Euro 2020 Special

NBA Takeaways: Celtics and Clippers Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

After being down 0-2, the Celtics and the Clippers finally got their first win in this year’s NBA playoffs. Elsewhere, the Hawks reclaimed the series lead with a vital home victory over the Knicks.

Jayson Tatum dropped 50 and that was enough to subdue the Nets, while Kawhi Leonard and Paul George combined for 65 points to beat the Mavericks.

Trae Young led the Hawks with his customary double-double, and he was backstopped by six other Hawks who all scored in double digits.

Here at SBOTOP, let us dive deeper by recapping what happened in our three-game schedule.

Jayson Tatum carries the Celtics on his back

The Nets were heavily favoured by the NBA 2021 odds after their dominant display in the first two matches but the Celtics didn’t back down and they got a standout effort from their star.

As the scene shifted back to the TD Garden, Jayson Tatum was re-inserted in the lineup after being forced out of Game 2 due to an eye injury and he showed up big time.

The Celtics struggled at the start since the Nets took a 19-4 lead through James Harden and Joe Harris. But Boston scored eight straight points to erase the double-digit deficit and they finished the first period with a one-point lead.

Tatum showed no ill effects from his eye injury in the previous game and he finished the first half with 21 points. As for Brooklyn, Kevin Durant kept them afloat despite poor shooting from Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin.

Fast forward to the second half, the TD Garden crowd came alive as the Celtics built a double-digit lead late in the third quarter. They held on to their edge in much of the final period, but the Nets wouldn’t go away just yet.

Brooklyn came roaring back through their Big 3 but Jayson Tatum had an answer to each of their makes. And he capped off his historic night by hitting a midrange jumper over Kevin Durant to reach the half-century mark.

Jayson Tatum became the third youngest player in NBA history to put up 50 in a playoff game – just behind Rick Barry and Michael Jordan. He also became the sixth Celtic to achieve such feat.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George proving doubters wrong

Kawhi Leonard scored a vital point during the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Mavericks
LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard brings the ball up court during the second half of the 2021 NBA Playoffs

The Clippers came into Game 3 with a huge sense of urgency after dropping their first two games at home and they got a much-needed win to avert yet another huge crisis.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George dropped 36 and 29 points respectively to help the Clippers recover from another slow start to keep their postseason chances alive.

The duo had their foot on the gas pedal especially early on knocking down shot after shot. However, they weren’t getting enough help from their supporting cast and Luka Doncic continued to light them up.

It was a back-and-forth affair all throughout as both teams exchanged blows but a huge fourth quarter run was all the Clippers needed to steal this game.

Marcus Morris hit three corner threes in front of the Mavericks bench to help Los Angeles stay out front and Rajon Rondo and Reggie Jackson provided stability at the backcourt on both ends of the floor.

Los Angeles finally ended their five-game losing skid dating back to last season’s Disney bubble, when they beat Dallas in the first round before blowing a 3-1 lead against Denver.

Julius Randle couldn’t get it going in the playoffs

Julius Randle is this year’s Most Improved Player, but he hasn’t looked the part so far in this series.

The burly forward is shooting 13-for-54 (24-per cent) so far in the first three games and his offencive woes play a large part as to why the Knicks are down 1-2.

Game 3 saw Randle’s worst game since he only finished with 14 points on 2-for-15 shooting. Although he deserves credit for staying aggressive, knocking down eight free throws and hauling 11 boards, that isn’t enough against a Hawks team loaded with firepower.

Trae Young added on to his NBA 2021 highlights package after notching 21 points and 11 assists. The diminutive floor general became just the fifth player ever to average 25 points and 10 assists through his first three career playoff matches. Young can basically do it all and the Knicks are learning it the hard way. Other than their star point guard, the Hawks have been getting solid contributions from Clint Capela, John Collins, Danilo Gallinari, De’Andre Hunter, and Bogdan Bogdanovic.