By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and on Monday night, the Milwaukee Bucks didn’t waste time ending Miami’s hopes of a Game 2 win. The Bucks burst to a 26-point lead during the first quarter and promptly cruised to a 34-point win. Despite spending a large chunk of the game as a spectator, Giannis Antetokounmpo racked up 31 points, 13 boards, six dimes, and three steals to lead Milwaukee to the win. Reserve Bryn Forbes also shined, scoring 22 points while knocking down 6-of-9 from deep.
Miami’s frustration was evident as the game neared its conclusion, with the Heat registering three flagrant fouls. The Heat will look to figure things out against an increasingly confident Milwaukee team tomorrow night.
Last night, the Nets didn’t quite make as quick of work of the Celtics as Milwaukee did the Heat, but Brooklyn’s Game 2 showdown against Boston was essentially over during the first half. In Game 1, the heavy lifting during Brooklyn’s win was done by its trio of superstars, with the rest of the Nets combining for a mere 22 points. In Game 2, the supporting cast, led by Joe Harris, scored a staggering 24 in the first quarter alone. Adding injury to insult for the Celtics, All-Star Jayson Tatum was forced from the game after being inadvertently poked in the eye, and his status for Friday’s Game 3.
Denver managed to even the series against the Portland Trail Blazers, overcoming a massive offensive showing from Damian Lillard to take Game 2 on Monday night. Lillard tied an NBA record with eight three-pointers during the first half, but it wasn’t enough to keep pace with the Nikola Jokic-led Nuggets. Jokic posted 38 points, eight boards, and five dimes, leading Denver to a needed win. The Nuggets looked much improved from the listless Game 1 showing, with the team’s defensive approach being the most significant difference-maker. Denver forced 21 turnovers during the contest. Despite the quality of the play, the game featured a whopping 52 personal fouls, making it borderline unwatchable for long stretches. A pivotal Game 3 tips off between these two teams tomorrow night.
Like the Nuggets, the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded from a disappointing Game 1 showing to take Game 2, with the defending champions evening the series against the Phoenix Suns. Sparking L.A.’s return to form was a dominant showing for big man Anthony Davis, who was woefully awful during Game 1. Davis offered some brutal self-criticism following his Game 1 performance, and he came out ready to dominate in Game 2. Davis finished with 34 points, ten boards, seven dimes, and three blocks in L.A.’s narrow victory. In addition to dealing with a motivated Davis, the Suns were also forced to contend with an ailing Chris Paul. The All-Star veteran was noticeably affected by the shoulder injury suffered in Game 1. The series shifts to Los Angeles for tomorrow night’s critical Game 3.
In an unexpected development, the Dallas Mavericks followed up its impressive Game 1 win from the weekend with an equally masterful Game 2 showing, seizing a 2-0 advantage over the Clippers. Dallas now controls the series, needing only a pair of wins with Games 3 and 4 at home, a desirable situation for Luka Doncic and company. The Clippers defense was uniformly awful, with Doncic scoring a team-high 39 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 28 on 14 shots, Kristaps Porzingis 20 on 12, and Maxi Kleber 13 on six. The Clippers tanked to facilitate a match-up with the Mavericks, and so far, it is looking like a grave mistake. On Friday night, the Mavericks will host the Clippers.
Tonight is home to a trio of match-ups. The Wizards will look to recover from Game 1’s blowout defeat against the 76ers in the early window. Later, the New York Knicks will look to even things up at home following a crushing, last-second defeat in Game 1 against the Atlanta Hawks. Closing out the night’s games, the top-seeded Jazz will likely welcome All-Star Donovan Mitchell back to the court in a must-win game against the Memphis Grizzlies.