The Philadelphia 76ers are their conference’s number-one seed and 1-0 to begin the playoffs. No other team in the NBA can say the same. While we luxuriate in that information, let’s entertain ourselves with a couple of exciting 3 vs. 6 matchups tonight.
No. 3 Milwaukee vs. No. 6 Miami - 7:30pm ET (TNT) - MIL leads 1-0
Saturday’s series opener was about as competitive as it gets in the first round of the playoffs. Old friend Jimmy Butler shook off an overall 4-of-22 performance when it mattered most, driving by Giannis Antetokounmpo for the game-tying bucket as time expired in regulation. The Bucks would get the last laugh in overtime, though, as Khris Middleton broke a 107-107 tie by hitting a well-contested long fadeaway jumper with less than one second remaining. This series looks like it’s going to be an absolute dogfight, and I, for one, remain thrilled that Miami didn’t fall into a first-round series matchup against the Sixers.
No. 3 Denver vs. No. 6 Portland - 10:00pm ET (TNT) - POR leads 1-0
Out west, the Blazers handily disposed of Denver in Game 1, 123-109. Damian Lillard led the way with 34 points and 13 assists, sporting a game-high plus-25 (!!!) plus/minus. We’ll see if the Nuggets have an answer tonight, perhaps with the 3-point variance swinging slightly back in their favor after Portland hit eight more triples Saturday. I would expect Michael Porter Jr. to improve upon his 1-of-10 effort from downtown in what was still an efficient 25-point game. You have the likely MVP Nikola Jokic (yes, yes, Joel is our guy, but Jokic is going to win) and playoff clocks set the Dame Time. Sounds fun!