Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, the two contenders for this year’s for MVP, led their respective teams in Game 2 contests on Tuesday night. While their games didn’t end the same way, their respective performances gave fans a clear demonstration on how valuable these two stars are to their teams.
Giannis Goes Atomic In The Third
Although Boston demolished Milwaukee during the second half of Game 1 this past Sunday, they had played a much more competitive first half. The score was tight going into the break during Game 2 as well, with Milwaukee up 59-55. The Bucks looked sharper from long range than they had in Game 1, going 11-26 from three in the first half including a 5-7 three point effort by Khris Middleton. Giannis opened the game looking to get out and run, making the right play and getting to the the free throw line, finishing the first quarter going 5-8 from the line, albeit with 0 field goals. Boston kept things interesting, led by another stellar performance from Al Horford, while Kyrie Irving struggled, finishing the half with 5 points on 2-12 shooting. The two teams looked poised to keep things tight in the second but Giannis had other plans. Antetokounmpo took the game right at Boston, with a 15-6-2 stat line in the quarter while going 5-6 from the line and knocking down 2 threes. Milwaukee played stellar defense as well, scoring 11 points off 9 Boston turnovers, finishing the quarter on a 26-3 run. When the dust settled, Milwaukee was up 98-73 and the game was out of reach.
Houston Eyeing A Short Series With Harden Injury
After a close yet controversial finish in Oakland in Game 1, James Harden’s Rockets were looking to finally steal a game on the road from the Warriors. Their hopes of getting out to a fast start fell apart quickly as they turned the ball over on each of their first 3 possessions. Things quickly went from bad to worse in the middle of the quarter when Harden took a Draymond Green smack to the face and left the game with an eye injury. While Houston actually outscored Golden State 23-19 when Harden was out led by 8 points from Austin Rivers of all people, Houston still desperately needed their star. Harden checked back in to the game halfway through the second period and looked like he was struggling with his vision, despite putting up 12 points in the period. He was a ghost in the third, going 0-4 from the field and would have finished the quarter with only one point if it weren’t for a last second foul on a three point attempt. While Harden finished the game with a 29-7-4 stat line, his injury absolutely screwed Houston out of a road win. After not getting enough out of his teammates in Game 1, the Rockets came out to play on Tuesday night. Eric Gordon, Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and the aforementioned Rivers all played well and someone finally told Clint Capela that the series had started. Still, Houston needed just a little bit more out of their star. Had they had a healthy Harden, Houston most likely would be going home with a 1-1 series split.
Picks For Game 3
CELTICS (-2) over Bucks
Kyrie Irving scored 9 points in Game 2 on 4-18 shooting yet only 4 of those shots were contested. Milwaukee can’t expect him to keep bricking shots. Look for Boston to bounce back and reclaim control of the series.
Warriors (+4) over ROCKETS
While Houston has played Golden State close in both games to start the series, they face a Golden State team that had the highest Offensive Rating on the road in the league while Houston lowest Defensive Ratings at home. With Harden stating that his vision is still blurry after Game 2, Golden State should handle their business on the road.