Warriors Survive Kings, Knicks and Celtics Take 3-1 Leads, and Minnesota Avoids Elimination

Sunday’s quadruple-header in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the New York Knicks pull away in the fourth quarter to take a 3-1 lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings put on the show of the day with the Warriors winning 126-125 to even the series. The Boston Celtics have taken a commanding 3-1 lead on the Atlanta Hawks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves survived in overtime against the Denver Nuggets to avoid a sweep.

Jalen Brunson Lifts Knicks to 3-1 Lead as Donovan Mitchell Struggles

The best series of the first round for old-school NBA fans continued on Sunday afternoon with the Knicks winning 102-93 in a game with 14 combined threes made.

The offenses were not necessarily ugly in this game as they were just playing at a slower pace than most games in the NBA today. Both teams shot just over 45% from the field while keeping turnovers down.

But Knicks guard Jalen Brunson has stepped up as the best player in this series with 29 points to lead all scorers. Julius Randle was actually benched for the fourth quarter after shooting 3-of-10 for 7 points with 2 rebounds in 27 minutes of action.

The Knicks did a great job to frustrate Donovan Mitchell, an elite scorer and playoff performer who was held to 11 points on 5-of-18 shooting, including 2 points in the second half. The game was still tied at 75 in the fourth quarter, but that was when the Knicks pulled away without Randle.

The Knicks lead 3-1 and teams win the series 95% of the time in that scenario.

Warriors Survive Final Minute of Errors Against Kings to Tie Series

Steph Curry
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA
Photo by Icon Sport

The best game of the day came in Golden State where the Kings were more than game with a big scoring day despite the return of Draymond Green for the Warriors. This season, the Kings are 25-6 when they score at least 125 points, but two of those losses are now to the Warriors in Golden State.

The Kings were down 10 points going into the fourth quarter, but De’Aaron Fox (38 points) continued to be great in the final 12 minutes as he has been all season. He made an incredible 3-point shot to make it a 126-125 game with 28 seconds left just after the Warriors turned the ball over after Steph Curry tried calling timeout without any timeouts remaining.

The Warriors could have milked the clock to 4 seconds, but Curry rushed a shot that missed, and the Kings called timeout with 10 seconds left to draw up a game-winning shot. But the Warriors did a great job of denying Fox the ball, and he had to pass to Harrison Barnes, who missed the game-deciding three to end the game.

Not surprisingly, the home team has won every game in this series, but the momentum is back on Golden State’s side as some of Sacramento’s inexperience showed up in the end of this game with poor shot selection in the final minutes. But the Warriors also had some mistakes and were fortunate to walk away with the win in what has become the first round’s best series.

Boston’s Big Two Outshine Trae Young and Hawks in Game 4

The Hawks certainly found offense easier to come by at home against the Celtics in this series, but the Celtics also scored well in both games, including 51.7% from the field in Game 4. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum each scored 31 points to outdo Trae Young’s 35 and 15 assists for Atlanta.

Young had some help in DeAndre Hunter scoring 27 points and Dejounte Murray scoring 23 points. But Boston won three of the four quarters, and in the fourth, Atlanta could never string together enough stops to make the game tighter in the final minutes. The Hawks kept exchanging buckets with the Celtics, who are 26-0 when scoring at least 125 points in regulation this season.

The Celtics can go home and close out the series in Game 5.

Timberwolves Blow Another Lead But Hang on in Overtime to Get First Playoff Win

It would have been beyond fitting for the Timberwolves to blow another double-digit lead and end their season with a sweep at the hands of the Nuggets. It was looking like that would happen after Minnesota blew a 96-84 lead in the final 2:50 after the Nuggets went on a 12-0 scoring run to tie the game.

Nikola Jokic actually missed a free throw with 12.1 seconds left that could have given the team a late lead. Anthony Edwards tried to answer with a game-winning shot, but his attempt was blocked to bring up overtime.

Instead of laying down, the Timberwolves regrouped and outscored Denver 18-12 to win the game 114-108, delaying elimination for at least one more game. Edwards scored 34 points for Minnesota while Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points, Rudy Gobert had 15 rebounds, and Mike Conley was big with 19 points and 8 assists.

But the game may be the best example of why some are lukewarm about these Nuggets making it to the Finals as Jokic had to score 43 points on an off night for his supporting cast. He did not have to do that in the first three games, but no one else scored 20 points for Denver as Michael Porter Jr. (15 points) and Jamal Murray (19 points on 21 shots) cooled down.

Subscribe to Punditfeed on Google News for all the latest updates from the world of sports!

Scott Kacsmar

Scott lives in Pittsburgh and has two decades of experience with analyzing NFL data, NBA data, and writing data-driven articles and predictions. His work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, ESPN Insider, and FiveThirtyEight.