Another set of Game 3s are in the books, and we’ve got some serious battles on our hands. First the Pacers launched a furious second-half comeback to take a 2-1 lead on the Cavaliers, then the Wizards and Bucks were both able to avoid falling into 3-0 holes against the Raptors and Celtics, respectively.
Here are some takeaways from tonight’s games, along with the scores and a recap of our live updates from the night.
NBA playoff scores for Friday, April 20
LeBron’s superman act may not be enough
With a 46-point effort in Game 2, LeBron James took it upon himself to pretty much lead the team to victory on his own. In Game 3, he was outstanding again and actually got some help, yet somehow the Cavs still managed to lose. This wasn’t how the script was supposed to go for Cleveland, which blew a 17-point lead to fall behind 2-1 in the series. It begs the question: Even with LeBron’s heroics, do the Cavs have what it takes to win this series?
The Pacers have looked like the hungrier, scrappier — and frankly, the better team for three games this series, and it’s hard to see a path to recovery for the Cavs. You would think it would take a gargantuan effort from LeBron, but he was visibly tired and frustrated at times during the Cavs’ second-half demise on Friday. Sure, he was spectacular at the end of the game, but it was too little, too late. No matter how the series turns out, the Pacers are certainly giving the Cavs all they can handle.
The Wall and Beal factor
The Raptors were undeniably one of the best teams in the NBA during the regular season, and in their first two games against the Wizards they did nothing to dispel that notion. But the Wizards’ Game 3 win reminded us of a pretty big factor when it comes to the series: On any given night, John Wall and Bradley Beal are capable of being the two best players on the floor.
Wall thoroughly dominated on Friday with 28 points, 14 assists and four steals, while his running mate Beal also scored 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting. The Raptors have spread the wealth offensively away from their All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but in a playoff series things often boil down to which team has the best players. In Game 3, the Wizards proved that it can be Wall and Beal who take over, which has to be scary for Toronto.
Bucks come alive
Hey, now this is the Bucks team that some picked to upset the injury-riddled Celtics in the first round. Milwaukee dominated from the start of Game 3, led by their nearly unstoppable unicorn, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 19 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. The bigger story for the Bucks, however, is the fact that they finally got some contributions from their bench.
If you turned the game on in the first half, you probably saw youngster Thon Maker flying around the court with reckless abandon. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five blocks, providing a much-needed boost of energy to the Bucks’ second unit. Jabari Parker also came out of his funk, scoring 17 points and grabbing five rebounds. If the Bucks are going to pull off the upset, it’s going to take more than just Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, so things appear to be moving in the right direction for Milwaukee.
Recap of live updates
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