Orlando had to fight until the final days of the regular season to get its post-season berth. Portland had to scramble down the stretch to replace a huge part of its success.
And as is usually the case, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich had his team playing its best basketball at the end.
The Magic, Trail Blazers and Spurs were playoff ready. That’s why they’re all taking 1-0 series leads into their respective Game 2s on Tuesday night — with Orlando at Toronto, San Antonio at Denver and Portland playing host to Oklahoma City.
Orlando and San Antonio, both No. 7 seeds, won on the road and grabbed home-court advantage. But they both know what’s coming when Denver and Toronto get fueled by desperation on Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher,” Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan said.
“We’re going to get their best,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said.
It goes without saying that all the teams that are down 1-0 found ways to get better for Game 2. The same goes for the teams leading those series. Clifford has spent two days imploring the Magic to clean up their offence. San Antonio felt it gave Denver too many open looks. Portland won with the help of Oklahoma City missing 28 tries from 3-point range, which likely won’t happen again.
“We played nine players, six of those players it was their first time in the playoffs, their playoff debut,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Overall they handled those playoff nerves fairly well.”
The nerves should be lessened Tuesday.
Toronto dropped a Game 1 for the 14th time in 16 playoff series. The Raptors aren’t fazed. Kyle Lowry was scoreless in Game 1, but Raptors coach Nick Nurse said defence was the bigger issue for his club.
“We didn’t guard the ball well enough,” Nurse said. “And when we didn’t guard the ball well enough, we didn’t have our second line of help in position. And then we did a poor job of executing some of the game plan portions. Just too many, just strange things I almost can’t explain. Somebody would leave a guy and all of a sudden he’s standing there wide open. Those things can’t happen.”
Portland, perhaps written off by some when Jusuf Nurkic got hurt late in the season, had a great Game 1 performance from Enes Kanter.
“He gave us a lot of toughness,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
A look at Tuesday’s games:
MAGIC AT RAPTORS
Magic lead 1-0. Game 2, 8 p.m. EDT, TNT
NEED TO KNOW: Toronto was 32-3 in the regular season when allowing 105 points or less. Magic centre Nikola Vucevic had his worst shooting game of the season in Game 1. And Orlando won anyway, 104-101.
KEEP AN EYE ON: Kyle Lowry. Much was made of how the Raptors’ point guard was scoreless in Game 1. But Toronto outscored Orlando 75-64 when he was on the floor, and was outscored 40-26 when he was on the bench — including a couple of fast-moving, momentum-shifting 9-2 and 10-4 runs by the Magic.
INJURY WATCH: Magic guard Michael …read more
Source:: Nationalpost – News