The NBA Playoffs may have just started over the weekend, but they’ve provided plenty of action packed drama already with two top stars possibly being out of action for one or more games. If they’re smart, they won’t push themselves and wind up really hurting their teams.
Golden State‘s Stephen Curry and the Toronto Raptors have provided a little early NBA playoff drama for teams returning to the court Monday night.
Curry is listed as questionable for Game 2 against the Rockets, but Golden State and Oklahoma City are off to impressive starts.
The Raptors are on the same rocky road as usual.
Golden State and Oklahoma City seek 2-0 leads in their series, while the Raptors try to bounce back from another Game 1 loss at home.
The Warriors routed Houston 104-78 on Saturday, building a huge lead behind Curry’s torrid start before he hurt his right ankle just before halftime. He played only briefly in the second half and is listed as questionable for Monday.
The top-seeded Warriors and No. 3 Thunder were the NBA’s most potent offenses, and so far nothing has changed from the regular season.
For the Raptors, nothing has changed from the last two postseasons.
The East No. 2 seed’s 100-90 loss to Indiana was the third straight year they dropped their playoff opener at home. The Raptors went on to drop the series both times.
A look at the three games Monday:
Pacers at Raptors, Indiana leads 1-0. 7 p.m., NBA TV.
Toronto will need much better performances from All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Lowry was just 3 of 13 — and an ugly 4 for 9 from the free-throw line — for his 11 points while DeRozan was 5 for 19 for 14 points.
“They’re really going to be the two ringleaders to come out in Game 2,” Indiana’s Paul George said. “I do think it makes this team much tougher now that we’re up 1-0, and we’ve stolen the first game because they’re going to come out more desperate to get a win.”
But the Raptors’ problems went beyond their offense.
George scored 33 points in his return to the postseason and could remain a matchup problem for the Raptors, who ideally would’ve had DeMarre Carroll in top form to guard the All-Star forward. But Carroll is still working his way back into shape after missing half the season following right knee surgery, and he played just 19 minutes off the bench in the opener.
“He played like an All-NBA player,” Lowry said of George. “So you tip your hat, you give them credit. Now Game 2 is a different game. Every game in the playoffs is a different animal, a different game.”
Mavericks at Thunder, Oklahoma City leads 1-0. 8 p.m., TNT
Oklahoma City is 5-0 against Dallas this season, and 8-0 sure looks possible unless the Mavericks turn things around from their pathetic performance in Game 1.
Dallas was held to franchise playoff lows for points and field-goal percentage (29.8 percent) and matched its low with 33 points in the first half. The Mavs were also outrebounded 56-33 playing without forward David Lee, who might also miss Game 2 with a plantar fascia injury.
“You don’t want to look at it too much. There wasn’t much positives,” point guard Deron Williams said. “Coach (Rick Carlisle) is going to look at the film, and we’ll look at film together as well, and he’ll have a game plan for us for Game 2.”
The Mavs just haven’t shown they have one that works against the Thunder.
Rockets at Warriors, Golden State, leads 1-0. 10:30 p.m., TNT
Houston trailed 33-15 after one-quarter of the opener and was down 27 after 24 minutes, but is trying to remain upbeat about its situation.
“It’s only one game,” star guard James Harden said. “No matter the deficit, you win by 30, you lose by 30, you win by one, it’s only one game. Our focus is to come in here and win one game. And we’ll have that opportunity Monday night.”
Harden probably needs to play better for the Rockets to have any chance. He scored just 17 points in the opener on 7-of-19 shooting, and one of the NBA’s best at creating fouls didn’t attempt a single free throw.
The deep and versatile Warriors have a number of options and a good scheme to defend the league’s runner-up to Curry for the scoring title.
“For us, to keep him off the free throw line and get those nine extra points he usually gets, that’s important for us,” Curry said. “So my guess is it probably won’t happen the rest of the series, but for the most part if we just continue to keep our fundamentals, show our hands, keep our body in front of him, maybe we can control that part of their offensive attack for the most part in the series.”