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NBA Playoffs Continue to Separate the Winners from the Losers

The NBA Playoffs continue as three matchups are scheduled in the opening-round series tonight. The home teams won two of three games on Saturday and hope to go up 2-0 in their best-of-seven series. Here’s a look at tonight’s matchups.

Raptors Look To Rebound In Philadelphia

The Raptors hope to even up their series against the 76ers after being dominated in game one, 131-111. Unfortunately, Toronto’s defense didn’t play up to par, as they allowed the Sixers to shoot over 50% from three-point range. They were able to limit MVP candidate Joel Embiid, holding him to just 19 points, but Tyrese Maxey had one of his best outings of the season, scoring 38 for Philadelphia in the victory.

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The Raptors looked entirely out of rhythm in game one after taking three games out of four from the Sixers in the regular season. They will most likely have to prioritize stopping Maxey instead of James Harden, as he had no problem driving to the basket against the defense on Saturday to get easy buckets. Pascal Siakam also needs to step up his production on the boards, as he finished with three rebounds in the game one loss.

Toronto should have more defensive intensity in this game, but it won’t be enough to stop the potent Sixers offense on their home floor as they go up 2-0 in the series.

Jazz Hoping to Go Home With 2-0 Lead

The Utah Jazz took the first game of this series against Dallas, who must now get at least one win on the road once the series shifts to Utah. Donovan Mitchell had two points at halftime in the first game but had 32 points when the final buzzer sounded to lead the Jazz. Bojan Bogdanovic shot 55% from the field and scored 26, and Rudy Gobert had 17 rebounds and three blocked shots in the 99-93 victory.

The big story of this series is the absence of Luka Doncic for the Mavericks. He missed game one with a calf strain and is expected to be on the bench when game two starts tonight. The Mavericks split the season series with the Jazz, with Doncic in the lineup for all four games. If they can’t adjust to being without him tonight, they could be making an early exit from the playoffs.

Dallas will play their usual stellar defense at home and take game two by a close margin.

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Nuggets Look to Even Up Series

Game One between the Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors wasn’t as close as everyone anticipated, as the Warriors took a 123-107 victory. Without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. in the lineup for most of the season, Nikola Jokic has carried this team and put them in a position to make a run in the postseason.

The problem for the Nuggets is the playoffs are different than regular season play. The fact is that without their two injured stars on the floor, they have no hope of contending for an NBA title.

The toll of carrying a team on your back all season looked evident for Jokic in the first game, as he looked exhausted for most of the contest. He can only do so much against the Warriors’ defense, which is one of the best in the Western Conference. Also, Steph Curry didn’t really get going offensively on Saturday and is due for a big game.

Golden State will continue to dominate and easily take another home victory.

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Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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