It has been a wild, unprecedented week in sports, as the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin set off nightly protests in that city, followed by a vigilante shooting that cost two more lives and wounded another. The Milwaukee Bucks, distraught over the events in their state and frustrated that the NBA’s increased anti-violence messaging seemed to be having no effect, caught the rest of the league off guard by failing to appear on the court for their scheduled game against Orlando. This unprecedented action set off a chain reaction of sports cancellations that rippled across the NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, and WNBA.
After some soul-searching, a couple of heated meetings, and a pledge by NBA owners to do more to help end systemic racism, the show is back on the road. Once play restarted, the Lakers, Clippers, and Bucks closed out their first-round series and Boston and Toronto began their second-round set, with the Celtics up 1-0 over the defending champion Raptors. Boston’s defense swarmed Pascal Siakam, keeping him to 13 points of 5-for-16 shooting, but Toronto, who have taken a whole-team approach since the Clippers poached Kawhi Leonard last summer, is sure to adjust in Tuesday’s game 2.
The Bucks will meet the Heat in the other second-round series in the East, starting Monday at 6:30pm ET. Milwaukee has the best player in the East (if not the league) in Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Miami’s defensive strategy will be the key thing to watch. Will they swarm Giannis with the likes of Bam Adebayo (the league’s most effective defender against him), Andre Iguodala, and Jimmy Butler? If they do, can the Bucks’ supporting cast step up? Or might the Heat go the other way and focus on shutting down the rest of the Bucks, forcing Giannis to make his shots? That’s a dicey strategy, as Antetokounmpo tends to do just that. But the Heat are coming off a 4-0 dismantling of the Pacers, and are most definitely feeling themselves.
But right now all eyes are on the West, where the Lakers and Clippers await the results of the last two first-round series to find out their second-round opponents. The Clippers will be closely watching the Nuggets/Jazz finale Tuesday night: Denver could not be hotter right now, having fought back from a 3-1 deficit behind lights-out shooting by Jamal Murray, including a transcendent 50-point performance in game 6, to push Utah to a decisive game 7. But Donovan Mitchell has been every bit as hot for the Jazz as Murray has been for the Nuggets, so look for both teams to adjust defensively to shut these guys down.
And the Lakers are keeping tabs on Houston/OKC, where the Rockets lead 3-2 going into Monday’s game 6. Game 5 was a 114-80 Houston blowout, with James Harden putting in a series-best 31 points, and explosive Rockets guard Russell Westbrook returned from an injury in a slightly rusty 7-point effort. But OKC’s Chris Paul has a habit of dragging his team to wins through sheer force of will, so don’t count the Thunder out just yet.
Below is the schedule as we know it right now; we’ll continue to update it daily as new information becomes available.
|Mon 8/31||6:30 PM||Miami vs. Milwaukee, game 1||not started||TNT|
|Mon 8/31||9:00 PM||Houston vs. Oklahoma City, game 6||Houston leads 3-2||TNT|
|Tue 9/1||5:30 PM||Boston vs. Toronto, game 2||Boston leads 1-0||ESPN|
|Tue 9/1||8:30 PM||Utah vs. Denver, game 7||series tied 3-3||ESPN3|
|Wed 9/2||6:30 PM||Miami vs. Milwaukee, game 2||Miami leads 1-0||ESPN|
|Wed 9/2||9:00 PM||Oklahoma City vs. Houston, game 7||series tied 3-3||ESPN|
|Th 9/3||6:30 PM||Toronto vs. Boston, game 3||Boston leads 2-0||TNT|
|Th 9/3||9:00 PM||Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, game 1||not started||TNT|
|Fri 9/4||6:30 PM||Milwaukee vs. Miami, game 3||Miami leads 2-0||TNT|
|Fri 9/4||9:00 PM||Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, game 1||not started||ESPN|
|Sat 9/5||6:30 PM||Toronto vs. Boston, game 4||Boston leads 2-1||TNT|
|Sat 9/5||9:00 PM||Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, game 2||L.A. leads 1-0||TNT|
|Sun 9/6||3:30 PM||Milwaukee vs. Miami, game 4||Miami leads 3-0||ESPN3|
|Sun 9/6||8:30 PM||Houston vs. L.A. Lakers, game 2||Houston leads 1-0||ESPN3|
|Mon 9/7||6:30 PM||Toronto vs. Boston, game 5||series tied 2-2||TNT|
|Mon 9/7||9:00 PM||Denver vs. L.A. Clippers, game 3||series tied 1-1||TNT|
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