Saturday was a strange day as the NBA playoffs tipped off and three of the four road teams won.
The Philadelphia 76ers had a meltdown that included veteran backup Amir Johnson checking his cell phone on the bench in the middle of a game his team was losing to the Brooklyn Nets.
Kyle Lowry scored zero points as his Toronto Raptors lost to the Orlando Magic on a late three-pointer from D.J. Augustin that broke a 101-101 tie.
Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs showed the Denver Nuggets why playoff experience matters and why a bunch of guys who were getting used to the atmosphere of playoff basketball, including coach Mike Malone and Nuggets star Nikola Jokic, didn’t stand a chance against battle-hardened playoff veterans like DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge.
In Oakland, however, the Golden State Warriors beat the Los Angeles Clippers 121-104 and looked like so many multiple-time champions do when they inevitably flip their “playoff” switch.
Stephen Curry had 38 points and 15 rebounds and became the all-time playoff leader in made three-pointers, passing Ray Allen.
But perhaps the better storyline was the developing beef between Kevin Durant and the Clippers’ defensive specialist Patrick Beverley.
Patrick Beverley called KD out on a flop…multiple times ?
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 14, 2019
Beverley mocked Durant’s arm motion after Durant successfully drew a foul out of a double-team in the corner.
The ESPN crew even noticed, reminding the audience that Beverley is “an irritant”, with the unspoken implication that the famously thin-skinned Durant would be an easy target.
Indeed, not long afterward, Durant and Beverley picked up another double technical, the second techs for both of them, and got ejected.
KD and Pat Beverley got tossed ? pic.twitter.com/lBLYACb5pb
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 14, 2019
Durant was spotted riding Beverley like a pony before the referee noticed. The home crowd absolutely ate it up, although that might have had more to do with Steph going bonkers and the Warriors winning than any particular affection for dirty play.
The game was well in hand at that point, with the Warriors up 112-95 and less than five minutes to go in the contest.
Game 2 tips off Monday night, 10:30 p.m. EST. It caps off a double-header, with the Nets and Sixers playing first, as the first round of the playoffs provides ample basketball entertainment for the hoop-loving sports fan.
Whether Beverley and Durant will resume their instant rivalry will, however, be up to the league. As rare and unlikely as it is, the league can, at its discretion, issue suspensions for ejected players.
If that’s the case, it will be interesting to see if the Clippers need their journeyman lockdown defender more than the Warriors need the two-time NBA Finals MVP.
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