The Boston Celtics moved a win away from the second round of the playoffs as it beat the Philadephia 76ers Friday and take a commanding 3-0 lead in their first round series.
Kemba Walker, acquired from the Charlotte Hornets this season, scored 24 points to lead the Celtics over Philadelphia, 102-94.
Walker took the cudgels from Jayson Tatum who has a series average of 32.5 points per game but was rendered ineffective by three quick fouls in the first quarter.
Without Tatum, the undermanned 76ers, who are missing an injured Ben Simmons, kept the game close at the end of the first half, trailing only by two, 51-49.
Philadephia kept the game close with hustle and the Celtics only managed to put the game away with only more than a minute left in regulation.
Jaylen Brown scored 21 points while Tatum added 15 for the Celtics.
Josh Richardson and Shake Milton added 17 points apiece and Tobias Harris scored 15 and grabbed 15 rebounds for Philadelphia.
Walker a game away from winning first playoff series.
Being up 3-0 is a special moment for Walker who played eight seasons with Charlotte, none of which had a playoff stint.
”This is why I came here (to Boston) and this is a special moment for myself,” said Walker. ”I’ve never been up 3-0. But the job is not done. You have to give it everything you got because those guys over there are not quitting.”
Sixers, Embiid don’t want to be swept
For the Sixers, avoiding a sweep is their focus right now.
”I don’t want to be swept,” Embiid said who had 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead the 76ers.
”I don’t want that in my resume. I’ll be playing my butt off. I’m going to come in and do everything that I can to make sure we win a game.”
The Sixers shot 29.5 percent from the field and this has to improve if they want to become the first team in NBA history to rebound from a 3-0 hole and advance.
The Toronto Raptors also put the Brooklyn Nets in a hole hard to get out of.
The defending champions routed the Nets, 117-92, Friday in Game 3 for a 3-0 lead in their first round best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
No team has ever recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the post-season to go to next series.
Pascal Siakam scored 26 points for the Raptors who could end the misery of the Nets sans Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Raptors also had its first 3-0 lead in a playoff series in franchise history.
”Our goal is always to win, and that’s what we came into the game for and I don’t think we worried about that,” Siakam said of making some team history with the 3-0 lead. ”It’s just about taking every game and then going out and trying to get a win.”
Fred VanVleet scored 22 points, Serge Ibaka added 20 points, and Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell had 11 points each for the Raptors.
Tyler Johnson topscored for the Nets with 23 points. Caris LeVert scored 15, Chris Chiozza had 14 points, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot added 10.
The Raptors never trailed in the game and led by as much as 31 in the fourth quarter.
The Los Angeles Clippers topped the Dallas Mavericks 130-122 in Game 3 of their first round Western Conference playoff series.
Kawhi Leonard scored 36 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and had 11 assists to power the Clippers to a 2-1 lead.
Landry Shamet had 18 points while Ivica Zubac added 15 for the Clippers. Paul George had a poor shooting night again, scoring 11 points on 3 for 16 shooting, a notch lower than the 4 for 17 in the previous game.
Luka Doncic was injured, an exclamation point to a rough night in which he scored 13 points, hauled 10 rebounds, and issued 10 assists and shot 4 for 14 from the field and 4 for 10 from the foul line.
Doncic sprained his left ankle while defending Leonard in the third quarter and his status for Game 4 is uncertain.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said his star would get treatment Saturday.
”I think we’ll know more tomorrow,” said Doncic, adding that it is not that bad and it is just a little sprain.
Kristaps Porzingis led the Mavs with 34 points and 13 rebounds. Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 22 points each.
Doncic made history as he posted Dallas’ first playoff triple-double in the game.
Mike Conley returned from a four-day quarantine following the birth of his son to lead the Utah Jazz to a 127-87 win over the Denver Nuggets and a 2-1 lead in their first round Western Conference series.
Conley scored 27 points and had seven three-pointers, a career playoff-high.
Rudy Gobert added a career playoff-high 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Jazz. Donovan Mitchell added 20.
Nikola Jokic led Denver with 15 points and Jamal Murray had 12.
Utah led by 11 at the end of the first quarter and led by as much as 39 in the fourth with the reserves playing.
Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard will play in Game 3 Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Lillard had an injured finger in their last game which they lost by a big margin.
His coach Terry Stotts told reporters that Lillard will be in Saturday’s lineup.
“He’s been getting multiple treatments throughout the day,” Stotts said. “I believe he’ll wear a splint. … He’ll play.”
The Blazers will miss Zach Collins in Game 3. He is out due to a hairline medial malleolus stress fracture in his left ankle and will undergo surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
LeBron supports Goodyear
LeBron James has aired support for Goodyear after US President Donald Trump slammed the iconic tire manufacturer based in his hometown Akron, Ohio.
”Not only has Goodyear been great for my city, for the history of my city, but for the country,” LeBron said. ”Unbelievable brand and unbelievable history. So, we stand strong, we always unite, especially my city.” (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)