76ers take ascendency, Rockets in trouble: Playoff snapshot

Joel Embiid (Philadelphia) and Serge Ibaka (Toronto) do battle in game two of their playoff series in the Scotiabank Arena, Toronto. (Photo by: NBA.com)

Philadelphia have taken a 2-1 lead in their conference semi-final series against the Toronto Raptors, with Joel Embiid steering the 76ers to a 116-95 blowout win over the Raptors at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Embiid posted a double-double, collecting 33 points along with 10 rebounds; Australian Ben Simmons put up 10 points with 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Kawhi Leonard scored 33 points for the visitors but it wasn’t enough to lift them over a 76ers side that led at every break, point guard Kyle Lowry struggled with only 7 points on a poor shooting night.

Both teams turn their attention to game four of the seven game series in two days time and the Raptors will have to respond strongly to avoid the prospect of being down 3-1 in the series.

Portland have tied their series one apiece against Denver, defeating the Nuggets on their home-court 97-90, on the back of 20 points from CJ McCollum and a strong showing from Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood.

Whilst Damien Lillard struggled to have his usual impact, the Trailblazers were in control of the game from early on and were able overcome a late push from the Nuggets in the fourth quarter.

The Trailblazers’ successfully negated the influence of Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokic, who dominated with 37 points in Denver’s win in game one.

Game three sees the series head to Portland at the Moda Center, and the Trailblazers’ will be hoping to ride their momentum into a 2-1 series lead.

After Boston blew out Milwaukee on the road in game one, the Bucks were quick to return the favour in game two, defeating the Celtics 123-102 in front of their home crowd in Milwaukee.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton were the two most influential players on the court for the Bucks, scoring 29 and 28 points respectively; whilst Kyrie Irving struggled for the Celtics with 9 points and 4 assists.

The Bucks bounced back strong and rightfully so, as the team that finished the NBA season with the best overall record.

The Celtics who have battled consistency all season, will need to regroup as they look to defend homecourt in Boston at the TD Garden. The series now sits even at 1-1 as both teams head into game three

It’s now an uphill battle for Houston, who find themselves at 0-2 at they head home for game three against Golden State following a 109-115 defeat.

It’s been a series played with high emotion with its fair share of controversy, mainly centring around the officiating in game one.

Despite Stephen Curry having a poor shooting night from the field, the Warriors had enough class to overcome the Rockets in game two.

Kevin Durant led the way for the Warriors with 29 points, while Curry and Klay Thompson finished with 20 and 21; James Harden scored 29 points for the Rockets off the back of his 35 in game one.

It means the Rockets must win game three, or their chances of reaching consecutive conference finals series are all bar gone.

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