Welcome to the daily Full Court Press playoff edition, where we recap all of the day’s NBA action. Check back every night if you missed any NBA action and come back tomorrow for more NBA playoff fun.
April 15th, 2018
Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks
113-107 Celtics, Celtics lead series 1-0
Next Game: Game Two, Tuesday 4/17 @Boston
The short-handed Boston Celtics beat the young Bucks in one of the games of the year and maybe one of the best playoff games ever. The game was close throughout and the Celtics looked to pull away in the fourth quarter. Boston led by as much as 10 in the fourth, but Milwaukee made it close. One of the wildest 11 second you will see began with a Malcolm Brogdon three to tie the game. Terry Rozier came right back down the court, crossed Eric Bledsoe and splashed a three with 0.5 seconds remaining. All looked down for the Bucks until Khris Middleton hit a miraculous 35-foot bomb to sent the game to OT. Overtime was tightly contested, but come good Celtic offense, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe fouling out, combined with some poor officiating led to a Celtic win.
Terry Rozier shined in his first playoff start, scoring 23 points. Marcus Morris was an X-Factor, making key offensive and defensive plays at the end of the game. He finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Rookie Jayson Tatum had an excellent first playoff game, finishing with 19 points, 10 boards, four assists, and three steals. Al Horford looked like an All-Star, leading the Celtics with 24 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks, making 13-14 free throws. Jaylen Brown added on 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists. For a Celtic team missing Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart, Brad Stevens did a masterful coaching job, drawing up excellent offensive sets and stifling the Bucks as much as possible.
Young superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way, scoring 35 points, grabbing 23 boards, and adding seven assists. He fouled out but I’d argue that more than one of the calls on him were questionable. Khris Middleton had a huge game, putting up 31 points, eight rebounds, and six assists on 5-7 shooting from three. Malcolm Brogdon played well in his third game back from injury, putting up 16 to go along with a clutch team. Despite the loss, this young Bucks team showed that they are resilient and are ready to fight to the end every single night.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Indiana Pacers
98-80 Pacers, Pacers lead series 1-0
Next Game: Game Two, Wednesday 4/18 @Cleveland
The Indiana Pacers came into Cleveland and shocked the world, dominating the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite this being a 4-5 matchup, the Cavs were heavy favorites because of LeBron James. Unfortunately for him, he was scoreless in the first and the Cavaliers trailed 33-14 after one. In that first quarter, Cleveland had more turnovers (7) than field goals made (5). The Pacers’ lead ballooned to 23 in the third; the Cavaliers made a semblance of a comeback, but Indiana put them away. James finished with a triple-double (24 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) but it was not enough. This is Lebron James’ first loss in the first round since 2012.
Nate McMillan and Indiana did a masterful job stifling James, sending multiple defenders at him every play. The Lance Stephenson vs LeBron James saga continued; Stephenson brought excellent energy every time he checked James. Lance finished with 12 rebounds and five boards off of the bench. Myles Turner was great on defense and had an efficient offensive night, shooting 66.7% from the field, scoring 16 and grabbing eight rebounds. Victor Oladipo starred, scoring 32 points and stealing the ball four times, shooting 6-9 from three. Dan Gilbert’s remarks that the Pacers could have gotten more for Paul George than Oladipo fueled him tonight. Oladipo and the Pacers have stolen home court and head into game two with all of the momentum.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Utah Jazz
116-108 Thunder, Thunder lead series 1-0
Next Game: Game Two, Wednesday 4/18 @Oklahoma City
The experience and star power of the Thunder took down the youth and defense of the Jazz. The Jazz led by as much as 12 in the first but Oklahoma City took the lead and never looked back, leading by as much as 18 in the fourth quarter. Led by Alec Burks’ 10 points in two minutes the Jazz made a bit of a comeback but it was too little too late. Paul George was in full playoff form, scoring 36 points shooting 8-11 from three, setting an OKC record for threes in a playoff game. Russell Westbrook added on 29 points, 13 boards, and eight assists. No matter well Utah plays, sometimes star power is just too much.
Donovan Mitchell made his first four shots but finished 11-22 from the field. He had a very good rookie debut, with 27 points and 10 rebounds. Donovan Mitchell is the first rookie since LeBron James to score 25 points and grab 10 rebounds in his playoff debut. Rudy Gobert had a solid day anchoring the defense with 14 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. Ths Jazz did not play a bad game by any means but shots were just going in for the Thunder. Mitchell was afflicted with a foot injury, but Royce Young announced on his Twitter that he just stubbed his toe and is fine.
Donovan Mitchell: “I feel fine. I just stubbed my toe. Nothing major.”
— Royce Young (@royceyoung) April 16, 2018
Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves
104-101 Rockets, Rockets lead series 1-0
Next Game: Game Two, Wednesday 4/18 @Houston
Let me start this off by saying that I give Minnesota a lot of credit. They played the Rockets close and even had a lead at multiple points in the game. Houston was only 2-14 from three with 5:49 left in the second and the Wolves led 38-36 later in the second. They kept it close throughout the third and led by as much as four in the third. In the fourth, Minnesota kept the game tight the whole way. Chris Paul made a poor turnover with the score being 104-101, but Jimmy Butler missed a three to tie the ballgame. The Rockets shot poorly for three as a team (27%); there was a lid on the rim for most of the Rockets’ players tonight. Too bad James Harden exists.
Harden absolutely exploded tonight, scoring a blistering 44 points and dishing eight assists. He kept the defense on its heels all night, picking apart Minnesota with everything from the pick and roll to the isolation, make em’ dance step-back three. More impressively his night was incredibly efficient, shooting 57.7% from the field and 58.3% from three. His PNR partner, Clint Capela, was elite tonight. He scored 24 points, grabbed 12 boards, and blocked three shots. His defense was stifling; he absolutely dominated Karl-Anthony Towns on both ends of the floor. Capela fed off of Harden’s gravity all night, catching lobs and getting putbacks. Chris Paul struggled, scoring 14 points but shooting 35.7% from the field and turning the ball over six times.
Minnesota fought until the final buzzer and displayed great heart. The Wolves’ big three (Towns, Butler, Wiggins) were held in check all night, combining for only 39 points (Towns scored 6). The role players were the stars of the show. Jeff Teague scored 15 points and added eight assists and nine rebounds. Jamal Crawford scored 15 off of the bench; Derrick Rose even stepped in his time machine, scoring 16 points on 50% shooting. This Minnesota team showed the world tonight that they can compete with Houston. However, if Houston made threes at their normal rate this game would be a blowout. Their stars also need to step up big time if Minnesota wants to avoid the broom treatment.
Ben Pfeifer is the Managing Editor of the Colts for Full Press Coverage, the AFC South Division Editor, and head NBA editor. Want to continue the discussion? Contact Ben Pfeifer on Twitter @Ben_Pfeifer_, @FPC_NBA and @FPC_Colts.