NBA

NBA Playoffs 2021: Trail Blazers down Nuggets, Nets' stars handle Celtics

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

A strong second half sent the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers to a 123-109 victory over the third-seeded Denver Nuggets as the NBA playoffs began Saturday. 

Portland outscored Denver 65-48 after the break as Damian Lillard had 34 points and 13 assists for the visitors, who made 18 of 19 free throw attempts to just four of eight for the Nuggets. 

CJ McCollum added 21 points and Carmelo Anthony scored 18 in just 22 minutes off the bench for Portland, who beat the Los Angeles Lakers in their playoff opener last season only to lose the next four to the eventual champions. 

Their efforts overcame a 34-point, 15-rebound game from Nikola Jokic and 25 points from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter made all 11 of his two-point field goal attempts Saturday but was just one of 10 from three-point range. 

Game 2 is Monday in Denver. 

 

Brooklyn's big three carry Nets

Big games from the big three carried the Brooklyn Nets to a 104-93 series-opening win over the Boston Celtics. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds while Kyrie Irving added 29 points and James Harden 21 as the Nets stifled the Celtics, who got 22 points on just six of 20 shooting from Jayson Tatum in a losing effort. 

Luka Doncic had his third triple-double in seven career playoff games, scoring 31 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Dallas Mavericks pulled out a 113-103 road win at the Los Angeles Clippers to open their series. Tim Hardaway Jr added 21 points on eight of 13 shooting for the fifth-seeded Mavericks, while Kawhi Leonard had 26 points and Paul George 23 to lead the Clippers. 

 

Butler cannot find the range

Jimmy Butler came close to recording a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Miami Heat's 109-107 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, but the five-time All-Star made only four of 22 shots from the field. 

 

Middleton gives Bucks win

Khris Middleton's contested jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Bucks the Game 1 win at home. Middleton's 27 points led the Bucks, with Giannis Antetokounmpo adding 26 points and 18 rebounds. 

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 109-107 Miami Heat (OT)
Dallas Mavericks 113-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Brooklyn Nets 104-93 Boston Celtics
Portland Trail Blazers 123-109 Denver Nuggets

 

Lakers face Suns

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers got the win they needed in the play-in tournament and they will open the playoffs proper with Game 1 of their best-of-seven series against the second-seeded Suns in Phoenix. 

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    Tsitsipas outclassed the talented 20-year-old from Italy with an impressive 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.

    The Greek fourth seed broke early in each set on his way to a third win in four meetings with 11th seed Sinner, who was playing his second grand slam quarter-final.

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    Spurred on by a contingent of singing Greek fans, Tsitsipas closed out the opening set, set up by his fast start.

    Tsitsipas created another opportunity for an early break in the second set after firing a backhand winner down the line at 30-30 in the third game.

    Sinner was unable to deny the Greek star, a backhand cross-court flying wide to hand Tsitsipas the upper-hand.

    Not even an unexpected rain delay on a hot and humid day in Melbourne could disrupt Tsitsipas' momentum, with the roof closed after the third game.

    Like the first set, there was little pressure on either player's service games, but Tsitsipas' single break was again enough for him to take a two-sets-to-love lead.

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    DATA SLAM: Tsitsipas stays perfect in major quarter-finals

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    Tsitsipas – 30/28
    Sinner – 18/22

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Tsitsipas – 4/2
    Sinner – 4/1

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