The Golden State Warriors began their push to another NBA Finals on Sunday afternoon, and after a competitive first half, they pulled away for a 121-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 of their first-round series. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 10 rebounds in his Warrior playoff debut, while Draymond Green had an all-around game of 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks, and three steals. Durant shot an impressive 12-of-20 from the floor while also getting support from Steph Curry, who finished with 29 points in the win. Portland's backcourt is what kept them in the game for much of the day, as C.J. McCollum scored a playoff career-high 41 points, while Damian Lillard put up 34 points in a losing effort. McCollum also set a Blazer playoff record with 27 points in the first half alone. Despite that, the Blazers' defense could not stop Golden State on the other end of the floor, more specifically KD, who had missed 19 games with a left knee injury near the end of the regular season. Game 2 of the series will be back at Oracle Arena on Wednesday night.
Harden, Rockets Blow Past Westbrook, Thunder in Game 1
The NBA Playoffs also features a first-round matchup pitting the top-2 MVP candidates for the season. On Sunday night, the bearded one got the upper-hand, as James Harden had 37 points, nine assists, and seven rebounds, leading the Houston Rockets in a 118-87 Game-1 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The other MVP candidate, Russell Westbrook, finished with a playoff career-high 21 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, although he shot just 6 of 23 from the floor and committed nine turnovers. Houston used a dominant second half to pull away after leading by just five at halftime. The Rockets outscored the Thunder by 26 in the second half to turn Game 1 into a blowout and get the early momentum in the series. Houston head coach Mike D'Antoni recorded his first postseason win since 2008 while he was with the Phoenix Suns, and looks for more in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Penguins Take 3-0 Series Lead in Overtime
The Pittsburgh Penguins cruised past the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first two games of their first round series, but the heartbreaker for their division rivals may have come on Sunday night. Jake Guentzel completed a hat trick by scoring the game-winner 13:10 into overtime for a 5-4 Pittsburgh victory, giving them a dominant 3-0 series lead. The 22-year-old rookie also scored the first goal of the game in the opening period, and added another in the third. Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin also scored for the Penguins, while Malkin and Sidney Crosby recorded two assists apiece in the crucial win. Cam Atkinson scored twice for the Blue Jackets in the loss, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 42 saves before surrendering the game-winner to Guentzel. Columbus blew a 3-1 lead that they held after 20 minutes of play, and look to keep their season alive in Game 4 on Tuesday night.