Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: What to watch for in Tuesday's trio of Game 2s

The 2021 NBA Playoffs continue with a trio of Game 2s and plenty to keep an eye on, as the Brooklyn Nets face the Boston Celtics, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns and the LA Clippers square off against the Dallas Mavericks.

With three games on the slate, there's plenty of action to keep an eye on.

Can Brooklyn shake off some of the rust from Game 1? Is this really déjà vu for LeBron James and the Lakers? How can the Clippers get back on track?

Here's what to keep an eye on in each game…

What to watch for: Nets-Celtics Game 2

Brooklyn's improved offensive efficiency

With Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving leading the charge, the Nets are without a doubt the scariest offensive team in the league, so it comes as a surprise that the team shot just 41.7 percent from the field and 23.5 percent from deep in their Game 1 victory over the Celtics.

Head coach Steve Nash called the offensive performance "uncharacteristic," pointing towards a number of contributing factors, including the nerves that come from playing in a postseason environment.

That Brooklyn earned a double-digit win despite such an off shooting night should be a scary prospect for Boston in Game 2.

The Celtics defence deserves credit for making things difficult for the Nets throughout the night, with Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Robert Williams III defending at a high level. Williams, specifically, as he finished the game with 11 points, nine rebounds and nine (!) blocks.

Can Tatum and Kemba Walker get going?

Just as Boston's defence deserves credit, Brooklyn does, too, as it held its opponent to just 93 points.

In Game 2, things could get out of hand if the Nets can tighten up offensively while replicating their defensive effort. The Celtics will need a big bounce-back scoring performance from Tatum, who did finish with 22 points despite shooting 6-for-20 from the field.

Without Jaylen Brown, the Celtics are lacking offensive firepower, meaning a 5-for-16 night from Walker also won't cut it. Brooklyn does have the luxury of keying in on both Tatum and Walker, but the tandem will have to find ways to get theirs in order for their team to have a chance.

Boston can't steal one on the road without a big night from its best two scorers.

What to watch for: Suns-Lakers Game 2

How will Chris Paul's shoulder respond?

After a scary fall in the second quarter, CP3 briefly exited the game but was able to return to action after he was diagnosed with a shoulder contusion.

Paul's return to action certainly lit a fire under his team, which earned a nine-point win in Game 1, but the All-Star point guard certainly didn't look like himself. With a sore right shoulder, Paul was much more reliant on his off hand and was limited as a scorer, finishing with just seven points.

A few of his shots didn't look like his typical form.

After dishing out eight assists, Devin Booker will again need to reprise his role as a playmaker but if Paul is limited as a scorer, the Lakers' defence can alter its focus. If they make life extremely difficult for Booker, and Paul is still not 100 percent, who will step up?

Anthony Davis' bounce back

Game 1 wasn't great for Davis, who finished with 13 points (on 5-for-16 shooting) and seven rebounds in 39 minutes of action. Meanwhile, Phoenix's Deandre Ayton finished with 21 points (on 10-for-11 shooting) and 16 rebounds, eight of which came on the offensive end.

AD even shouldered the blame for the loss.

An engaged AD is a scary AD, as he is weeks from scoring 42 points on this Phoenix team, albeit in a much different regular season circumstance. While the issue could be why he wasn't engaged in the opening game of a postseason series in which stealing home court is mandatory, the focus now shifts to how he responds.

With Davis putting the pressure on himself to perform, you should expect him to come out with aggression. Like LeBron, maybe Davis wanted to feel things out in Game 1.

What to watch for: Mavericks-Clippers Game 2

More Luka Magic

It's not a surprise anymore but we continue to watch the 22-year-old phenom in awe as he skillfully picks apart defences.

But this is about what his play can do for those around him.

In Game 1, Doncic recorded the third triple-double of his playoff career (in his seventh game, no less), with 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. In doing a bit of everything, Doncic made life much easier for his team as Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. each made contributions that the Mavericks could not have won without.

For an encore, can Luka get Kristaps Porzingis going? Dallas' talented big man finished with 14 points but was 4-for-13 from the field and managed to pull down just four rebounds. Getting a win despite that performance should be encouraging for the Mavericks, as a bounce-back game from Porzingis could result in a 2-0 series lead.

The Clippers' sense of urgency

LA cannot fall into a 2-0 hole in the series.

In Game 1, Paul George started off slow before coming on strong while the opposite could be said for Kawhi Leonard, who scored just three of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter, leaving a few jumpers short.

They've already lost home court, but it's extremely hard to envision this Clippers team shaking back after losing two in a row to start the series, especially given the fact that last year's playoff run ended with three consecutive losses.

The sense of urgency comes on the sidelines as well.

After being torched by Doncic in Game 1, LA will need to make some defensive adjustments by ensuring there are no mismatches with Patrick Beverley on the block and find ways to either avoid switches with Ivica Zubac or provide the big man with more help if he's guarding Doncic.

The matchup data isn't perfect, but it suggests that the majority of Doncic's damage came with Zubac guarding him. LA needs to figure it all out before it's too late.

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