NBA playoffs 2022: The most important takeaways from Day 2

ByESPN via ESPN logo
Sunday, April 17, 2022

Welcome to Day 2 of the 2022 NBA playoffs!

Saturday saw a flurry of impressive postseason debuts, including those fromPhiladelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey, Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Golden State Warriors guard Jordan Poole.

Sunday, meanwhile, got started with a blowout along Biscayne Bay. The No. 1-seeded Miami Heat stifled Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks en route to an easy 115-91 Game 1 win.

Sunday's action continued with the most anticipated matchup of the first round, as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets facedJayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Boston Celtics.

And Game 1 delivered, as Tatum's last-second layup lifted Boston in a thriller.

Next up, the Milwaukee Bucks begin their title defense against the Chicago Bulls. Sunday's finale features the NBA-best Phoenix Suns hosting the New Orleans Pelicans, fresh off their play-in tournament run for the Western Conference's No. 8 seed.

Our NBA experts have eyes on every Game 1 showdown.Here are the most important takeaways from Day 2 of playoff action.

MORE: Intel on all 16 teams |

Phoenix is better than you think

Celtics 115, Nets 114: This isn't your normal 2 vs. 7 series

The Celtics-Nets premiere felt much more like Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals than it did Game 1 of the first round. The showdown lived up to the hype that surrounded the series all week.

Tatum won the game with a layup at the buzzer that sent fans inside TD Garden into a frenzy. They also loudly booed Irving -- he flipped a few of them off in the third quarter, then proceeded to get rolling down the stretch while pouring in a game-high 39 points.

Not only did Tatum hit the winner, he provided the extra defensive push Boston needs without Robert Williams III stabilizing the defense. Tatum dropped 31 points but also had two blocks, and he teamed up with Marcus Smart to limit Nets star Kevin Durant to a 9-for-23 performance from the field.

The feeling around the league prior to this series was that it was two evenly matched teams, which through a confluence of different events throughout the season, found themselves forced to play each other much earlier than anticipated. If Sunday's thriller was any indication, basketball fans are in for a treat the rest of the way -- because this game didn't just live up to the hype, it unquestionably exceeded it.

-- Nick Friedell

Heat 115, Hawks 91: Miami completely shuts down Trae and the league's No. 2 offense

On the Hawks' opening possession of Sunday's Game 1, no fewer than three Heat defenders switched onto Trae Young, with Kyle Lowry, then P.J. Tucker, then finally Max Strus forcing the All-Star guard into retreat mode and subverting his attack. The sequence ended with Young, with the shot clock ticking under two seconds, trying to thread the needle on a Hail Mary alley-oop to Onyeka Okongwu that the big man couldn't corral.

And so it went for Atlanta, which couldn't recreate the Game 1 magic it had in last year's improbable run to the conference finals, as the Hawks' high-flying offense was stifled all day in the Heat's win.

"It's all hands on deck," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Whatever is required."

Miami's defense, which ranked fourth in defensive rating and third in points allowed during the regular season, harassed the Hawks' second-ranked offense all over the floor. The Heat bottled them up early, holding Atlanta to just 3-for-17 shooting in the first quarter with Young's only field goal -- an and-1 fastbreak layup -- needing more English than an Ivy League college's curriculum to go down.

The nightmare only continued for Young, who was unable to break out like he did in the second half in the Hawks' play-in win in Cleveland. He finished with just eight points on 1-for-12 shooting (0-for-7 from 3). Coach Nate McMillan pulled him with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter and kept him on the bench the rest of the way.

"Miami played at another level," McMillan said. "We have to get to another level."

Offensively, Miami was disciplined. The Heat facilitated through Lowry (nine assists), but all of their personnel committed to making the extra pass to find guys like Tucker, Gabe Vincent and Lowry open for corner 3s. Duncan Robinson, who had a down year, exploded for 27 points on 9-for-10 shooting (8-for-9 from 3) off the bench, nearly tripling the boost the Hawks got from John Collins (10 points) in his first game action since March 11 because of finger and foot injuries.

The Heat looked like a rested, serious team that is the No. 1 seed in the East for a reason. Atlanta, which deserves credit for its play-in performance to snag No. 8, looked as gassed as Young.

"We'll enjoy this win and then when midnight hits, forget about this one and then we get ready for the next one," Jimmy Butler said. "We know our goal."

-- Dave McMenamin

Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks: 6:30 ET on TNT

New Orleans Pelicans at Phoenix Suns: 9 ET on TNT

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