We were treated to just two contests on this Saturday slate featuring a pair of series tied at one game apiece with a critical Game 3 on the line. The early game between Milwaukee and Boston proved to be one for the ages, while the late game between Golden State and Memphis was a bit of a snoozer. Let’s dive into all the action!
Bucks 103, Celtics 101: Giannis scores 42, Horford’s tip-in comes too late
After Milwaukee took Game 1 handily, Boston responded with a blowout victory in Game 2. Game 3 was much closer and came down to a review by the officials after the final buzzer.
Boston took a 50-46 lead into halftime, but Milwaukee won the third quarter 34-17. That quarter was the highest-scoring for Milwaukee in these playoffs and the lowest-scoring for Boston. The Celtics regrouped and took the lead late before Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday took the Bucks ahead by three in the waning seconds.
Marcus Smart was fouled with just a couple of seconds left on the clock, but the foul was called on the floor and not in the act of shooting. Smart went to the line and drained the first free throw. He intentionally missed the second, grabbed his own rebound and missed the putback. Robert Williams missed a tip shot and so did Al Horford before Horford’s final attempt went in. After review, it was clear that Horford’s bucket came after the buzzer and didn’t count.
- Jayson Tatum came into this one averaging 25.0 points, 7.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 4.5 triples and 3.0 stocks. He fell way back to earth and finished with just 10 points, three assists, one rebound, one steal and four blocks. He shot a pitiful 4-of-19 from the field and committed three turnovers. It was a night to forget for the young star who will need to be much better in Game 4 with his team trailing 2-1 in the series.
- Jaylen Brown shined yet again with a healthy 27/12/4 line that included and a block. Brown shot 50% from the floor and hit 10-of-11 free throws and has now excelled in back-to-back contests. Over the last two games, Brown has averaged 28.5 points, 8.5 boards and 5.0 dimes.
- It’s absolutely incredible how well Al Horford is playing this postseason, and he had his way with Milwaukee in Game 3 with a monster 22/16/5 line, two blocks and four truples. The savvy veteran is averaging 14.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 3.3 stocks through three games against the Bucks.
- Robert Williams had his best game of the postseason with 10 points, five boards, four dimes, three blocks and two steals. He averaged just 8.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in Games 1 and 2, and though his counting numbers haven’t been huge, his defense has been tremendous, and the frontcourt of he and Horford has been a key component to Boston’s success.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo came out with a monster performance when his team needed him the most. He shot just 20-of-52 (38.5%)in Games 1 and 2 but came back in Game 3 with a highly efficient 16-of-30 shooting for 42 points. The Greek Freak finished with 12 boards, eight dimes, two steals and two blocks and is now averaging 31.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.0 assists in the Eastern Conference semis.
- Brook Lopez posted his first double-double of the series with a 13/10/2/2 line. He averaged only four points, eight boards and three blocks in the first two games but didn’t attempt a triple, a trend he continued in Game 3.
- Jrue Holiday finished with a big 25/7/3/3/1 line and hit the go-ahead jumper. He’s averaged 23.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.0 dimes and 2.7 steals through three games against the Celtics.
- Wesley Matthews ended with just three points and four boards across 32 minutes, but he’s provided meaningful defense for the Bucks throughout the postseason.
- Milwaukee got good minutes from Pat Connaughton, who teased a double-double with 11 points and eight boards. It was his best game of the series after averaging 10.5 points and 3.0 boards in the first two contests.
Warriors 142, Grizzlies 112: Splash Bros. sink Grizzlies
Game 1 was decided by just one point, as Ja Morant missed a layup at the buzzer. Morant was at the center of the action in Game 2, scoring the final 15 points of the contest and dropping 47 on Golden State in the five-point victory.
The biggest headline of Game 2 was Dillon Brooks’ flagrant foul on Gary Payton II in the opening minutes of the contest that resulted in a Brooks ejection and suspension and a GPII fractured left elbow. Both players missed Game 3, and Payton II is in danger of missing the remainder of the postseason due to his injury.
Chippy fouls and “dirty” play were on full display in Game 3, too. Kyle Anderson was ejected after receiving a second technical for jawing at the ref after being called for a foul. Desmond Bane dove into the knees of Jordan Poole, and Poole grabbed Ja Moran’ts knee while going for the ball. Morant tweaked his knee in the game, and it appears that happened on the aforementioned play with Poole. Whether or not it was intentional or dirty is yet to be determined, but Morant left the game with a noticeable link. Stay tuned, and make sure to keep up on the latest injury news.
While the first two games of this series were ultra-competitive, Game 3 was anything but. Morant hit a half-court shot at the halftime buzzer to bring Memphis within seven points, but Golden State outscored Memphis 37-23 in the third quarter to blow this thing wide open.
Shooting was a major factor here, as the Dubs shot 62.7% as a team and hit 17-of-32 triples. The Grizz converted only 42.9% of their field goals and shot 16-of-43 from beyond the arc.
- Ja Morant went off for 47 points in Game 2 to become the third player in NBA history with multiple 45-point playoff games before age 23. He had another outstanding performance in Game 3, and the Grizz weren’t blown out due to his lack of trying. King Ja finished with 34 points, seven dimes, three rebounds, three steals and four triples. Through three games, he’s averaging 38.3 points, 8.3 assists, 6.7 boards and 3.0 steals, but he’ll need much more from his teammates if the Grizzlies hope to steal Game 4 in Oakland and even up the series.
- Desmond Bane had a pretty miserable first two games of the series, as he scored just 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting and shot 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. His efficiency improved in Game 3, but he still finished with just 16 points (5-of-10 FG, 4-of-7 3Pt), three rebounds, two assists and a steal.
- Memphis felt the absence of Dillon Brooks, as rookie Ziaire Williams failed to step up in the starting lineup. Williams shot 3-of-8 and finished with just seven points, four boards and an assist. De’Anthony Melton logged the most minutes off the bench with 27 but only mustered 12 points, four rebounds and three assists on 5-of-14 shooting.
- The Grizzlies’ big-man duo of Xavier Tillman and Brandon Clarke had a rough night, too. Clarke came into Game 3 averaging 15.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 stocks in the playoffs but finished with just four points and two boards. Tillman, who’s averaged just 3.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.0 steals across 13.8 minutes in five starts, had another forgettable night in the box score with five points, a rebound, an assist and a block across 22 minutes.
- Steven Adams was available for Game 3 after clearing health and safety protocols, but he didn’t take the court until the final four minutes of the contest with the game far out of reach for Memphis. After falling out of the rotation in Round 1, it’s safe to say we’ll continue to see very little of him this postseason.
- Stephen Curry led the Warriors in scoring with 30 points, though he only hit 2-of-8 triples. His perfect 14-of-14 shooting from the charity stripe inflated the big scoring total. Curry’s big night marked his fourth 30-point game of the playoffs, tied for second-most behind only Ja Morant.
- Klay Thompson finished with 21 points, nine rebounds, four dimes and four triples in a nice bounceback effort after averaging 13.5 points, 3.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 2.5 triples in Games 1 and 2.
- Jonathan Kuminga slid into the starting lineup in place of Gary Payton II and enjoyed a productive outing. Kuminga saw only 18 minutes, but he made the most of garbage time by scoring 18 points. Expect him to see minutes in the mid-teens to low-20s moving forward.
- Jordan Poole’s breakout postseason continued with another strong game. He notched 27 points, four rebounds and two dimes while stroking 3-of-5 triples. He’s averaged 26 points in this series and eclipsed 20 points in six of eight postseason contests.