Duncan Robinson made eight 3-pointers for Miami. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 25 rebounds for New Orleans. Anthony Edwards scored 36 points for Minnesota in his playoff debut. Phoenix’s Chris Paul became the oldest player in postseason history with a 30-point, 10-assist game.
Game 1s brought greatness out of some.
Game 2s will give others a bounce-back chance.
A trio of Game 2s are on Tuesday’s NBA schedule — Atlanta at Miami, Minnesota at Memphis and New Orleans at Phoenix. The top-seeded Heat in the East and top-seeded Suns in the West both opened the postseason quests with double-digit home wins, while the seventh-seeded Timberwolves struck first on the Grizzlies’ home floor.
Atlanta’s Trae Young was held to a career-worst-tying 1-for-12 shooting and a season-low eight points by a swarming Miami defense on Sunday. Memphis’ Ja Morant scored 32 points, but missed 10 of his last 13 shots from the floor against Minnesota on Saturday. And New Orleans’ CJ McCollum scored 25 points, keeping his team in it much of the way Sunday, though started 2 for 12 and finished 9 for 25.
“I didn’t push tempo enough. … Playing against the No. 1 seed, you’ve got to make shots and got to be able to score with them,” McCollum said.
The Pelicans and Hawks were both playing a third game in a span of five days Sunday, each doing so in three different cities. They had play-in games at home on Wednesday, then traveled for another one Friday — Atlanta to Cleveland, New Orleans to Los Angeles to face the Clippers — then had to get back on planes for Game 1s in Miami and Phoenix.
Monday will be a day to get settled, and it stands to reason that Tuesday will be smoother for both.
“We cannot be an excuse team,” Atlanta’s Danilo Gallinari said. “We have to be ready to play.”
Adjustments will be made, as always, between Game 1 and Game 2. The Hawks must find ways to get Young to his spots. The Pelicans can’t let Paul shoot 12 for 16 again. The Timberwolves know they’ll get Memphis’ best shot, since the Grizzlies clearly can’t afford to go down 0-2 at home.
Veterans know Game 1s are never worth making snap judgments over, because series narratives can and often do change in Game 2s.
“You never get too high, never get too low,” Miami guard Kyle Lowry said. “I’ve lost a bunch of Game 1s and won the series. I’ve won a couple Game 1s and lost the series. You’ve got to be able to stay even-keeled, no matter what.”
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