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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: What to watch for in Game 3 of Magic vs. Raptors, Celtics vs. Pacers and Blazers vs. Thunder

#Gasol Tatum Westbrook

On Friday, Day 7 of the postseason, we will have the second lot of Game 3s being played.

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers both have plenty of work to do after dropping their first two games on the road, while the Toronto Raptors head to Orlando looking to take back home-court advantage and go up 2-1 against the Magic.

Here are few things to watch from each series as we look forward to Game 3 in each of these series:

Can the Raptors continue to contain Vucevic?

While the Orlando Magic return home in a strong position at 1-1 with the Toronto Raptors, they've managed to do so with their best player held largely in check.

Through two games, All-Star big man Nikola Vucevic is averaging just 8.5 points on 6-for-21 shooting (28.6%), with the Raptors' big man Marc Gasol looking every bit the former Defensive Payer of the Year when matched up with Vucevic.

Toronto has done a great job double-teaming him in the post and denying him the ball and if the Magic are going to be a chance in this series, they have to find a way to get him going early in good positions around the basket. Easier said than done.

Can the Thunder get back on track?

The Thunder offence starts with their defence and through the first two games of the series, both sides of the floor have been way below their standards.

During the regular season, OKC was second in the NBA in points off turnovers (19.2 per game), punishing opponents at every turn. That number has dropped to 13 per game against the Blazers, something they will likely be better at on their home floor.

The same goes for their three-point shooting. Through the first two games of this series, OKC shot a combined 10-of-61 from deep (16.4%). If they can lift that number to anywhere near their season average (34.8%) they will give themselves a much better chance of keeping up with Portland's offence.

It's easy to forget, but OKC swept the Blazers in the regular season, yet find themselves in an 0-2 hole back on their home floor.

Can Dame and C.J. do it on the road?

Damian Lillard (29.5 points per game) and C.J. McCollum (28.5 points) has been the undoubted stars of this series so far, but the question remains, can they do it on the road?

Despite being the #3 seed in the West, the Blazers were underwhelming on the road at 21-20 on the season and Lillard was quick to acknowledge that nothing is guaranteed.

"I know how quickly things can change," Lillard said after Game 2. "I know that a series doesn't start until you win a game on the road. I also know how capable their team is. So we've just got to maintain our focus, stay sharp in the things we've been sharp in, and understand how well we played in the first game and the second game is not going to be good enough in the third game, especially on their home floor."

While OKC will be sure to fire back in Game 3, when the Blazers have held a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs, they've gone a perfect 14-0.

Can Jayson Tatum build on his Game 2 success?

Kyrie Irving is clearly the Celtics' best player, but Jayson Tatum might just be their most important.

In Game 2, he scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, giving us a flashback to his heroics from last year's post-season. Irving is going to get his no matter what, but if the Pacers have to deal with a two-headed snake of Irving and Tatum, things are going to get a whole lot tougher.

The Pacers can't afford any more sloppy quarters

In Game 1, the Pacers scored a franchise playoff-low eight points in the third quarter, turning the game in the Celtics' favour and it was much the same in Game 2...this time in the fourth quarter.

They led 79-68 heading into the fourth but were outscored 31-12 in the final frame as the Celtics closed the game on a 10-0 run in the final minute of the game to seal the win. Outside of those two rough quarters, the Pacers have been right there with the Celtics.

"We didn't execute well," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "The last minute of the game was the worst basketball I've seen in a long, long time."

Back on their home floor, expect the Pacers to be more disciplined and engaged, otherwise, an 0-3 hole is on the horizon.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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