The NBA was packed with another thrilling slate of games on Thursday. The top two teams in the league, the Bucks and Lakers bounced back in big ways with resounding blowout wins. The Heat and Rockets both went up 2-0 in their respective series. Anthony Davis was the star of the night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in a much needed Lakers victory. All four matchups resume on Saturday.
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
Final score: 109-100 MIA
Line: MIA -4.0
Over/Under: U 218
The Heat proved why they’re for real in the Eastern Conference, as they some scoring from everybody in their Game 2 win over the Pacers. Jimmy Butler did a little bit of everything, pouring in 18 points along with seven rebounds and six assists. Goran Dragic went 9-18 to the tune of 20 points, but the real story of the game was Duncan Robinson, who was absolutely on fire behind the arc, hitting seven of his eight three point attempts. The dude literally could not miss. After going on an 11-2 run in the third quarter, the Heat never looked back and Indiana failed to get themselves within reach. Miami now leads the series 2-0 and they’ve looked dominant, winning both games by a combined 21 points. They’ll look to take a commanding three game lead on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets
Final Score: 111-98 HOU
Line: HOU -2.0
Over/Under: U 227
The Rockets had another impressive win over the Thunder, their second double digit victory in as many games this series. All things considered this wasn’t great basketball by either team. Neither side shot the ball particularly well; Chris Paul was just 6-15 and James Harden shot 2-11 from deep. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a game-high 31 points but it wasn’t enough to overcome the rest of his team’s lackluster night. Steven Adams will need to be more dominant against Houston’s small ball lineup. He scored just eight points and Oklahoma City only outscored the Rockets in the paint by a basket. If the Thunder want any chance of getting back in this, they’ll need to exploit the biggest mismatch in the series, being Houston’s size. The Rockets haven’t seemed to need Russell Westbrook yet, even with Harden having an off night. Game 3 is on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.
Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Final score: 111-96 MIL
Line: MIL -13.0
Over/Under: U 228
The Bucks won a much needed Game 2 against the Magic, after dropping the first game in embarrassing fashion. Giannis Antetokounmpo was dominant again, going for 28 points and 20 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic was superb again and was the only significant contributor for his side, picking up 32 points and 10 rebounds. Otherwise, the Magic looked flat against Milwaukee, shooting 34.8% from the field and 21.2% beyond the arc. It’ll be imperative that they’re more efficient in Game 3 if they want to steal another game, and that’s how they did it in Game 1. The Bucks may not need Khris Middleton to beat Orlando, but his two points today is unacceptable if they want to reach their championship aspirations. I think the Bucks will make this a gentleman’s sweep because nobody can stop Giannis and the Magic’s Game 1 win seems like more of a fluke after today’s loss. The Bucks (-12.5) open as heavy favorites again on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.
Portland Trailblazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Final Score: 111-88 LAL
Line: LAL -6.5
Over/Under: U 230
My oh my was this an absolute drubbing. The Lakers got a much needed win after dropping Game 1, and they looked hungry, motivated and most of all angry tonight. The Lakers had more rebounds and points in the paint, and you can thank Anthony Davis for that. He ate for 31 points on 13-21 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. He also knocked down three 3-pointers and played just 29 minutes as this game was out of reach early. Despite being a +23, LeBron James didn’t have his best night, scoring just 10 points. That didn’t matter though, with AD carrying the load. They’ll need that every game going forward if Los Angeles wants to come out of the West. The Trail Blazers were down by as much as 33, but perhaps the biggest loss tonight was Damian Lillard, who dislocated his left index finger in the third quarter and did not return. Granted, the Blazers were down big at the time so there was no reason to risk bringing him back in a blowout, but Portland could be in trouble if Lillard is hampered at all for the rest of the series. They’ll need more than 15 points combined from CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony if Lillard can’t shoot as well with the injury. Lillard was off tonight because the Lakers threw their bigs in double teams to take away Dame’s shot and force him inside. Portland looked tired tonight. Every game in the bubble has essentially a playoff game and the Blazers looked like a team who simply ran out of gas. Tonight marked the Lakers’ first postseason win since May 18, 2012 and the first playoff victory for LeBron in a Lakers uniform. I’m definitely not jumping off the Lakers bandwagon now, and they appeared to be in the right mindset tonight. Hopefully they’ll keep the same energy throughout the rest of the series.