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Friday’s NBA Playoffs Takeaways: Pacers beats Knicks. Nuggets defeat Timberwolves

Friday’s NBA Playoffs Takeaways: Pacers beats Knicks.  Nuggets defeat Timberwolves

Written by Eric Nehm, Fred Katz, John Krawczynski, Tony Jones, and David Aldridge

The Indiana Pacers came from behind after blowing a lead against the New York Knicks to win 111-106 after a 3-pointer from Andrew Nembhard late in the fourth quarter. The Pacers earned their first win of the series and avoided a daunting 3-0 hole.

The Denver Nuggets dominated the game from start to finish against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. The Nuggets won 117-90 in lopsided fashion, finally looking like a championship-caliber version. Game 4 in Minnesota will be pivotal as Denver looks to tie the series at two games apiece.

Pacers 111, Knicks 106

Game 4: Sunday in Indiana

series: New York leads 2-1

The Pacers had an ugly win, but a win nonetheless

It wasn’t pretty, but the Pacers wouldn’t care. Never mind that 111 is the fewest points they have scored in a game during this series.

Or that Tyrese Haliburton committed a late turnover. Or they fouled Jalen Brunson in the final two minutes and sent him to the free throw line. They won. That’s all that matters for tonight.

After playing two games at an up-and-down pace that suited their regular season style well, Indiana turned things around in Game 3 and got into an ugly, physical matchup with the Knicks.

Haliburton looked amazing at various points and scored 35 points, four rebounds and seven assists, but the game was decided by a 31-foot jumper by Nembhard just before the end of the shot clock to give the Pacers a three-point lead with 17.8 seconds left in the game. .

It was ugly, but Indiana pulled away to take its first game of the second-round series. — Eric Nehm, Bucks beat Writer

The bruised Bronson looked different from himself

This was not Bronson’s night. New York has to hope it looks more like him in Game 4.

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Brunson scored 26 points and had six assists, but it took him 26 shots to get there. The Pacers hounded him and switched their main defender to Aaron Nesmith from the start of the game. If Brunson struggles, it’s usually against length.

Nesmith provided a taller option than Nemhard and TJ McConnell, who alternated for Brunson for the first two games. Nesmith got in Bronson’s face. He was physically fighting through screens. He stayed in front of the point guard the whole way.

Of course, doing so was easier than usual on Friday.

Brunson entered the game questionable with a foot injury and looked hampered all night, limping at times and not showing his usual explosiveness. He couldn’t drive near Nesmith. He had a hard time punishing Indiana when it turned on him.

The Knicks almost got the win with their best player not looking like themselves and without OG Anunoby. But they need Brunson to win two more times against Indiana. — Fred Katz, Knicks beat writer

(Photo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Timberwolves 117 Nuggets 90

Game 4: Sunday in Minnesota

series: Minnesota leads 2-1

The Nuggets are getting the hot start they’ve been looking for

The Nuggets finally played a game in their Western Conference semifinal series against the Timberwolves with some physicality.

Denver finally won the first quarter. For the first time in the postseason, the Nuggets finally won the first game.

These were all painful matters for Denver, not only in this game against the Wolves, but also in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets’ 4-1 win over the Lakers largely covered up those deficiencies, but they were brought to the fore against Minnesota.

In Friday night’s win over Target Center, Denver played its best game of the playoffs. The Nuggets’ success wasn’t limited to just the first quarter, they had 48 minutes. They looked like the defending champions people begged them to be there all week.

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They send a message that this won’t be easy for the Timberwolves.

But winning the first quarter is what Denver coach Michael Malone demanded during the week. Just win the first quarter and then build on that. Malone focused on baby steps, rather than trying to bring down the entire pyramid that had been a 2-0 deficit in this series, and the Nuggets responded.

Nikola Jokic responded with 24 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. Jamal Murray responded by scoring 24 points of his own and looking like Jamal Murray. Michael Porter Jr. responded with 21 points and Denver responded by taking control of the game when Minnesota had previously controlled the series.

Of course, it gets more difficult from here. The Nuggets are still down 2-1. Minnesota has been firmly put on notice, so Sunday night’s Game 4 is bound to be hotly contested. But Friday night, Denver looked like Denver.

That’s something we’ve seen very little of this postseason. — Tony Jones, jazz writer

Wolves lose their strength in losing the explosion

The luggage carrying the Timberwolves defense from Denver may have gotten lost on the way. After looking like the 1985 Bears in a strong Game 2 performance in Denver, the Wolves looked more like the 2009 Timberwolves with their flat Game 3 performance.

The Nuggets made 54 percent of their shots, made 14 three-pointers, and scored 20 times in a very easy victory over a team that appeared to be the best in the league during the first six games in the playoffs. The Nuggets mostly got everything they wanted on Friday night, as Murray found his rhythm and Jokic put up another big stat line.

There were three days off between Games 2 and 3, which apparently was enough for Murray to get additional treatment for his sore leg and for the Wolves to lose the advantage they had played with throughout their 6-0 start to the playoffs.

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Gobert returned to the lineup after missing Game 2 due to the birth of his son, but he only had six points and four rebounds. Mike Conley struggled with 10 points on 3-for-9 shooting. Edwards finished with 19 points and six rebounds.

The best news for Wolves is that they can tell themselves they played as bad a game as possible. It wasn’t necessarily the Nuggets being great, it was more about the Wolves playing very poorly.

But the danger is that they let the champions back into this series when they looked like they were ready to quit. Now the pressure is mounting to regain their advantage in Game 4 on Sunday. -John Krawczynski, Timberwolves winningest writer

Can Murray repeat this performance with an injured calf?

Malone has spent the last three days calling out his team in every way imaginable, including before tonight’s game. The Nuggets responded with a performance worthy of the defending NBA champions in their victory over the Timberwolves.

But you wonder how Murray, who took three days off before returning with a strong performance in Game 3, will recover, silencing the Target Center crowd that was booing from the first minute on Friday, with just one day of rest between Games 3 and 4 three days later. He will leave after the second match to rest and receive treatment for his injured leg.

Murray was sensational on Friday, getting a surge he hadn’t shown in either of the first two games of the series, knocking down 3-pointers and getting to the basket much better. But will his calf allow him to do it again on Sunday night? – David Aldridge, senior NBA columnist

Qualifying schedule for Saturday:

Required reading

(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)