Saturday's NBA playoffs results, takeaways: Thunder roll Pelicans, Magic series tied with Cavaliers

Written by Joe Vardon, Josh Robbins, John Hollinger, and William Guillory

The Oklahoma City Thunder handled the New Orleans Pelicans with ease on Saturday, going 3-0 behind their runaway 106-85 win to clinch a potential sweep on Monday night.

The Thunder outscored the Pelicans in every quarter and never trailed past the 7:25 mark of the first quarter. They forced 20 New Orleans turnovers and took advantage by hitting 17 3-pointers to the Pelicans' nine.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led all scorers with 24 points, and was one of three Oklahoma City starters with more than 20 points.

Thunder 106, Pelicans 85

series: Thunder 3-0

Game 5: Monday in New Orleans

Can Oklahoma City win easily?

NEW ORLEANS – Is sweeping this series actually a problem? That's the biggest thing you could bring up as a “concern” for Oklahoma City after Saturday's 106-85 Game 3 defeat: whether Monday's sweep sweep will leave them too rusty for the second round.

The Thunder would likely have a week off before their next game against the Dallas Mavericks or Los Angeles Clippers if they win on Monday (although that series could start on Saturday, it could also start late next Tuesday ), having already had a week off between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs. Are four games in 21 days enough to keep them fresh before facing Luka Doncic in a best-of-seven series?

First world problems to be sure, but of the things the Thunder have to worry about, none of them seem to have anything to do with the Pelicans. The Bills once again struggled to muster a point per possession against a stout Thunder defense. The only brief moment of concern in this game — Jalen Williams exiting after being hit in the face on the Thunder's first offensive play — quickly evaporated when he came back and scored three straight baskets to start the second quarter.

If you are truly You want to come up with things to worry about, you could point out that the 3-point shooting differential might eventually even out, or that Gordon Hayward is scoreless again and has yet to score in 27 minutes of this series while mostly passively observing the proceedings. But I'm grasping at straws here.

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Meanwhile, Oklahoma City can enjoy a nice meal in the French Quarter between games, and perhaps a celebratory daiquiri or two after the Coach of the Year award is announced on Sunday night, with the Thunder's Mark Daigneault the favorite to win the award. The fourth and likely final game of the series will be back here on Monday night. — John Hollinger, senior NBA writer

There are no excuses for this level of incompetence from New Orleans

In Game 2, the Pelicans suffered their biggest playoff upset since 2009. In Game 3, the Pelicans had their lowest-scoring playoff game since 2011. In all three games, the Pelicans failed to score more than 92 points . Sure, it hurts to be without Zion Williamson, but there's no excuse for New Orleans to be as bad as it has been offensively in this series. Brandon Ingram finished Game 3 with 19 points. He failed to reach 20 points in any of the matches in this series.

The Pels also committed 39 turnovers in Games 2 and 3. Willie Green tried to open up the floor a bit by sitting Jonas Valančiūnas the entire second half in Game 3. It didn't work. At the end of the day, if Ingram and CJ McCollum (16 points on 7-22 shooting in Game 3) play this poorly, the Pelicans don't have much hope of beating anyone, let alone a top seed. In the west. — Will Guillory, Pelican Beats Writer

series: Draw 2-2

Game 5: Tuesday in Cleveland (TNT)

How Jalen Suggs set the tone for Orlando

You can say all the X's and O's you want, but sometimes it's not that complicated. The Magic go as far as Jalen Suggs takes them.

He is their heart and soul While Suggs wreaked havoc on defense and played freely (and relatively error-free) on offense, the Magic confounded the Cavaliers in this series. (And when he struggled offensively, as he did in Game 1, Game 2 and the first half of Game 3, the Magic struggled, too.)

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One of the not-so-subtle adjustments Magic coach Jamahl Mosley made between Game 2 and Game 3 was making the decision to set Suggs to guard Donovan Mitchell more often instead of putting Gary Harris mostly on Mitchell. Mitchell has had spurts of his own — especially in the first half Saturday — but when Suggs makes things difficult, Orlando's entire tone changes.

It's no coincidence that Suggs hit two 3-pointers in Saturday's game-changing third quarter and that it was Suggs who got into a head-to-head matchup with Darius Garland. Those were massive momentum sequences in a quarter full of them for magic. On Saturday, Suggs finished with 12 points, two rebounds, three assists and seven turnovers, but those stats don't match his true impact in the third quarter.

The fourth match showed that Orlando is capable of winning even if Paolo Banchero plays poorly. Orlando can't afford to play poorly from Banchero and Suggs.

As these teams head into a pivotal Game 5 in Cleveland on Tuesday, Suggs will be the barometer of the series more than anyone else. — Josh Robbins, senior writer for Wizards

A disastrous second half sinks the Cavaliers

Teams that win the first two games of a playoff series advance to the next round 91 percent of the time. Is this what the other nine percent looks like?

If there are words that would do justice to the lows the Cavaliers reached in two games in Orlando this week, my college education did not reach them. Stinks, stinks and stinks of work right now.

This first-round series with the Magic is now tied after the Magic took Game 4 at home by 23 points, with a two-game win margin of 61 points. Orlando's 38 points in Game 3 on Thursday is the most lopsided loss in the Cavaliers' playoff history, a questionable record that would have been in serious jeopardy on Saturday had Cleveland not taken a nine-point lead into the locker room. The Cavs still haven't shot the ball well in this series; I think you'll agree, 4 of 17 from 3-point range on Saturday just doesn't cut it.

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I've covered the NBA for 10 straight years now; For the first 4 1/2 I have been following the Cavaliers exclusively and will follow them in these playoffs until they are out. I can say that the third quarter in Game 4 was the worst quarter I have ever seen from a good Cavs team. More turnovers (six) than field goals (four). Surrendered 37. He managed just 10, coughing up a lung and any remaining pride after Thursday's defeat.

Before J.B. Bickerstaff went with the punt lineup, with about five minutes left in the game, the Magic bench outscored the Cavs' reserves, 36-4. Not a typo. It wasn't a great start either, especially after half-time. Mitchell, for example, failed to score in the second half after 18 points in the first half. this is unacceptable.

Taking a step back from the wreckage, we know that no team has won a road game so far in this series, and no road team has played well in any game. The Magic will have to show their myriad adjustments, first and foremost replacing Jonathan Isaac with Wendell Carter Jr., have really unlocked something the Cavs can't handle — that what happened here at the Kia Center wasn't just a home-rest situation. .

If Orlando does that on Tuesday, well, this is what the remaining nine percent looks like. — Joe Vardon, senior NBA writer

Saturday's NBA playoff schedule

Thunder in the Pelicans

  • 3:30 PM ET, TNT (Ukraine leads 2-0)

Celtics are in the heat

  • 6 p.m. ET, TNT (Series tied 1-1)

Nuggets at Lakers

  • 8:30 PM ET, ABC (Denver leads 3-0)

NBA playoffs schedule Sunday

  • Knicks at 76ers: 1 p.m. ET, ABC (New York leads 2-1)
  • Clippers over Mavericks: 3:30 PM ET, ABC (Dallas leads 2-1)
  • Bucks over Pacers: 7 p.m. ET, TNT (Indiana leads 2-1)
  • Timberwolves at Suns: 9:30 PM ET, TNT (Minnesota leads 3-0)

Required reading

(Photo: Nathan Ray Sibick/USA T0day)

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