It was all Raptors, all night.
Then it was the Nuggets.
First, Toronto easily took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals from the 76ers behind a career-best postseason performance from Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard finished with 45 points and 11 rebounds in the team’s 108-95 win Saturday. Pascal Siakam chipped in 29 points to be the only other Raptor in double-digits. The two carried the load and had 49 of the team’s 61 first-half points.
While Leonard and Siakam’s shots fell, Toronto effectively shut down Philadelphia’s top scorers. Joel Embiid was held to 16 points while Ben Simmons finished with 14 and Jimmy Butler 10.
The 76ers didn’t have an answer for the Raptors who started the game making 13 consecutive field goals in the first quarter to build a lead they would push to 20 at one point in the fourth quarter.
As the semifinals have now started, the first round of the NBA playoffs officially came to an end and so did a dreaded streak. The Nuggets broke a decade-long streak of failing to win a playoff series by winning Game 7 90-86 over the Spurs.
Similar to Toronto, Denver was also in control on its own court. The Nuggets never relinquished their lead, despite the Spurs closing the gap to come within just two points.
Denver saw another impressive playoff performance from Nikola Jokic. He finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Jokic, who logged a career high in minutes for a regulation game, shot 9 of 26 from the field on top of a tireless defensive performance that shut down Spurs stars.
LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan were held to 16 and 19 points, respectively, while the team’s best player came off the bench. Rudy Gay tried to put the Spurs on his shoulders behind a team-high 21 points but it wasn’t enough against the streaking Nuggets.
Denver will now face Portland in the semifinals.
Studs of the Night
Did we mention Leonard had 45 points? It’s worth saying again. Since joining the Raptors this season, the three-time All-Star has been their star player and in the playoffs, it’s no surprise he’s been their biggest contributor. He was 16-of-23 shooting from the field and 3 of 7 from long distance in the first semifinal game.
Jokic has been a stud in his playoff debut, but it was Jamal Murray who led the Spurs. He finished with 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting.
Duds of the Night
The first-quarter Spurs get this nod. They scored just 13 points in the opening frame and allowed the Nuggets to build their lead early. By halftime, San Antonio was shooting just 22% from the field. Although it came close to tying the game, the opening woes caught up with the five-time champions and their season came to a close.
You don’t want to get in either guy’s way.
Kawhi denial ➡️ Siakam dunk!#WeTheNorth 86#PhilaUnite 70#NBAPlayoffs on @NBAonTNT pic.twitter.com/m3VIaqs9r2
— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2019
Murray used this bucket to help secure the series-clinching win.
Jamal Murray with the CLUTCH RUNNER to propel the @nuggets in Game 7! #MileHighBasketball #NBAPlayoffs pic.twitter.com/2wDVvdKK8l
— NBA (@NBA) April 28, 2019
Rockets at Warriors, 3:30 p.m. ET — This should be a good one. Sunday marks the start of the Western Conference semifinals where the Rockets will face the Warriors at Oracle Arena. MVP favorite James Harden and company will hope to take advantage of the battle-tested Golden State team. The Warriors are coming off a tough six-game series where they had to hold off the hungry Clippers and saw two stars suffer ankle injuries. Both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were listed as questionable Saturday per coach Steve Kerr. Meanwhile, Houston has had plenty of rest after wrapping up its 4-1 first-round series Wednesday.