Expect the Brooklyn Nets to go 2-0 on the Boston Celtics 

The Nets showcased on Saturday the defense that they will need to capture the franchise’s first NBA title this summer in a 104-93 Game 1 win. 

With a near week off since their regular season finale, the lack of sharpness on the offense end for Steve Nash’s team was evident. Brooklyn shot just 1 for 13 from three, as the Celtics were energized off the back of their Play-In game victory over the Wizards and went into halftime with a 53-47 lead. But the East’s No.2 seed and betting favorite to win the championship found their scoring form in the second half with 57 points and seven-made threes. 

Kevin Durant was Game 1’s top scorer with 32 points, while his fellow Big Three members Kyrie Irving and James Harden also topped the 20-point mark with 29 and 21 points respectively. And a worrying sign for the Celtics is that all three could shoot even better in Game 2, especially Durant, who was only 10 for 25 from the field in the series’ opener. 

At least encouraging for the Celtics was the contribution of the always playoff tough Marcus Smart (17 points, 5 assists) and emerging center Robert Williams, who almost had a triple double off the bench with incredible rim protection (11 points, 9 rebounds and 9 blocks). But their top performances were not enough to lift stars Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker to their best. Tatum, who came off a 50-point effort against the Wizards, struggled with just 22 points off 6 for 20 shooting and four turnovers. Walker was even worse, going 5 for 16 for 15 points and registering more turnovers (3) than assists (2). 

For the Celtics to steal home court advantage, they will need both Tatum and Walker to bring their All-Star peak levels with at least 30 point games. Those most coincide with Williams and Smart playing as well as they did Saturday for Brad Stevens’ team to score a big upset. 

Still, it is a little demoralizing for the Celtics to see a slightly above average Nets display result in a double-digits Game 1 win. Durant, Harden, Irving, Joe Harris and Landry Shamet did not make more than two 3’s on Saturday and are always capable of going off in any contest. 

With the first half rust from the weekend gone, you can expect the Nets to make it a 2-0 series score with a comfortable blowout win. 

The Los Angeles Lakers will bounce back to even the series with the Phoenix Suns

It’s not surprising in a title defense campaign of ups and downs that the Lakers suffered a Game 1 defeat on Sunday. But even the always emotionally reactive Lakers nation is cognizant of the team overcoming a Playoffs opening loss last year to win the franchises’ latest Larry O’Brien Trophy. 

Everyone knows that Anthony Davis has to play the opposite of his poor Game 1 totals in order for the Lakers to even the series. Davis continued his bad trend of settling for threes instead of spending his time down low, as his struggles from outside represent how volatile his offensive game is at the moment. And he will also need improvement on the defensive end to not allow Deandre Ayton a replica of his playoff debut 21 points, 16 rebounds monster effort. 

The Game 2 pressure for the Lakers to ameliorate their play and take a split at the Phoenix Suns Arena doesn’t just fall on Davis’ shoulders.  LeBron James has to sustain a good scoring first half and not fall off like he did in the second half on Sunday. Kyle Kuzma’s zero points in 19 minutes is unacceptable and surely will not occur for a second straight game. And though Frank Vogel saw his team’s elite defense hold the Suns under 100 points, they still gave the explosive scorer that is Devin Booker too many 1-on-1 chances in his playoff debut. The Suns shooting guard led all players with 34 points on 50 percent shooting in Game 1. 

Chris Paul’s shoulder issues aren’t too worrisome for Monty Williams to fret about his future Hall of Fame point guard’s ability to be effective. But complacency is something he hopes Booker, Ayton and all the young players on the Suns team avoid to protect home court. 

The Suns will still play with a sense of urgency, still underdogs of this series despite being the West’s No.2 seed. But the Lakers still have the ingredients to win on the road anywhere, anytime, and they shall get that key away victory on Tuesday night. 

The Los Angeles Clippers will even the series with the Dallas Mavericks 

While there maybe a debate as to whether one Los Angeles team is in a must-win scenario on Tuesday night, there will be no question about the other L.A. team’s need to not fall down 0-2. 

The Clippers require a bounce back Game 2 at Staples Center, as the Dallas Mavericks would have a dream scenario fulfilled if they were to do the road back-to-back. The difference in Game 1 came down to the three point shooting of both team’s most ambitious shooters. The Mavs trio of Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway went 14 for 25 from beyond the arc on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Marcus Morris only were 3 for 20 combined from deep. Those numbers will need to change for Tyronn Lue’s men to even up the series. 

A good sign for the Clippers is that Rajon Rondo has brought his “Playoff Rondo” mode once again. The two-time NBA champion will be keen on making sure his new team is comfortable down the stretch with who takes the key shots, something that Leonard and George welcome very much. 

The Mavs are seeking revenge from getting knocked out in the Disney Bubble in last year’s playoffs first round and will continue to play with a chip on their shoulders. But the Clippers will have their own sense of desperation lead to preventing any signs of their championship ambitions going away early this postseason. Expect the Clippers to take Game 2 before the series shifts to the Lone Star State. 

Over/Under Predictions 

Celtics/Nets O/U 227: Take the Over 

Lakers/Suns O/U 209: Take the Over

Mavs/Clippers O/U 216: Take The Under

The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers are sponsored by Betway.