A knock on today's NBA is it takes very little to commit a foul and referees handle games with kid gloves.
Well, the gloves were off in the first two NBA playoff games Saturday as the matchups looked reminiscent of a ’90s brawl game rather than a hand-check frenzy that has made the 2010s NBA often difficult to watch.
The 76ers dropped the Heat 106-102 behind a triple-double from Ben Simmons, but a scuffle the rookie got into with Miami forward James Johnson left everyone talking. The two players butted heads in the first half after Robert Covington fouled Goran Dragic hard.
That wasn't the end of it, either. Just seconds after Simmons' altercation with Johnson, the rookie gave a shoulder to Dwyane Wade on a pick for an offensive foul. Things never cooled down, but the 76ers went on to overcome 25 turnovers to earn the victory.
In New Orleans, things were much the same. Fouls were flying everywhere, but a foul by Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum really got things heated. McCollum fouled Pelicans guard E'Twaun Moore on the way to the basket and Moore took exception.
He shoved McCollum, which prompted players to come together and discuss their feelings uncomfortably close to each other's faces. Kind words were not used. Anthony Davis, who had three fouls and was on the bench at the time, had to be restrained from coming onto the court.
Then two minutes later, Zach Collins fouled Jrue Holiday hard and Rajon Rondo took exception with a head butt. Things were beyond physical, and for good reason. Portland had to win to stay alive in the playoffs. They didn't though as New Orleans locked up a 131-123 victory to sweep the Trail Blazers, 4-0.
As for the late games, the Timberwolves dropped the Rockets 121-105 to cut the series lead to 2-1, while the Jazz beat the Thunder 115-102 to take a 2-1 lead in that series.
Studs of the Night
Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday tied a franchise playoff record with 41 points, but Anthony Davis broke it with 47. He had 11 rebounds as well. CJ McCollum finished with 38 of his own.
Jazz guard Ricky Rubio posted a triple-double in the Jazz's win, with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
Jimmy Butler had 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists. James Harden had 29 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Dud of the Night
Justise Winslow shot just 3 for 9 from the floor with seven points. He finished with five fouls as well.
Joel Embiid had possibly the most violent block of the postseason on Goran Dragic.
Thunder (1-1) at Jazz (1-1) 10 p.m. ET Saturday — They saved the best for last Saturday. Oklahoma City will have to overcome the altitude in Salt Lake City and the skills of rookie guard Donovan Mitchell to retake control of the series. Something says that Rudy Gobert won't make that easy for the Thunder.