The Skip Pass is your home on FanRag Sports for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.
Games: Cavaliers at Pacers – Game 3, Raptors at Bucks – Game 3, Spurs at Grizzlies – Game 3
CAVALIERS 119 – PACERS 114 (Cleveland leads series 3-0)
After coming up just short in the first two games, the Pacers were poised to get their first win in the series after scoring 74 first-half points. But in the second half, the Cavaliers flipped this mythical switch we’ve all heard so much about to leave Indiana reeling and on the brink of elimination.
After the Pacers shot nearly 57 percent overall and hit 10-of-17 3-pointers at the break, the Cavaliers buckled down and played some of the best defense they have played all season. Indiana shot 25 percent and hit only 6-of-25 from behind the arc en route to 40 total points in the second half. Cleveland erased a 26-point deficit, tying the record for largest playoff comeback. The Cavaliers also made history by coming back from 25 down at halftime.
Cleveland did most of its damage with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the bench, instead going with LeBron James and bench shooters for most of the second half. James finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in an all-time great performance. Channing Frye and Kyle Korver were part of the closing lineup and finished with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Paul George carried Indiana with 36 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, but he shot just 4-of-15 after the break. Overall, because Indiana struggled to shoot it in the second half, Cleveland focused its defense on George and dared the others to beat him. Nobody stepped forward. Myles Turner, despite one monster dunk, saw a lot of open looks but converted only 3-of-12 for the game. And Lance Stephenson melted down after a strong start to the game.
Cleveland will look to complete the sweep on Sunday, in what could end up being Paul George’s final game in a Pacers uniform:
BUCKS 104 – RAPTORS 77 (Milwaukee leads series 2-1)
Back home after stealing home-court advantage, Milwaukee led from start to finish and by as many as 34 points in a rout of the Raptors. The Bucks jumped out to a 32-12 lead at the end of one quarter, and the game was a laugher from there.
Milwaukee’s frontcourt dominated as Khris Middleton led the way with 20 points, while Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 19 and Thon Maker added 11. Off the bench, Greg Monroe and Michael Beasley kept it going with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Whether it was layups, dunks, 3-pointers and everything in between, Toronto had no answer for the Bucks’ big men.
On the other end, much like Game 1, Toronto was unable to create separation against the long defenders from Milwaukee. The Raptors made just under 34 percent of their shots overall and 6-of-22 from behind the arc. The starting five was particularly egregious, as they combined to shoot 11-of-39, including an 0-for-8 effort from DeMar DeRozan.
The Bucks now have a 2-1 lead with Game 4 in Milwaukee on Saturday. Two games of the series have been largely non-competitive, and the Raptors had to have high-level execution at the end of Game 2 to win. The Bucks could return to Toronto with a commanding 3-1 lead:
GRIZZLIES 105 – SPURS 94 (San Antonio leads series 2-1)
Memphis returned home to The Grindhouse and handled the Spurs with relative ease to pick up its first win in the series. After David Fizdale’s impassioned speech about the foul disparity, things evened up. More impactful were Fizdale’s changes to his rotation.
Zach Randolph and James Ennis were inserted into the starting lineup in place of JaMychal Green and Wayne Selden. The change seemed to spark all four players, as they played their best games of the series.
Randolph was aggressive from the start, and he finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Ennis scored 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting and provided a bit of a bigger, quicker body against Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end. Green and Selden provided energy off the bench, and the two combined for 18 points, including some highlight plays.
With production from other players, both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol had less pressure to carry the team. This meant both played well in the same game for the first time in the series. Conley had 24 points and eight assists, while Gasol added 21 points. They combined to shoot 15-of-27 from the floor as Memphis topped 50 percent shooting on the night.
With the game played at the glacial pace Memphis prefers, and with a crowd hungry for a win, the Spurs seemed off for large chunks of the night. At no time was this more evident in the third quarter. San Antonio shot 6-of-18 in the third and got outscored by a 31-17 margin, as the Grizzlies took control and never looked back. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich even pulled his starters less than a minute into the second half.
San Antonio’s normally staunch defense couldn’t manage stops and only forced five turnovers, meaning there was much less easy offense. The Grizzlies can be extremely tough to score against when they can set their defense.
Game 4 is on Saturday night: