The NBA playoffs delivered excitement and drama with a stunning come from behind win by the Denver Nuggets over the Los Angeles Clippers and a gritty game seven victory by the Boston Celtics over the 2019 champion Toronto Raptors.
The Nuggets seemed dead by halftime — TNT studio personality Charles Barkley said their bags were already packed and the flight home scheduled and guaranteed a 20-point win by the Clippers. Then Paul Millsap erupted for 14 points in the third quarter and Denver solved what had been suffocating defense from Los Angeles.
The Clippers now lead the series 3-2 and have a second opportunity to close it out tomorrow.
The nightcap was a game seven between Boston and Toronto. The Celtics had been the better team throughout the series, but the Raptors’ experience, toughness and determination ground out three wins. Boston was an O.G. Anunoby buzzer-beater from going up 3-0, and the series still went seven games.
Boston moves on to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game one is Tuesday.
Los Angeles probably caught a break when JaVale McGee turned his ankle and Anthony Davis was forced to play center. Davis prefers not to be the man in the middle, but when he plays center more minutes go to better players and it unlocks better lineup combinations.
Houston’s style of play takes big commitment and huge energy, and those things were not on display for most of game four. If they hope to avoid a trip home tonight or tomorrow morning, they’ll need to play with much greater focus and effort. Even then it might not be enough.
- Game 5 — Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers — 8 p.m. — ESPN