed from Embiid when he blocked Spencer Dinwiddie’s shot with 8.8 seconds left, which would have tied the game.

To make matters worse, the Nets threw away the inbounds pass, leading to a clear path basket for the 76ers, a 102-97 final, and one heck of a backdoor cover for anyone who took 76ers -4.5.

The Nets have a 9-game losing streak in the postseason. The 76ers can complete the sweep in Game 4.

No Draymond Green, No Problem at Home for Golden State

With some NBA analysts bemoaning the decision to suspend Draymond Green for Game 3 after stomping on Domantas Sabonis, the truth is it ended up having little impact on the game, a 114-97 win by Golden State.

The Warriors did what the Warriors tend to do at home: win and win in convincing fashion. The Warriors got 36 points from Steph Curry, 20 rebounds and 9 assists from Kevon Looney, and the Kings were an abysmal 11-of-47 (23.4%) from 3-point territory.

Even without Green, the Warriors showed how they can be No. 3 in Defensive Rating at home and No. 28 in Defensive Rating on the road this season. It makes little sense, but this is how the team has played all year, and this is why the series could still go a full seven games if the home teams win each contest.

But the young Kings have some work to do as they only shot 38% from the field and scored 97 points despite boasting the No. 1 offense in the league this year.

The Warriors led wire to wire and can even the series in Game 4 at home.

Devin Booker Leads Phoenix to 2-1 Lead with 45 Points

In finding out Kawhi Leonard was unable to go for the Clippers, the Suns jumped from a 2.5-point favorite to a 7.5-point favorite. What more can the Clippers expect to do without their two best players, Leonard and Paul George?

Apparently, they still have a lot in the tank, and the Suns are fortunate they were not playing those players on Thursday night. Another sluggish start by Phoenix had the Clippers believing early, and Norman Powell was fantastic with 42 points on 7-of-12 shooting from three. Russell Westbrook also had 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 12 assists as the Clippers kept hanging around.

The Suns had to play their starters big minutes with Kevin Durant scoring 28 points in 42 minutes. But Devin Booker was once again the star with 45 points on 18-of-29 shooting in a stellar performance.

The Clippers made it a 119-116 game with under 2:00 left, but Torrey Craig hit a big three for the Suns. Booker then got a block on Westbrook’s layup, some payback for the defensive play Westbrook made on Booker to steal Game 1. The Suns held on from there in the 129-124 win.

With Powell and Booker both hitting 40 points, it was the first time in NBA playoff history where there were dueling 40-point games on back-to-back nights after Anthony Edwards and Jamal Murray did it in Denver on Wednesday night. It was also the first time in the last 46 NBA playoff games where the winning team did not cover the spread, though the Suns will be glad for the win and 2-1 lead.

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