Blaz­ers seek tie vs Pel­i­cans

The Commercial Appeal - - Sports - Brian Ma­honey AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Port­land Trail Blaz­ers fought their way through a pres­sure-packed play­off race to earn home-court ad­van­tage in a se­ries, then lost it in one game.

The Toronto Rap­tors know that prob­lem all too well, so they want to take ad­van­tage of play­ing from ahead for a change.

They try for their first 2-0 play­off se­ries lead ever Tues­day night against Wash­ing­ton, while the Trail Blaz­ers try to even things up in against the New Or­leans Pel­i­cans.

Bos­ton and Mil­wau­kee play the other Game 2 on Tues­day af­ter the Celtics pulled out a 113-107 over­time vic­tory on Sun­day.

The No. 3 Trail Blaz­ers were the high­est-seeded team to lose so far, fall­ing 9795 on Satur­day. An­thony Davis was dom­i­nant, Damian Lil­lard and CJ McCol­lum were slow-start­ing, and the Pel­i­cans got a cou­ple big de­fen­sive plays down the stretch from Jrue Hol­i­day to hold on af­ter the Blaz­ers nearly came back from a 19-point deficit.

“I think it puts some pres­sure on us,” Lil­lard said. “You know, you come in with home court, the first two games on your floor and you lose the first one, and now they’re say­ing in their locker room we got one, why not go get an­other one. And our job is to de­fend the home court.

“We’ve got to tighten up, come back sharper, and take care of home floor.”

Toronto had lost Game 1 at home all six times it had home-court ad­van­tage in a se­ries, part of an over­all 10-game los­ing streak in se­ries open­ers, be­fore beat­ing Wash­ing­ton 114-106 dropped on Satur­day. Fi­nally, the Rap­tors could en­joy the start of post­sea­son play.

“And for me, this year is fi­nally a year I can be happy watch­ing other games and not be like ‘Damn, I lost Game 1,’ ” point guard Kyle Lowry said.

Some things to know about Tues­day’s matchups:

Wizards at Rap­tors Toronto leads 1-0 NEED TO KNOW:

Toronto’s only other 1-0 se­ries lead was in the 2001 Eastern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals against Philadel­phia, which won Game 2 and ul­ti­mately the se­ries in seven games.

The 3-point line. The Rap­tors made a fran­chise-record 16 in the opener, twice as many as Wash­ing­ton for a 24-point ad­van­tage be­hind the arc.


Rap­tors re­serve Fred VanVleet (right shoul­der) went through most of prac­tice Mon­day af­ter miss­ing the opener but re­mains day to day.

Lowry was fight­ing a cold but joked he was “out tan­ning” Sun­day dur­ing an ice storm.

Bucks at Celtics Bos­ton leads 1-0 NEED TO KNOW:

Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games against the Celtics af­ter scor­ing 35 be­fore foul­ing out in over­time of the opener.

Bos­ton’s bal­ance. With Al Hor­ford (24 points), Terry Rozier (23), Mar­cus Mor­ris (21) and Jaylen Brown (20), the Celtics had four 20point scor­ers in a play­off game for the first time since Kevin McHale, Robert Par­ish, Reg­gie Lewis and Brian Shaw did it in a 1991 game. Throw in Jayson Ta­tum’s 19 points, and the Bucks let too many play­ers get hot in Game 1.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Mar­cus Smart is get­ting some shots up and work­ing on lower body and con­di­tion­ing as much as he can, but has been told by the train­ing staff that April 27 is the ear­li­est the guard could be­gin bas­ket­ball ac­tiv­ity.

“We’re still a ways away from that


and a lot of games away from that,” Stevens said.

Pel­i­cans at Trail Blaz­ers New Or­leans leads 1-0 NEED TO KNOW:

An­thony Davis had 35 points in the opener and has scored 25 or more in his first five post­sea­son games. He can tie LeBron James for the sec­ond-long­est streak to be­gin a ca­reer, be­hind Ka­reem Ab­dul-Jab­bar’s 14 straight, ac­cord­ing to Elias.

Ra­jon Rondo. A 17as­sist, eight-re­bound opener was an­other re­minder of how much the Pel­i­cans’ point guard can el­e­vate his game in the post­sea­son.


Port­land’s Mau­rice Hark­less is near­ing a re­turn from late-sea­son left knee surgery, but may not be avail­able un­til later in the se­ries.

Trail Blaz­ers fans waves signs dur­ing Satur­day’s game against the Pel­i­cans. TROY WAYRYNEN/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

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