LeBron James is between Toronto’s OG Anunoby and Jonas Valanciunas because the Cavaliers shut in on a 3-Zero collection lead. (Tony Dejak/AP)
The Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors each face 2-Zero holes as they enter Game 3 in opposition to the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively. Follow alongside right here for the most recent analysis and commentary from The Post’s NBA reporter Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions within the feedback part. Catch up on yesterday’s games here.
Jonas Valanciunas merely can’t guard Kevin Love.
So why did Raptors Coach Dwane Casey stick along with his beginning lineup that includes that very matchup?
He simply subbed in Serge Ibaka for Valanciunas, however it does make you surprise why the transfer wasn’t to begin Ibaka and convey Valanciunas off the bench. It would appear that having Valanciunas within the sport in opposition to Tristan Thompson, and Ibaka in opposition to Love, would make extra sense.
That mentioned, it won’t matter given how Love is enjoying. After scoring a playoff-high 31 factors in Game 2, Love has 19 factors and 13 rebounds to date in Game 3 because the lead has been pushed to 14 via three quarters.
LeBron James is enjoying like somebody who smells blood within the water.
With Cleveland holding a 2-Zero lead over Toronto, the Cavaliers have an opportunity to all however finish this collection with another victory. James is doing his finest to get that win.
At halftime, Cleveland leads 55-40, a lead that was constructed by the Cavaliers going on a 16-Four run over the primary 6:53 of the sport, after which going on a 16-2 run over the ultimate 5:07 of the primary half. That’s a 32-6 benefit for Cleveland over precisely 12 minutes.
James, as common, has been on the coronary heart of all of it. He has 15 factors, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, one steal and one block in 21 minutes. Kevin Love added 12 factors and 11 rebounds, whereas Kyle Korver had 12 factors, two rebounds and two assists.
DeMar DeRozan, on the opposite hand, has been terrible. He has three factors on 1-for-9 capturing, and is a game-worst minus-22. C.J. Miles really leads the Raptors in scoring with eight factors off the bench.
Having misplaced the primary two video games of their Eastern Conference semifinal collection at residence, Toronto made a lineup change because the collection shifted to Cleveland for Game 3.
Fred VanVleet, Toronto’s excellent sixth man, entered the beginning lineup, with Raptors Coach Dwane Casey selecting to convey Serge Ibaka off the bench as an alternative. The small lineup didn’t precisely work as Casey supposed, with Cleveland leaping out to a 16-Four lead.
But the Raptors managed to chop the Cavaliers’ result in 24-19 after one due to a 15-Eight run to finish the quarter, largely executed with Ibaka enjoying heart. After failing to get a block in both of the primary two video games of the collection, Ibaka had two within the first quarter alone to assist spark Toronto’s run to get again into the sport.
In a wild, wacky and thrilling sport, the Celtics emerged with a heart-stopping 101-98 extra time victory over the Sixers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal. The win provides the Celtics a 3-Zero lead on this best-of-seven collection, a lead no workforce has ever given up in an NBA playoff collection.
Boston seemed prefer it received in regulation when Philadelphia dedicated a turnover that led to a Jaylen Brown dunk with 1.Eight seconds left to present the Celtics a two-point lead. But Marco Belinelli hit a jumper within the nook proper in entrance of the Sixers’ bench to tie the sport and ship it to extra time.
Philadelphia then seemed prefer it was in management when it led by one with the ball with 42.5 seconds left. But Joel Embiid missed a shot within the lane, and when Ben Simmons bought the offensive rebound, he selected to go up for a putback as an alternative of pulling the ball again out, and missed because the shot clock was turned off.
Boston then bought the rebound and, after bringing the ball up and calling timeout, Marcus Morris threw an ideal inbounds move to Al Horford, who had expertly sealed his defender, Robert Covington, on the rim, permitting Horford to catch the ball and lay it in to present the Celtics a 99-98 lead.
Embiid then tried to throw the ball in to Simmons after a Philadelphia timeout, however Horford then stole the ball, and after getting fouled, made a pair of free throws with three seconds left for the ultimate margin.
Belinelli then bought one last probability to avoid wasting the Sixers a second time, however his 30-foot heave – a greater look than it appeared like Philadelphia may get, given the Sixers had no timeouts – hit the again of the rim and bounced away, giving the Celtics a wild win and pushing the Sixers to the brink of elimination.
Jayson Tatum led all scorers with 24 factors for the Celtics, and was plus-24 in 41 minutes. Embiid had 22 factors and 19 rebounds however went 10-for-26, with Boston’s plan of single-covering him and sticking to Philadelphia’s perimeter gamers — none of whom can create their very own shot — working like a appeal as soon as once more.
What a flip of occasions in Philadelphia.
Just when it seemed like a catastrophic turnover by J.J. Redick was going at hand Boston a 3-Zero lead on this Eastern Conference semifinal, the Sixers inbounded the ball with 1.Eight seconds to go to Marco Belinelli, who buried a nook jumper proper in entrance of Philadelphia’s bench to tie the rating 89-89 on the finish of regulation.
That wasn’t the top of the strangeness, nonetheless. Because it seemed initially like Belinelli shot a three-pointer — his foot was clearly over the road — confetti started falling from the ceiling of Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, and other people started to hurry the ground.
The begin of extra time was delayed due to the confetti nonetheless falling from the ceiling, which ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth mentioned needed to cease fully earlier than the referees can restart the sport for well being and security causes.
Eventually, the groups have been in a position to resume this wild sport.
Joel Embiid has picked up one other physique on this sport – this time Al Horford, with an enormous dunk to tie the sport at 83 late within the fourth.
Embiid might have a pair extra of those to tug out a win for the Sixers.
The Sixers have lower than 12 minutes to avoid wasting their season.
More stifling protection from the Celtics has tied early within the fourth quarter. Philadelphia has been held beneath 40 % from the sphere, and largely stored out of transition (the Sixers have 16 quick break factors, however six of these got here in a single spurt proper on the finish of the second quarter). The consequence has been the Celtics controlling the tempo of play all through, and leaving this sport doubtful heading into the ultimate minutes.
Down 2-Zero within the collection, it’s do-or-die time for the Sixers. Given how this sport has performed out, whether or not that can equal success for them may be very a lot doubtful.
The Sixers made a giant run late within the first half to seize management of this sport. Why? Because they’ve begun to push the tempo at each alternative, and good issues have adopted.
Philadelphia now leads at halftime 51-48, due to that 13-Zero run, powered by some stops defensively, after which utilizing these stops to create straightforward appears offensively, the varieties that Boston’s excellent halfcourt protection fully thwarted earlier in each the sport and the collection.
Joel Embiid leads the Sixers with 11 factors, eight rebounds, one help, one steal and one block in 16 minutes, having taken 13 photographs — 5 greater than some other participant on the Sixers, one other indication of Brad Stevens being keen to let Embiid shoot whereas not letting anybody else get going. Ben Simmons, in the meantime, has eight factors and 5 assists on Four-for-6 capturing, and appears way more engaged than he did in Game 2.
Both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have three fouls for Boston, which can be one thing to observe within the second half. Tatum has 11 factors for Celtics, and is their solely participant in double-figures.
Boston was outscored 26-16 within the 7:12 Tatum sat the bench to finish the primary half after choosing up his third foul. Philadelphia has a 12-3 edge in quick break factors, and has scored 10 factors on eight Boston turnovers.
Joel Embiid simply ended Aron Baynes.
Late within the first half, Ben Simmons pushed the ball, up courtroom, hit a trailing Embiid as he got here lumbering down the lane behind him, and the 7-foot-2 heart rose up and completely demolished Baynes, who futilely tried to get in Embiid’s method when it will have been in his finest curiosity to easily get the hell out of the best way.
The consequence, because the Sixers’ Twitter account fortunately recounted, was Baynes being posterized in certainly one of many dunks not solely within the playoffs, however the complete 2017-18 season.
Big second for the Celtics, with Jayson Tatum choosing up his third foul with greater than eight minutes to go within the second quarter.
Tatum, who leads Boston with 11 factors, has taken on a good greater position than he did throughout the common season within the wake of Kyrie Irving’s season-ending harm.
His manufacturing has helped Boston construct a 35-25 lead, as he’s gone 5-for-6 from the sphere to go along with three rebounds and two assists.
Brad Stevens initially left Tatum within the sport, however simply took him out with seven minutes to go within the first half. Stevens will seemingly attempt to preserve Tatum on the bench right here in hopes of avoiding him choosing up a fourth foul earlier than halftime.
Through 9 quarters of Sixers-Celtics, Boston Coach Brad Stevens has clearly caught to a selected technique: Let Joel Embiid do his factor, and attempt to restrict everybody else.
Embiid already has 9 photographs early within the second quarter, going Four-for-9 with eight factors to go along with six rebounds and a blocked shot.
But regardless of that manufacturing, Boston is successful 28-22. Why? Because the remainder of the Sixers are 5-for-20, together with 2-for-10 from three.
If the Celtics can restrict the “others” for the Sixers to these sorts of numbers, they’ll be content material with leaving Embiid one-on-one for the remainder of the collection. He will put up loads of manufacturing that method, but when nobody else does, it doesn’t matter.
After Ben Simmons fully flopped in Game 2 of the Sixers’ Eastern Conference semifinal collection with the Celtics, all eyes can be on him because the collection shifts again to Philadelphia.
The previous two days have been spent dissecting every thing Simmons did — or, in actuality, didn’t do — in his 31 minutes on the courtroom inside TD Garden. He scored one level whereas going Zero-for-Four from the sphere with 5 rebounds, seven assists, 5 turnovers and was a game-worst minus-23, wanting torpid and wasn’t practically as aggressive as he usually is.
This is a large second for Simmons. Philadelphia got here into this collection as the favourite to advance, given Boston’s myriad accidents. Now, after the Celtics took the primary two video games and Simmons was a no-show on a nationwide stage, he’ll must return to the shape he’s proven all through the common season and the primary few video games of the playoffs, versus his no-show in Game 2.
If he does, the Sixers could make this a collection once more, even trailing 2-Zero. If he doesn’t? Well, Boston can be heading to the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston Celtics 101, Philadelphia 76ers 98 (OT) (Celtics lead, 3-Zero)
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers (Cavaliers lead 2-Zero): Eight:30 p.m., ABC
Hop into the feedback part under to talk with The Post’s Tim Bontemps about your whole NBA questions.