Led by Kevin Durant, the Brooklyn Nets outclassed Boston Celtics by 130-108, in game 2 of their NBA eastern conference playoff series, and took a 2-0 series lead. In the second game of the day, LA Lakers pipped the Phoenix Suns 109-102 in a neck-and-neck game, and levelled the series 1-1.
The Brooklyn Nets, the favourites to win the series and are the championship contenders, made light work of their opponents as their star player Kevin Durant notched 29 points.
Former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal also gave credit to Nets’ power forward Joe Harris for the win, after he scored 7 3-pointers in game 2.
Experts feel that Nets would comfortably win the series now. “The Celtics are going to get swept 4-0 in this series by the Nets,” said former NBA player Charles Barkley on the show NBA on TNT.
Celtics were dealt a major blow during the game when their talisman Jayson Tatum was ruled out of the game after suffering an eye injury in the second quarter. His absence from the following games might worsen the situation for the Celtics.
“On paper, and on court, Nets are a juggernaut, they are championship favourites. With Boston’s second-best player, Jaylen Brown, already injured, an injury to Tatum means that Brooklyn will make short work of the Celtics,” said Parth Chawla, an avid NBA follower.
Lakers Bounce Back
Backed by a 34-point game by Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 109-102, to square the series, in the western conference NBA playoffs.
“It was an even game throughout, but Lakers switched on their playoff-level defence in the last quarter and that helped them get over the line,” said Ankit Sharma, an NBA fan.
Another NBA fan, Vrushank Kumar, said: “The game today was really close but I expected the Lakers to win. Anthony Davis was a monster and surely redeemed himself from the awful performance from game 1.”
Lakers player Anthony Davis, criticized after his poor performance in the first game, in his post-match interview said: “There is no way we’re winning a game, let alone the series, with me playing the way I
played. I wanted to make sure I made a statement in this game.”
LeBron James and Dennis Schroder also contributed to Lakers win with 23 and 24 points respectively. Devin Booker, who has been the Suns’ most effective player this year, also scored 31 points. Lakers now have the home court advantage in Game 3, and thereby, a chance to go ahead in the series.
Phoenix Suns, riding on impact performances by Devin Booker and Chris Paul, have made their first playoff qualification since 2010. They beat the Lakers 99-90 in game 1 of the series. But fans expect a close series ahead.
“It’s only the first round, and we may already have an epic seven game series on our hand. The Suns have been one of the best teams this season, and Lakers are finding their groove as well,” said Chawla.
“LeBron can be more aggressive. Lakers need to defend the 3 a bit more, and stop Devin Booker, to win the whole series,” added Kumar
Mavericks take control
In the final game of the day, the Dallas Mavericks edged out LA Clippers 127-121, in a seesaw battle, and took a 2-0 lead in the series.
Speaking to The Observer, Anindyo Paul, an NBA fan said: “This was a very heavy game with Luka and Kawhi putting up big numbers. But in the end Dallas’ defence pulled through and locked up the 3-pointers and also disallowed Paul George and Kawhi to put up points in the paint.”
Luka Doncic, who has been Mavericks’ best player this season, put up yet another match-winning performance, scoring 39 points.
Experts have lashed out at Clippers for not being able to defend Doncic. “We all know what Dallas is without Doncic. Why would you not prioritize stopping that player?” asked Stephan A. Smith, on the show First Take.
Doncic, with 31 points, played a pivotal role in game 1 as well. For Clippers, their two marquee players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George scored 26 and 23 points respectively, but could not guide their team to
Basketball fans and experts had expected the Clippers to comfortably win the series, over Dallas. In ESPN’s playoff prediction report, dated May 23, out of a panel of 18 experts, 17 ruled in favour of the Clippers, while only 1 gave chance to the Mavericks.
The fans now expect the Clippers to show up better performances in the following games of the series.
Star Sports buys rights
Fans in India finally had some good news when NBA announced Star Sports had bought the broadcasting rights for its games for the 2021 season.
“We are delighted to announce that Star Sports… will be the official broadcast partner of the NBA in India for the 2021 NBA Playoffs and The Finals,” wrote Sunny Malik, Business Head, Global Content and Media Distribution, NBA, on his LinkedIn page.
However, he clarified that all seven games of only the conference finals and NBA final will be telecasted. Only selected games will be shown prior to it.
Fans across the country are irked by this. “I was irritated when I could not watch the regular season of NBA on TV. Even now, Star Sports will air only a few matches, which means I will not be able to watch all matches. It is a disappointment,” said Arunaditya Aima, an NBA fan who follows the league.
By now, when only one month in the season is left, a lot of fans in India have purchased the league pass on the NBA’s app which allows them to watch all matches.
“I bought the NBA league pass in the beginning of the season because they said that broadcast rights were not given to channels in India. It was annoying at that moment…,,” said Vrushank Kumar.
“I have an NBA league pass, but in a country like ours not everyone would be able to buy a pass worth Rs 999,” added Aima.
A lot of fans who cannot buy these subscription packs resort to watching the games either through illegal streaming sites, or only the highlights.
Star Sports, often criticized for airing cricket-heavy content on its channels, has seen its TRP ratings drop from 3,742.51 average minute audience in April to 294.85 in May following the postponement of IPL. Many believe this drop in ratings to be the reason for Star Sports acquiring NBA rights.
With inputs from Padmini Dhruvaraj and Abhishek Saini