NBA playoffs wrap: 76ers, Pelicans wins physical battles

There was no shortage of pushing and shoving in either of the early games Saturday in the NBA playoffs.

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) blocks a shot by Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) in Miami on Saturday. Photo: AP

A knock on today's NBA is it takes very little to commit a foul and referees handle games with kid gloves.

Well, the gloves were off in the first two NBA playoff games on Saturday as the matchups looked reminiscent of a ’90s brawl game rather than a hand-check frenzy that has made the 2010s often difficult to watch.

76ers dropped Heat 106-102 behind a triple-double from Ben Simmons, but a scuffle the rookie got into with Miami forward James Johnson left everyone talking. The two players butted heads in the first half after Robert Covington fouled Goran Dragic hard.

 

That wasn't the end of it, either. Just seconds after Simmons' altercation with Johnson, the rookie gave a shoulder to Dwyane Wade on a pick for an offensive foul. Things never cooled down, but 76ers went on to overcome 25 turnovers to earn the victory.

In New Orleans, things were much the same. Fouls were flying everywhere, but a foul by Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum really got things heated. McCollum fouled Pelicans guard E'Twaun Moore on the way to the basket and Moore took exception.

He shoved McCollum, which prompted players to come together and discuss their feelings uncomfortably close to each other's faces. Kind words were not used. Anthony Davis, who had three fouls and was on the bench at the time, had to be restrained from coming onto the court.

 

Then two minutes later Zach Collins fouled Jrue Holiday hard and Rajon Rondo took exception with a head butt. Things were beyond physical and for good reason. Portland had to win to stay alive in the playoffs. It didn't though as New Orleans locked up a 131-123 victory to sweep Trail Blazers 4-0.

As for the late games, Timberwolves dropped Rockets 121-105 to cut the series lead to 2-1, while Jazz dropped Thunder 115-102 behind a triple-double from Ricky Rubio who finished with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Utah now leads the series 2-1.

STUDS OF THE NIGHT

Philadelphia guard JJ Redick scored 24 points while Dwyane Wade had 25 points on 10-of-22 shooting off the bench for Heat.

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday tied a franchise playoff record with 41 points, but Anthony Davis broke it with 47. He had 11 rebounds as well. CJ McCollum finished with 38 of his own.

Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists. James Harden had 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

DUD OF THE NIGHT

Justise Winslow shot just 3 for 9 from the floor with seven points. He finished with five fouls as well.

HIGHLIGHT

Joel Embiid had possibly the most violent block of the post-season on Goran Dragic.

 

WHAT'S NEXT

Thunder (1-1) at Jazz (1-1) 10 p.m. ET Saturday — It saved the best for last Saturday. Oklahoma City will have to overcome the altitude in Salt Lake City and the skills of rookie guard Donovan Mitchell to retake control of the series. Something says that Rudy Gobert won't make that easy for Thunder.