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Monday's NBA playoffs: VanVleet leads red-hot Raptors to Game 1 triumph over Nets

Associated Press

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Fred VanVleet scored 30 points and led Toronto’s sizzling 3-point attack as the defending NBA champion Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 134-110 in the opening game of their first-round playoff series Monday.

VanVleet went 8 of 10 from 3-point range and the Raptors shot 22 of 44 from beyond the arc as a team as they maintained playoff intensity even without any fans attending postseason games at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The Raptors’ 22 3-pointers matched a season high and set a franchise playoff record.

Toronto Raptors' Serge Ibaka (9) draws a foul from Brooklyn Nets' Garrett Temple, right, during the fourth quarter of Game 1 Monday.

“We didn’t really get that playoff atmosphere in terms of that, but I thought we hyped ourselves up,” VanVleet said. “I thought this is the most locked in we’ve been all year. It felt like guys were amped up and energized. Having won one (title), it kind of puts you at a peace throughout the year, and now it’s time to kick it into gear. I thought we were pretty engaged. I loved our energy, our attentitiveness and focus. That’s all you can ask for.”

VanVleet had 11 assists with only one turnover, becoming the first Raptor in franchise history to combine 30-plus points and 10-plus assists in a playoff game.

Toronto, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, grabbed a 68-35 lead with less than five minutes left in the first half. Brooklyn got that margin all the way down to eight late in the third quarter, but the Raptors regained control and won convincingly.

“Everything was rolling, right?” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “It’s an NBA game (against) a team that’s been playing extremely well, you know they’re going to make their run a little bit. I was certainly happy to see us answer back once we kind of regrouped.”

Serge Ibaka scored 22 points off the bench for the Raptors. Pascal Siakam had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Lowry had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists with no turnovers. Marc Gasol scored 13, OG Anunoby had 12 and Terence Davis added 11.

Brooklyn’s Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot scored 26 to match a career high. Joe Harris scored 19. Caris LeVert had 15 points and 15 assists, while Jarrett Allen collected 15 points and 12 rebounds. Garrett Temple added 12 points.

This game shaped up as a blowout in the early going. One sequence late in the first quarter exemplified the Raptors’ dominance.

Toronto’s Norman Powell took a foot to the groin area from Temple, who had appeared to kick his foot up because he’d lost his balance. After a timeout, Powell promptly hit a 3-pointer on the other end of the floor.

Even after Brooklyn went on a 16-5 run to close the second quarter, Toronto led 73-51 at halftime.

Brooklyn played much better in the second half and threatened to make a game of it. A 3-pointer by Luwawu-Cabarrot capped a 19-6 spurt that cut Toronto’s lead to 90-82 with 2:06 left in the third period.

The Nets were still within nine early in the fourth quarter before VanVleet made a pair of 3-pointers during a 12-4 run. Brooklyn wouldn’t threaten again.

“Give Toronto credit,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “They are the champions, have played on the big stage before. It seems like they were trying to deliver an early message to the group. I did like the way our group responded after halftime and accepted that first punch from Toronto. The rounds will continue.”

Toronto never trailed all day, a notable departure from how the Raptors usually open the playoffs.

The Raptors had lost their opening playoff game five of the last six years even though they were the higher-seeded team in each of those matchups. That included a 2014 series with Brooklyn that the Nets eventually won in seven games, though Lowry is the only remaining player from both teams who appeared in that competition.

Toronto has still managed to win its last four first-round series. The Raptors lost their first playoff game 104-101 to Orlando but went on to win that series in five and later earn their first NBA title.

“Having won one (title), it kind of puts you at a peace throughout the year, and now it’s time to kick it into gear,” VanVleet said. “I thought we were pretty engaged. I loved our energy, our attentiveness and focus. That’s all you can ask for.”

More NBA playoffs

Denver 135, Utah 125, OT: Jamal Murray scored 10 of his 36 points in overtime on a day Donovan Mitchell erupted for a Jazz playoff-record 57 points as the Denver Nuggets outlasted Utah in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Nikola Jokic finished with 29 points and 10 rebounds for Denver. He had a chance to win it in regulation at the buzzer, but his right-handed hook shot over Utah’s Rudy Gobert was off the mark.

Murray sealed the victory on a 3-pointer with 46.8 seconds remaining.

Mitchell was the star of the show in the absence of Mike Conley, who left the NBA bubble to return to Ohio for the birth of his son. Mitchell’s scoring spree surpassed the Jazz mark of 50 by Karl Malone on April 22, 2000, against Seattle.

Mitchell was 19 of 33 from the floor and 13 of 13 from the free-throw line. He also had seven assists.

Boston 109, Philadelphia 101: Jayson Tatum had career playoff highs of 32 points and 13 rebounds, and the Celtics beat the 76ers in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Jaylen Brown scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and Kemba Walker added 19 points for the Celtics.

Joel Embiid had 26 points and 16 rebounds and Josh Richardson and Alec Burks each added 18 points for the 76ers. Philadelphia nearly pulled off the win without All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who is out indefinitely after left knee surgery.

Tatum scored 15 points in the second quarter to give the Celtics a 55-49 lead at halftime. The 76ers shot 56% in the first half, but the Celtics scored 16 points off the 76ers 13 turnovers.

The 76ers went on a 15-0 run late in the third quarter to take an 81-75 lead, and Philadelphia led 85-81 heading into the fourth.

The Celtics went on a 9-0 run that included seven points by Brown to take a 92-86 lead, and Boston pushed the lead to 10 before the 76ers made a final push. Philadelphia cut Boston’s lead to 103-100 on a 3-pointer by Josh Richardson with 59 seconds remaining, but the Celtics made 6 of 6 free throws in the final minute.

L.A. Clippers 118, Dallas 110: Kawhi Leonard had 29 points and 12 rebounds, and the Clippers got a big boost from the ejection of Kristaps Porzingis to beat the Mavericks in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.

Luka Doncic finished with 42 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and had the No. 7 seed hanging right with the Clippers for much of the night.

But Los Angeles pulled into the lead when Porzingis was ejected for picking up his second technical foul in the third quarter to move ahead and Doncic couldn’t bring the Mavs all the way back.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday.

Paul George added 27 points and Marcus Morris had 19 for the Clippers.

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18 points and Porzingis finished with 14, along with Seth Curry.

The Clippers knocked around Doncic, the 21-year-old superstar who led the NBA in triple-doubles, whenever they could. But he never stopped coming back at them, but late 3-pointers by Patrick Beverley and Morris finally turned Dallas back.

Eastern Conference

Milwaukee vs. Orlando

Aug. 18: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, 1:30

Aug. 20: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, 6

Aug. 22: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, 1

Aug. 24: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, 1:30

x-Aug. 26: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, TBD

x-Aug. 28: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, TBD

x-Aug. 30: Milwaukee vs. Orlando, TBD

Toronto 1, Brooklyn 0

Aug. 17: Toronto 134, Brooklyn 110

Aug. 19: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, 1:30

Aug. 21: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, 1:30

Aug. 23: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, 6:30

x-Aug. 25: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, TBD

x-Aug. 27: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, TBD

x-Aug. 29: Toronto vs. Brooklyn, TBD

Boston 1, Philadelphia 0

Aug. 17: Boston 109, Philadelphia 101

Aug. 19: Boston vs. Philadelphia, 1:35

Aug. 21: Boston vs. Philadelphia, 6:30

Aug. 23: Boston vs. Philadelphia, 1

x-Aug. 25: Boston vs. Philadelphia, TBD

x-Aug. 27: Boston vs. Philadelphia, TBD

x-Aug. 29: Boston vs. Philadelphia, TBD

Miami vs. Indiana

Aug. 18: Miami vs. Indiana, 4

Aug. 20: Miami vs. Indiana, 1

Aug. 22: Miami vs. Indiana, 3:30

Aug. 24: Miami vs. Indiana, 6:30

x-Aug. 26: Miami vs. Indiana, TBD

x-Aug. 28: Miami vs. Indiana, TBD

x-Aug. 30: Miami vs. Indiana, TBD

Western Conference

L.A. Lakers vs. Portland

Aug. 18: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, 9

Aug. 20: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, 9

Aug. 22: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, 8:30

Aug. 24: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, 9

x-Aug. 26: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, TBD

x-Aug. 28: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, TBD

x-Aug. 30: L.A. Lakers vs. Portland, TBD

L.A. Clippers 1, Dallas 0

Aug. 17: L.A. Clippers 118, Dallas 110

Aug. 19: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, 9

Aug. 21: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, 9

x-Aug. 23: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, 3:30

x-Aug. 25: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, TBD

x-Aug. 27: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, TBD

x-Aug. 29: L.A. Clippers vs. Dallas, TBD

Denver 1, Utah 0

Aug. 17: Denver 135, Utah 125, OT

Aug. 19: Denver vs Utah, 4

Aug. 21: Denver vs Utah, 4

Aug. 23: Denver vs Utah, 9

x-Aug. 25: Denver vs Utah, TBD

x-Aug. 27: Denver vs Utah, TBD

x-Aug. 29: Denver vs Utah, TBD

Oklahoma City vs. Houston

Aug. 18: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6:30

Aug. 20: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 3:30

Aug. 22: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 6

Aug. 24: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, 4

x-Aug. 26: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD

x-Aug. 28: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD

x-Aug. 30: Oklahoma City vs. Houston, TBD

x-if necessary