Day 7 of the NBA playoff bubble tipped off Sunday with a slate of Game 4s at the league’s campus at Walt Disney World in Florida. Action from the playoffs will be updated here throughout the day.
Donovan Mitchell drops 51, gives Utah 3-1 lead over Nuggets
It took 51 points from Donovan Mitchell — including one huge 3-point bucket in the final minute — but the Utah Jazz are now just a game away from knocking off the Denver Nuggets.
Mitchell and the Jazz surged ahead in a tight Game 4 on Sunday night to beat the Nuggets 129-127, which puts them up 3-1 in the opening-round playoff series.
The Jazz took off late in the third quarter to snag an 11-point lead, the largest of the game after bouncing back and forth with the Nuggets throughout the contest. After a Denver surge at the end of the fourth quarter, however, it wasn’t until Mitchell drilled a clutch 3-point bucket with just less than a minute left that the Jazz were back in control.
The Jazz then went a near-perfect 7-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final minute to seal the two-point win. Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray hit a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough.
Mitchell put up 51 points in the win while shooting 4-of-7 from behind the arc and sinking 17 of his 18 free-throw attempts. He is now just one of four players to record multiple 50-point games in a single playoff series, joining Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson and Wilt Chamberlain.
“They won. I haven’t done anything yet to be honest with you,” Mitchell said after the game on TNT when asked about that milestone. “All we did was win Game 4. Fifty is 50, but we’re looking to close the series out. I’m honored to be in that category, don’t get me wrong, and I’m very humbled and blessed, but we still got one more game left.”
Raptors complete sweep in easy win
The Raptors made easy work of the Nets on Sunday afternoon, and are on to the next round.
Toronto, after falling into a six-point hole in the opening minutes, cruised to a dominant 150-122 win over Brooklyn to complete the 4-0 series sweep.
The Raptors, who held just a single-digit lead at halftime, quickly rallied in the second half and easily pushed their lead to 32 points in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. The Nets, who mustered only 19 points in the third, lost control of the game once again, ending their time in the NBA bubble.
Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka led the Raptors off the bench, putting up 29 points and 27 points, respectively. They had 100 bench points as a team, after Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry were all held to single digits.
Caris LeVert led the Nets with 35 points, while shooting 6-of-9 from behind the arc.
The Raptors lost Lowry late in the first quarter, however, something that could be troublesome moving forward. Lowry stepped on Nets guard Chris Chiozza’s foot while coming up the court and rolled his ankle. He stayed in the game after a timeout, but lasted just a possession before committing a foul to substitute himself out of the game. He then left for the locker room and didn’t return, ending his day with just two points in nine minutes.
Luka Doncic hits buzzer-beater, evens series
Luka Doncic could barely walk on Friday, and left Game 3 of the series early with an injured ankle.
You wouldn’t have known it on Sunday.
Doncic, behind a massive 43-point triple-double, hit a buzzer-beater in overtime to lift the Mavericks past the Clippers 135-133 in overtime at Walt Disney World.
The Mavericks had gotten down early, dipping into a 21-point hole in the second quarter. Doncic, however, ran Dallas right back in it by the end of the third quarter. The Mavericks mounted an incredible 60-31 run to take an eight-point lead headed into the final period.
While the Clippers came back and evened the score by the end of regulation — and pulled up by one after a clutch Marcus Morris corner 3-pointer in the final seconds — it was Doncic’s final 3-pointer from the wing as time expired that finally sealed the deal and evened the series.
Doncic finished with 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists, marking the second straight triple-double for the 21-year-old. Trey Burke dropped 25 points in the win, while shooting 4-of-5 from behind the arc, and Tim Hardaway added 21 points. The Mavericks were without Kristaps Porzingis, who was a late scratch due to knee soreness.
Lou Williams led the Clippers with 36 points off the bench, shooting 13-of-20 from the field. Kawhi Leonard added 32 points and nine rebounds. Paul George struggled yet again, putting up only nine points while making just three of his 14 field-goal attempts in the game.
“He’s just a very special player,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said, via USA Today. “This game today is from another planet.”
Rick Carlisle ranks where Luka’s latest performances ranks to what he’s done so far pic.twitter.com/6VLrnd3axU— Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) August 23, 2020
Celtics finish sweep of 76ers
Things were still close Sunday when Tobias Harris suffered a frightening head injury that left blood on the court.
When Harris left the floor, the Boston Celtics took control of the game to secure a 110-106 win over the Philadelphia 76ers and a 4-0 sweep to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. It was the first sweep in 15 playoff series between the two franchises.
Harris walked off the court clutching a towel to his head as Boston led 80-77 with 2:44 remaining.
The Celtics then scored the last nine points of the quarter to complete a 12-0 run that put an end to the 76ers’ hopes of avoiding a sweep at the hands of their rivals.
The injury occurred when Celtics forward Jayson Tatum unintentionally clipped Harris’ legs on a drive as Harris leapt to defend a layup. Harris landed hard on the court, and his head bounced off the hardwood.
Here is the play, Tobias Harris hits his head on the floor— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) August 23, 2020
He was able to walk on his own to the locker room. 🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/mbFBS0Lcju
Harris was diagnosed with an eye laceration and cleared concussion protocol.
He returned with 5:12 remaining in the fourth with Boston leading 102-90, but there was no heroic rally in store. Boston continued its postseason dominance of Philadelphia behind big games from Tatum and Kemba Walker.
Tatum finished with 28 points, 15 rebounds and four assists, while Walker tallied 32 points, four rebounds and four assists. The 76ers, playing without injured All-Star Ben Simmons, did not have the firepower to compete. They head into an offseason filled with questions and a potential roster shakeup.
Boston advances to face the winner between the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets, who face off later Sunday for Game 4 of their first-round series. Toronto leads, 3-0.
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