Another day, another set of exciting games. The playoffs have given us a host of great matchups in the first round so far this season, and there are three more on Thursday night.
No. 3 Milwaukee Bucks vs. No. 6 Miami Heat — 7:30 pm ET (TNT, TNTOT)
After the Heat were able to keep things close in Game 1, only losing 109-107 in overtime, the Bucks completely dominated in Game 2 with a 132-98 victory. Jimmy Butler had a quiet game with 10 points and Miami shot just 8-of-28 from three, while the Bucks had helpful contributions from Bryn Forbes (22 points), Bobby Portis (11 points), and Pat Connaughton (15 points) off the bench and shot a red-hot 22-of-53 from three. It’s clearly an outlier shooting performance, but the Bucks are the better, more well-rounded team, and they looked it in Game 2. We’ll see if the Heat have can adjust and answer back at all in Game 3.
No. 2 Phoenix Suns vs. No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers — 10:00 pm ET (TNT, TNTOT)
The Suns took the win in Game 1, but fell to the Lakers in Game 2, 109-102. Anthony Davis was far better with 34-10-7 after a rough series opener, LeBron James added 23 points and 9 assists and was in control late to close the game, and the Lakers’ defense was active and engaged to disrupt the Suns. Despite another fine performance from Deandre Ayton, 31 points from Devin Booker, and an energizing game from Cameron Payne, the Suns didn’t quite have enough. This series should be a closely fought contest, although Chris Paul not being healthy (he’s probable for Game 3 with a right shoulder contusion) could be all that’s needed to sway things more comfortably in the Lakers’ favor. Hopefully for Paul and the Suns’ playoff hopes, he’s able to get on track.
No. 3 Denver Nuggets vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers — 10:30 pm ET (NBA TV)
The Trail Blazers got off to a strong start in this series with a 123-109 win in Game 1, but the Nuggets tied up the series with a 128-109 victory in Game 2. Damian Lillard was brilliant yet again with 42 points (including 9-of-16 shooting from three) and 10 assists, but Nikola Jokic was even more unstoppable than the series opener. After pouring in 34 points in Game 1, Jokic had 38 on 15-of-20 shooting in Game 2. Meanwhile, the Nuggets putting Aaron Gordon on Damian Lillard in the second half gave their defense an important lift.
What adjustments could we see in Game 3?