Bucks 132, Heat 98
Nuggets 128, Blazers 109
What went down
After a volley of frantic Game Ones, the first pair of Game Twos featured overwhelming wins.
The Milwaukee Bucks surged early and never let the Miami Heat establish the grimy pace of Game 1. By the end of the first half, the Bucks were already up 78-51, and they never looked back. The biggest difference from Game 1 was the Bucks' 3-point shooting as Milwaukee went 22-for-53 from deep, a stark contrast from their 5-for-31 effort on Sunday. The Heat, on the other hand, continued to struggle from the field, their stars in particular. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for just 26 points and five rebounds, sorely outperformed single-handedly by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 31 points and 13 boards.
Milwaukee moves to a commanding 2-0 series lead as they travel to Miami for Game 3 and 4. The Heat are now in danger of falling into a 0-3 hole, the same ditch they buried the Bucks in last season in the bubble.
The Denver Nuggets didn’t have the game locked down as early as the Bucks, but they took care of the Portland Trail Blazers with a strong fourth quarter. Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic exchanged blows for much of the game; Lillard using his arsenal of dribble moves, Jokic dominating the paint. By the half, Lillard had 32 points while Jokic managed 26. Also at the half, Denver held a 73-61 edge.
That was the ebb-and-flow of the rest of the game; the Nuggets pulling away, only for Lillard to go on a solo mini-run to keep things interesting. The wheels came off for Portland in the fourth quarter when Jusuf Nurkic fouled out and the Denver bench went on a run to extend the lead to 20.
The Nuggets tied the series at 1-1 with the action heading to Portland on Friday.
It's tough to stop Dame Time when he rings, but not when you have the incumbent MVP. Nikola Jokic had another dominant outing, posting 38 points on 15-for-20 shooting with eight rebounds and five assists.
Jokic is averaging 36 points on 61 percent shooting in this series. Given how much Nurkic and Enes Kanter have struggled against him, expect more big lines from the Joker this series.
What he said
The league has shifted back to a more traditional way of announcing regular season awards since the pandemic hit last year. It's already produced more memorable moments than the awards show they held for a couple of years.
Today, Jordan Clarkson was named the Sixth Man of the Year. In a bit of trickery with the TNT broadcast and Joe Ingles, Clarkson’s teammate and fellow Sixth Man of the Year finalist, Ernie Johnson was able to surprise Clarkson and bring out a truly touching moment between teammates.
Did you see that?
Facu Campazzo is the Argentinian Santa Clause of fancy passes.