The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs began this week. Miss any of the action? Here’s a recap of each series as of Thursday morning.
#1 Sixers vs. #8 Wizards
The Sixers coasted to an easy Game 2 victory Wednesday night to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Washington Wizards. Game 1, however, was not as easy, with the 76ers eking out a seven-point victory against an incredible performance by Bradley Beal. The series now moves to Washington for Games 3 and 4, where Philadelphia looks for the four-game sweep.
#2 Nets vs #7 Celtics
A monumental Jayson Tatum effort led Boston in Game 1, but that was not enough to overcome the three-headed monster Brooklyn Nets. Game 2, much like the Philadelphia series, was a non-contest, with Brooklyn controlling the game from the opening tip-off. This series will head back to Boston, where the Celtics look to avoid a four-game sweep.
#3 Bucks vs. #6 Heat
In a rematch of an opening round series from last year, the Bucks look to avoid the same disappointment they felt a season ago. Khris Middleton sunk the game-winner with seconds left in Game 1 to help Milwaukee escape, and former league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the charge in Game 2. So far, the story of this series has been the lackluster performance by Jimmy Butler, where he’s averaging 13.5 ppg on 25 percent shooting.
#4 Knicks vs. #5 Hawks
In the most entertaining Eastern Conference series so far, the Knicks and Hawks are knotted up at one game apiece. Trae Young put together an all-around performance in Game 1 to lead the Hawks to a victory, much to the dismay of the rowdy Madison Square Garden crowd. An Obi Toppin dunk emphasized Derrick Rose’s 26 -point outpour in Game 2 to help the Knicks.
#1 Jazz vs. #8 Grizzlies
In the most surprising upset so far, the Grizzlies — who would not be in the postseason without the controversial play-in tournament — upset the team with the best record in the NBA, the Utah Jazz. Controversy surrounded this game with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell sitting out despite his camp saying he was ready to go. Mitchell returned for Game 2 and helped the Jazz even the series, despite a 47 point performance from reigning Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Tied at 1-1, this series heads to Memphis for the next two games.
#2 Suns vs. #7 Lakers
Two of the best games from the playoffs have come from the Arizona desert. Game 1 saw a defensive standoff between the reigning NBA champions and the up-and-coming Phoenix Suns. Ultimately, Phoenix won because of the battle on the block where Deandre Ayton dominated Anthony Davis. Davis, however, returned with a vengeance in Game 2 and propelled the Lakers to a narrow victory with a 34-point outing. Don’t be surprised if we see seven games between these two juggernauts.
#3 Nuggets vs. #6 Trail Blazers
Portland, led by their star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, stole home-court advantage from MVP candidate Nikola Jokic in Game 1, combining for 55 points. Jokic showed his MVP form in Game 2, where his 38 points helped stave off a 42-point barrage from Lillard. Even at one game each, the series heads to Portland for a pivotal Game 3.
#4 Clippers vs. #5 Mavericks
The Clippers entered the playoffs, losing two straight games to avoid the Lakers until the Western Conference Finals. Instead of playing LeBron, they chose to play Luka Doncic. They were wrong. The Mavericks came out strong in Game 1, led by Lukas 31-point, 10-rebound, 110-assist gem of a game where LA had no answers. In Game 2, former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard took a crack at Luka and fared no better. Doncic dropped 39 points, and Tim Hardaway Jr. hit the game-winner to propel the Mavericks to a six-point victory. Now heading back to Dallas, the Mavericks hold a controlling 2-0 series lead.