Curry fires Warriors but Sixers, Raptors stunned in playoff openers
The Golden State Warriors began their quest for a three-peat by clobbering the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Brooklyn Nets and Orlando Magic delivered a pair of upset victories as the NBA playoffs began Saturday.
Stephen Curry drained eight three-pointers to give him the most in league playoff history as the two-time defending champion Warriors dominated the Clippers 121-104.
“We imposed our will for 48 minutes,” said Curry. “We have been working for the last month on our collective mindset, raising our intensity and focus.
“It might not be flashy but we all got to do our jobs.”
Curry finished with 38 points, shooting eight of 12 from beyond the arc to pass Ray Allen (385) for career postseason threes with 386.
One of his three-pointers was from a distance of about 30 feet. “Shout out to the contacts,” said Curry.
Curry also tallied a playoff career-high 15 rebounds and seven assists.
“Curry has destroyed us all year,” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
Game two is Monday at the Warriors’ Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
The Clippers and Golden State are meeting for just the second time in the playoffs after the Clippers took a seven-game series in 2014.
– Brooklyn bench shines –
Draymond Green, who made all five of his shots in the opening quarter, finished with 17 points and seven assists and Kevin Durant scored 23 points for Golden State who have won seven consecutive playoff games.
Durant and Patrick Beverley were ejected with 4:41 to go, just 19 seconds after they received double-technicals when Durant stripped Beverley and the Clippers guard stumbled to the sidelines.
Elsewhere, D’Angelo Russell scored 26 points as sixth-seeded Brooklyn jolted third-seeded Philadelphia 111-102 at the Wells Fargo Center to give the Nets a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The Nets were also reliant on a big performance from their bench, with three players delivering double-digit displays to boost their offense.
Caris LeVert had 23 points while Spencer Dinwiddie added 18 and Ed Davis 12 as the Nets silenced the Sixers’ home Wells Fargo Center crowd.
The Sixers meanwhile saw Jimmy Butler lead the scoring with a playoff career high 36 points while ailing Joel Embiid had 22 points.
But it was a disappointing outing for Australian star Ben Simmons, who was restricted to just nine points for Philadelphia.
Embiid had been doubtful with left knee soreness and was cleared to play less than 10 minutes before the game. Embiid, who missed 14 of the team’s final 24 games, looked hampered by his injury.
– Booing fans lashed –
Afterwards Embiid expressed dismay at Sixers fans who booed the home team as they slid to a disappointing loss.
“The fact that it’s after every single miss,” he said. “Every missed shot, then you get booed. You get the next one and you think ‘Should I shoot it or not because I’m about to get booed?'”
But team-mate Simmons risked the wrath of Philadelphia’s support by lashing fans who booed.
“If you’re going to boo, then stay on that side,” Simmons said. “That’s how I feel, if you’re a Sixer fan and you’re going to boo then stay on that side.”
Butler however said the Sixers could only remedy the fan response by delivering a win in game two of the series in Philadelphia on Monday.
“I understand it. They want to see us win. I want to see us win, too,” Butler said. “We just gotta do better. I guarantee if we’re winning they’re not booing. That’s how we change it. Just got to go out there and win on Monday.”
In the day’s other Eastern Conference match-up, the second-seeded Raptors were left ruing missed chances after crashing to a 104-101 loss to Orlando at the Scotiabank Arena.
D.J. Augustin was the hero for Orlando, draining a three-pointer with 4.2 seconds to play to seal a famous win for the seventh-seeded Magic, who finished the regular season with 16 fewer wins than Toronto.