The NBA postseason Play-In tournament started with several exciting duels and some surprises. If this is an indication of what’s to come, hoops fans and bettors have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of weeks.
Atlanta Surprises Miami
The No. 7 Miami Heat tried to mount a comeback in the second half of their game against the No. 8 Atlanta Hawks and failed. Atlanta stopped them to win 116-105 to kick off the NBA Play-In Tournament. The win came as a surprise, given that Miami was the favorite to advance early in the game.
Atlanta’s Trae Young finished the game with a team-high 25 points with seven assists and eight rebounds. He shot just eight of 18 from the field, hitting just one of his nine three-point attempts. However, he hit eight of nine free throws and led the offense throughout the game.
Dejounte Murray was also key in the Hawks’ offense, scoring 18 points with five rebounds and six assists.
Atlanta was able to pull away early in the game, as the Heat’s physical and mental errors on their offensive side resulted in points for the Hawks. At the end of the first quarter, the Hawks were leading 36-27 and extended their lead heading into the locker room by 65-50.
With the win, the Hawks have earned the No. 7 seed for the first round of the playoffs. They will head to Boston on April 15 to face the Celtics.
Lakers Advance With Stress-Filled Win
It was a wild second half at Crypto.com Arena, but it’s the Los Angeles Lakers who are red hot in the playoffs. The purple and gold rallied from a 15-point deficit to win an overtime thriller in the inning tournament over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 108-102.
Tied at 95, the Lakers had the ball with 21.7 seconds left and the shot clock off. LeBron James approached Dennis Schroder, who returned it to James. Covered by Taurean Prince, James drove to a contested shot and was able to find Schroder for a corner kick for three, which dropped with 1.4 seconds left. Then, Anthony Davis fouled Mike Conley on a three-pointer with 0.1 seconds to play. Conley put in all three points to send the game into overtime.
Both teams combined to hit just eight of 34 field goals in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers bounced back quickly with a 5-0 run to start overtime. The Wolves cut it down to a three-point deficit with 19.0 to go, and were able to intercept an inbound pass following a timeout.
However, Prince missed a three-pointer, and the Lakers took advantage of the rebound. This time, they made a clean pass, and after Schroder was fouled, he hit two free throws to give Los Angeles back five with 8.4 seconds to play. Anthony Davis then added another free throw to end the game.
The Lakers now face the Memphis Grizzlies on April 16 and will need to recover from the errors they committed yesterday to stay alive.