Brooklyn’s Big Three went from way off to off and running.
Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds, Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and the Nets recovered from their superstars’ frigid start to beat the Boston Celtics 104-93 on Saturday night in Game 1 of the first-round series.
Durant, Irving and Harden scored 28 of the Nets’ 31 points in the period, with Joe Harris — who made Brooklyn’s only 3-pointer of the first half — hitting another for the other points.
Harris had 10 points for the Nets, who announced a sellout crowd of 14,391 and host Game 2 on Tuesday night.
Jayson Tatum scored 22 points, but shot just 6 for 20 and couldn’t come to his 50-point effort in the play-in tournament, when Boston beat Washington to earn the No. 7 seed.
To show how little time the Nets’ stars spent together, Brooklyn started Harris and Blake Griffin with the Big Three. It was the first time those five started together all season and may have contributed to an ugly opening to the playoffs.
Durant, Harden and Irving were a combined 5 for 20 in the first quarter and the Nets missed all nine 3-point attempts in the period. Boston opened a 32-20 lead early in the second.
Harris finally hit a 3 with 2:18 left and Boston brought a 53-47 lead into the half.
Things changed quickly after halftime. Harden made a 3 after four straight points by Durant out of the locker room. After two Boston baskets, it went: Irving 3, Durant 3, Durant jumper, Harden 3. That capped the 18-4 stretch and made it 65-57.
Irving and Durant combined for the finishing flurry in the fourth, a 12-2 run that extended a three-point lead to 94-81 on Irving’s follow shot.
Doncic leads Mavs past Clippers in Game 1
Luka Doncic scored 31 points and the Dallas Mavericks outshot the NBA’s leading team from 3-point range, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 113-102 on Saturday in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
Tim Hardaway Jr. added 21 points and Dorian Finney-Smith had 18 for the Mavs, who led most of the game. Doncic and Hardaway Jr. made five 3-pointers each, and Finney-Smith had four to help Dallas shoot 47 per cent from long-range.
Kawhi Leonard had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Cliuppers, and Paul George added 23 points. But they were a combined 3 of 14 on 3-pointers and the Clippers shot 31% after leading the NBA at 41% during the regular season. Marcus Morris missed all six of his 3-point attempts.
Game 2 is Tuesday night at Staples Center.
The Clippers didn’t make more than three 3-pointers in a quarter until the fourth, when they hit four. Dallas controlled the closing minutes, stretching a three-point lead into 10. The Clippers were limited on field goal — a dunk by George — in the final minutes.
The Clippers tied it at 60 early in the third on Patrick Beverley’s 3-pointer before the Mavs scored eight in a row to go up 68-60.
Leonard drew the Clippers within two on a steal and one-handed jam that left Maxi Kleber sliding across the baseline on his rear. But Finney-Smith scored on George’s turnover and Doncic hit a 3, keeping the Mavs ahead 86-80 to end the third.
Beverley made consecutive baskets that put the Clippers ahead by four, but Dallas answered in a hurry. The Mavs ran off 11 straight points — including three 3-pointers by Doncic and Hardaway — to lead 60-55 going into halftime.
The Mavs came out charging, hitting six of their first nine shots and soon leading by 12 points. The Clippers had defenders in their faces as they missed nine of their first 11 attempts, with George tossing up airballs in both quarters.
Middleton lifts Bucks over Heat
Khris Middleton broke a tie with a jumper with 0.5 seconds left in overtime and had 27 points to help the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Miami Heat 109-107 in Game 1.
Middleton was closely guarded by Duncan Robinson on the 19-footer.
Game 2 is Monday night in Milwaukee. Miami beat Milwaukee 4-1 in the second round last year and went on to reach the NBA Finals.
🚨 MIDDLETON WINS IT FOR MILWAUKEE! 🚨<br><br>His jumper with 0.5 seconds left in OT lifts the <a href=”https://twitter.com/Bucks?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Bucks</a> past Miami in Game 1 of the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NBAPlayoffs</a>! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FearTheDeer?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#FearTheDeer</a> <a href=”https://t.co/vxwrwpkvfb”>pic.twitter.com/vxwrwpkvfb</a>
Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, but was just 6 of 13 on free-throw attempts. Over the last 1:06 of regulation, Antetokounmpo was 2 of 5 from the line and had a 10-second violation that prevented him from getting another free-throw attempt.
Holiday had 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bucks, who won despite shooting 5 of 31 from 3-point range. They’d never made below seven 3-pointers in a game during the regular season.
The Bucks took a 98-97 with 34.3 seconds left in regulation when Antetokounmpo made the second of two free throws after getting fouled on a shot attempt. Antetokounmpo knocked the ball loose from Butler to force a jump ball, got the ball when Brook Lopez won the tip and got fouled again with nine seconds left.
This time, Antetokounmpo made the first but missed the second. Trevor Ariza got the rebound and Miami called a timeout with eight seconds remaining.
Dragic inbounded the ball to Butler, who took his time before driving to the basket and making a layup that rolled in as the buzzer sounded.
This game featured the largest attendance for a Milwaukee home game this season.
The Milwaukee Health Department’s revised pandemic-imposed guidelines enabled the Bucks to fill 50% of Fiserv Forum’s seats this season, resulting in crowds of about 9,000. The Bucks had closed the regular season playing home games at 18 per cent capacity, or roughly 3,300 fans.
Crowds will get even bigger when this series moves to Miami for Game 3 on Thursday. The Heat announced Saturday they could have as many as 17,000 fans for their home playoff games.
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