As the NBA playoffs roll on, the Blue Zone takes a look at some Duke products that are making a difference for their teams:
Jayson Tatum helps Celtics level streak
Despite Tatum’s team-high 21 points on Saturday, second-seeded Boston lost to third-seeded Milwaukee at home 101-89. The Celtics picked up a well-deserved win on Tuesday to tie the series at one apiece before heading to Milwaukee for Game 3, beating the Bucks 109-86. In that victory, Tatum scored 29 points thanks to an effective 50% clip from the field and a 5-of-10 rating from three. His entire team was aggressive that night, led by Jaylen Brown’s 25 points in the first half. Tatum wasn’t far behind, as he scored 19 points over the first two periods and finished the game with eight assists.
As the Celtics took a 26-point lead against the Bucks in the third quarter, the defending champions would not leave easily. With 4:30 left in the fourth quarter, Boston’s lead was reduced to 12 points, but Tatum’s few threes in the final minutes quickly put the game to bed. Tatum has established himself as a two-way player this post-season, affecting the game both offensively and defensively. Although the Celtics played without Marcus Smart, this year’s Defensive Player of the Year, due to a thigh bruise in Game 1, Tatum carried the burden with three interceptions and a block. The teams will then meet Saturday at 3:30 p.m. EST in Milwaukee.
Pelican elimination puts future of Duke products into perspective
While No. 8 seeded New Orleans lost to No. 1 seeded Phoenix in the first round, it didn’t go without a fight as it took the series six games behind the exquisite efforts of Brandon Ingram. The Duke product has averaged 27 points from an effective rate of 49.5% from the field and 40.7% from downtown in this series, while scoring more than 30 points in three playoff games straight for the longest such streak in franchise history. This remarkable comeback also placed Ingram alongside Allen Iverson and LeBron James as one of only three players in NBA history to score more than 30 points in three of their first four career playoff games.
It would be remiss to talk about the Pelicans without mentioning All-Star Zion Williamson, who was sidelined for the year with a broken right foot suffered during preseason training. last summer. Despite a tough year in New Orleans, Williamson said if he was offered an extension by the Pelicans, he would sign it. While his team started the season rough and went a negative 36-46 heading into the playoffs, they ended their playoff campaign and gave the top-seeded Suns an unexpected run for their money. Despite an encouraging conclusion, it remains to be seen how far Ingram and Williamson can take the Pelicans into the future playoffs as they continue to improve and develop.
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