NBA Scores: A bad night for top seeds

I’ve always thought it’s kind of cute when adjacent sports leagues clear out the schedule to let another go to work. Think NFL and Thanksgiving, NBA and Christmas, or college football on New Year’s Day.

The NBA mostly cleared out their Thursday slate to make way for MLB opening day, leaving just two games on a TNT doubleheader, though three of the four teams in action are a top-2 seed in their conference.

I’d wager the NBA is hoping most were focused on the MLB, because these two games were not close in the end, especially in the premiere matchup of the night:

Celtics continue to have Bucks’ number in 140-99 blowout

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in feeling my eyes widen when I saw this matchup was on the docket. These two teams have been at-worst two of the three best teams this season with some of the most exciting stars the league has to offer. So to say I was disappointed in the outcome is a bit of an understatement.

With four minutes left in the first quarter, Milwaukee led 21-20, but Boston flipped the switch and absolutely dominated the rest of the way, 120-78. Their offensive execution was absurd, shooting 56.0% from the floor and 51.2% from three as a team with 28 assists to just eight turnovers. Boston wins the season series 2-1 with a combined point differential of +56 and the one loss coming in overtime and in Milwaukee.

Jaylen Brown had 30 points on 13-20 shooting with five rebounds and five assists, but his running mate Jayson Tatum was the star of the night, finishing with 40 points on 11-18 shooting and eight rebounds. It’s his 11th 40-point game this season, passing up Donovan Mitchell for the fifth-most in the league.

If we’re making excuses for the Bucks, who fell to the Celtics in seven games last postseason, they were coming off a 149-point Wednesday on the road the night before and were likely feeling some fatigue. There was enough fatigue — and a big enough deficit — for head coach Mike Budenholzer to be content waving the white flag in the third and never playing his five key guys in the fourth quarter.

Nuggets feel Jokic’s absence in 88-107 loss to Pelicans

Denver was in the game for a majority of it, but was just never able to get over the hump and take a lead; their only lead of the game was 3-2 on the back of Jamal Murray free throws early. They strung together three straight dunks early-ish in the fourth for what felt like the only equitable run, though even that diminished quickly as they finish with a season-low 88 points (previous low was 94).

Brandon Ingram has played in just 40 out of a possible 77 games this season, but he’s really starting to hit his stride down the stretch of the regular season, scoring at least 30 points in five of his last eight games; he’s been efficient too, shooting 50% or better in five of the last eight as well.

Ingram’s total statline on the night ended at 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists, which is good for his second triple double over his last five games as well as second triple double in his career. For those counting at home, that’s 403 games without a triple double before two in five games.

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