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Saturday’s quadruple-header in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the first series sweep of the year with the Philadelphia 76ers ending the Brooklyn Nets without Joel Embiid. The Clippers without Kawhi Leonard and the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo were not as fortunate as the Suns and Heat won those matchups. Finally, the Lakers jumped all over Memphis early before hanging on to take a 2-1 lead.
Brooklyn Finishes Season 0-8 vs. 76ers
The 76ers did a 4-0 sweep of the Nets in the regular season, and the same happened in the first round of the playoffs. Even with likely MVP Joel Embiid sidelined by injury, the 76ers played great defense and suffocated the Nets in a 96-88 win.
The 76ers managed to win the last three games despite not scoring 100 points in any of them. The 76ers were 1-10 in the regular season when they failed to score 100 points, but playoff basketball is just different.
Tobias Harris stepped up to lead all scorers with 25 points for Philadelphia, and James Harden returned from his Game 3 ejection with 17 points and 11 assists. But this was an ugly, old-school battle in the Eastern Conference with the 76ers shooting 39.6% in the win.
The Nets could not get the 3-point shot to go in, making 9-of-37 (24.3%) in the loss. Mikal Bridges had some good moments in the series, but he finished 6-of-18 shooting for 17 points in elimination. Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 20 points.
The 76ers will get some days of rest to hopefully get Embiid back for the second round.
Vintage Durant vs. Westbrook Showdown Goes Phoenix’s Way
The Clippers (+7.5) were much closer than the 112-100 final suggests in this game. They once again made the Suns look bad in the first quarter with a 30-23 lead, then they opened up the third quarter on a 9-0 run too.
But the elite talent of the Suns proved to be too much for the Clippers, who were without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George for the second game in a row. But while Norman Powell went from 42 points in Game 3 to 14 points in this game, it was Russell Westbrook who put the team on his back and looked like the vintage Westbrook from the Oklahoma City days.
Westbrook had 37 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 17-of-29. He did his best to keep the team close in the fourth quarter, but the shot-making ability of Kevin Durant (31 points) and Devin Booker (30 points) is just too high. Chris Paul also stepped up with one of his best playoff games of the last two years with 19 points.
The Suns lead 3-1 and will look to put this one to rest in Game 5 at home.
Bucks Fall Flat in Miami as Heat Take 2-1 Lead
In what is quickly becoming one of the most compelling first-round series, the Milwaukee Bucks looked lost without Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed his second-straight game. The Heat, despite ranking dead last in points scored during the regular season, again showed a strong scoring prowess behind Jimmy Butler, who had 30 points to lead all scorers. Butler was 4-for-4 from three.
Duncan Robinson also shot 5-of-6 from three for Miami, helping fill the void of the injured Tyler Herro. But for the Bucks, there was no historic 3-point shooting like they had in Game 2’s win without Antetokounmpo when they tied the NBA playoff record with 25 made threes. In Game 3, the Bucks shot 15-of-39 from three and never really threatened in the second half of the 121-99 loss.
Lakers Use 35-9 First Quarter to Humble Grizzlies; Dillon Brooks Ejected
In perhaps the most predictable outcome of the day, the Lakers beat the Grizzlies days after Memphis’ Dillon Brooks said LeBron is old and cannot score 40 anymore.
Well, LeBron only scored 25 in this game, but the Lakers put up 35 points in the first quarter while Memphis was held to 9 points in one of the most stunning opening quarters in playoff history. It was the first home playoff game at full-crowd capacity for the Lakers since 2013.
Ja Morant returned for Memphis after missing Game 2 with a hand injury, and while he finished with 45 points and 13 assists, most of the damage was done long after the Lakers blew the game open early.
Anthony Davis played like he is capable of with 31 points and 17 rebounds, and the Lakers are going to be hard to beat when he is doing that to go along with the supporting cast. Rui Hachimura continues to shoot well in this series with another 16 points.
But the pregame started with Dillon Brooks’ comments, and he was pathetic in backing them up, shooting 3-of-13 from the field and scoring 7 points. In the third quarter, Brooks punched James in the crown jewels, and he was ejected in the 111-101 loss that was never really that close.
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