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Moore: Game 2 Picks and Matchup Analysis for Raptors-Magic, Nuggets-Spurs, Thunder-Blazers
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard, Nickola Jokic, Damian Lillard
- There are three Game 2s on deck tonight: Raptors-Magic (8 p.m. ET on TNT), Nuggets-Spurs (9 p.m. ET on NBA TV) and Thunder-Blazers (10:30 p.m. ET on TNT).
- Matt Moore runs through lessons from the series openers, plus uses more matchup analysis to make some picks.
Let’s preview Tuesday’s Game 2s with a look back at the series openers and analysis of the matchups to reveal where the value is tactically headed into some must-win games.
- I would be concerned if the Raptors had played like the Raptors in Game 1 and lost, but they played unlike themselves in many ways. They were a top-10 team in 3-pointers allowed per 100 possessions and Orlando dropped 14 on them behind the best percentage of any team on the first weekend of playoffs. Kyle Lowry went scoreless. Marc Gasol messed up several key possessions. It was a mess.
- Now don’t get me wrong: The Raptors played exactly like Game 1 Raptors. That’s what the Raptors do in series openers, which is why I grabbed the +8.5 on Orlando. I spend my whole day figuring out the logic puzzles of the NBA, and even I knew that “Raptors favored by 8 vs. a team whose entire identity in the regular season was ‘beat good teams, lose to bad ones'” was blowing the wind in a certain direction.
- But sustaining what the Magic pulled off in Game 1 will be difficult. For starters, the bar for a better Lowry game is literally “score a bucket.” If he converts a single field goal, the game is radically different. The issue with Lowry in the playoffs is consistent: It’s not that he doesn’t get to have bad games, it’s that he can’t have “stuff the worst nightmares are made of” games. And that’s what he had in Game 1.