The East’s top-seeded Heat aren’t sitting so comfortably after last night. Trae Young heaved up a game-winner to put the Hawks right back into the series.
Young finished with 24 points and eight assists to go along with that game winner. Things would have looked pretty grim had the shot not fallen — no NBA team has ever made it back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.
In middle America, Khris Middleton’s absence from the court last night with a sprained MCL didn’t stop the Bucks from absolutely embarrassing the Bulls in front of a home crowd, sending the first-round series to a 2-1 split. Two-time MVP Giannis Antentokounmpo didn’t even have to carry the offense — Grayson Allen actually put up more points than the Greek Freak last night, with a playoff career-high 22, and Bobby Portis tacked on his own 18.
It might be 2-1, but it has the feel of being long over. The rest of this series looks like it’s turning out to be a mere formality for the Bucks, who are shaking off the single loss they’ve had to the Bulls this season and getting right back in the groove, stepping up defensively and filling in the Middleton-sized gap with relative ease. It’s the same old news for the Bulls — they had a standout season in the East, but they were rarely able to win against opponents who joined them at the top of the standings.
In the South, the 1-8 Suns-Pelicans matchup is turning out to be an unexpected thriller, especially with Phoenix leading scorer Devin Booker out with a hamstring strain. The Suns are staring down multiple weeks without Booker, but they found a way last night with a huge fourth quarter from Chris Paul and a dominating performance from Deandre Ayton.
When I tell you that the game ended on a buzzer beater with a 114-111 final score, it’s not quite as exciting as it sounds. The Suns pulled away in the final minute of the game, but a last-second shot put New Orleans within three, even if it didn’t mean much. This may turn out to be the most exciting series of the first round as they resume in Louisiana on Sunday, with the Suns’ 2-1 lead feeling a whole lot more precarious than the Bucks’ or Heat’s right now.