The Philadelphia 76ers and their fan base have overcome a 10-win season from a couple years ago and hosted their first playoff game in six years on Saturday night. They remained as the hottest team in basketball by pulling away from the Miami Heat for a 130-103 win in Game 1 of their first round series. JJ Redick led the way with 28 points, while Ben Simmons recorded 17 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds in his playoff debut, leading the Sixers to their 17th straight victory. They did this without Joel Embiid, who could be back in the middle of the first round, or the beginning of the second round, if they make. He has been officially ruled out for Monday's Game 2, despite clearing the concussion protocol. After trailing by four at halftime, the Sixers came out on on fire in the third quarter, using a 20-2 run to pull away and never looked back from there. Philadelphia used their three-point shooting to pull away, as they set a team playoff record with 18 three-pointers on 28 attempts, including four each from Redick and Marco Belinelli. The Sixers' bench stepped up as well, led by Belinelli's 25 points, as well as Ersan Ilyasova's 17 points. Kelly Olynyk had 26 points to lead the Heat in a losing effort. The Sixers will host another playoff contest with Game 2 on Monday night.
Davis Gets First Playoff Win, Pelicans Edge Blazers
Anthony Davis called his first playoff win "a monkey off my back" but it didn't come easily on Saturday night. Davis had 35 points, 14 rebounds, and four blocks, as the Pelicans pulled off a Game-1 upset of the Portland Trail Blazers, 97-95. The Pelicans led for the entire night, but had to hold off a late Blazers' run in the fourth quarter after leading by as many as 19. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum had attempts late, but were both rejected in the final seconds. The Pelicans built that lead with the with the work of their backcourt, including Jrue Holiday's 21 points. Rajon Rondo also chipped with 17 assists, eight rebounds, and six points in the starting role, as the Pelicans became the only road team to win on the first day of the NBA Playoffs. New Orleans were at a disadvantage as they are without DeMarcus Cousins for the rest of the season, although their newest big man, Nikola Mirotic, had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding four block of his own. The Pelicans were also able to shut down the Blazers' main two scorers, as Lillard was held to 18 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists, while McCollum finished with 19 points in the loss. The Pelicans look to overcome the loss of their star and earn a playoff series victory, and they will hope to take another step in that process in Game 2 on Monday night.
Pastrnak, Bruins Roll Past Maple Leafs Again
Many believed that the Toronto Maple Leafs were ready to make a Stanley Cup Finals run this season after their young core made their playoff debut a season ago. Although, Mike Babcock's team is not off to a good start, falling to the Boston Bruins again, 7-3, in the TD Garden on Saturday night. The win for Boston gives them a 2-0 series lead, as they were led by David Pastrnak's six points. Those six points consisted of three goals and three assists, as he broke his previous career high of four points in a single game. Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Patrick Sundstrom have recorded six points in a playoff game, with Gretzky doing it three separate times. In a stat-filled night for the Bruins, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand had four assists apiece, while Torey Krug had three. David Krejci, Rick Nash, Jake DeBrusk, and Kevan Miller all scored, making it the second straight game that the Bruins had five different players with a goal. That all supported Tukka Rask between the pipes, as the goaltender made 30 saves on the night. The Leafs' goaltender, Frederik Andersen, struggled again after allowing five goals in Game 1, surrendering three goals on five shots in 12:13 on Saturday. He was replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney, who gave up the other four goals. Mitch Marner, Tyler Bozak, and James Van Riemsdyk all scored for the Leafs, who will host Game 3 of the series on Monday night.