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Sunday was the second day of the NBA playoffs, with the fourth series that did not begin on Saturday getting underway. Both top-seeds were in action, as was the West's 2-seed, and three of the four home teams managed to hold serve. And three players managed to score 30 or more in their respective playoff debuts. Let's get into the Daily Dose.
76ers 125, Wizards 118: Harris goes off for top seed
While 8-seed Washington did hold its own in Game 1, there were some concerns. Despite Joel Embiid (30/6/3/0/1 in 30 minutes) getting into early foul trouble, the Wizards led by just one point at the half. The reason: they could not stop Tobias Harris. Harris finished the game with a line of 37 points (15-of-29 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes, establishing a new playoff career-high point total. Philadelphia's other starters made some timely plays, with Seth Curry (15/4/1/2 with three 3-pointers) and Danny Green (11/2/2/2/1 with three 3-pointers) combining to shoot 6-of-13 from beyond the arc. Curry left the game briefly due to a stomach injury, but he was able to return.
And while Ben Simmons scored just six points, which included an 0-of-6 showing from the foul line, he did chip in with 15 rebounds, 15 assists, one steal and one blocked shot. And his defense on Russell Westbrook (16/5/14/0/1) was critical, as Westbrook shot 7-of-17 from the field and also committed six turnovers. That matchup likely holds the key to this series; Westbrook is going to get his numbers. But if Simmons can succeed in limiting his efficiency in doing so, this could be a short series.
Bradley Beal (33/10/6/1 with one 3-pointer) shot the ball well from the field, but he was just 1-of-6 from three and also committed six turnovers. Similar to the man that Beal shares the Wizards backcourt with, that number will have to decrease in future games if Washington is to have any chance of winning the series. A positive for Scott Brooks' team: they received contributions from more than a few of their role players. Alex Len (12 points, three rebounds in 16 minutes) was solid after not offering much in the way of production during the latter stages of the regular season, while Daniel Gafford (12/6/2/0/1) took advantage of his 20 minutes off the bench.
As we've seen, Brooks isn't going away from the three-headed "monster" at the center position, and there may be a need to stick with that due to what Embiid can do to opposing big men. Len played 16 minutes, Gafford 20 and Robin Lopez (six points, two rebounds) 12 in Game 1. None getting over 20 minutes per game unless they get scalding hot makes each Wizards center a difficult play as far as playoff DFS is concerned. Rui Hachimura (12 points, five rebounds and two 3-pointers) shot 5-of-8 from the field in his playoff debut, but Washington is going to need more from him on both ends of the floor moving forward. And Davis Bertans (14/5/1/0/1 with four 3-pointers) came out hot in the first quarter, but he shot 1-of-5 from the field after halftime.
Suns 99, Lakers 90: Shoulder injuries the lead storyline
Phoenix's first playoff game since 2010 ended well for the home team, as Devin Booker (34/7/8/1 with three 3-pointers) and Deandre Ayton (21/16/0/0/1) won their respective individual matchups in convincing fashion. But there was some concern for the Suns, as Chris Paul suffered a right shoulder contusion early in the second quarter. While he was able to return and play 36 minutes on the day, Paul (7/4/8/1/1 with one 3-pointer) did not look like himself at all. And it didn't help matters for the Suns that backup Cameron Payne (5/3/1 with one 3-pointer) picked up two technical fouls and was ejected with about nine minutes remaining. Depending upon Paul's recovery from the shoulder contusion, Payne could be of even greater importance to the Suns in Tuesday's Game 2.
Cameron Johnson (10/6/1/2 with two 3-pointers) and Mikal Bridges (10/4/0/2/1 with two 3-pointers) joined Booker and Ayton in double figures, while Jae Crowder (8/4/3/1) had a rough afternoon from three, missing all seven of his attempts. With Ayton being incredibly effective against whichever big the Lakers used to defend him, Dario Saric (4/2/1/0/1) was called upon for just 11 minutes in Game 1. That's likely to remain the split moving forward, especially if Ayton can stay out of foul trouble (he had three on Sunday).
The Lakers' center rotation bears watching, because there may come a point when their best bet is to just use Anthony Davis there - even if he doesn't like manning the five. Andre Drummond (12/9/0/1/1) put up a solid stat line, but the Lakers could only play him 19 minutes due to the need for a post presence who could also be effective as a facilitator. Montrezl Harrell (12/3/0/2/0) was in a similar spot, playing 15 minutes as a result. And with Davis (13/7/2/0/3) shooting just 5-of-16 from the field, the Lakers found themselves in a hole that they could not climb out of. Marc Gasol was a DNP-CD, which comes as no surprise, but can he potentially be an asset for the Lakers in this series? We'll see.
LeBron James (18/7/10/3 with three 3-pointers) was available in spite of the health and safety protocols violation, as the league determined that proper precautions were taken. But he turned the ball over five times, and appeared to injure his left shoulder during the fourth quarter. James didn't speak about the issue when questioned following the game, but keep an eye out for the Lakers' injury report on Monday. Dennis Schroder (14/1/3/2/1 with one 3-pointer) was solid in his 34 minutes, but L.A. is going to need more from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (7/2/2/1 with one 3-pointer), who shot 2-of-9 from the field. The same can be said for Kyle Kuzma, who went scoreless on just two shot attempts in his 19 minutes on the court.
Hawks 107, Knicks 105: Young, Hunter come up big for ATL
Even though the Knicks won all three regular season games, many believe that this series is a toss-up. Game 1 lived up to that expectation, as Trae Young's runner with nine-tenths of a second remaining proved to be the difference. The Knicks didn't have an answer for Young, who finished with a line of 32 points (11-of-23 FGs, 9-of-9 FTs), seven rebounds, 10 assists and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes. No matter who New York tried, they were unable to keep Young from getting to his spots in ball-screen actions.
Elfrid Payton started but, as he was once again ineffective, played just eight minutes. Derrick Rose (17/5/5/1/1 with one 3-pointer) played 38 minutes, but he turned the ball over five times and struggled to stay with Young. Lastly there was Frank Ntilikina, who was given the task of defending Young on the game's deciding play. That's not enough time to judge him, but with Payton playing as poorly as he has, you have to wonder if Tom Thibodeau will look to give Ntilikina more minutes in Wednesday's Game 2. But if the Knicks were to do that, it would likely mean more playmaking responsibilities for RJ Barrett and Julius Randle, who both struggled in their Knicks playoff debut.
Barrett (14/11/1 with one 3-pointer) shot 6-of-15 from the field, while Randle (15/12/4 with two 3-pointers) was even worse, shooting 6-of-23. De'Andre Hunter deserves a lot of credit for Randle's off night, and it's worth noting that he played in just one of the three regular season meetings due to a knee injury. Hunter finished Sunday's win with a line of five points, four rebounds and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes, but the stat line doesn't do him enough justice when it comes to his impact as a defender. Bogdan Bogdanovic (18/4/2/2 with four 3-pointers) and Lou Williams (13 points, two assists and one 3-pointer) hit some key shots in the second half, with the former tying the game at 103 on a 3-pointer with 55 seconds remaining.
In addition to Rose, Alec Burks (27/3/4 with three 3-pointers; 18 fourth-quarter points) and Immanuel Quickley (10/2/3 with two 3-pointers) also played well off the bench for the Knicks. New York's reserves scored 64 points in Game 1, and that was nearly enough to make up for the struggles of their starters. But it wasn't, thanks in large part to the masterclass put forth by Atlanta's young point guard.
Grizzlies 112, Jazz 109: Mitchell a late scratch for Utah
In the days leading up to Sunday's opener between Memphis and Utah, all signs seemed to point towards Donovan Mitchell making his return from a sprained right ankle. Unfortunately for the Jazz, the medical staff decided that he was not ready to play Sunday night. As a result Joe Ingles remained in the starting lineup, and in 33 minutes he put up 11 points, two rebounds, two assists and three 3-pointers. But the absence of their best offensive weapon meant less room for Utah's many shooters, who combined to go 12-of-47 from beyond the arc.
Jordan Clarkson (14/3/2/0/2) missed all eight of his attempts, while Bojan Bogdanovic (29/5/0/2 with four 3-pointers) and Mike Conley (22/6/11/0/2 with three 3-pointers) combined to shoot 7-of-22. Georges Niang (7/3/2 with one 3-pointer) and Royce O'Neale (3/5/3 with one 3-pointer) also struggled, combining to go 2-of-9 on 3-pointers. Add in Rudy Gobert (11/15/0/0/3) being limited to 25 minutes due to foul trouble, and the Jazz were unable to hold off the Grizzlies. With Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday night, it's possible that Mitchell will be able to do enough to return to game action. And based upon Utah's struggles Sunday night, they're going to need him back (and at full strength).
Despite attempting 27 more 3-pointers than the Grizzlies, Utah's advantage on points from beyond the arc was just 15 points. That proved to be an easy deficit for Memphis to make up, as 80 of their 100 field goal attempts were two-pointers. Dillon Brooks (31/7/2/2/2 with two 3-pointers) joined the aforementioned Booker and Young as players who managed to score at least 30 points in their playoff debuts on Sunday, while Ja Morant (26/4/4/1) shot 11-of-21 from the field and had just one turnover in his 36 minutes played.
The Grizzlies also received solid contributions from Jonas Valanciunas (15/12/3/0/1) and Kyle Anderson (14/4/3/6 with one 3-pointer), with the latter setting a franchise record for the most steals in a playoff game. Jaren Jackson Jr. didn't do much offensively, shooting 2-of-8 from the field and scoring seven points, but he also accounted for three rebounds, three steals, one blocked shot and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. Memphis once again went ten players deep, which has been the norm for them in recent games. And many of the available bench minutes went to guards, with Xavier Tillman being the lone frontcourt reserve to see any action (and he played eight minutes).