Celtics take 3-0 series lead over Nets

Celtics take 3-0 series lead over Nets

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The 2022 NBA playoffs are offering up another appetizing slate of games Saturday.

The big news was that Luka Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut for the Dallas Mavericks, but the Utah Jazz won the game, 100-99. Rudy Gobert had 17 points, 10 rebounds and scored the game-winning basket to help the Jazz even the series, 2-2.

In the other early game, Pascal Siakam dropped a playoff career-high 34 points, helping the Toronto Raptors to a 110-102 Game 4 win over the Philadelphia 76ers to avoid a sweep. Philadelphia still leads the series 3-1.

No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA playoff series.

Speaking of 3-0 deficits, the Nets find themselves on the verge of being swept after losing Game 3 to the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn. Jayson Tatum dropped 39 points, while Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving finished with 16 points each.

The Timberwolves are looking to bounce back in Game 4 in Minnesota from a total collapse against the Grizzles. Memphis leads 2-1.

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Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics shoots against Nic Claxton of the Brooklyn Nets during Game Three of the Eastern Conference First Round NBA Playoffs at Barclays Center on April 23, 2022 in New York City.

Check out USA TODAY Sports’ analysis from all of Saturday’s action:

Jayson Tatum comes up big again as Celtics go up 3-0

So much for the Brooklyn Nets being the most dangerous No. 7 seed in the history of the NBA playoffs. Instead, the No. 2 Boston Celtics are turning the highly-anticipated first-round playoff series into a laugher.

The Celtics’ duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown again outplayed the Nets’ duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, and as a result the Celtics have a commanding 3-0 series lead after Saturday’s 109-103 win in Brooklyn.

Game 4 is Monday in Brooklyn. No team has overcome a 3-0 deficit in NBA playoff history.

Tatum scored 39 points and Brown added 23 points for the Celtics, who broke open a close game midway through the fourth quarter.

For their part, Durant continued his struggles against the vaunted Celtics’ defense. He scored 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and was never really a factor. Irving was just 6-of-17 from the field for 16 points. Bruce Brown led the Nets with 26 points.

Blake Griffin finally makes a playoff appearance for Nets

Want to know how bad things are going for the Nets? They inserted Blake Griffin into the lineup. Remember him? He received a rousing ovation from the Barclay Center crowd. Griffin hasn’t played any meaningful minutes since before the All-Star break.

Nets cut Boston’s lead to 53-50 at halftime

The Nets closed the first half with a 7-2 run to cut the Celtics’ lead to 53-50 at halftime. Bruce Brown kept Brooklyn in the game with 16 first-half points, while Boston’s top-rated defense held Kevin Durant to only five shots and 7 points. Coach Steve Nash told ESPN’s Lisa Salters that Durant needs to be more aggressive in the second half. Kyrie Irving picked up 13 points and three fouls in the first half.

Jayson Tatum scored 12 points, Jaylen Brown had 8 points and Payton Pritchard added 10 points from the bench. Robert Williams III made his 2022 postseason debut and played 7 minutes in the first half. He scored 2 points and blocked one shot in his return.

Nets’ Kevin Durant struggling early again against Celtics’ defense

A major storyline in the Brooklyn Nets-Boston Celtics series has been the play of Nets’ All-Star Kevin Durant. He averaged 25 points in the first two games, but shot just 31.7% from the field (13-of-41).

Durant is off to another slow start in Game 3, and, as a result, the Nets could be facing an insurmountable hole. Durant scored just five points in the first quarter and took just two shots and the Nets were down, 30-25.

In discussing the Celtics’ early defense against Durant and the Nets, Celtics coach Ime Udoka told ESPN in the first quarter interview, “We love our physicality; it’s been that way all year long. It’s just a matter of sticking to it.”

Jazz even series with Mavericks

Dallas trailed by as many 16 and had shot the ball poorly in the first half. The Mavericks reversed that in the second half, took the lead only for Utah to sneak away with a 100-99 victory in Game 4. The series is tied at 2-2, and Game 5 is Monday (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT).

Utah’s Rudy Gobert scored the game-winner on a lob from Donovan Mitchell (23 points), and Spencer Dinwiddie missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. The Jazz did not want Dallas star Luka Doncic to win the game on the final possession, and Dallas forward Dwight Powell missed two frees with the Mavs ahead 99-98.

Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut after sustaining a left calf strain in the season finale and had 30 points and 10 rebounds. It was a strong performance after missing two weeks, and the Mavs needed every bit of that performance to stay in the game.

This was not a game for offensive purists – Utah’s Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points), Royce O’Neal and Mike Conley were a combined 5-for-25 on 3-pointers – just 20%. Hard to win a playoff game with your main shooters slumping, but the Jazz did it.

Former Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson saved Utah from a 3-1 deficit with 25 points.

It’s clear this series is not a good matchup for Gobert (Dallas doesn’t have a true center who plays in low post), and that’s not all his fault. The lack of Utah’s perimeter defense hasn’t helped Gobert be as effective as he can be. Still, Gobert had 17 points and 15 rebounds – and the winning basket.

Robert Williams III returns to Celtics lineup

The Celtics, already up 2-0 in their series against the Brooklyn Nets, got another shot of good news, announcing that Robert Williams III will play in Saturday’s Game 3. Williams’ return will boost the Celtics’ already stellar defense. He is expected to play short stints that will total 20-24 minutes.

Williams has not played since tearing the meniscus in his left knee on March 27. Before his injury, Williams set career highs in points (10), rebounds (9.6) and blocks (2.2).

Nets’ Ben Simmons goes through full workout, expected to play in Game 4

Brooklyn Nets guard Ben Simmons went through a full workout on Saturday, Nets coach Steve Nash said. Nash said Simmons didn’t experience any setbacks. Simmons is expected to play in Game 4 on Monday. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Simmons will play whether or not the Nets win Game 3 on Saturday, which would put them in an 0-3 hole.

Jazz storm to halftime lead

Dallas All-Star Luka Doncic made his 2022 playoff debut after sustaining a left calf strain in the season finale and had 12 points and four rebounds in the first half – though the Mavs trailed Utah 54-42 at halftime of Game 4. Dallas struggled from the field, shooting 31.7%, including 20.8% on 3-pointers. Donovan Mitchell (17 points), Jordan Clarkson (12 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (10 points) led the Jazz. So far, it’s been a much more inspired effort from Utah, down 2-1 in the series.

Takeaways from Toronto’s Game 4 victory

Toronto is still down in the series but not out. The Raptors evaded elimination with a 110-102 victory in Game 4. Trailing 3-1, Game 5 is Monday (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV).

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has re-emerged as a star – and he delivered with playoff career-high 34 points, eight rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. Toronto doesn’t win without that performance.

This game was not pretty at all, but in the playoffs, beauty points aren’t always necessary. The Raptors made use of 13 second-chance points and 22 points off turnovers to overcome 23.5% shooting on 3-pointers.

Sixers center Joel Embiid clearly wasn’t himself with that injured right (shooting) thumb. He was 7-for-16 from the field with 20 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Philadelphia guard James Harden had 22 points, nine assists, five rebounds, three blocks and a steal but was just 5-for-17 shooting from the field.

The beat-up Raptors sustained another injury: guard Fred VanVleet left the game in the second quarter with a strained left hip and did not return.

Danny Green (2-for-10) and Tyrese Maxey (5-for-16) were a combined 27% from the field offsetting Tobias Harris’ 15 points (7-for-12 shooting) and 11 rebounds.

Lebron James vows to never miss the playoffs again

LeBron James is watching the playoffs at home for only the fourth time in his 19-year career after the Los Angeles Lakers failed to even make it to the play-in tournament. James took to Twitter, sharing that watching from the sidelines hurts.

“I can/will NOT miss the post season again for my career! This (expletive) HURT,” he tweeted on Friday, in between his playoff takes. “Ok back to watching these games.”

James missed the playoffs in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, in addition to the 2018-19 and 2021-22 season with the Lakers.

Raptors lost Fred VanVleet to injury in first half

Injuries and illness have hurt the Raptors in this series, and guard Fred VanVleet went to the locker room with 4:57 left in the second quarter with a left hip strain. He ripped his jersey as he left the court. The Raptors said he will not return.

After missing all five of his shot attempts in the first quarter, the Sixers’ Joel Embiid, who has a right (shooting) thumb injury, made three of his five attempts in the second quarter. He has eight points and three rebounds. James Harden leads all Sixers in points (12) and assists (5). Tobias Harris chipped in nine points.

Luka Doncic back in lineup for Mavericks in Game 4

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic returned for the crucial game 4 against the Utah Jazz after missing the past three games with a left calf strain

When asked if Doncic is on a minutes restriction, Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said, “Well, he’s not going to play the whole game. Less than 48 minutes.”

Joel Embiid struggles in first quarter

Embiid missed all five of his first-quarter shot attempts and had just one point, two rebounds and one assists in 11 minutes, 42 seconds of action in the opening quarter against Toronto in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

It was 24-24 after one quarter.

“I think he’s fine,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers told TNT between quarters. “Obviously, he’s going to struggle with it a little bit. He’s got to get used to it, too. He’s never played with it. I think we’re both going to learn a lot – what he can do and what he can’t do.”

It’s an interesting development worth watching not only in this game but the rest of the playoffs.

Raptors’ Scottie Barnes named Rookie of the Year

Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes has been named NBA Rookie of the Year, beating out Cleveland Cavaliers center Evan Mobley and Cade Cunningham of the Detroit Pistons. Barnes won the award by 15 total points over Mobley, the smallest margin of victory under the current voting format.

Barnes averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 74 games this season and shot 49% from the field. Barnes, 20, was the fourth overall pick by Toronto in the 2021 NBA draft out of Florida State.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA playoffs 2022 Saturday live updates: Celtics go up 3-0 on Nets



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