We kick things off with my most anticipated match up, Boston vs Toronto. I find myself awake at 3am. I want to blame my daughter, but I honestly think I woke myself up so I could watch this live.
Boston jumped on Toronto early and did not let up. The game was moving up and down at a very fast pace, which suited Boston well. They were defending very well in transition and scoring with ease. Tatum was quiet, but that wasn’t a problem because Brown and Smart carried the load offensively. Turnovers and fouls were a big problem for Toronto and they found themselves down 39-23 after the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Toronto’s defense finally decided to show up. They forced 9 Boston turnovers, however they failed to convert these into points on the other end. They were still plagued by offensive inefficiency. They were settling for too many threes and at one point missed more than 10 shots in a row. Siakam could not get involved at all. After picking up his third fouls early (I thought it was a bit unlucky) he was just showing signs of frustration and poor decision making. Icy P? By the way, if you wondered why the backboards were sparkling so much, you can thank Daniel Theis. He was cleaning the glass! 11 rebounds in 12 minutes of action so far. Tatum and Walker both got going late and helped stretch the Boston lead just a bit more, 59-42 at half time. No one has really stood out in a positive way so far for Toronto. Ibaka had a few nice buckets and OG had a late scoring flurry, otherwise I didn’t really notice anyone.
The second half started much the same as the first. Boston came out and hit Toronto hard. The Raptors looked as if they had no idea what to do. They managed to make a very tiny run at the end of the third, but it was far too little and far too late. Boston go on to win 112-94. It was a pretty terrible all round effort by Toronto. Their defense wasn’t great and their offense was far worse. 10/40 from 3 point range. That is dreadful. Far too many attempts on such a terrible percentage. I am curious to see how Nick Nurse and the Raptors bounce back in game 2. Well done to the Celtics for strong play on both ends of the court. Not the closely contested match I was hoping for.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to leave this game without me question another call by the officials. I don’t understand why Ibaka wasn’t assessed a flagrant 2 and ejected? Look at the play between Schroder and Tucker yesterday that resulted in them both being ejected. I think it is clear that Ibaka’s foul was more unnecessary, more dangerous, more aggressive and just generally stupid. So it doesn’t make sense to me that Schroder and Tucker get ejected, but Ibaka just gets a flagrant one.
Up next, Dallas hope to even the series against the L.A. Clippers. They will have to do it without Porzingis, who sadly is out with a meniscus tear to his right knee. I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery. It was a bit of a back and forth game. Each team putting together a few good stretches, but no one was really taking control of the game. Both teams turned the ball over a lot. Kawhi Leonard wasn’t scoring early but he had his hands on everything else. He picked up a couple of early steals, was rebounding and passing the basketball very well. HE is such an incredible defender and was playing very hard. It’s always good to see star players diving to get loose balls. By half time he was well on his way to a double/double and George had added 14 points to help the Clippers to a 57-51 lead. They did a tremendous job defensively, especially in the second quarter, holding Dallas to just 17 points. The Mavericks missed their last 8 shots of the quarter and were lucky to only be down by 6.
The game plan for the Clippers was obvious though, deny Luka and just deal with whatever else happens. Fortunately for L.A., no one else stepped up for Dallas. We may as well address the flagrant foul now. Morris picks up the flagrant 2 foul and gets ejected after hitting Luka twice on the head. I think the referees got it right, Morris deserved to be ejected. Luka was deservedly angry, but as I have mentioned in previous Dallas games, he has to keep a cooler head. If Boban wasn’t there to stop him from retaliating, he could of been tossed as well and that’s game over for the Mavericks. He is far too valuable for this team to let himself be mentally effected by his opponents. Players like Morris will be aware of his temper and it makes him an easy target. He needs to keep a cooler head. He also needs to figure out what is going on at the free throw line. It’s easy to ignore because of how successful he is at everything else, but those free points are so important, especially in such a crucial game. Hard to criticise him though, at half time he had 15/5/6.
The second half played much the same as the first. Dallas fought valiantly, but they were simply outmatched in this. L.A. had a massive rebound advantage over they game, 52-41. The Mavericks did not enough firepower to overcome this and get themselves a win. When Dallas shoot under 30% from downtown, they are always going to struggle to get the job done. Luka continued to struggle with his temper and picked up a technical foul for throwing a basketball at one of the officials. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds, but bad enough to get the T. He finished with 38/9/9. I am certain we will see a lot more of this kid in the playoffs for years to come. Leonard remained dominant and lead the Clippers in every statistical category (except blocks). 33 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists and 5 steals, all whilst shooting 61% for the game. Incredible! It’s hard to bet against the Clippers when Leonard plays like this.
There is a couple hours break until the next game today, so I will post this article now and I will add a seperate article later to recap the Nuggets/Jazz game. I will also endeavour to get my Miami/Milwaukee series preview online by this afternoon.